Ask Matt: Can ‘The Simpsons’ Go On Forever? Plus: ‘The Flash’s Future, ‘Galavant’s Final Refrain and More
Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist”) Matt Roush, who’ll address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines unless it’s common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter.
Question: The Simpsons is one of the longest-running shows on TV. It’s had its ups and downs, with some people thinking it’s worn out its welcome, but there it stays on the schedule, with never a need to even change its time slot. It stays current with the culture and maintains a level of funny that averages high. By this time the people who create it—not the performers or writers, I mean those who do the tech work—have become an industry of their own. (There could be an entire town of people who do nothing but produce The Simpsons.) I got to thinking: Will this go on forever? Can you envision a time when The Simpsons will be on the bubble, even? I don’t even watch it myself much, and I still treasure it. I’d feel sad if it was gone. If the quality started to decline, how long would it be before anybody noticed? – Althea
Matt Roush: It’s easy to take The Simpsons for granted—episodes sometimes pile up on my DVR, waiting for me to indulge in a merry snacking binge—and debates have raged for years about the rise and fall in quality from season to season, the details of which I leave to the obsessives. It may not be as fresh as it was at its peak—how could it be?—but it will always remain my favorite of Fox’s animated comedies (with King of the Hill a close second), and many weeks, the gags continue to delight me even when the storytelling sputters along the way. Each time a renewal is announced, most recently through Season 28 (2016-17), I breathe a sigh of relief, as I never want this particular era to end. When it happens, it won’t be because the show’s on any sort of bubble. That decision will go way further up the corporate chain of command, because as you pointed out, The Simpsons is not just a show, it’s an industry. And for now, one whose end is not yet in sight.
From TV’s MIA Files
Question: I want to say I really enjoy reading your column each week. I love reading what others have questions about and their remarks on shows I watch. My question: When does NBC plan on putting The Night Shift back on their lineup? I was pretty sure I read it was renewed for Season 3. Am I wrong about that? — Terri
Matt Roush: The medical drama is coming back, but unlike last year, when NBC gave it a midseason slot in February, it looks like it’s back to a run in the summer, which is where it began. But that hasn’t been announced or confirmed yet.
Question: Do you know when Mike & Molly will return on CBS for the rest of the episodes for this final season? They were to air 13 episodes, but only half of them have been aired, and now Survivor is in that time slot? Will they bring it back after Survivor is done for the season or move it to a different day? – Natalie
Matt Roush: CBS just laid out its end-of-season plans for Molly and a number of other shows—finally answering the question: Where the heck is Person of Interest? With Molly, blink and you’ll miss it, because the remaining episodes are being burned off over four Mondays, starting April 25, with back-to-back episodes airing in May up to the one-hour finale on May 16.
Would DC Replace The Flash?
Question: I just read a rumor online that DC Comics is systematically killing off any DC character from its TV properties that it intends to feature in its films. Both Deadshot and Amanda Waller [of the upcoming Suicide Squad] are now gone. Unfortunately, Barry Allen as The Flash may be next to go, so Grant Gustin might be forced out to make way for Keiynan Lonsdale’s Wally West. I know you don’t do spoilers, but I’m wondering if The Flash could survive a possible Grant Gustin departure? Gustin is really the heart of the show for me, and I’d be really disappointed if DC is planning anything along these lines. — Tommy
Matt Roush: This is a swamp of corporate and mythological entanglements that I prefer to steer clear of, but the short answer is that as long as The Flash is on The CW, Grant Gustin will be its charming star, and however they develop the Wally West character, I can’t see him ever carrying this show. (My in-house expert on such matters informs me that Warner Bros. has announced a 2018 release date for a Flash feature film, but we know how reliable such things are. And not so long ago, Smallville and Superman Returns coexisted in the same cultural universe. So relax.)
Are Today’s Procedurals Too Ordinary?
Question: Maybe I just got spoiled growing up in the ’90s with shows like ER, Homicide: Life On The Street, Law & Order and to a lesser degree Chicago Hope, but I can’t help but feel like the current crop of dramas that debuted this season are extremely generic and shadows of what network TV once had to offer. In particular, I can’t help but get a feeling of “been there, done that” about the ABC series The Family and this season’s new medical series Code Black and Heartbeat, not to mention the woefully generic Chicago franchise on NBC. In your opinion, am I wrong to feel this way, and why do you think all of these network shows in general seem averse to taking any creative risks? Shows like ER and Law & Order became classics because they had something new to say, and took familiar concepts and turned them on their heads. I can’t help but long for the days when network TV dramas at least tried to have a unique point of view. Hell, I’d even settle for the campy and entertaining Aaron Spelling shows of the ’90s over anything NBC has to offer today! — Matty C
Matt Roush: That collective yawn you heard last fall was the majority of critics reacting to a particularly uninspired new crop of network TV shows. I won’t argue with any of your assessments, although I will point out that NBC’s upcoming Heartbeat makes Code Black look like the Gone With the Wind of hospital dramas. I try to respect all points of view in this column, so while my critical opinions are resolute in finding very little of interest in the latest wave of network procedurals (the cookie-cutter Chicago shows, etc.), I will answer the “why” part of your question with the observation that network TV in particular still plays more often than not to a mass audience that can gravitate toward a comfort-food familiarity, which sometimes is very tasty (see the Shonda Rhimes shows) but can just as easily seem predigested in its predictability. On the plus side, ABC just finished a remarkable second season of American Crime, and in a week that has given us terrific new seasons of The Americans (cable) and Happy Valley (streaming), I can only hope the traditional networks haven’t given up on the notion of being culturally relevant in their ongoing quest to remain solvent.
Can Time‘s Masters Juggle a Second Show?
Question: Now that Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis are creating Dead of Summer, a horror anthology series for Freeform, do you know if they will be giving up major involvement in Once Upon a Time? I find when creators and showrunners hand off their shows to “trusted personnel,” more often than not the show ends up worse. I know from reading you for years now that you gave up on OUAT a few seasons ago, but with the exception of the Camelot storyline, I still enjoy the show. — Jeffrey
Matt Roush: In everything I’ve heard about this new project (which sounds like good, scary fun), seems as if they’re leaving the showrunning duties to another of their Once writers (Ian Goldberg), so while Dead of Summer will require their attention to get it off the ground, I’d be surprised if this lessens their overall commitment to the big network show. (It’s all in the family anyway, with Freeform still being ABC Family in actuality.) Once Upon a Time is still an important franchise for ABC, with its many Disney fantasy tie-ins, and I doubt the new bosses would let these guys take their eye off the crystal ball.
A Final Refrain for Galavant
Question: Although in an ideal world I wanted another miracle resurrection for Galavant, I never expected one, and now the death warrant seems to have been officially signed. I just saw that Joshua Sasse took a new CW pilot in first position, and would only be allowed to appear in the first episode of a hypothetical third season. Since it’s clearly impossible to make Galavant without the actor playing Galavant, obviously this is just more final confirmation of the fact that ABC’s new regime will be dumping the show as has been already discussed. But I wanted to ask how this circumstance was even allowed to happen. I know that typically when actors are under contract to a bubble show, pilots are in second position so that the pilot has to recast if the bubble show receives a renewal. Last year, Charlie McDermott was able to do his CBS pilot in first position because his original six-year contract with The Middle was up, but since Galavant is only two years old, I can’t imagine they would only have contracted the star of the show for a two-year term. If Galavant had been a rousing ratings hit, they obviously would be renewing it for the foreseeable future. I realize this is moot, but how on earth would the star of the show be able to do anything else in first position?
At this point, I am just hoping for a Blu-ray release of the two seasons together (and physical CD for the second season’s songs) and I’ll be happy, but I expect even those are long shots now that the network is no longer sustaining the show. — Jake
Matt Roush: I’m far from an expert on these kinds of contractual negotiations and details, but the likelihood of Galavant returning is so remote (sigh) that I suppose the actor and his agents forged into pilot season as aggressively as they could to land a lead role—which, we might note, is not a guarantee the show in question will even make it onto The CW’s already full plate. (Although I’m now a Joshua Sasse fan, so here’s hoping.) It is a curious detail that if Galavant somehow survived, the title character would only appear in the premiere, but that’s such a fantastical rabbit hole of a speculation, why even sweat it? As for keepsakes like a Galavant DVD or CD, you’d think a veteran hit-maker like Alan Menken might have enough clout to see something like that come to pass. But we live in digital times, and that may have to be enough.
Renewal Worries for Wednesday Crime Dramas
Question: How attached should I get to Rosewood? It’s a nice escapist show that has an interesting cast and a great backdrop of Miami. I want more! Should I be invested in this new show? Does it have a chance for a second season? Thanks for keeping it real! – Augustmom
Matt Roush: First off, I wouldn’t worry about Rosewood‘s survival chances. Fox gave this surprise sleeper hit an early pickup for a full first season, and it’s precisely the sort of low-risk, high-yield show that all of the networks are looking to develop to fill out their lineups. (ABC would kill to have it.) But even if it were in danger, which I can’t imagine that it is, I’d urge you to watch and enjoy while you could.
Question: What is the status of The Mysteries of Laura? Have the NBC gods made up their minds yet about its Season 3 renewal, or are they waiting to the last minute, and then planning on lowering the boom on all of us panting, anxious Laura fans who are hoping for just a tidbit of news, and praying for a miracle renewal! Laura. We will not give up the fight to have renewed one of the greatest, honest, most endearing shows on TV. I am sure that its ratings will show this! – Profbev51
Matt Roush: I get the concern, since the show made an early exit this month to make way for midseason replacements, but I doubt we’ll know anything for sure until May on this one. For your sake, I hope NBC keeps it around. Laura is another of those shows that flies under the radar but has enough of a mainstream following that NBC might conclude it’s just good business to stick with it (and its powerful producer, Greg Berlanti).
Louie’s a Baskets Case for Watching
Question: Are you watching Baskets on FX? After five episodes, I think I really like it. Frankly, I am most impressed by Louie Anderson’s portrayal of Mama Baskets. After years in the business as a stand-up comedian, voice actor and game-show host, Anderson is a genuine revelation! — Mike
Matt Roush: I watched the five or so (felt like 10) episodes FX sent in advance, and that was enough for me. I find Baskets pretentious, patronizing and ponderous, not to my taste (but I can see why it might be an acquired taste for others), and one of the few things that stood out for me was Louie Anderson’s uncommonly droll and realistic performance. Not sure that’s reason enough to watch, but his character is deserving of all the attention it’s getting.
That’s all for now. We’ll pick up the conversation again next week, but I can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Or submit your question via the handy form below.