Ask Matt: Life After ‘Supernatural?’ Plus ‘Madam Secretary,’ ‘Designated Survivor,’ ‘Veronica’ Twist and More

Bettina Strauss/The CW

Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist”) Matt Roush, who’ll try to 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 here unless it’s already 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. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.

Why No Supernatural Spinoffs?

Question: Are there going to be any spinoff series from Supernatural? It looked like there were a couple of episodes that would lead to that. — Gloria

Matt Roush: The CW tried, but never succeeded, in developing at least two Supernatural spinoffs with episodes intended as “backdoor pilots,” the most recent being Wayward Sisters in January 2018. (The other, Bloodlines, aired in 2014.) Earlier this week at the Television Critics Association press tour, celebrating the show’s 15th and final season this fall, CW President Mark Pedowitz allowed that these attempts “did not connect… I tend to believe at this point the show’s essence and blood is Jared (Padalecki) and Jensen (Ackles).” As for the actors who play the Winchester brothers, Padalecki said, “I do hope we see more of the Supernatural universe,” while Ackles conceded, “When you have a show that is so anchored… around two characters, that it makes it difficult to tell the story without those two characters present.” In other words: Don’t hold your breath.

Re-elect Elizabeth McCord!

Question: Please tell me that Netflix or Hulu plans to pick up Madam Secretary (as Madam President) when it leaves CBS with the full cast intact. This is too strong a series for us to lose its perspective in these challenging times. — Ruth

Matt Roush: Indeed, Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) will already be president when the show returns for its sixth and final season after a considerable time-jump, but her term will be only 10 episodes. This decision by CBS to move the storyline forward and give the show closure in a shorter final run means it’s unlikely they’ll be shopping it to other platforms. The show will be missed, for sure, but better this than abrupt cancellation.

Did Designated Survivor End Well?

Question: I haven’t watched the third season of Designated Survivor yet. Does it have a cliffhanger ending or a satisfying end? — Maria

Matt Roush: This became a more critical question once Netflix decided not to go forward with a fourth season. My feeling is that if you were a Designated Survivor fan, you should probably go ahead and watch President Kirkman’s campaign season. There is resolution, but they left some aspects open-ended in case the show had been renewed, so it likely won’t be entirely satisfying for those who wish it were continuing. I can’t pretend to figure out Netflix’s programming strategy or decisions, but I was surprised they didn’t continue with this for at least one more year, given that they’re responsible for bailing the show out after ABC’s cancellation.

How Veronica Could Have Ended

Question: I was unable to afford to add Hulu to watch my beloved Veronica Mars. Now having read all the reviews and most of the screaming from Marshmallows, I do have a couple of thoughts/questions. [SPOILER ALERT] Ignoring the “I’ll never watch it again” crowd, was the “twist” poorly written? Several thoughtful commentators pointed out that Veronica and Keith leaving the backpack in the car was stupid and out of character. I think a twist that would’ve fit the character would have been Veronica leaving Logan at the altar and driving off down the highway. Self-sabotaging, which she has been, and leaving an opening for those fans that love Logan. My other question: If you use fan funds to film your movie, which ultimately gets you a series, do you cede some ownership of your vision to them? — Sharon

Matt Roush: Sounds more like nitpicking an ending some fans objected to, but so be it. The tragic climax felt a bit over-the-top to me at the time as well, but once I realized where it was going, I cringed and dealt with it, though dreading the backlash. To the second question: a hard no. I’d like to think fans who donated money towards the film in hopes the series would someday continue did so because they trusted the creative folks would tell the story they wanted to tell, even if it wasn’t always the story the fans wanted to witness. And while your alternate ending might have worked, so much of this Hulu season dealt with Veronica’s ambivalence to commit fully that for her to be the engine of the couple’s dissolution might also have felt predictable and pat. The real issue here is that anyone who wanted a happy ending for Veronica at this point of the franchise’s history was destined to be disappointed.

A Short-Term Streaming Strategy

Question: About the streaming service debate, I understand it’s nearly impossible to subscribe to every new streaming service (except maybe Bill Gates, he can get them all). However, in this era of binge watching, there is a simple solution. Subscribe to Netflix in January and binge all you want to binge in a month or two, then cancel and sign up for CBS All Access. When done there, cancel and subscribe to Disney+, or whichever other service has the show you want to binge next. None of these services have long-term contracts. Heck, you can even subscribe to HBO or Showtime a month at a time. — Steven

Matt Roush: I’ve been aware of this practice at least since HBO started launching hits like The Sopranos and Sex and the City (when fans would subscribe only during the months their favorite show was airing). I figure there are plenty of people who sign up for CBS All Access, for instance, once a show like Star Trek: Discovery finishes its season, so they can binge-watch all of the episodes during the tryout period or paying only a month’s fee, which isn’t that much more than an average pay-per-view movie. They can then quit, come back, rinse, repeat. These services will take your money for as long (or short) a period as you choose, because the true intent of these originals is to get consumers inside the tent to see if they like what the service is offering — and CBS All Access, like its many rivals, has a substantial library. This stop-and-start strategy is a practical response to an impractical problem of too many platforms fighting for attention and dollars.

Falling to Pieces

Question: Life in Pieces was one of the few extremely funny and realistic comedies that stood out among the current crop of trash on network TV. It is a shame that CBS chose to cancel this. Do you think that Fox might pick it up and continue with the series? I would recommend they do. as this is one of the few networks that actually does not pander to the majority of the less sophisticated TV viewers. — Raymond

Matt Roush: Honestly, Life in Pieces doesn’t seem all that compatible with the Fox comedies currently airing (mostly animated comedies with a very few broad live-action exceptions). But even if it were, the Fox studio and the Fox Entertainment network are no longer aligned, after Disney acquired the studio this year. The corporate synergy that might have justified such a move, such as NBC rescuing its in-house Universal production Brooklyn Nine-Nine after Fox dumped it, doesn’t really apply here. I’ve heard of no efforts to relocate this show and its fine cast, including to Disney/ABC, and as more time passes and these actors pick up work elsewhere, the less likely are the chances for a renewal. Most cancellations are final.

To NOS4A2 or Not to NOS4A2

Question: So I really wanted to like NOS4A2 on AMC. Knowing that Zachary Quinto was in it as well as Ashleigh Cummings (I’m a big fan of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), I had high hopes. However, it almost felt like a chore to sit through an hour of this every week. I’m still not sure what the story was they were trying to tell. I saw a lot of praise from fans online and wonder what I missed. Now I’ve read that it’s been renewed for a second season. If I was that disappointed in the first season, should I bother with Season 2 to find out what happens next? Maybe it’ll get better and I’ll finally understand it? Any insights you have would be appreciated. That is, if you’ve watched it. — Jessica

Matt Roush: My advice: read the book. I haven’t made it to the end of the first season yet — in part because of the TCA summer press tour keeping me from staying current with a lot of ongoing TV, but mainly because the sluggish pace of this series adaptation left me cold after seven or so episodes (despite some good work by its lead actors). This felt to me like a case where the source material would have been much better served by a self-contained limited series. The notion that it couldn’t tell the book’s story in 10 episodes, and is carrying on into a second season, is unfathomable to me.

That’s all for now—and be aware that for much of the rest of the summer, this column will post less regularly. Thanks as always for reading, and remember that 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), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. Please include a first name with your question.