Ask Matt: The Hostless Emmys, 'Blood & Treasure' vs. 'Love Island,' Paranormal TV, 'Yellowstone' and More
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.
Awards Hosts an Endangered Species?
Question: I was thinking about Fox's decision to have the Emmys go hostless in the hopes of increasing ratings, and two thoughts occurred in my mind. One: I don't think they have any comedic talent TO host as most of those people now work for Disney. Two: Have the Emmys succumbed to the same issue that plagues the Oscars? That there's a disconnect between what the "average" person watches and what the experts believe is good? — Veronica
Matt Roush: The Fox network isn't entirely bereft of comic talent (even if the studio has now been absorbed into the Disney empire), and could have enlisted Tim Allen or one of their better-known voice actors from an animated series or even recruited a comedian from the stand-up, film or late-night world if they'd wanted to go that route. I'm torn about whether this is a good or bad thing. Hosting shows like these is often a lose-lose proposition, so I get why it would be hard to get people to say yes to the gig. And it will streamline things not to get bogged down in uneven shtick, if that's the issue. But awards shows need to feel like events, and having the right star as emcee can add a lot to the night. So those who feel like this is a copout also have a point.
Your second question is a long-running and trickier issue, and as the Emmy voters in the TV Academy have largely turned away from the broadcast networks to favor shows and stars from cable, premium and streaming, there is a perception that TV's most popular shows (especially if they're on traditional network TV) are no longer welcome at the big table. Still, I wouldn't want to generalize about what "average" people watch, and what's good is as always in the eye of the beholder. But look at the list of nominees, and it's pretty clear that mainstream shows (with the rare exception of a hit like This Is Us) don't stand much of a chance in this age of Peak TV with hundreds of series to choose from.
Loving Treasure, Not Island
Question: I've really enjoyed Blood & Treasure on CBS. It's one of the best on TV and typical of the quality of CBS's shows. On the other hand, I was surprised to see Love Island on CBS, not at all something I'd expect to see on my favorite channel. Is CBS trying to compete with The Bachelor and The Bachelorette? Isn't Big Brother enough of that sort of show? Hopefully, Love Island won't be renewed. — Carley
Matt Roush: This is a good news/bad news situation and also a perfect illustration of a broadcast network trying to be all things to all people, especially during the summer months when its tentpole hits are all in repeats. I doubt there's much intersection between the fan base of guilty-pleasure reality trash like Love Island — which plays to the Big Brother crowd — and classic action-adventure fare like Blood & Treasure, but each of these genres has its respective audience and a network like CBS is probably smart to go after both. Love Island wasn't the breakout hit CBS had hoped, but it delivered social-media buzz and a consistent audience much younger than the network's norm, and the execs believe the show will grow with exposure, so yes, Love Island will be back next summer. But on the plus side, so will Blood & Treasure, which as you rightly note is much more in keeping with the CBS brand. Be thankful for small victories.
These Paranormal Shows Are Frighteningly Silly
Question: Why all of a sudden are there a lot of TV shows about ghosts and hauntings? There are so many paranormal investigators and mediums that can talk to the dead, and all the new scientific gizmos that can answer in English. These make for great comedy shows, these mediums are great actors. I hope no one believes that they are actually communicating with spirits, because there is absolutely no proof of what they say and hear is real just because their fancy machines say they are hearing actual voices. I watch these shows for the comic relief and some of the locations they are investigating. — Unsigned
Matt Roush: The fact that you're watching for whatever reason may answer your question. It's a trend and has been building for quite some time. (I got it when they aired on Syfy, but Travel Channel can't seem to get enough of this sort of show.) If these paranormal shows didn't draw an audience in the cluttered world of cable, you'd see less of them. I don't find them very spooky or enlightening myself, but then, the real world scares me enough as it is. Who needs ghosts?
Yellowstone's Hellcat Deserves Respect
Question: Kelly Reilly not receiving an Emmy nomination should be a crime! This multi-faceted and talented English actress is absolutely chewing up the scenery each and every week playing Kevin Costner's defiant yet loyal daughter, Beth, on the Paramount Network's sprawling epic neo-Western drama, Yellowstone. She has been catching viewers' attention over the past few years, even leading her own short-lived medical/psychological drama, Black Box, on ABC. Her performances in this sophomore season of Yellowstone have been some of the strongest acting I've seen on television in years, so often delicately balancing between vulnerable, broken daughter haunted by A tragic past and the profanity-laced, ball-busting, alcoholic rage monster that vehemently challenges anyone who threatens her family. Do you think that fledgling network Paramount may be overlooked by voting members simply because it is still new and small? It is such a shame to see such an ambitious show by Taylor Sheridan and Kevin Costner be overlooked, especially with actresses like Kelly Reilly doing so much of the heavy lifting week after week. She absolutely could hold her own with any of the other actresses nominated in the Outstanding Actress category. — Michael
Matt Roush: You're right to single out Kelly Reilly, and maybe in a year when Game of Thrones isn't ending, and four supporting actresses from that show aren't clogging the category — a few of whom had so little to do this season their nominations are kind of a joke — she'll have a better chance of breaking through. (Once again, let me steer you toward the original Emmy ballot with its staggering number of contenders, as an object lesson of how difficult it is to emerge from such a crowded field.) My own pick in the category is Ozark's Julia Garner, although if Maisie Williams wins as a reward for growing up on screen as Arya, I'll be OK with that. But yes, the work Reilly is doing as this damaged and damaging soul is definitely worth recognizing. And while the emerging Paramount Network may be at a disadvantage competing against behemoths like HBO and Netflix, Yellowstone is fairly high profile with its star casting of Kevin Costner, and is performing strongly, so it’s possible this rare modern Western could have a better showing next year.
Disappearing Out of Prime Time
Question: I can't imagine why WGN America would broadcast The Disappearance, an exceptional show with a strong plot and great acting, at 11/10c while they broadcast repeated episodes of Cops earlier. Can you explain? — Vivian
Matt Roush: I wasn't even aware The Disappeared had been pushed back an hour. (The episodes, including this week's finale, were all originally scheduled for 10/9c.) It's not the first time the channel has done this with one of its acquisitions, and that's usually a sign that it's performing worse than its stable of infinitely repeatable off-network syndicated fare like Cops. At least they’re airing the entire season, even at the later hour.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is Last Man Standing coming back to Fox? — Eileen
Matt Roush: Yes, it will return at midseason in January. This can be confusing to fans who celebrated Fox's rescue of the show after ABC canceled it, but as we've discussed before in this space, Fox didn't have a place for Last Man in the fall lineup, choosing to keep its "Animation Domination" Sunday lineup intact with no live-action comedies. No official announcement has been made as to dates, but look for it to return this winter on Thursdays as part of a live-action comedy block once football season is over.
Matt Roush: This sort of question frequently arises over just about every summer replacement show, and the answer is almost always the same. If the network doesn't give a show an early renewal (as CBS did with Blood & Treasure), it's usually 50/50 to a long shot that it will return. But until they're officially canceled, there's always a chance.
Matt Roush: Netflix can be like the Kremlin regarding premiere dates until they're ready to release the information, but they made it official with The Crown this week. The third season, with Olivia Colman assuming the role of Queen Elizabeth, will launch Nov. 17, and I can't wait. Netflix has been more circumspect about new episodes of the final season of The Ranch, and the date has changed at least once. Nothing has been announced, but look for the sitcom to return in September.
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.