Ask Matt: ‘Elementary’ Finale, ‘Sherman’s Showcase,’ Russell Crowe’s ‘Voice’ Transformation & 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.
Could the Game Still Be Afoot?
Question: We have really enjoyed the series Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller playing Sherlock and Lucy Liu playing Watson. Johnny Lee Miller is the best Sherlock Holmes ever. Sorry to see the series is ending, but we liked the way the last episode ended, and seems like it may have left the series open for more episodes should another station or cable channel opt to pick it up! Any chance that may happen? Maybe some two-hour movie specials? — Rich
Matt Roush: Sometimes we should just settle for a happy ending. In the case of Elementary, despite a few mischievous teases along the way suggesting one or the other were dead, we were left with Holmes and Watson reunited and ready to offer their services once again to the NYPD, with Captain Bell now at the helm, and Holmes’ marvelous kicker: “As long as we’re together, what does it matter?” The implication being that while the show may be over, their adventures continue, including in our imagination. At present, there appear to be no plans to shop the show to another platform, and Lucy Liu has already booked a new series (Why Women Kill on CBS All Access). TV-movie franchises outside Hallmark are a rare commodity anymore, so an Elementary movie series seems a long shot as well. For a show to go out on such a positive if open-ended note is about as much as fans can hope for these days. But honestly, never say never. The business is always changing, and if the network ever felt the need for a comeback, they certainly left the door wide open.
A Great Showcase for Satire
Question: I’m enjoying Sherman’s Showcase on IFC. If you’re old enough to remember Soul Train or Solid Gold, you can’t help but find the show funny as hell, particularly the music numbers (I’ve been singing “Vicki, is the water warm enough?” for the past week.) On the other hand, I am not particularly woke, and the show has its share of stereotypes. Do you imagine some people are watching and wondering, “Is it OK for me to laugh at this?” Or is that the point? — Rick
Matt Roush: As I noted upon the show’s premiere, I found Sherman’s Showcase an absolute hoot, and to your point, it seems to me to be a celebration of the Solid Gold culture and the period as much as a send-up, so it’s kind of hard to take offense at something that’s so jubilantly silly — and so well produced. As you rightly call out, the musical numbers may be parodies, but they’re awfully funny, and even catchy at times. The whole show sings, and it’s one of the more delightful gems of the summer, well worth seeking out.
A Crowe Transformed into an Ailes
Question: After watching The Loudest Voice with Russell Crowe doing a fantastic job playing Roger Ailes of Fox News, I almost did not recognize him. I had read where he had gained quite a bit of weight, but seeing him obese and balding with just a fringe of gray hair, I have to ask: Is this Russell Crowe now, or was an extensive amount of makeup necessary? I enjoy your column very much. — Mary
Matt Roush: Very little of what you saw was actually Russell Crowe. According to detailed published reports of the makeup transformation, which took anywhere from six hours (at the start of production) to a little over two, Crowe’s face was almost completely masked by silicone and latex, with bald caps among other prosthetics. A makeup artist was quoted by Vanity Fair saying, “the only part of Russell that’s visible is his forehead an inch above his eyebrows, his eyelids, and his upper and lower lip.” Plus, a spandex bodysuit under his clothes to enhance his own weight gain. To be able to pull off a terrific performance under those conditions is a true achievement. Look for the real Russell Crowe at next year’s Emmys.
Talking Blue on Suits
Question: I have watched Suits since the beginning and have not missed an episode, but I am wondering why for their last season they have to resort to using cuss words. They bleep it out, but you know they have said a bad word. I am disappointed that they have resorted to this their last season. — Sharon
Matt Roush: Have we been watching the same show? Suits made noise from the very beginning by being the first of the USA shows to push the language barrier: never (maybe up until lately) going as far as FX, but still dropping enough s— bombs and bulls— into regular dialogue that it often felt forced. Many basic cable shows, including Paramount Network’s hit Yellowstone, have crossed the threshold where almost all explicit language is now accepted and not even bleeped, so it was probably only a matter of time before Suits followed suit.
Relocate This Hotel
Question: I have a theory as to why Grand Hotel doesn’t get enough retention in the ratings from The Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise. The people who watch the Bachelor shows probably turn off their TVs to tweet about those shows during the time Grand Hotel is on, which is why Bachelorette, etc. usually trends during the time GH is on. Why couldn’t the scheduling department at ABC put GH on at a different night? This is a case of putting on a show on the wrong night. And ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke is placing too much expectations on a scripted summer show like Grand Hotel. If she wishes ratings were “a bit stronger” for the show, she should’ve aired it someplace else! And until BH90210, Hotel was the #1 scripted summer series on TV, so why can’t she have taken that into consideration? If ABC cancels this show, I really hope Hulu (which, like GH, is owned by Disney) can save this show. I know it’s rare for TV shows that get canceled after one season to be saved by other platforms, but since Hulu is now fully owned by Disney, it can’t hurt them to stream a show like Grand Hotel, right? It would really break my heart to see yet another Latinx show produced by Eva Longoria get canceled way too soon! — Chris B
Matt Roush: The real problem for summer series like Grand Hotel is that because almost all of the network’s regular scripted shows, especially serialized dramas like Grey’s Anatomy, disappear for the summer, there aren’t great lead-ins on any night of the week, and all of these shows must essentially be self-starters. Social media distractions aside, the strategy of putting Grand Hotel behind the Bachelorette franchise was not a mistake, to pair up sexy guilty pleasures with the hope that Hotel would draw some of the viewers who tune in to watch manufactured romance on TV. As we’ve learned, though, there does seem to be a generational or possibly cultural divide for those who prefer fake “reality” like the Bachelor shows over old-school scripted soap opera like Grand Hotel.
And Finally …
Question: I was wondering if they will give us another season (or more) of Midnight, Texas. I really enjoyed that show. — Ed
Matt Roush: I love how hope dies hard among TV fans. NBC canceled the show following the end of its second season in late December of last year (after airing the first season of Midnight during the summer of 2017), and there are no plans to bring it back.
That’s all for now. 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.