Ask Matt: Ziva and ‘NCIS,’ ‘Conners,’ Post-Roseanne, a Better ‘Fight’ Without Blum & 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.
What About the Child?
Question: Will there be any mention on NCIS about Tony and (daughter) Tali from Ziva regarding their current status and location, and is there any information if Ziva was in contact all those years with Tony and her daughter? — Eugenia
Matt Roush: Questions like these veer into potential spoiler territory, which I usually aim to avoid, but the subject does come up in TV Guide Magazine‘s cover story in the Returning Favorites issue out this week. In the interview, Cote de Pablo notes that the threat that brings her back into Gibbs’ (Mark Harmon) orbit also involves “trying to keep her daughter a secret and safe from the people who are trying to get to Gibbs and to her.” For more details about this and other returning series, pick up the Returning Favorites issue (on stands and coming to subscribers this week).
Life, and Love, After Roseanne?
Question: I haven’t ever seen The Conners, but I really can’t believe that they really are trying to have Dan (John Goodman) be with another woman. I love Katey Sagal too, but this feels wrong. No matter how people feel about the real Roseanne, the character of Roseanne Conner deserves better. If I didn’t want to watch it before, I damn sure don’t want to watch it now. It may be real life, but this isn’t real life, it’s TV, and I can’t find it entertaining to see Dan and Roseanne’s marriage be forgotten or made to be nothing. — Lorraine
Matt Roush: Don’t even Roseanne’s survivors deserve a little happiness? Look, Roseanne Barr is the architect of her own misfortune when it comes to the way this revised reboot has played out, and besides, according to our reporting in the aforementioned Returning Favorites issue, “Dan is still having difficulty getting over Roseanne” this season, even if Sagal’s character of Louise is intended as a possible romantic interest for the widower. Sounds to me like, as with last season of The Conners, the show and the fictional family will continue to operate in the long shadow cast by its former title star, and if Dan attempting to move on presents emotional hurdles, that’s in keeping with the way real life, not to mention life on TV, tends to play out. And I don’t see how expecting the character of Dan to stay in a perpetual state of mourning would honor the character of Roseanne anyway.
Taking the Sheen Off The Good Fight
Question: As a lawyer, I have really enjoyed The Good Fight (as well as The Good Wife before it). But I really have hated the 3rd season’s introduction of Michael Sheen‘s character, Roland Blum. His every scene turned a taut believable drama into an unpleasant, unbelievable farce. Love the actor, hate the character. Please tell me Roland Blum will not be back as a character in the 4th season. — Ken
Matt Roush: Can’t confirm or deny, although I agree that even for a show that often engages in such broad and savage satire, the over-the-top character of Blum — and Sheen’s hammy performance, which I’m sure delivered what was asked of him — was unbearable, and the Roy Cohn parody was never as funny as they must have thought it would be. Haven’t heard much yet regarding the next season of The Good Fight, but given that Michael Sheen is starring in a new series (Prodigal Son) for Fox, in a role almost as outrageous as Blum (a convicted serial killer who helps his criminal-psychologist son solve murders), you’d have to think that even if Blum does return, he wouldn’t occupy nearly as much space.
In Defense of Pearson
Question: I have to disagree with your remarks (in the Aug. 27 column) concerning USA’s Pearson. I think you should have waited a few more more weeks before you bash it. It’s coming around. If you paid attention, you would see that there’s a lot going to go on soon. — John C
Matt Roush: If you had read my own comments more closely, you would see that I did my due diligence on this disappointing show, “trudging” through the entire 10-episode season before filing my negative review. (So we can agree to disagree on this one.) Things do begin to happen as the first season nears its finale on Sept. 18, but it’s still a dreary and uninspired premise, wasting a great character and star. I felt that way all through the series, and nothing in the finale changed my opinion. (To be honest, I had to go back and consult my notes to remind myself what even happened, as Pearson’s unrelenting mediocrity made it fade into memory almost as soon as I watched it.)
Will Today Ever Come?
Question: I’m not sure if this is a question you can help me with, but … I’m reading a book called Today Will Be Different, written by Maria Semple (Where’d You Go, Bernadette?). I’m only halfway through and I’m in love with it. I wanted to recommend it to a friend, but I wasn’t sure how to describe it, so I went to Wikipedia. While there (and subsequently on several entertainment websites), I learned that the book was to be made into an HBO miniseries produced by and starring Julia Roberts. Other than that bit of information (from 2017), I can’t find a single tidbit of information about the production. With Roberts’ success in Amazon Prime Video’s Homecoming, it seems likely that they would want to do this. Though I’m afraid that the box office for Where’d You Go, Bernadette? may have put an end to this Semple adaptation. — Mark W
Matt Roush: I wouldn’t lose hope — although this project wasn’t mentioned when HBO presented at the summer TCA press tour, and there have been no casting announcements or further updates in the industry trades since the original reporting on the deal. It can take years for projects like this to see the light — I remember fielding similar questions about Game of Thrones all though its years-long gestation — and the timing could also be contingent on the star’s schedule. (She filmed Homecoming for Amazon long after Today was announced as her first-ever TV series.) This project is still among those listed as in development on Roberts’ imdb.com page, so stay tuned.
When Twice Isn’t Nice
Question: No matter how much I love a show, I don’t like it when the networks run two episodes back to back on the same night. Recently they have done it with Instinct and Spin the Wheel. All of the networks have done it at one time or another. Spread them out and show them weekly like it’s supposed to be. — Unsigned
Matt Roush: I would assume then that binge-watching isn’t in your vocabulary? In many cases when networks double-run a show on the same night, it’s to burn off episodes, especially in summer and with marginally rated series. I agree that too much of anything isn’t necessarily a good thing, although there have been occasions when a two-part episode merits the back-to-back treatment, which if done properly can be more satisfying than waiting a week between episodes. And some series premiere with back-to-back episodes in an attempt to hook viewers, and I get that strategy as well. But more often than not, when you see back-to-back episodes of a series, especially on broadcast TV, it’s a sign that they’re cutting bait.
And Finally …
Question: What’s the deal with The Talking Dead? — Leo
Matt Roush: I take it you mean: When is the after-show coming back? After a hiatus for most of the summer, Talking is expected to return for Fear the Walking Dead‘s season finale on Sept. 29, and presumably will continue more regularly when the higher-profile The Walking Dead returns a week later. Not sure why Talking took a hiatus, but I’m not much of a fan of this sort of hot-air hype unless they’re actually talking about some truly major event, so in this case, I look at it as a case of less truly being more, and silence being golden.
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.