Ask Matt: 'Grey's' Narrative Detour, 'JAG' Comeback, Tiffany and the 'Kids' & 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.
Has Grey's Gone Off the Rails (Again)?
Question: What do you think about Grey's Anatomy so far this season? I love the show and I'm with it until the end, so I'm not in the frame of mind where I'm dissatisfied enough to break up with the show. But this nonsense with firing the core cast from the hospital is beyond tiresome. Although the rest of the cast is also doing fine work, we know that Meredith Grey isn't going to lose her medical license because the show wouldn't exist without her as its central character. Also, splitting Alex and Webber off into a different hospital just seems to add clutter to an already crowded ensemble. I have yet to see anything this season that justifies the whole firing storyline, and since it's inevitable that they will come back to Grey Sloan sooner or later, this just seems like it's wasting my time treading water narratively until that happens. I'm normally all for letting storylines play out and reserving judgment and all that, but this season so far has felt like a real slog. If fake-firing the lead of the show is the best way that they can come up with to manufacture drama, maybe the show should think about an endgame. Of course, they won't, since it's already renewed into next season. But I can't remember being this fed up with the show since Denny's ghost. Your thoughts? — Jake
Matt Roush: Tiresome is a pretty accurate word for this latest twist. I'm all for shows that follow through with characters paying consequences for their actions, but this is just silly, especially considering the reputation that Meredith is said to have in the medical community. No one would notice that this world-renowned surgeon is suddenly picking up trash with a work crew? That said, the subplot of Alex and Richard working on behalf of a substandard local hospital injects a little reality into the show’s medical fantasy, so I’m somewhat intrigued to see where that’s headed. I wouldn't say this reaches the eye-rolling level of Denny's ghost — yet — but I do hope they resolve this storyline soon, or at least tell it in a more dramatically compelling and less contrived way.
Could JAG Make a Comeback?
Question: Will David James Elliott and Catherine Bell make future appearances on NCIS: Los Angeles? I still miss JAG and I'm sure many others do too. Their final scene in the Sept. 29 episode left me with two possible interpretations. I vote yes for more Harm and Mac. - Tom
Matt Roush: I'm sure you're far from alone. They obviously left the door open for either more appearances from Harm and Mac, or even a JAG reboot/spinoff — which would take the franchise full circle, since NCIS originally spun off from JAG way back in 2003. Nothing has been announced, whether more guest shots as a backdoor pilot or an actual revival, but given the response, I'd be surprised if this is the last we've seen of them.
Loving Those Kids
Question: I am about halfway through watching ABC's hilarious Kids Say The Darndest Things and can't get the huge smile off my face. Tiffany Haddish is perfect in this, and of course those adorable kids! I have a feeling this will not just become a huge hit for ABC but possibly a long-running one. Thank you for the recommendation! — Fred
Matt Roush: The early ratings certainly suggest the Kids reboot could be in for the long haul. Tiffany appears to be having a blast, which can be hard to resist, although as the premiere went on — an hour is an awful lot — I found myself wishing the kids on the stage weren't already so convinced how darned funny they were. Cutting away to the stage parents kind of gave me the creeps as well. But as tried-and-true formats go, this is probably a keeper.
Spooked by the Evolution of Travel
Question: For some time now, I have seen the Travel Channel has turned into the Ghost Channel. Is there a chance they will get back to, you know, travel? — Barbara
Matt Roush: Don't count on it — especially not during what the channel is billing "Ghostober," with a barrage of supernatural-themed programming. Why they don't rebrand as the Paranormal Channel is beyond me. A press release I just opened that lists mid-October programming included these titles: Destination Fear, The Alaska (as opposed to "Bermuda") Triangle, Ghost Adventures, Witches of Salem (which at least is a destination), My Horror Story, Most Terrifying Places, Mountain Monsters, American Mystery, Ghost Nation and Hometown Horror. It's almost as difficult to find actual travel programming on this channel as it is locate a history show on History some nights.
Will OWN Make More David?
Question: I have been really impressed with both the actors (especially "David") and the writing on OWN'S David Makes Man. Thank you for recommending it at the start of the season. I am curious to know if there might be a second season. — Lorna
Matt Roush: I'm curious, too. This is an artfully told coming-of-age story, and Akili McDowell is very good as the title character. There's an authenticity to the Florida setting that makes me feel I'm watching something tangibly real, even when the show plays with more fantastical elements. At present, OWN hasn't given David Makes Man an early renewal, but I'm hoping for good news before the first season ends later this month.
A Murder-ous Find from Down Under
Question: Since it's impossible to view everything on offer these days, I have to ask: Have you been able to watch My Life is Murder? If not: Lucy Lawless softens her Kiwi accent to a credible Aussie brogue, as she brings warmth and presence to the role of Alexa Crowe. Alexa is a gifted police investigator, recently widowed and withdrawn into early retirement, filling her sleepless hours with artisanal baking for a neighborhood cafe in Melbourne. Bernard Curry is her ex-colleague and pal, dangling juicy unsolved murder cases in hope of luring her back to herself. And Ebony Vagulans glows with puppy-dog eagerness as a young tech ace who assists Alexa's inquiries while aspiring to become sidekick and student. The writing is solid and humane, the mysteries twisty and mostly satisfying. Production design and photography are outstanding. Melbourne is a major character in its own right, the natural and man-made wonders of Australia's loveliest city always on display. By my lights, it’s the most entertaining show to come out of Australia since Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, and well worth a look. Season 1 is ten episodes, each under 45 minutes, with no dangling threads. It premiered on Network 10 in Oz mid-July, opening on the Acorn streaming service a couple of weeks later. There's no guarantee of additional seasons, although Lawless has said in an interview that she's signed for up to 5 years of the show. Here's hoping. — J. Norris
Matt Roush: Looking back at my mini-review from when the show premiered on Acorn TV in August, we're pretty much on the same page. I watched about half of the episodes of the first season, if memory serves, and if there was a twist that actually surprised me, I've forgotten it. But Lucy Lawless has always been a fave, she looks to be enjoying herself, and as you said, Melbourne looks fabulous. As a light mystery, it’s fine, but can’t say it has actually stuck with me.
And Finally …
Question: I read in TV Guide Magazine a few months ago that this year will be the series finale of CBS's Criminal Minds. However, it's not in the fall lineup, and I was wondering if it will be a midseason start and the final episode will be in May 2020. — Sally
Matt Roush: That seems like the game plan. CBS hasn't set a date for the show's return, and like Madam Secretary, the final season will be shortened to 10 episodes. So it's entirely possible the long-running crime drama will be back in winter-spring and close out the series in May. But another option in the year-round programming cycle could be to take a page from the final season of Elementary, which came back for its final run toward the end of the regular season in May and aired through much of the summer. Could go either way, but odds are that Minds' 15th season will get a bigger sendoff within the regular season.
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.