Ask Matt: A Death in the ‘SVU’ Family, Bailey’s Baby Blues, ‘Dancing’ Judges’ Call & More

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Season 21
Barbara Nitke/NBC

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 Friday.


Family Ties on SVU

Question: Now that Simon is gone from Law & Order: SVU, let’s hope they do the same thing with that moronic sister of Amanda’s. When I watch reruns, if it’s an episode with the idiot sister, I change the channel. Too bad stupidity isn’t something you can get arrested for, otherwise, Amanda’s sister would have been locked up a long time ago. — Orlando, Castella, CA

Matt Roush: If only we could pick our families … [SPOILER ALERT from Thursday’s episode] That’s a rather cold dismissal of the sad fate—an overdose—of a tragic character like Simon (who, for the unfamiliar, was Olivia’s half-brother, the son of the man who raped her mother and occasionally found himself in some legal trouble or other). Few people in the Law & Order universe have untroubled family lives, and that’s certainly the case with Kim Rollins (Lindsay Pulsipher), an albatross in Amanda’s world. According to my files, Kim did spend time in Rikers for manslaughter, and maybe she’ll end up behind bars again. I don’t know when we’ll see her again, but I doubt it will be lollipops and roses, though wishing her dead seems both harsh and too easy a way out.

Bailing Out Bailey

Question: Bailey needs to go back to doing something else on Grey’s Anatomy. Her best role was in the first season when she was known as “The Nazi.” She was a strong woman who was self-confident and a mentor. Then she became a weak, whiny wife who was depressed all the time because she was unable to support her husband in his new chosen career. I hope when this pregnancy thing is over, she will get control of her emotions again. Why do doctors who are supposed to be versed in birth control keep getting pregnant at an age when they should be past all of that nonsense? I wish Grey’s would focus more on medicine and less on populating the childcare nursery. – Becky

Matt Roush: Gotta say, Grey’s has gone baby crazy lately and it is getting to be a bit much. I’m glad they’ve couched Bailey’s mood swings as being both pre-menopausal and hormonal from her surprise pregnancy, but that still doesn’t excuse her firm stance against all the giants of Grey Sloan she fired and let walk out the door. It’s a contrivance that doesn’t sit well with many Grey’s fans I’ve heard from this season. But even so, Chandra Wilson remains one of my favorite Grey’s staples, and I’ll forgive Bailey a lot, in part because of what it meant to have a character like her in this ensemble in the first place. This isn’t her shining moment, that’s for sure, but she can still be a force of nature when the occasion calls for it.

Let Dancing Judges Have Their Say

Question: Regarding the new format for Dancing with the Stars: I, for one, love that the judges pick the best dancer (albeit in their opinion) from the bottom two. The show has come to be almost totally a popularity contest. As much as I love Bobby Bones, I don’t feel that he should have won last season. And Sabrina Bryan would not have gone home as early as she did if this rule was in effect then. Popularity votes still count, as is obvious in the case of Sean Spicer, but it’s no longer the whole show. Just as a side note, I love your column, and your opinions (even when I don’t agree with them). Keep up the great work! — Michelle W

Matt Roush: Thank you for the kind feedback, and regarding Dancing, there has always been an element of a popularity contest built into the show. Those coming in with a large fan base—or possibly driven (regrettably) by ideology over talent in some cases—have a way of staying in the game longer than sometimes they deserve. You may be right that the new judging format will keep an inferior performer but popular personality like Bobby Bones from taking home the ultimate prize, and we’ll see what happens when Sean Spicer perhaps inevitably lands in the bottom two (sayonara, dude). It’s already getting preposterous that someone with the rhythm and musicality of a drunken ox is still on the dance floor, and I know it has turned many viewers off (this one included). But sometimes, that’s the show. I would say for better or worse, but I think we all know this is the worst-case scenario.

Looking for the Sunny Side of Cancellation

Question: With all the streaming options available now, why can’t networks be kinder to its viewers and fans and drop a couple of episodes to give us closure? I liked Sunnyside all right (not a brilliant show, but I liked that it was a sitcom addressing social issues). I wish they could have at least let me know if their friend got a chance at citizenship. —

Michelle T

Matt Roush: The good news for Sunnyside fans is that the series will produce 11 episodes—only four aired on NBC—and it’s possible there will be some sort of closure by the time production wraps. This is a better outcome than most quickly canceled shows get, and fans can find the unaired episodes as they roll out on the NBC app, the network website and Hulu. So yes, you can also stream it, just not all at once yet.

Let’s Hope Homeland Is Worth the Wait!

Question: I’m glad my favorite TV show Homeland is finally returning. But is 22 months between seasons some kind of record for a scripted TV series? – Oliver Lee

Matt Roush: Not counting the time that passes between a series ending and being rebooted, which can account for many years between episodes, this could be the longest hiatus for a continuing series in its initial run. Game of Thrones comes close, with a long lapse between the penultimate season (which ended Aug. 27, 2017) and final season (which premiered April 14, 2019). Homeland’s is even longer, having wrapped its sixth season on April 29, 2018 and not scheduled to return until Feb. 9, 2020. I could be missing something obvious, in which case I’m sure to be reminded in either the comments or in my mailbag. Regardless, this is an insanely long wait for Homeland’s final chapter. (Although Better Call Saul is getting up there. It wrapped its fourth season in October 2018 and still hasn’t announced a start date for Season 5 in 2020.) At this point, I pretty much forget what happened last time around and will need a refresher when these shows return.

And Finally …

Question: I have just started to read Tana French’s In the Woods. The detectives in this novel are named Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox. In the TV version, Dublin Murders (premiering on Starz Sunday, Nov 10), their names are Rob Reilly and Cassie Maddox. Is there a reason the last name was changed from Ryan to Reilly? — Lydia

Matt Roush: I haven’t seen an explanation, so I would guess it was purely a creative one (unless there was a hurdle in clearing the name legally, as sometimes happens). The character is still the same, so it’s really just a cosmetic detail. But here’s a fun piece of trivia: The actor who plays Rob, Killian Scott, was born Cillian Murphy, but changed his name so as not to be confused with the Peaky Blinders star.

FYI, my review of the excellent Dublin Murders is in the new issue of TV Guide Magazine, and I’ll be posting a version online later this week. It’s well worth watching, and the books the first season is based on (In the Woods and The Likeness) are terrific.

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.