Ask Matt: ‘Good Doctor’ Relationship, Medical Issues on ‘Resident’ & ‘Amsterdam,’ Plus ‘NCIS: NOLA,’ ‘Bluff City’ & FX on Hulu
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,
Is Carly Robbing the Good Doctor‘s Cradle?
Question: Why would the writers of The Good Doctor put Shaun in a relationship with someone (Carly, played by Jasika Nicole) that doesn’t even look like his age? It looks like a 30-year-old dating a 20-year-old. It’s a great idea for Shaun to date and explore how his autism works in that kind of relationship, but it is just not believable to me, or I can’t take it as real or compatible. — Jim
Matt Roush: This never occurred to me, maybe because the actors are playing it so well and the writers are handling the situation so carefully that it never reads like a case of robbing the cradle. (In actuality, the very boyish Freddie Highmore is closer to 30 and Nicole is closer to 40, but there is a more than 10-year age difference between them.) The real issue here, looking at the situation critically (which is where I come in) is that as Dr. Shaun learns how to navigate the complicated emotional give-and-take of a relationship, it’s probably a good idea for him to be paired with someone who has the maturity and patience of Carly. However this romance turns out, nothing about it strikes me as inappropriate.
Send in the Nurses!
Question: My question is about a trend I’ve noticed recently on medical dramas like The Resident and New Amsterdam, and that is that you only ever see one or two nurses working on these shows. Do they really want us to believe that a hospital as big and fancy as Chastain Park or New Amsterdam would really only have one or two nurses working in their emergency room? It seems like every week on The Resident that Nurse Nevin (Nicolette aka Nic) is the only nurse seeing patients, and that on New Amsterdam we only see Nurse Casey (the guy with tattoos) in the ER. I know shows like these have limited budgets and can’t show everything, but shouldn’t they at least attempt to show more nurses? I’m probably just being particular, but this has been driving me nuts!
And speaking of The Resident, I’m really frustrated with Morris Chestnut‘s character. Dr. Cain seems to be completely unlikeable, and I realize he’s supposed to represent the worst part of the medical industry, but he as an actor doesn’t even seem to be trying to make his character likeable. He just seems to be arrogant and selfish. Please tell me it’s not gonna stay this way and there might be a shred of humanity shown in future episodes? — Matthew
Matt Roush: I don’t follow The Resident, but in some weird cosmic coincidence, they seem to have anticipated your complaint, because this week’s episode (Nov. 12) is titled “Nurses’ Day,” and directly confronts the fact that Chastain’s nurses are understaffed, overworked, exhausted and feeling underappreciated. So maybe they’ll finally do something about it. Regarding Morris Chestnut’s character, I don’t have an opinion, but my experience with these kinds of TV antagonists, especially when played by such an established actor, is that he’s probably headed one of two ways: towards a comeuppance and downfall or an epiphany that serves to soften and humanize him. Maybe both.
Which Hospital is Grey’s Set At, Anyway?
Question: Last week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy set basically the whole hour at Pac-North. This wouldn’t bother me except that Amelia and Maggie ended up basically walking over there on personal business while they’re supposed to be at work at Grey Sloan. Of course Alex would give them permission to practice at Pac-North, but Bailey already lost Meredith, Alex and Webber when she fired them, plus Hunt when he quit as a result of Tom. How is anyone at Grey Sloan OK with the idea of their top surgeons just walking over to another hospital and seeing patients there whenever they feel like it? The contrivance of getting everybody over there just demonstrates what a bad idea it was to split hospitals in the first place. Oy. — JL
Matt Roush: Honestly, I’m still trying to get over the fact that in that episode, Maggie killed her own cousin in the OR — played by Kelly McCreary‘s actual sister, Crystal! Yikes. But yes, for all of the action to be happening at the other hospital, with Amelia and Maggie carrying their baggage from place to place, it does strain credibility in a season that has tested our patience from the moment Bailey fired the stars on her staff. At least this week (Nov. 14), Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) finally gets her hearing before the medical board regarding her license, and whatever gets her back to practicing medicine would be an improvement over her storyline so far this season.
Playing Dead on TV
Question: Regarding Lasalle’s departure from NCIS: New Orleans: Why do shows have to kill off anyone? Just have a character decide to move on to explore other opportunities. Then if they decide to come back, it’s less demeaning to the audience intelligence than pretending they never died. (See Ziva, Bobby from way back on Dallas.) — Claire
Matt Roush: Given that Dallas never really recovered from that absurd Bobby-in-the-shower moment, and that NCIS at least lived up to the old TV rule that “if you don’t see the body, they’re probably not really dead” with Ziva’s hardly unexpected return, in this case we do need to accept the fact that Lasalle (Lucas Black) isn’t coming back, which was the actor’s choice. Also the producers’, who when dealing with Black’s desire to leave wanted to give him a significant, heroic exit that would have an impact on the show and its ensemble going forward. When you ask why a show has to kill off anyone, my answer will always be that in the perilous world these shows portray, there are no stakes if everyone is seen as immortal. While it’s unlikely that Gibbs (Mark Harmon), Pride (Scott Bakula) or any other series lead will ever take the fall, shows like this must occasionally grapple with loss — preferably not reversible — to even have a shred of credibility.
Question: Has there been any movement on a second season for Bluff City Law? — Frank
Question: I have heard that NBC is not going to renew Bluff City Law when the present episodes run out. This is one of the best new shows dealing with pertinent issues and not all violence. There are very few shows I watch because they are so violent, so why when a good one comes along would it be canceled? This also happened with The Cool Kids last year. — Fran
Matt Roush: To Fran’s question, I can’t think of two shows more different than Bluff City Law and The Cool Kids, but I get that viewers are seeking safe havens from some of the darker shows that prevail on so many networks, especially in the cable and streaming worlds. But Bluff City came off as so preachy I wasn’t surprised that it couldn’t attract enough traction coming off The Voice (with a large lead-in that can be as much curse as blessing) to guarantee a full-season order. To be precise, Bluff City hasn’t been canceled officially, but to have its order cut back to 10 episodes and then disappear for the entire back half of the season with no buzz about a renewal is not a hopeful sign. The show’s fate may not be made official until May, when NBC announces its slate for the following season, but it’s not looking good.
What Does the FX-Hulu Partnership Mean?
Question: What do you think of the recent announcement that FX will begin producing series exclusively for Hulu? Because they now have the same corporate overlords in Disney, I guess it’s not too surprising, and the idea of using Hulu as the default streaming home for the FX catalog of shows makes sense. But I was taken aback by what shows, specifically, they’ve decided to move off the linear network. For example, The Old Man is a pilot starring Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow. With that cast, it would seem to be older-skewing than some of FX’s programs necessarily are. So why regulate that to Hulu? I know lots of friends of mine who are in an older age bracket who would probably like a show with the two of them in it, but they just don’t stream. My younger friends in my age bracket (30s) stream much more frequently, while my friends who are older seem more reluctant to do that and likelier to watch something if they can program it in their DVRs. So taking a show with two stars with long-established careers likely to appeal to an older audience feels weird. I also hope that Disney is not in such a hurry to beef up Hulu that the quality of programing that remains on the linear network diminishes. Your thoughts? — Jake
Matt Roush: I’m still trying to wrap my head around this development, since last time I sat for a press presentation from FX (at the summer TCA), the pitch was that the network was ramping up production with many of the titles that are now being designated exclusively for “FX on Hulu.” But in some of the radio interviews I’ve been doing in advance of the launch of Disney+ this week, it struck me that because Disney’s new streamer will be focused primarily on family-friendly programming, Hulu will now be seen as the company’s adult streaming alternative, where more adult-oriented shows like Family Guy (as opposed to The Simpsons on Disney+) and movies like Deadpool will stay. In that regard, FX is a smart complement to Hulu, but it can be hard to fathom why these specific shows were chosen. Despite its mature cast, The Old Man has a CIA thriller angle, so could have enough of an edge to make sense for Hulu. What I’m really questioning here is whether this move diminishes the FX brand or enhances it by being so directly attached to the hot and brave new world of streaming. Which most companies see as their future, Disney in particular, helping explain why this is happening at all.
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.