Ask Matt: Giving Proper Credit to ‘The Mandalorian,’ ‘Jeopardy Greatest of All Time,’ FX on Hulu, ‘Picard’ & 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.
Who’s the Guy Behind the Mask?
Question: Though not overly steeped in Star Wars lore, I was pretty excited for The Mandalorian mainly because Pedro Pascal was going to play the titular character. That excitement has somewhat waned following the interviews provided by episode 4’s director who noted that Pedro isn’t often the one on screen. Instead we are hearing his voice but more times than not watching the stunt double do the on-screen performance. In episode 4, she notes that she never worked directly with Pedro Pascal during the entire episode and that it was the stunt double who we were seeing. While I’m all for giving credit for the work being done, I was let down by this admission because I assumed that when the main character was on screen, it was the named actor portraying him — even if we couldn’t see his face. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize stunt doubles are used all the time, but we also generally get to see the actor on screen for the parts that don’t require a stunt double to be used. But this would also explain why some of Mando’s body motions don’t always seem to be quite in connection with the voice and what is being said. I know that Star Wars does have a history in using different actors for voices rather the actor beneath the costume/mask, but those distinctions are ultimately stated in the credits, which is not the case for The Mandalorian. Do producers owe the audience explanations when it is really only the voice of the actor we are hearing rather than the person we are seeing on the screen? — Chris
Matt Roush: In this case, I’d say that’s a big yes. Maybe not so much an actual explanation, which could take us out of the fantasy of the show, but for sure give the guy credit. I really enjoyed The Mandalorian, though I still have reservations about a show built around a hero whose face and expressions we never see. (Well, there was that one time …) I grew up watching Clint Eastwood as The Man with No Name in spaghetti Westerns — and The Mandalorian is basically a space version of that genre — but a man with no face? That’s a bit harder of a sell. That said, I didn’t study the credits — too busy looking at the illustrated panels — but if they don’t give Pedro Pascal’s stunt double significant billing every week, then that is not only doing this performer a disservice, it’s essentially dishonest. (And this isn’t just because when I saw Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, I fell hard for the Brad Pitt stunt-double character.)
Did Jeopardy! Flip Networks?
Question: About Jeopardy! and its Greatest of All Time tournament featuring Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer: Why is it suddenly going to be on ABC instead of CBS?? What did we miss? — Susan
Matt Roush: I can see how that could be confusing, but Jeopardy! is a syndicated game show, produced by Sony, and not associated with any one network. In your market, CBS carries the show, but that’s not the case in many others — and because ABC’s owned-and-operated television stations have long had Jeopardy! under contract, ABC was the most logical network to get both last week’s prime-time What is Jeopardy? behind-the-scenes special and the current prime-time tournament, which I’d love to see go to all seven games.
Is It an FX or Hulu Show?
Question: What is the deal with all the FX on Hulu shows that I have been seeing lately in TV Guide Magazine? Why don’t they just have these shows on FX? It has been a long time since I’ve seen any good new shows on FX. — Gary
Matt Roush: The confusion over this probably intensified after an “FX on Hulu” ad aired during the Golden Globes Sunday night, but here’s the situation. When FX became one of the networks acquired by Disney in its takeover of the Fox studio, the decision was made to align its brand more closely with Hulu, which will become the official (and to a large extent exclusive) streaming home for FX Networks. Most of FX’s distinguished library will be available on Hulu, and ongoing series will be available for streaming after they air on FX, but what was less expected was the announcement that several series developed for FX will now be exclusive to Hulu under the “FX on Hulu” banner. These shows include the Cate Blanchett miniseries Mrs. America, Alex Garland’s Devs, Jeff Bridges in The Old Man and a controversial romantic drama A Teacher, starring Kate Mara. Thankfully, the FX show I’m most looking forward to this year — a new season of Fargo, starring Chris Rock — will still premiere on the original network, while being available for streaming on Hulu. This is the wave of the future.
Picard Behind a Paywall
Question: I’m a huge fan of anything Star Trek, so it’s sad to realize I’ll probably never see the new Picard series or anything on CBS All Access, Hulu, Prime Video, etc., and more are coming? Sorry, only so much $ to go around each month. Do you see this greedy “pay for play” trend eventually collapsing under its own weight? Maybe TVG could take a poll? — Ron
Matt Roush: If anything, the trend is leaning more into streaming than the other direction, and it’s hard to imagine things going in reverse, especially as technology has changed the way so many watch TV. Expensive, high-profile programming like this is less and less likely to be offered on traditional commercial platforms, and it won’t surprise you that this complaint has dogged Star Trek: Discovery (among other series) since it helped launch the CBS All Access service. (If we took a poll, I already know what it would say, but it wouldn’t change the attitude of companies seeking new revenue streams in a challenging advertising market.)
Question: Regarding Star Trek: Picard on CBS All Access, do I need to have seen any of Star Trek: Discovery to understand what’s happening in the newest entry in this franchise? — Mike
Matt Roush: I haven’t seen the new series yet — though very much looking forward to it — but a reporter here who has seen some episodes assures me that Picard stands on its own. It might help, though, to take another look at 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis, the last film to feature Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the Next Generation crew, because this series picks up from that.
The Globes and Network TV
Question: About your Golden Globes column and how “Top Shows Miss the Cut,” and yet the Golden Globes are being broadcast on NBC. What hypocrites! Why not show the Golden Globes on HBO or Netflix? Oh wait, no commercial money on those channels. — Jacqueline N
Matt Roush: This isn’t so much hypocrisy as business. While the broadcast networks wish the Globes and other awards entities would acknowledge and at least nominate some of their best work, these live events are lucrative — which is why they remain network staples. (Same with the Emmys, which increasingly ignore network TV in favor of streaming and cable but continue to rotate among the “big four” networks.) From the presenters’ point of view, as I pointed out in that column, mass-market network exposure is critical for their public profile and credibility. Airing on even a major pay or subscription service, ironically enough, would marginalize their reach. Still, they’d get their money even without advertisers, as these shows would command a hefty license fee if they ever decided to jump ship.
Homage or Hot Mess?
Question: Curious about your thoughts on the second mess of Live in Front of a Studio Audience Norman Lear shows? For me, other than seeing John Amos, Marla Gibbs, Jimmie Walker, Bernadette Stanis and Janet Dubois, these feel like just cheap knock-offs. Just can’t try to outdo magic. — Laurel
Matt Roush: The best way to enjoy these specials, which many seem to do, is as an homage to shows that even those involved know can’t be equaled. This time around, I preferred the All in the Family redo (despite my ongoing qualms about Woody Harrelson‘s casting as Archie Bunker) because it was a stronger episode, and Kevin Bacon was an especially effective guest star. I had high hopes for the Good Times revival, because of that cast, and I get why they chose this episode because of its political/campaign content, but I’d have preferred a more typical episode that dealt with the family dynamics. I look at this experiment as a mixed bag when it comes to execution, but its heart is in the right place. And anything that calls attention to Norman Lear’s legacy while he’s still here to enjoy it is a positive in my ledger.
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.