Ask Matt: ‘Rookie’ Hiatus, ‘Zoey’ Preview, ‘Hawaii’ Crossover, Ricky Gervais & More

Nathan Fillion in The Rookie
ABC/Kelsey McNeal
The Rookie

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.

Why Keep The Rookie Off the Air So Long?

Question: Has ABC gone sour on The Rookie? While many ABC shows are returning with new episodes after a month or less, The Rookie will have been off-air for 10 weeks before returning on Feb. 23 to resolve its ill-advised cliffhanger from Dec. 8: the old double-fake-serial-killer/damsel-in-distress/Chen-in-a-tin-can schtick. For this we have to wait until the daffodils bloom? Has ABC done so well with viewers this season that it can afford to blow off a series that has hung in against tough competition in two time slots? Or do you see some grander plan at work? — J. Norris

Matt Roush: The waiting game is never fun, but I’m looking at this long hiatus as an instance of ABC actually protecting the show, because of its precarious position on Sunday nights. Given the number of major Sunday TV events over the first two months of the year — including the Golden Globes, football playoff championships, the Grammys, the Super Bowl, the Oscars (also on ABC), I imagine the programmers feel it’s better for The Rookie not to air a one-on, one-off schedule with multiple pre-emptions, and they certainly wouldn’t want to burn off original episodes against major live events, depressing the show’s ratings even further. Look at it this way: When The Rookie does return at the end of February, it will likely be able to air a string of uninterrupted original episodes, which could bolster its chances for a third season.

Singing Zoey’s Praises, But Why the Wait?

Question: I was really excited to finally see the pilot of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist this week. I loved it and I hope that NBC is patient with the show even if the ratings are iffy. But I heard another TV critic on the radio express his concern that by having the show not air after this week until February, it could hurt the show. What are your thoughts? Can you explain why NBC chose to do a special preview rather than just launching the show outright? – Brian

Matt Roush: I get that this could be a problem, but I can also see the benefit of a sneak-peek tease like this, especially given the glut on television, which will be even more noticeable a month from now when Zoey premieres in its regular Sunday time period on Feb. 16. (The pilot that aired this Tuesday will be repeated, followed by a second episode.) In a world where social media and viral videos can help get the word out, putting the Zoey pilot out there early could be seen as a stroke of genius, and I’m thinking that NBC also took this step knowing it could capitalize on multiple promos during the highly-rated Golden Globes the Sunday before.

You weren’t the only one questioning this strategy. Jake wrote in to note: “I want to see the next episode next week, not six weeks from now. I get that this is going to be a Sunday show and they won’t want to compete with upcoming events like the Super Bowl and the Oscars, but it seems to me that any buzz it may generate from tonight’s airing could be gone by the middle of February. They’ll essentially have to start marketing over again before the February return.”

This may be true, but I’m betting NBC will put its considerable marketing muscle behind Zoey, and since the target audience for the show is probably accustomed to watching TV in unconventional ways, the sampling on this before February could be greater than we think, building anticipation. (It reminds me of how Glee premiered its pilot episode in May of 2009, giving the show an entire summer to generate buzz before it returned in September.)

Back to Jake, who had these further observations about Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist:

“I’ve been a fan of Jane Levy since Suburgatory, which didn’t last nearly as long as it should have, and it was great to see her back on TV in another show. You mentioned Chuck in your preview, what with the downloading stuff into her brain, but the pilot actually reminded me more of 2008’s Eli Stone than anything else. There, Eli had to use his usually musical visions to guide him to certain clients, cases and causes. Here, it seems like the basic structure is for Zoey to use the songs she hears to help people, as was the case with her co-worker. (They even had the upstairs neighbor playing Wham! in the beginning, and Eli Stone often relied on George Michael’s catalog.) The comparison between the two shows is so strong for me that it makes me wonder if anyone from Zoey’s team is aware of or worked on Eli in any capacity. It sounds like I’m accusing Zoey of ripping off Eli, which could not be further from the truth since I absolutely loved this pilot. It’s just a really strange coincidence.”

Matt again: It’s an interesting comparison, but never really occurred to me. (Probably because Eli Stone, which I also greatly enjoyed, was so short-lived and aired such a long time ago.) At first glance, I don’t see any overlap in the creative teams. Eli Stone was a Greg Berlanti production, and one of the more recognizable names on the Zoey team is Paul Feig. So maybe it’s a case of great minds thinking alike. The tone of this feels quite different to me, and it leads more with the musical gimmick than even Eli did. Either way, looking forward to more.

More Hawaii Crossovers?

Question: I really enjoyed the recent Hawaii Five-0/Magnum P.I. crossover, being a fan of both shows. My only disappointment was that we didn’t get to see more individual members of McGarrett’s and Magnum’s teams interact with each other, although I suspect that was due to time/script constraints. Can we expect more of these crossovers if both series return for next season? In fact, let’s take it a step further: Is MacGyver set in the same universe as those two? If MacGyver gets renewed this spring, is it possible we could see a three-hour crossover event, at some point, between all three of these shows? It seems to me that, when Hawaii Five-0 eventually does call it quits, MacGyver would make a natural companion to Magnum on Friday nights (assuming that neither of the latter two gets canceled, of course)? — Elaine

Matt Roush: As long as these Hawaii-based shows stay in production, I’d imagine the possibility of more crossovers is very likely, though I doubt they’ll ever be as common as the Chicago shows on NBC or the Grey’s AnatomyStation 19 franchise on ABC. As you noted, there’s a lot more material to explore in bouncing the respective teams off each other. Bringing MacGyver into their world might be trickier, because it’s not based in Hawaii and is a very separate entity, unlike Hawaii and Magnum, which share some elements of a production team. That said, if CBS found a way to do it and promote it, why not? They’re all reboots of past classics, so it’s not like they have anything to lose.

Was Ricky the Host with the Most?

Question: Many are slamming Ricky Gervais as host of the Golden Globes. I thought he was a refreshing change and totally honest. I took a poll and 78% of people agreed with me. What do you think? — Maria W

Matt Roush: Thank you for sharing those scientific findings. Personally, I couldn’t disagree more, as I noted in my morning-after commentary. The first few times Ricky hosted I would have agreed. His irreverence was refreshing, but he delivered his zingers back then with a mischievous wit and glee. This time, he mostly feigned boredom, which even if it was an act comes off as one of the most tired shticks there is. A few of his jokes and comments had an appropriate sting, and I’m sure there are millions who agree that awards-show winners shouldn’t bring up real-world issues in their acceptance speeches. (Although the fires in Australia did feel like an appropriate concern.) For me, the real problem was attitude. It’s fine to take this glittery and privileged crowd down a peg or two, but at least make it look like you’re having fun in the process. His petulance, including reading most of his later material off of note cards, was for me the opposite of entertaining.

Dancing as Fast as They Can

Question: I am watching the show Flirty Dancing. My question regarding the show is: Will the people not selected for a second date be brought back to swap places by becoming the person to choose between two dance partners? — Esther

Matt Roush: With only six episodes produced for the initial season’s tryout, this seems unlikely. But if Fox renews the series for a longer run, it’s possible, especially if the producers see a potential fan favorite among the rejected dancers. (The “choice” between two partners is an element that was added to the Fox version of Flirty Dancing. In the original U.K. version, it was purely a one-on-one encounter.) If the show catches on, I’d actually be surprised if this doesn’t happen. God knows being rejected by a Bachelor or Bachelorette is the best thing that has happened to some people (who go on to becomes future Bachelors or Bachelorettes).

Why Pay for What You Can Borrow for Free?

Question: I am one of the people who refuses to subscribe to the numerous pay streaming services. And I use my own system to bypass paying for all the streaming-only shows. I wait for the show’s new season to be released on DVD. My local library buys copies of these shows and I borrow them for free. Granted, you’re one season behind but you are still able to see it without paying for it. I watch several streaming shows this way now. I’m sure the streaming services wouldn’t approve of this, but as others have said: Most people can’t afford to buy all these services. — JC

Matt Roush: Whatever works for you, and there’s no question the strain on a normal person’s budget is not going to ease up. Of course, a number of prominent series produced exclusively for and by a streaming service may never be released on DVD, which isn’t the profitable market it used to be. So as long as you’re OK with that, this seems like a viable option for those with patience. (I’ve also advised, if there’s a streaming show you simply feel you must see, that you could subscribe for as long as it takes to binge-watch a show, then drop the service. The cost would be about as much as a pay-per-view fee in some cases.)

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.