Ask Matt: Another ‘Grey’s’ Departure, Midseason Shuffle on CBS (‘Magnum’) and NBC (‘Zoey’), ‘Good Place’ & More

ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Grey's Anatomy

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.

Alex, Come Back!

Question: What do you make of the surprise announcement that Justin Chambers (Alex) is leaving Grey’s Anatomy? It doesn’t surprise me that he would want to pursue other opportunities at some point because he’s been filming the show since 2004, but Alex is so thoroughly integrated into the relationships on the show that it seems very difficult to imagine the show without him on it. Even if Alex were to remain working at Pac North and the rest of the action relocates permanently to Grey Sloan, we’d never see Alex with his wife, Jo, or his many work friends. Having them divorce now after all they’ve been through would also be unsatisfying, as would any scenario which involves Alex dying and leaving Jo as the grieving widow. Furthermore, it is also being reported that his final episode has already aired, which makes the situation even worse. The winter finale sent him to take care of his ailing mother off screen. While I don’t blame Chambers at all for wanting to do something else, it does surprise me that he would be okay with sneaking out the back door like this.

I totally understand why ABC would want to keep the show running for as many years as possible, and I also know Karey Burke said at TCA that it will run as long as Ellen Pompeo wants to keep playing Meredith. I also understand the appeal for Pompeo of continuing to work on a very highly rated, high-paying TV show that has probably already made her set for the rest of her life. I should also note that Grey’s has managed to successfully weather the departures of many significant cast members in the past. However, at this point, I wish that Ellen would just call time on the show. It is already renewed through next season, which would give them a year to find a way to properly wrap up the storylines. I have been a faithful fan of the show since almost the beginning, and the thought of losing my longest-running-habit show seems weird to me. But it’s also sad to see the show turn into a shadow of its former self with the original characters we love departing. I would much rather have them go out with their head held high than whimpering on to a finish line after everyone has left, which seems to be what they’re heading towards now. What do you think? — Jake

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Matt Roush: I’d hate seeing Alex go under any circumstances. As one of the Grey’s Anatomy mainstays from the start, he has always presented an intriguing, mostly unsentimental contrast to the rest of the cast. But it seems unacceptable that a character who has been there from the beginning will have just moved away with no fanfare or farewell, never to be seen again, leaving so much personal baggage behind. Let’s see how Grey’s writers handle this before passing final judgment, but if the reports are true, this could be one of the worst things to happen to the show since McDreamy’s death (which I infamously predicted would be the end of Grey’s at the time). Departures like this can’t help but diminish an aging franchise, but even so, I’m willing to let Grey’s keep on until they decide to hang it up. Next to The Good Doctor, it’s still my favorite medical drama on network TV (the only ones I watch regularly). But Justin Chambers’ hasty departure — I have to think there’s more to the story than we know right now — is obviously a major blow. (Ellen Pompeo seems to agree.)

CBS’s Reboot Shuffle

Question: I see that MacGyver‘s fourth season premieres Feb. 7 at 8/7c. Does this mean Hawaii Five-0 will move back to 9/8c? Also will Magnum P.I. move back to Mondays? Big fan of all three shows. — Miessmer

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Matt Roush: Midseason changes tend to bring confusion, so here’s the situation as it currently stands. When MacGyver returns to the Friday lineup next month, Hawaii moves back an hour to 9/8c and Magnum goes on hiatus. CBS says Magnum will return in the spring when MacGyver’s run is over, with no date given yet. (Quite a few readers pointed out, in response to a question about crossovers, that MacGyver has in fact crossed over with Hawaii before, in 2017. So a three-way crossover obviously isn’t out of the question.)

Zoey Tuning Up to Move to a Busy Night

Question: I wasn’t aware of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist before the pilot aired this week, and I see you brought up Glee in terms of an early airing of the pilot. This new program struck me as a mash-up of Glee and NBC’s Parenthood. But it’s slated for Sunday evenings on a regular basis? I don’t know what its time slot will be, but why Sunday, to compete with God Friended Me? I’ve shared before what I think of network programs on Sunday evenings, the night every interesting cable station premieres new episodes of their best programs. Even though I won’t be watching Zoey going forward (because Sundays), I hope it doesn’t go the way of NBC’s previous short-lived musical dramedy, Cop Rock. — Hal

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Matt Roush: For the record, the infamous Cop Rock aired on ABC, not NBC, way back in 1990. (Smash was NBC’s last shot at a musical hybrid, if you don’t count the short-lived high-school drama Rise.) And for all of Zoey‘s whimsy, it’s not that weird. What I don’t get is how, if Zoey appealed at all to you, that you couldn’t make room for it on Sundays. Or, if you have cable, that you either couldn’t record it or catch up On Demand. Maybe it helps that Zoey‘s regular time period, starting Feb. 16, is 9/8c, the hour following God Friended Me. And given the choice, wouldn’t you rather watch something fresh and original over the crime-series spinoff that airs opposite it? (I get that many high-profile premium-cable shows air on Sundays, but if you subscribe to those channels, they’re always available and don’t have to be watched as they air.) I just feel strongly that for those who like this sort of thing, Zoey would be a perfect addition to anyone’s TV playlist.

When Streaming Leads to Swearing

Question: Why are we being bombarded with curse words when shows like Designated Survivor or The Expanse leave broadcast and cable channels for streaming services? What’s the rationale behind this? It’s just so annoying and unnecessary. — Terry

Matt Roush: It’s called freedom of expression, and when producers move away from the content constrictions of ad-supported media, they feel liberated — often to a fault — to let their characters speak more bluntly and colorfully. I especially noticed this in Designated Survivor, where the salty language in the Netflix version often felt gratuitously tacked on, but on the other hand, allowing characters to speak the way many grown-ups actually do, especially in times of stress and peril, can be refreshing. Though I’ll concede that when the pendulum swings too far the other way, it can be a nuisance.

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A More-Than-Justified Cameo

Question: How great was it to see Timothy Olyphant evoking Raylan Givens again on The Good Place Thursday night? I didn’t know I wanted to see that until it happened, but I thought it was hilarious. The only thing that would have made it even funnier is if Olyphant had recognized Michael and been confused. (He and Ted Danson worked together on the second season of Damages before Justified started.) — JL

Matt Roush: Keeping that secret before the episode aired was so hard! This is absolutely one of my favorite star cameos ever, and so perfect that the judge (Maya Rudolph) holding the fate of humanity in her hands has such a big crush on one of TV’s most appealing characters (and actors) ever. “You made me an Olyphant!” she exulted. As who wouldn’t? My only issue is that, given the Olyphant-as-Raylan of it all, why wouldn’t that alone sway the judge to side with humanity once and for all?

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And Finally …

Question: I know you covered this issue before, but I just watched, over two days, all 10 episodes of Bluff City Law. How NBC could cancel this show is beyond me. Great actors, great stories, compassion, drama: everything one wants in a show. Please tell me it is coming back, even on another channel. — Win

Matt Roush: I wish I could tell you something to give you hope, but it seems an awfully long shot. (I’m including this because I keep getting mail about the series.) The fact that Universal, NBC’s parent studio, produced Bluff City, makes it unlikely to be shopped elsewhere. If more people had found the show while it was still airing, when it might have made a difference to NBC, maybe that would have helped. The best you can do is write to the network, since ultimate decisions for next fall won’t be made until May.

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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.