Ask Matt: Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Double Duty (Good Wife and Walking Dead), Plus: Rizzoli & Isles and More
Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their "TV therapist") Matt Roush, who'll 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 unless it's 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.
Question: So Jeffrey Dean Morgan is on The Walking Dead? Does that mean he is no longer a love interest on The Good Wife? Sure hate to see him go if that's the case, they make a sexy couple. — MaidMarian
Matt Roush: Understandable confusion, given that the actor's first (and controversial) appearance as The Walking Dead's Negan occurred while he's still heating up the screen as Jason on The Good Wife—although the latter show was pre-empted the Sunday of Negan's big entrance on Dead. But with The Good Wife in its last weeks—the series finale airs May 8—the actor was able to stay on that show, presumably to the very end, while being able to moonlight and film the final scene of the final episode of The Walking Dead's sixth season, and he'll appear regularly in Season 7 come October, when The Good Wife and his role as Jason are merely fond memories.
Can't CBS Get A Bigger Bang Out of Big Bang?
Question: What's going on with CBS? It's bad enough that they're keeping proven audience repellent 2 Broke Girls on for yet another season, but why did they think it deserved to be on Thursday? And if that show isn't bad enough, I heard Life In Pieces is likely to return, even though the only reason it's gotten decent ratings is because it's on after The Big Bang Theory! Didn't they learn anything from The Millers? More importantly, didn't they learn anything from NBC, who once ruled Thursday until they squandered prime real estate on sub-par shows? CBS has never had a really decent sitcom on after The Big Bang Theory since it moved to Thursday. - Shamus
Matt Roush: And let's not forget the unfortunate reboot of The Odd Couple, currently riding Big Bang's considerable coattails. You're right that this dilemma plagued NBC for many years during its "must-see" Thursday reign, as they tried and repeatedly failed to find a show to pair successfully with the powerhouse Friends. CBS could, of course, put The Big Bang Theory and Mom together for a solid hour of A-plus Chuck Lorre-produced comedy, but networks tend to use breakout shows like these as tentpoles between which they hammock new (and usually lesser) comedies in hope that something sticks. (I used to refer to NBC's 8:30/7:30c slot on Thursdays as the best time to walk the dog/sort socks/call mom or whatever gets you through the lull.) This illustrates the difficulty across the board in developing breakout comedies. Only ABC seems to have accomplished that currently with its Wednesday lineup of great family sitcoms. None of which addresses CBS's continued loyalty to 2 Broke Girls, which I admit is an ongoing and unpleasant mystery.
Why Is TNT Dumping Rizzoli?
Question: Please explain why Rizzoli & Isles is being canceled. I understand the ratings are still good and the show is just outstanding and has a huge fanbase. — Lora
Matt Roush: A show like Rizzoli could probably continue indefinitely, but TNT is one of several cable networks (including USA) that is consciously moving away from this sort of meat-and-potatoes TV, raising its sights to take on the likes of FX and AMC—if not the premium channels—with a slate of more ambitious, edgier dramas. This transition will begin taking effect this summer, around the time that Rizzoli & Isles is airing its final season. This is obviously a very calculated risk, and TNT is hedging its bets by keeping the durable Major Crimes around for at least another year. But I tend to look at situations like this as less a reason to grieve than an opportunity for Rizzoli to go out on a high to satisfy its fans. Seven seasons is a decent run for any show, and at least TNT isn't jerking it off the air without notice. This isn't so much cancellation as forced retirement.
Cliffhangers: Walking At Least Got Us Talking
Question: I'm a fan of both The Walking Dead comic and TV show. While I am not completely caught up on the comic, I have made it to the parts of the show where the story is currently being pulled from. One of the things I enjoy as a fan of both platforms is the show's ability to still surprise me. I loved Negan's entry to the show's universe as much as I did in the comics, even though they were very similar. I was a little upset at first to not know who was killed, even though I know who it was in the comics. The way it ended leaves the story open for speculation: Did they change the fate of the characters? But Scott Gimple also mentioned on The Talking Dead that he wanted the audience to feel what the characters were feeling. He wanted them to wonder who in fact was the member that was killed and be filled with the emotion of the scene as Negan was going through the group one at a time before he finally landed on his victim. While many may not agree it was the best way to end the season, I do think he accomplished his goal of making us feel the uncertainty of the group as a whole and possibly the anger of Rick for getting the group in this situation and not knowing how to get out of it.
Secondly, when thinking about the Glenn "death" from earlier, what better way to make the audience grieve the way the characters do than to make them believe he is dead the same way the characters on the show think he is gone. While it was gimmicky, it did achieve that much. As a fan of TV in general, nothing frustrates me more than cliffhangers, but after a few days I get over it and move on. It does create great discussions with friends who also watch the shows. I know I am very excited to see how the story continues next season. It will also stink having to rip the Band-Aid off when we find out who was Lucille's victim at the end of the finale. - Chad
Matt Roush: These are all good and fair points. The reason cliffhangers are such a TV staple, for better or worse, is for exactly this sort of watercooler potential, heightened in an era of non-stop social media. The problem is when it comes off like a cheap trick, perhaps unworthy of a show that made its reputation by breaking so many of TV's rules. But as Chad notes, despite all of the "Dead is dead to me" protestations, something tells me that when October rolls around for Season 7, a possibly record number of people will be tuning in, however fearfully and regretfully, to see what happens next. That's the nature of the beast.
In Defense of Murder
Question: I must be one of the few people who thought this season of How to Get Away With Murder better than the first. The flash-forwards last year when we didn't know the characters were just annoying. I agree this season went a little off the rails with everything happening all at once seemingly several times an episode, but I'm hoping next season we get more insight into the back stories of the law students before they got to Annalise. Scandal used to be my must-see show, but after the Christmas episode I'd had enough. Between B613, Papa Pope and my hope for "Jam in Vermont" getting crushed, I'm just over it. - LaDonna
Matt Roush: As discussed earlier this week in Tuesday's Ask Matt column, it tends to be a personal choice about when shows this outrageous reach their breaking point. For me, the seemingly make-it-up-as-we-go-along incoherence of Murder's storytelling this season made it impossible for me to care what happened to anyone, including Annalise, and this is a show where the more I learn about these characters, the less I enjoy their company. But, echoing the earlier exchange on cliffhangers, I'll probably be there next fall when "TGIT" starts all over again, although much more wary, with one foot already out the door.
Is Hawaii Booking Danno Less Often?
Question: I love watching Hawaii Five-0, and the banter between Danny and Steve make it so good. But this season Danny's character seems to only be on about every other episodes. What's going on? Is it a cost thing or do the actors not get along? Just wondering. — Dave
Matt Roush: This question has dogged the show for a while, and Scott Caan (who plays Danno) has addressed it before, noting that unlike many of the rest of the cast, who have planted roots in Hawaii, he still splits time between the show's location and Los Angeles, where his family (including a young daughter) still lives, which is why he appears in fewer episodes than he did at the beginning. This is by all accounts his choice.
Question: Quick question: Has Wipeout been canceled? It's a dumb, mindless-fun show to watch! Thanks and love your column. — Peter
Matt Roush: Thank you. ABC never officially canceled Wipeout, but it's no longer listed as an ongoing series on their website, and the network seems more committed to reviving classic game shows like $100,000 Pyramid and To Tell the Truth in the wake of last summer's surprise hit Celebrity Family Feud. So while it’s not out of the question that ABC or some other entity could revive the show again, either regularly or as specials, you'll probably have to look elsewhere for your dumb fun this summer.
Question: Will NBC be renewing The Mysteries of Laura?-Lee
Matt Roush: Still unclear, and that decision may not be made until it's time to announce the new fall lineup in mid-May.
Question: Is there any way Person of Interest could go to a different format or channel to keep it going? Great show. — Lynn
Matt Roush: Anything's possible, especially with all of these new streaming options—Netflix extending the life of A&E's Longmire is a classic example—and much depends on how the producers end the run on CBS and whether they and the studio opt to aggressively shop it around. Lots of variables here, but I'm approaching this long-delayed final season as the end of the story. At least for now.
Thanks for reading. We'll pick up the conversation again next week, but I can't do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected]tvinsider.com or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Or submit your question via the handy form below: