Ask Matt: Left Hanging by ‘Sanditon,’ a Gory ‘Picard,’ ‘Carol’ Getting Serious & 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 many Tuesdays and Fridays.
We Need More Sanditon!
Question: I just finished watching Sanditon on Masterpiece, which I loved all the way up to its incomplete end. Is it really possible there may not be a second season of this delightful series? [Spoiler Alert] And that we might never see the two romantic lead characters of Charlotte and Sidney, who were so cruelly separated by fate and circumstance in the final episode, be reunited? This is outrageous! Have we really seen the last of Sanditon? — Janet
Matt Roush: For now, I’m sorry to say, that’s all he wrote — “he” being Andrew Davies, who adapted and extended the unfinished novel by Jane Austen, who died before she could write very much of the story at all. As we have reported, the original broadcaster, England’s ITV, opted not to continue with a second season when ratings didn’t live up to expectations. And this happened before the Masterpiece run even began in January. (When I binge-watched the series a few months ago to write my enthusiastic review, I was similarly chagrined to realize the story was going to stop so abruptly on this unhappy note.) Read between the lines, however, and there is hope from the series’ producers that because Sanditon made a splash in the U.S. that there may be a way to keep the show going. Let’s hope so. But at the moment, until there is new news, it’s very much in limbo.
Is Picard Too Violent?
Question: Just a slight rant here. I ponied up for CBS All Access to watch Star Trek: Picard, and while I’m ok(ish) with the plot, I don’t like that this isn’t exactly a show I can let my child watch. Last week’s episode (“Stardust City Rag”) lacked a warning of grotesque violence/gore and also included some lovely murders. The level of gore was just unnecessary. I know streamers are the Wild Wild West when it comes to standards and practices, but sometimes I feel nobody stops to think, “Just because I can do this, does it mean I should?” I wasn’t much older than my daughter is now when The Next Generation was on, and I watched it religiously with my mother. It saddens me that the “new” breed of Trek shows aren’t exactly family-friendly. — Life Long Trekker
Matt Roush: I flinched as well during that episode — especially when they showed the former Borg being tortured as his parts (especially his eye) were being harvested by the villain of the week, the crime boss Bjayzl. And while it might have been advisable to attach a viewer-discretion warning, I remember the Borg episodes of TNG as being among the most intense and gruesome in that show’s history. And because we needed to feel the depths of Seven of Nine’s need for justice and brutal vengeance, I didn’t find the scene all that gratuitous. But it’s a fact that by moving into the streaming universe, the Trek series are no longer always the kinder, gentler variety of sci-fi TV so many of us grew up with.
When Carol Got Serious
Question: I know that you and many others have not looked with favor upon the CBS sitcom Carol’s Second Act, but I was wondering if you watched this week’s episode in which Carol’s patient Eddie (an affable Larry Joe Campbell) [SPOILER ALERT] dies after undergoing a liver transplant. Eddie was on the show for three episodes and I was surprised by this sobering development. I liked that the characters, who were shown celebrating the successful procedure, were given time to react and — in Carol’s case — mourn Eddie’s passing. Personally, I’ve enjoyed Carol’s Second Act from day one despite its flaws, so I’m glad that the show didn’t shy away from taking a serious turn. What do you think, Matt – maybe Carol could be given a Second Chance? — Nick
Matt Roush: I haven’t watched these episodes yet, but thanks for pointing them out, and I agree it’s exactly the right direction for a show like this to take, to balance the formula sitcom beats with a dose of reality, especially considering the hospital setting. Not to mention taking advantage of the talent at the top of the cast; I’m betting the chemistry between Patricia Heaton and guest star Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul) as Eddie’s surgeon is considerable.
Can For Life Break Through the Clutter?
Question: I sampled the first two episodes of ABC’s For Life and predict it will end up being prematurely canceled like so many other high-quality dramas on broadcast TV. Not enough viewers are sampling the highly promoted pilots, so they aren’t even considering the shows later on as the show progresses. But veterans like Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order: SVU and NCIS continue to thrive. Viewers are hooked on the oldies and are finding not enough time for newbies. Streaming shows are getting all the attention. Also cable shows (for the most part) are being ignored lately. Not to mention that old broadcast unscripted shows like The Bachelor, Survivor and American Idol are also siphoning precious time away from new shows. — Fred
Matt Roush: This is a concise, and fairly bleak, assessment of how hard it is for new shows, especially on broadcast networks, to get sampled and break through (including in media coverage) in such a crowded marketplace. To single out For Life, ABC was actually rather bullish in its own ratings report on the prison/legal drama after its second week, noting that it held onto nearly 100% of its first-week tune-in and grew in viewer playback. Of course, that’s a network taking the most positive spin, but it’s better than nothing. To the other point that many viewers remain hooked on their longtime favorites, whether scripted or non-scripted, it’s just a reminder that when it comes to TV, as with so many things, we are creatures of habit. Which shouldn’t stop us from trying new things.
Get a Haircut!
Question: In the Feb. 23 episode of NCIS: LA, Eric Christian Olsen as Marty Deeks reached a new low. After so many seasons, his character’s need to look “undercover cop” has surely expired!!! His hair in this episode is so long and unattractive and unacceptable. Any chance to give feedback to NCIS: LA producers or whomever to get his hair cut? It is so distracting when he is involved in the show. — Judy
Matt Roush: Not a new complaint, but certainly one of the strongest in a while on this issue. I imagine the show’s producers are well aware of reactions and exchanges like these, but I can’t imagine Deeks will shed his shaggy-dog demeanor anytime soon.
Question: I love hidden “Easter Eggs” in TV shows and there’s a very subtle one on the Feb. 25 episode of The CW’s The Flash. The show centers around a return appearance of the villain Grodd, a gorilla-like character. But it’s the title, the one thing viewers will never see, that contains the unknown gem. The episode is titled “Grodd Friended Me,” a take-off on another network’s show — in this case, CBS’s Sunday lead-off program God Friended Me. The fact that both shows are produced by Greg Berlanti and these are sibling networks just makes it all that much better. — Aaron F.
Matt Roush: Who doesn’t love a good pun? And always preferring to end these columns on a positive note, thanks for providing such a delicious bit of up-to-the-minute trivia. Happy viewing, 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.