Ask Matt: 'Zoey's' Future, 'SVU's Renewal, Crossover Conundrums & 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. (We know background music is too loud, but there’s always closed-captioning.)
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.
Does Zoey Have a Songbird's Chance for Survival?
Question: I have been watching Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist on NBC, because I find Jane Levy incredibly charismatic and because I like musicals. Many people have rightfully compared it to Eli Stone, but I want to mention two other even older shows that Zoey shares a lot of common ground with: Joan of Arcadia and Wonderfalls. Just like both of these shows, Zoey is a show about a young woman being forced to interact with the universe around her and as a result improving the lives of the people around her through somewhat fantastic occurrences. When watching Zoey, I cannot help but wish the show was a bit quirkier and more offbeat, with a sharper sense of humor like the short-lived gem Wonderfalls. As it is, Zoey gets a little bit too earnest and sappy for my taste, when the premise really lends itself for more Crazy Ex-Girlfriend or Wonderfalls sensibilities. Anyway, what do you think are the chances of this actually surviving beyond the season? — Joe
Matt Roush: I worry for Zoey if viewers can't enjoy it for its own merits and stop comparing it to other shows — especially cult series that I also appreciated, but which either died quickly like the brilliant Wonderfalls or lingered like my beloved Crazy Ex only because The CW miraculously continues to sustain shows at the very bottom of the ratings. If Zoey skews a little earnest and mainstream — although I'd never paint characters like Mo with that brush — it still has an emotional kick and is highly entertaining, and I understand why the show would strive to be more commercial (not always a pejorative term) than cult.
Otherwise, I'm hoping and betting that NBC will be patient with this one. (It probably doesn't help that Zoey airs opposite the second hour of another musical series, ABC's American Idol, which isn't the juggernaut it used to be, but still.) I'm betting that Zoey's fate won't rest on Sunday ratings alone but will be determined by how well it does digitally. Buzz-wise, it's one of the few midseason shows worth going to bat for.
SVU: Now and Forever?
Question: Here I am, a year later, asking you (again) about SVU's renewal: What's your take on Law & Order: SVU's three-season renewal? Do you think the show's going to use those 66 episodes to do the same old, same old, or use it to start working towards some kind of conclusion (which is how things should be, to be honest. Enough already.)? I'm afraid it's going to be the former rather than the latter. — Reed
Matt Roush: For the most part, I'd expect the next seasons of SVU will be business as usual. The formula has worked for this long, it's not like Dick Wolf is looking to change it. I wouldn't be surprised if there are more cast comings-and-goings, which is pretty much a constant for long-running franchises, but otherwise SVU will be SVU, because that's what fans seem to like. It's also quite possible, though, that when this latest historic extension nears the end, that we'll be hearing of possible exit strategies. Even Mariska Hargitay can't do this gig forever. Or maybe she can. Time will tell.
And What About the Mothership?
Question: Has there ever been talk of bringing back the original Law & Order? It was always one of my favorites. The reruns appear to still be very popular. I watch them all the time. Of course, it wouldn't be the original cast, just the concept. — Terry
Matt Roush: There have been talks of reviving the series, as recently as five years ago, even with some original cast members returning in a limited-run format. But those talks went nowhere, and for now, with Wolf's company so immersed in the Chicago and FBI franchises, it appears to be a non-starter. Which doesn't mean it will never happen. As you said, the reruns still draw us in, and Law & Order remains one of the most powerful and lucrative brands on TV. I know I'd like to see it again.
Cancellation Jitters That Chill the Blood
Matt Roush: Nope. Sounds like just rumors to me. I understand why there would be talk, but Hawaii was always much more on the ropes when it came to renewal (in part because of the stars' desire to move on). While it's inevitable that Blue Bloods will also eventually succumb to economics or possibly the stars' restlessness, it's as essential in many ways to CBS's brand as the NCIS franchise and I can't imagine they'll just spring the finale on fans the way Hawaii seems to have done. When the time comes to say goodbye to the Reagans, CBS will likely give fans plenty of build-up and notice, if only out of respect to Tom Selleck.
Is Dead Shuffling Off Its Mortal Coil?
Question: With The Walking Dead cast having one more season left on their contracts, is there any chance that next season will be it? Between the declining ratings and cast departures, do you feel the end is nigh? — Marvin
Matt Roush: There could be a wide disconnect between how I feel and what AMC will do, but if in fact the remaining core cast is up for renewal — I don't pay much attention to such things until they actually become news — it would be a perfect time to stick a fork in this one. A new spinoff is coming next month, and the forthcoming Rick Grimes movies could create a template for the original Dead to reinvent itself as a periodic "event" rather than an increasingly tiresome ongoing weekly series. But I'm sure it will be tough for AMC to let the original go, whenever that should happen.
How Will TV's Crossovers Play in the Future?
Question: This isn't something that will affect TV — yet. But I wonder if producers and investors will come to regret the idea of the big, and growing, "Crossover Event." It started with all the Chicago shows (Med, Fire and PD) and has since spread to Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 sharing storylines. Then there's the so-called DC Universe, with the "Crisis" scripts being extended over five separate CW shows. What's the problem? In many cases, this kind of ratings-oriented stunting contains pivotal plot points that can change the direction of the shows involved. So what happens when they're syndicated years from now and a station that bought the rights to, say, Chicago Med can't ever show the cliffhanger conclusions that came on the other two shows? The DC programs — Arrow, Supergirl, Batwoman, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash — are likely to go to different stations when they reach the magic 100 episodes, which all producers dream of because that's when they're eligible for syndication and big profits. Do you suppose that we'll ever be able to see all of those interconnected shows on broadcast TV ever again? I feel sorry for future viewers forever left hanging from these shows with no continuity - and no endings. - Aaron
Matt Roush: While syndication of hit shows isn't going anywhere as a business, the future (and largely present) of TV franchises like these is in streaming. And packaging. It's possible that when and if these series are sold separately into syndication, the crossover episodes won't be included in the deal — or with the Chicago shows (a more traditional sort of franchise), they'd include the linked episodes from the other series. But in the bigger picture, I'd bet the Chicago and Grey's series, and certainly the "Crisis on Infinite Earth" type of miniseries-style stunt will all be packaged as units to whatever streamer gets rights to the respective studio's or producer's titles.
Question: I'll miss Hawaii Five-0. I'm an Alex O'Loughlin fan since 2007's short lived Moonlight, which I believe got cancelled because of the writer's strike. We, the fans, did everything we could to save it by having blood drives to you name it, we did it. We even tried to bribe then CBS-Entertainment President Nina Tassler with a GIANT bouquet of flowers. It looks like the cast except for Eric Winter (The Rookie) is free. Is there a chance of getting it back? - Maria
Matt Roush: After this much time? And with a library of only 16 episodes as a launching pad? Not likely, although stranger things have happened. If it does, it won't be on CBS. More likely a reboot for some streaming service, but even that seems a long shot. Still, if Alex O'Loughlin is interested… Hawaii made him a much bigger star, so the ball's in his coffin.
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.