Ask Matt: Renewal Anxieties, ‘This Is Us,’ Singing Competitions in Limbo & More

This Is Us Randall Kevin Season 4
Ron Batzdorff/NBC
This Is Us

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.

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Hoping for Deputy to be Re-elected

Question: CBS has by far the best shows: FBI, FBI: Most Wanted, all NCIS, Blue Bloods, etc., but I do love Fox’s Resident and of course, Deputy. Please tell me that Deputy has been renewed for a second season? I, like so many people, do not have cable and therefore I rely on the regular channels. So please don’t bust my bubble about Deputy. I’ve already lost Hawaii Five-0 and would hate to lose another excellent show. — Alice, Ft. Myers, FL

Matt Roush: Lucky for you, network TV has an insatiable appetite for procedural crime dramas, so even should Deputy not be renewed, there will likely be something new to fill the void. Wish I could give you more definitive news to keep your bubble intact, but Deputy is considered one of those shows on the “bubble,” neither a hit nor a flop, and Fox hasn’t given it an early pickup, so we might not know until at least May whether it has made next season’s schedule.

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[Note: The networks are still currently planning their annual “upfront” presentations in May — though not in front of huge audiences this year — to announce the fall lineups, but given the current state of the outbreak crisis, that timetable could also be affected. No way to predict at this point.]

Big Hearts for BobAbishola

Question: I simply must put in a plug for the cute, funny, quirky BobAbishola that will hopefully entice others to give it a try. It has become a favorite of ours because of the incredibly perfect casting and LOL humor! Plus it tugs at your heart in ways you are unprepared for. We simply love the cast, they will grab you. I will admit sometimes we have to put on CC to catch some of the accented dialogue, but it’s worth it! Are all Nigerians this lovable? I’m hoping CBS will renew — any word yet? — Becky & Tom, Arizona

Matt Roush: I’m much fonder of the Nigerian characters than the Bob half of the show (too stock-sitcom for me), but the feedback in my mailbag suggests that this unconventional romantic comedy has struck a chord. CBS hasn’t given the show an early renewal for next season, but I’m betting it has a good shot, if only because it comes from Chuck Lorre‘s company (Mom, Young Sheldon), and CBS knows better than to bet against him.

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So Many Shows in Limbo

Question: I know this isn’t the most important thing to worry about regarding the coronavirus, but I’m curious how you think it will affect cancellations and renewals for next year, especially as many shows had to cut their season’s short? Obviously, popular veteran shows like Grey’s Anatomy and This Is Us already had multiple seasons picked up, but I’m curious about some of the newer shows, like Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, which still has some bumps to work out but is easily becoming my favorite new show this season. — Marissa

Matt Roush: We’ve covered some of this ground before in this column, but it’s obviously an uncertain time for the industry (and everywhere else). There is a school of thought that anything that’s currently on the air and with any sort of media and fan support stands a better chance than usual of getting picked up because so much else is in limbo. If you’re a fan of Zoey (as I clearly am, if you’ve been reading my weekly updates), it probably wouldn’t hurt to reach out pro-actively to NBC via social media or however you choose to communicate. Of all the midseason shows I’ve sampled, Zoey is the one I’m most keen to see given a chance to grow.

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Taking Issue with This Is Us

Question: When did Randall on This Is Us become arrogant and self-righteous? This is not the same Randall from the first two seasons, and frankly I now wish Beth had left him in Season 3 because she and the girls deserve better. — Brian

Matt Roush: He can be exasperating, there’s no doubt, but I feel like the show, and the tremendous Sterling K. Brown, have planted the seeds for this development all along. It has been well established that Randall suffers from anxiety and depression which manifests itself in a need to control, or at least to be seen as in charge and responsible. That blow-up between him and Kevin (Justin Hartley) in the season finale was both harrowing and justified. If Randall didn’t occasionally realize (usually through the reactions of the invaluable Beth) that he is his own worst enemy, he might indeed be irredeemable. But I still find plenty of reason to root for him, flaws and all, as I do for most of the characters on this terrific series.

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From new character reveals to possible relationships.

Question: In the This Is Us season finale, Kate and Toby were not present at the birth of their grandchild. That seems wrong. Your thoughts? – Mel

Matt Roush: I’m conditioned by now to accept the fact that these flash-forwards tease out the information slowly, so I’m betting there’s a reason the older versions of Kate and Toby weren’t depicted in that scene. There were so many reveals in the finale that I didn’t even register the absence of the grandparents, but I imagine the more we learn about the adult version of Baby Jack, we’ll discover more about how Future Kate and Toby fit into his life.

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How Will TV’s Singing Competitions Go Live?

Question: What do you think might happen with these singing competitions once it is time for the live shows? — Ryan in Normal, Ill

Matt Roush: Your guess is as good as mine. As you may be aware, American Idol is vamping for several weeks, scrapping its Monday broadcasts for now and reportedly scheduling two specials profiling the Top 20 on April 12 and 19. It seems an optimistic projection that Idol or The Voice would be able to stage the same kind of arena-style live performance episodes they’re accustomed to in front of cheering audiences even as early as May. But this, as they like to say, is above my pay grade. So stay tuned as these shows (and others like them, including upcoming seasons of America’s Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance) face some very difficult decisions.

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The trailer also includes appearances by original cast members Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park!


Question: Why is Hawaii Five-0 ending? Its ratings are good. And what’s with Missy Peregrym‘s absence on FBI? — Christine

Matt Roush: I’ll risk repeating myself because Hawaii’s series finale is airing this Friday (April 3), so the question has gained renewed urgency. The bottom line is that this decision wasn’t about ratings but about keeping a show going beyond a 10th season when contracts were up and its star (Alex O’Loughlin) by all accounts was ready to move on, after years of injuries and physical stress on what is obviously a grueling production. As for Missy Peregrym on FBI: Her character of Maggie appears to have been written out for several episodes — now made moot by the show shutting down production because of the outbreak, with the last finished episode airing tonight (March 31) — to accommodate the actress’s pregnancy.

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And what did you think of the first 'Most Wanted' crossover? Vote in our poll.

And Finally…

Question: I love Grey’s Anatomy and A Million Little Things, but why does there have to be songs the last couple of minutes of the shows? I wear hearing aids and despite resetting them, I cannot understand what is being said! Closed captioning is good but runs right into the words of these songs. These shows are not the only ones who do it, but they are my favorites! — Lynna

Matt Roush: Rarely does a day go by without me receiving several complaints from viewers about background music obscuring dialogue on shows. But this is a new twist, and I can see how aggravating that would be. I don’t usually use closed captioning (sometimes for British series when the accents are particularly thick), but when music is played, it’s often represented by a music sign, NOT by the lyrics of the music being played. (Surely the song title would be enough.) On a show like Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, where the music is the point, I would expect to be able to read the lyrics. But in regular dramas, to overlap the dialogue with song lyrics is unacceptable. Same goes, obviously, for those of us watching without closed captioning. Dial that music down, producers! My readers are begging you.

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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. Everyone stay safe and healthy!