Ask Matt: That ‘Good Doctor’ Finale, Late Night from Home, ‘Tiger King,’ ‘Outlander,’ ‘Walking Dead’ & 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.
A ‘Good Doctor’ RIP (Spoilers)
Question: What a disappointment and surprise that Dr. Melendez dies in the season finale of The Good Doctor. I was hoping Dr. Reznick would be the one to go. She’s a caring doctor to her patients, but her attitude towards fellow colleagues is nasty and a “know-it-all” type. She plays the character well, there’s one of her in everyone’s life. This is a great medical show dealing with extraordinary issues, a team working together to do what’s best for the patient, at the same time solving their personal issues. Each case reveals the care and compassion the doctors have for the patient. — Ervolino
Question: Why was Dr. Melendez the one written out of the show? — Christine
Matt Roush: I’m happy to say I didn’t see this one coming, either. (I tend to avoid spoiler rumors as if social-distancing rules applied to this as well, although losing at least one doctor in a finale this fraught was hardly unexpected.) In my reading of various exit interviews, I sense that this was a tough call on the producers’ part on who to let go — Reznick would have been too obvious a choice, being so unlikable, and she appears to just be starting her redemption arc (and a new mentor/kinship with Dr. Andrews). The way I always look at a major character’s death is in gauging dramatic impact, and by losing Dr. Melendez, who meant so much to so many of the characters, The Good Doctor has successfully shaken things up for a fourth-season reset. I also couldn’t help reflecting, through many of the farewell scenes, that Nicholas Gonzalez was getting the Ali McGraw/Love Story treatment, in which dying means never having to stop looking your best.
Late Night Hosts Vamping from Home
Question: It’s been interesting to watch the late-night talk shows switch over to having their hosts as home. So far, I give them an A for making the effort, and far lesser grades for most of the content. Kimmel talked to his neighbor in the driveway, Colbert changed a bike tire, seems forced and much lesser without the energy he gets from his audience. Do they not have access to their writing staff? John Oliver was better on his show. And I haven’t checked in on the others. I know it’s a new experience for them and us, and they are trying to figure it out, much as the rest of us are trying to figure out our lives, groceries, work/meetings, kids, whatever. I get the camera work isn’t going to be anything good, but surely the writing staff is still a resource? We look to these shows to sum up the day, make us think a title, laugh a bunch, and they just aren’t doing that. What’s your take? — Karen
Matt Roush: My early reaction is that it’s still early days, and they’re in the process of figuring it out. Yes, they still have writers, but the process isn’t the same as spit-balling in a room and knowing you have production resources to back you up. Even some of the better jokes can seem like they’re falling flat when there’s no response from an audience, and I’ve had a similar reaction to Karen’s. We’re watching these pros operate without a net, and it would feel churlish of me to bash anyone in particular as they’re doing their best to try to stay in the game and keep their staff working. I did hurt for Stephen Colbert and Daniel Radcliffe the other night when they couldn’t get the sound to work for their interview. But knowing it wasn’t live, I couldn’t fathom why they felt it was necessary to make us watch their technical difficulties for several minutes before going to the phone.
I have enjoyed Samantha Bee doing her shtick from the great outdoors. And watching Jimmy Kimmel after a dose of Nightline‘s nightmare coverage most nights feels almost like a tonic, and he impresses me as more creative and with a wider range than some of the others. His mash-up of Tiger King and Lion King (start playing at the 12-minute mark) is something I’ve replayed the last few days to make me smile.
Resisting the Tiger King Phenomenon
Question: Everyone is talking about the Tiger King docuseries on Netflix. So of course I had to check it out. I could barely make it through the first episode. Am I the only one on the planet who doesn’t see the appeal of this show? Am I missing something here? Do you have to watch more than the first episode to get it? Someone please explain this to me. — JC
Matt Roush: I get it. Sensationalist true-crime TV is one of my least favorite genres as well, and I’m not sure this needed seven whole episodes to tell its lurid story. But Netflix isn’t exactly known for its restraint, let alone brevity. I get why so many people are fascinated by outrageous characters like Joe Exotic, and while they obsess over his antics, I’d like to think viewers are also appalled at the treatment of animals in operations like his. (Learning through subsequent news stories that even from jail, he’s narcissistically reveling in his 15 minutes of infamy makes me less inclined to add to the hype.) Regardless, the most obvious reason this became a pop-culture phenomenon is one of timing. Tiger King arrived just as much of the country needed something to take their collective minds off the fear of stepping outside their own home. Binge-watching something this over-the-top, however patronizing it might be, is only natural. Personally, I preferred the third season of Ozark.
The Waiting Game
Question: Are we ever going to see Burden of Truth in the USA again? I liked every character in this series and I don’t think it was cancelled. — Jerry
Matt Roush: You’re in luck. Earlier this week, The CW announced that the Canadian-produced legal drama starring Kristen Kreuk will return as part of the network’s summer lineup, starting Thursday, May 21.
What Does a Highlander Have to Do to Get Nominated?
Question: After watching Sam Heughan (Jamie) on this week’s episode of Outlander, his phenomenal acting just blew me away and broke my heart. Why is he ignored by the awards committees? I sure don’t know why. Maybe you can tell me. He is one of the finest actors on TV today. — Connie H, West Palm Beach, Florida
Matt Roush: It’s only a puzzlement if you disregard just how many candidates there are for these few slots among the hundreds of shows being produced these days. That is the obvious and constant answer to why Sam’s robust and impassioned embodiment of this tremendous character has been overlooked. (At least his co-star Caitriona Balfe has received several Golden Globe nominations, which somehow makes this oversight seem worse.) This may also have to do with the genre of historical/romantic drama/time travel fantasy that keeps some from taking the show as seriously as it ought. But if the industry can go crazy over Game of Thrones, why not this?
Mama Michonne’s Bad Decision
Question: I’ve complained in the past here about The Walking Dead, but some of the latest developments in this series are reprehensible. First: Do you honestly believe that in any reality a mother would abandon her two young children as Michonne did in the chance that maybe Rick could be alive??? This is just another convoluted plot twist to accommodate a real-life person’s desire to leave a series without having to actually kill the character, and is second only this year to the awful Alex Karev development on Grey’s Anatomy for worst plot point of the year.
Secondly, on the Talking Dead after-show, did anyone ever think to ask executive producer Scott Gimple, who is making these Rick Grimes movies, what the status is on them and if Danai Gurira as Michonne would maybe be a part of the last one or for that matter just how many of them he was planning since guess what he was right there and could have been asked live, because now with this virus postponing production we do not even know if he had gotten to pre-production on this project.
Finally, in the lousiest decision yet, according to your TV Guide Magazine, the April 12th episode season finale was supposed to feature Beta’s final attack but guess what, this is now being pushed to later this year, whenever that will be–WHY??? I thought that this was already made and in the can, so to speak. Combine this with the fact that this could have featured Maggie’s return and this is a real head-scratcher or a real bummer for fans. — JV
Matt Roush: Answering in order: At least Michonne got an actual exit episode, which is more than you can say for the way Alex sneaked off of Grey’s Anatomy. It’s a fair argument to debate whether Michonne would really leave her kids to chase after Rick, but these are desperate people, and I bet little Judith (who has known nothing but this world) would be on board with getting closure where her hero daddy is concerned.
I’m not a fan of after-show hype TV, so can’t comment on what was or wasn’t asked to Scott Gimple, but having read some recent coverage of the show, it’s pretty clear that he is being coy about revealing what’s to come with the Rick movies — and whether Michonne will be a part of them — so that could be a case of knowing beforehand what he will and won’t answer. An update on where the movies are in the production process, and how it’s all being affected by the outbreak crisis, does seem like fair game, though.
As for Walking Dead‘s season finale not airing on schedule — the final completed episode airs this Sunday, April 5 — that by all accounts is because they couldn’t finish post-production on the episode before things shut down. Yes, it’s a bummer, but we’re all dealing with worse things, and eventually we will get to see this. If they could have aired this on schedule, they would have.
The Sound and the Fury
Question: Is CBS aware that many of its dramas are hard to hear because of background music or sounds? The worst are FBI and FBI: Most Wanted that really ramp up the dramatic background sounds. Because many of their scenes are done outside, sound quality is also not as good. Some viewers I know have stopped watching because they can’t hear what’s going on. I hope the shows will be renewed next year and efforts will be made to make the sound quality better. ‑ Betty
Matt Roush: This is just one of the comments I received this week — there are always more — about an issue I have dealt with frequently in this column. In the past, I have suggested using closed-captioning and sound bars for those who are particularly bothered by this. But after addressing it again in Monday’s column, we heard from Laurel, who had this helpful suggestion:
“There is a sound bar on the market that addresses hearing loss at either range of frequencies, and also emphasizes dialogue over background. It has been great for my 88-year-old dad for the 2-3 years he has had it. Amazon carries it. Search for ZVox sound bar, which advertises that it uses built-in hearing-aid technology for super-clear voices, even at low volumes.” I can’t attest to its performance, but it’s worth a shot.
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!