Ask Matt: Giving Credit to ‘Lucy,’ Return of ‘Millionaire,’ FX’s ‘Shadows’ & More

Who wants to be a millionaire
ABC/Eric McCandless
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

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.

Honoring Lucy’s Writers

Question: I really enjoyed Will & Graces tribute to I Love Lucy. It was brilliantly executed (and bravo for the Lucie Arnaz appearance). However, as a big I Love Lucy fan, I noticed that all the Lucy sequence dialogue was taken verbatim from the original shows, but without recognition given to the amazing writers of the original shows. Back in college, we would have called that plagiarism (and been given an F). Any thoughts? — Trevor

Matt Roush: I enjoyed the episode enormously as well, including on a purely technical level at how authentically they recreated some of I Love Lucy’s most iconic moments. And because this was so obviously an homage, I wouldn’t go so far as accusing the show of “plagiarism,” since they weren’t claiming authorship of the classic episodes they were paying tribute to. But I agree that the credits should have found a way to acknowledge Lucy’s legendary writing team of Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr., plus (for the “Lucy’s Italian Movie” grape-stomping episode) Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf.

Welcoming Millionaire Back to TV

Question: What do you think of the new Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I enjoyed having it back, and scheduling Eric Stonestreet as the first contestant out of the Modern Family finale was a smart move. He was fun to watch and engaging to root for, although I wish he had trusted himself more and left the lifelines for later, harder questions. Every single one he used a lifeline for he had rationalized correctly on his own, so he might have been able to get even more money if he had saved them. I also wondered if perhaps they had made the questions too easy for the celebrities; I knew every single answer up until the one that Stonestreet walked away from, and I’m not usually that good.

I also thought Jimmy Kimmel did a good job as host in a very challenging format with no live audience. But the new element of allowing a friend to be there for all of the first 10 questions made it much less interesting to me. Part of the fun of the show is watching the contestant work out the answers on their own and only being able to have help when they really need it via the lifelines. Allowing them so much help seemed to deflate it, and I hope if the show is renewed, they go back to the standard format without that element. Still, it was fun to have the show back on the air and I will watch it again. If they do this once or twice a year as event programming, rather than burning it out as happened last time, I think it could stick around for some time, and I would be happy to watch that. — Jake

Matt Roush: Even without the 20th-anniversary angle, ABC couldn’t have picked a more perfect time to revive Millionaire for as long as it lasts. This kind of diversion is so welcome right now, and Kimmel’s style of sarcastic support plays very nicely in the format. You may be right that the questions seemed a bit easier, but that may also be a function of the show spending so much time on each of them, except the super-easy ones. What I mostly noticed, especially after becoming more devoted than ever to the faster-paced Jeopardy! during this shut-in period, was how slowly Millionaire moves. I’m happy to watch contestants, celebrity or otherwise, work out their deliberations, but when it stretches on for long minutes, I can’t help wishing there were a bit of a shot clock (though not as quick as during the phone-a-friend segment). Still, I’m sure I’ll keep watching — albeit on the DVR so I can fast-forward when necessary.

How Are They Filming Those Silly Vampires?

Question: From what I’ve read, FX’s What We Do in the Shadows seems like it would be an interesting show, except for one major plot hole: Vampires cast no reflection, so how would they be able to be filmed for a documentary? – Chandler

Matt Roush: This question came up when the show’s creators met reporters at the Television Critics Association, and as Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) explained, no doubt with tongue in cheek, “It’s not on film. It’s on digital. Digital cameras are mirrorless.” Jemaine Clement further elaborated that even with film cameras, it’s only the mirrors that can’t see vampires, who will still show up on film. “Vampires, when you use an old camera, you have the viewfinder that has a mirror, you’ll look in the viewfinder you won’t see them.” And Waititi deadpanned, “They would show up on film. The [camera] operator wouldn’t be able to see them and that was a huge problem back in those days.” Trust me, What We Do in the Shadows, which returns for a second season this Wednesday, is so hilarious you won’t be distracted by matters like these when you’re laughing so hard.

Give This Woman Her Own Show!

Question: Who is the gal who plays Mabel on IFC’s Year of the Rabbit [editor’s note: starring Matt Berry, who’s also in the aforementioned Shadows], and when are the powers that be going to give her a show as the lead player? —Dana

Matt Roush: This scene-stealing British actress is Susan Wokoma, and you’ll be happy to note that she has at least one starring (not supporting) role to her credit: as a demon hunter in the British horror comedy Crazyhead, which can be streamed on Netflix.

The Fate of CBS Comedies

Question: I loved Pauley Perrette on NCIS (one of my favorite shows). So when I saw she was in something new. I decided to give it a try. Broke was hard to watch and after 15 minutes I shut it off. Why would she leave NCIS for this? Do you think the show will continue or be cancelled? — Arline

Matt Roush: She didn’t leave NCIS to make this show. She left the series that made her a household name after 15 years for well-documented personal reasons I won’t get into here. Broke came along later, and as she said in our recent interview, she jumped at the chance to get back into comedy — “I think people need a little happiness right now” — and while my mailbag indicates that her fans wish she’d picked a better vehicle for her comeback, it’s too soon to predict whether it will be renewed or canceled. (I have no idea how the process will play out next month, when fall schedules are traditionally announced, if those decisions will be delayed or what will happen, given the current disruptions in the industry.)

Question: My wife and I love CBS’s Carol’s Second Act. Will it be returning? — Charlie S

Matt Roush: Not this season; the show has already finished its full 18-episode first-season run. It hasn’t been picked up yet for a second, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be. Carol falls in that hazy “on the bubble” category of being neither hit nor flop, but with Patricia Heaton‘s track record, it would be something of a surprise if CBS doesn’t give it a longer leash.

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!