Ask Matt: Where’s the ‘Race’? ABC’s Renewals and Cancellations, ‘Batwoman’ & More

Batwoman - Ruby Rose
Bettina Strauss/The CW

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.

On Your Mark, Get Set… When?

Question: Can you tell me why CBS decided not to premiere The Amazing Race on May 20? The info I found just says it’s been pushed back to later in 2020. But no reason. The season was filmed over a year ago, why delay airing it? I love that show and have been looking forward to it. — Melinda

Matt Roush: You’re not the only one who was disappointed and wrote in when what would have been the 32nd running of the Race was suspended. But the reasoning is solid. CBS decided to make the new season of The Amazing Race, one of very few entities produced in full before the pandemic shut down production (including a new season of Survivor), part of a projected new fall TV schedule, potentially following Survivor on Wednesdays. When making this announcement, CBS projected confidence that if and when production resumes later this summer — a big “if,” obviously — many of the new and returning series hope to be ready as part of a staggered rollout. Barring that eventuality, at least CBS will have Race as one of its anchors. And while I get that fans would love to have the show on right now, it might be even more appreciated as a sure bet this fall when it’s possible so much else could be delayed. I’d love CBS’s confidence to bear fruit even as early as October, but this virus has a way of dashing such wishful thinking.

Calling S.W.A.T. for Backup

Question: I saw that CBS announced some of its fall lineup, but did not see S.W.A.T. listed. Has a decision been made on that? That show is very popular, at least with me and some of my family and friends. — Pam H, Greensboro, GA

Matt Roush: S.W.A.T. will be back for a fourth season, but not until midseason, whenever that may be. This could be a casualty of putting The Amazing Race in the fall mix, after years of being kept on the back burner. Seriously, though, all bets are off right now on what to expect come fall.

The ABC’s of Renewing and Canceling

Question: Just saw ABC’s decisions for fall, and while I’m very sorry to lose Emergence, which was one of my new favorites and sorry to lose Schooled (but I still have The Goldbergs), I am absolutely THRILLED that Stumptown was renewed. It was my favorite new show of last year, and also happy that The Rookie made the cut as well. Take THAT, cliffhanger ending! I expected For Life to go down‚ but I guess it’s still on “For-Life” support? — Michael E

Matt Roush: Being someone who by nature tries to accentuate the positive, I concur wholeheartedly that ABC keeping Stumptown for a second season is something to celebrate. That was among the “bubble” shows I was most concerned about, and while I enjoyed Emergence as well, I always considered that a much longer shot. (Kudos to that series for burning through as much story as it did in its first short season, and also for the Allison Tolman of it all. Hurry back to TV soon!)

A Parenting Dilemma

Question: I just found out that ABC canceled Single Parents. That’s terrible. It was actually funny. I really enjoyed it. I will say in the last season it did begin to look a lot like 90210. I liked it when they were all just friends. Maybe they will change their mind. — Alphonsina

Matt Roush: About being just friends again? Unlikely, which unfortunately for fans is also the case when it comes to ABC reversing course.

Question: Just saw ABC’s renewals, and though I’m super pumped about Stumptown and The Rookie returning, I’m devastated about the cancellation of Single Parents. What was the reasoning behind this? I enjoyed the cast, including the kids, and it was just fun. I know I shouldn’t even ask, but is there any hope for Single Parents? — Chris

Matt Roush: As usual, the network didn’t elaborate on this decision, leaving us to infer that because the show’s ratings didn’t grow but went the opposite direction from the first to second season, they didn’t see much growth potential. Hard to imagine it landing somewhere else, because it’s an in-house production from the ABC and Fox studios, so there would typically be a vested interest in keeping a show like this going. But then, I still haven’t gotten over ABC canceling The Kids Are Alright a year ago, so I’m not the best at rationalizing their moves when it comes to comedy.

What Happens Next with Batwoman?

Question: I stopped watching Batwoman after the first few episodes even though I liked several of the actors and the story because I didn’t care for the lead actress’s performance. Now that Ruby Rose has left the show, do you think they will try to replace her without any comment or have a death (my preference) and have another character in the show take up the mantle. I know it is important for them to have an LGBTQ actress but I think it would be great if Kate’s ex-lover took over the role. I mean the one she broke up with in college. I don’t know if that actress is gay, but I think doing that could open the door to a lot of great storytelling. Do you think there’s a chance? I feel like on the CW anything is possible. — Kristine

Matt Roush: By all accounts, it seems as if the intent is to replace the actor, not the role, keeping Kate Kane in the LGBTQ family and otherwise not rewriting her history or killing her off. Anything else would be speculation, including whether the show will even acknowledge the fact that she doesn’t look quite the same. That all remains to be seen. And while I’m sure this wasn’t an easy decision for Ruby Rose, I felt from the start that she might have looked the part, but it wasn’t the best fit dramatically and emotionally, and the show will likely recover from this transition without missing a beat.

Going Nowhere with Eve

Question: Killing Eve has been disappointing to watch this season. So far the story between Eve and Villanelle has not progressed at all. Will it begin to come together in the last episodes? At this point, we are considering passing on Season 4. — Sharon

Matt Roush: Anecdotally speaking, I know you’re not alone in this. And I wish I could say Sunday’s season finale moves the show forward in a promising direction, but I was left pretty ambivalent — which is to say confused — by what happens, or more to the point, doesn’t happen. There are compensating pleasures in the work of Jodie Comer, Sandra Oh and Fiona Shaw, among others, and I still get a kick out of them — plus what a great addition Harriet Walter was as Dasha — and I’m not sure it’s entirely true that Eve and Villanelle have stayed stagnant this year. (Especially Villanelle, with her upwardly mobile ambitions and traumatic side trip to Russia.) But this is one of those cases where diminishing returns have set in season to season, and while the premise and performances retain a certain fascination, and I respect any show that zags where most other spy thrillers would zig, a little emotional coherence would be appreciated.

And Finally…

Question: Who came up with the season finale of The Blacklist? It was a very creative solution to the situation. Half the show that hadn’t been shot before the coronavirus shut them down was shown in animated form. It was sooo much better than waiting a year for production to begin again! — Vicki F

Matt Roush: Here’s the backstory on how they landed on animation to fill out the premature season finale. Agreed that it was an inspired way to complete the story of what in many ways feels like a live-action graphic novel. And as always, I’m happy to end this column on a positive note.

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!