Ask Matt: Vintage Carol, Future of ‘Judge Judy,’ ‘9-1-1,’ ‘Empire’ Closure & More

Judge Judy
Judge Judy

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.

Where’s the Rest of Carol?

Question: I started watching the first season of The Carol Burnett Show on Amazon Prime. The episodes are only 30 minutes. I thought maybe the show debuted at 30 minutes and then expanded to 60 minutes in later seasons. But the second episode ended with Carol in an outfit not seen earlier in the show and Liza Minnelli taking a bow with the regular cast members. Any idea why these aren’t full episodes? — Annette

Matt Roush: I heard from quite a few people about this, and it looks to me like the marketing was a bit misleading in promising “the complete series,” when what Amazon Prime and the Shout Factory! distributors are really touting is the digital release of all 11 seasons — including the final season, which had not been available for streaming — plus several previously missing episodes. But these episodes are still the cut-down versions from the syndicated series, which as a spokesperson noted, “were edited and approved by Carol after the initial broadcast run.” The reason the episodes aren’t longer is mostly an issue of music rights and licensing of songs, especially in medleys and in the lavish mini-musicals that ended many of the shows. The spokesperson points out that there are still about 300 songs in the episodes currently airing, but those expecting the full episodes will nonetheless be disappointed.

Judy Is Never Going Away

Question: Is there any chance CBS is ever going to release any of the Judge Judy episodes on streaming or DVD? Even just a best-of compilation would be great since the show is ending. Seems like they’d make a ton of money. — Holly

Matt Roush: We’re still a year away from the series ending production (after its 25th season), but if there’s any way for CBS to further monetize Judge Judy, I’m sure they will. The show will, of course, continue indefinitely in syndicated reruns, and Judy Sheindlin is also reportedly planning a Judy Justice follow-up series, but any repackaging would be more likely to go the streaming than DVD route. (The only DVD I see on the market right now dates back to 2007 and is wildly overpriced, suggesting it’s basically out of print.) The DVD marketplace isn’t what it used to be, although a 25th-anniversary compilation would be as good a hook as any. Still, selling the rights to streaming for a Judge Judy binge makes the most sense.

Swept Away by 9-1-1’s Effects

Question: I just watched the second episode of Season 3 of 9-1-1 (aka the tsunami episode) for the third time and it still gives me goosebumps. I can’t imagine how much work went into making it and the acting was phenomenal. How’d they do that? — Linda

Matt Roush: Oddly, members of my household have gone on a bit of a 9-1-1 binge lately — escapist quarantine TV, I guess — and without question, staging a tsunami at the Santa Monica pier and environs was one of the show’s biggest stunts to date. Those scenes were actually filmed in Mexico in the same giant tanks used for the filming of Titanic. The pier and surrounding streets were built inside the tanks to look like they were being submerged by the giant wave. Here’s a behind-the-scenes video to give you a better idea of how they pulled it off. I agree. The final results were impressive.

Show These Dads Some Respect

Question: Please tell NBC if they cancel Council of Dads then they definitely have feathers for brains!  They have messed with scheduling, starting on a Tuesday, two or maybe it was three weeks of AWOL, then appeared on a Thursday and stayed. They need to give this show a future!!! STAT!!! — Luanne

Matt Roush: Message received. Although I keep hearing from fans who think NBC did the show a disservice in its initial scheduling, when the pilot episode aired following the season finale of This Is Us — a strategy known as sampling — then repeated the pilot in late April (after the highly promoted Parks and Recreation reunion), followed by the second episode. After which the show moved to its 8/7c time slot, where it is staying for the remainder of the run. This is about as much as any first-year show airing this late in the season — and an unorthodox season at that — can hope for. So while I haven’t a clue if Council of Dads will fare better than The Village, the last show that tried to ride the emotional coattails of This Is Us, I wouldn’t berate the network for its treatment of the show.

Give Empire Fans Some Closure!

Question: For those of us who have been faithful followers of Empire: How can we reach “the powers that be” to get an ending to this series? We know who died. We just don’t know who killed them. I don’t understand why they couldn’t do a table read or enactment via other means in order to provide closure for this series. It seems irresponsible to the faithful viewers who kept this show on the air for years. Who can we contact for closure?

Matt Roush: There’s a feedback link on the Fox Entertainment site, although some seem to be confusing it with the news network, so beware of political quicksand there. You’re probably better off writing directly to the network — Fox Entertainment Group, 10310 W. Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90064 — or maybe to the source itself, the show’s creator, Lee Daniels. (Found this address, can’t vouch for it: Lee Daniels Entertainment, 315 W. 36th St., Ste. 1002, New York, NY 10014.) Either way, it would probably take a lot‑including $$$ — to bring everyone back together for a one-shot finale, and who knows if that would even be possible. But I like the idea of a table read or other sort of creative solution to the show being cut off right before the end.

Briefly …

Question: Why in the world would Netflix cancel a great show like Messiah? I am heartbroken. — Mary

Matt Roush: Even more than the networks, Netflix rarely comments on its cancellations, although it is rare for an ambitious series like this to fold after just one season. Usually it has everything to do with metrics, and if not enough people watched or watched all the way through, Netflix tends to move on. Whether it had anything to do with the show’s provocative religious content or the challenges of producing a show on such a global scale, especially now, it’s just not clear.

Question: Why isn’t 24 ever on any stations in reruns? MsD

Matt Roush: I don’t follow shows very closely in their off-network life, so can’t say if 24 ever aired in syndication. But serialized shows don’t tend to fare that well, and few shows work on as propulsive a what-happens-next scale as this thriller. When the show was still in first run on Fox, I remember hearing from people who would record the whole season and play it back over a couple of days, because they couldn’t stand waiting a week between episodes. This predates the whole binge-watching phenomenon, and may explain why the only way you can currently watch past seasons of 24 (except for paying for a download) is to stream it on Hulu.

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!