Ask Matt: Seeking Counsel About ‘Dads,’ the ‘Live PD’ Situation, HBO Max, the Future of Summer TV & 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.
Save the Dads!
Question: We found a good show that we really enjoyed, NBC’s Council of Dads, and we saw where it is not being renewed. Is there anything that can be done to keep it on the air? Thanks for any help you can provide. — Eugene
Matt Roush: I hate to be a downer on this subject, but cancellations are an unfortunate fact of TV life, everywhere from the broadcast networks even to Netflix, and it’s especially acute this time of year from late spring to early summer, when fates of so many shows (including late midseason arrivals like Dads) are announced. The fact is that it’s exceedingly rare for a show to come back from being canceled after just one short season.
If you want to take action and express your disappointment, you can reach out to NBC’s feedback outlet online, or write NBC Entertainment the old-school way (3000 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA 91523). Going to social media, or joining a fan campaign online, are other ways to join the fight. It may not help, and in the case of this show I’m pretty sure it would be a lost cause — this is the second series (after The Village) that tried to cash in on the sentimental tear-jerking vibe of This Is Us, and that’s a very high bar. But in my experience, it’s better to let yourself be heard, because you really never know what the result might be, and you’ll likely feel better for having got it off your chest.
Is There Still Life in PD?
Question: Will Live PD EVER come back?? Those of us with cops in the family sure hope so!! — Daiva
Matt Roush: You may see some version of this docuseries emerge again someday on A&E, for whom it was an enormous hit, but I’m betting it won’t look or feel the same. Nor should it. When the network chose to stop production on the show, they noted in a statement, “Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them.” In other words, reforming the franchise to humanize the people being policed as much as the police. But should that happen, it likely won’t be anytime soon, not during this time of social upheaval and calls for police reform.
Not Dreadful, Just Lacking
Question: I was lucky to binge the original Penny Dreadful and I have to agree with you that the supernatural is not as well integrated into City of Angels. Despite the extremely fine performances — Nathan Lane in a role I wouldn’t have thought would fit, and Adriana Barraza as Maria Vega, are amazing — the show falls flat for me and it shouldn’t, especially since rewatching the Grimm episode “La Llorona” (about a spooky Hispanic legend). They could have done so many things with the amazing supernatural elements of Hispanic and Amerind culture, it just doesn’t work for me. As a show about race relations, Nazis and the police, it works, but is a bit too on the nose to enjoy right now. — Sharon
Matt Roush: Now that the season has concluded, and looking back on it as a whole, it just feels like City of Angels was taking on too many issues and blunting the impact of any of the elements that could have been the most powerful — in this case the mystical, religious and supernatural roots of the Vega family as they faced displacement and disenfranchisement by the political and economic forces of a growing Los Angeles. Telling a more focused story with supernatural underpinnings might have worked, but even the primal conflict between Santa Muerte, the angel of death, and her demonic shape-shifting counterpart Magda felt underdeveloped. If the show gets a second season (which I expect it will), I’ll be curious to see if it coalesces into a tighter, more effective blend of horror and social commentary. I certainly can’t fault its ambitions. (And I agree about Nathan Lane and Adriana Barraza, both outstanding.)
Will Networks Abandon Scripted Shows in the Summer?
Question: This summer I have only two scripted shows on broadcast TV I’m following: The CW’s Burden of Truth, where the acting is strong and the scripts are very smart and well-written; and ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is extremely creative and entertaining. In past summers, I had the aforementioned to enjoy plus CBS’s Salvation, Blood and Treasure, CW’s The Outpost, NBC’s Reverie and The InBetween, ABC’s The Crossing, Take Two and Grand Hotel among many others. Do you think the broadcast networks will abandon scripted summer shows because the costs are too high and the ratings are usually too low? — Fred
Matt Roush: I wouldn’t read too much into the paucity of scripted product on the networks this summer. This year is so out of the ordinary, with the pandemic halting production and creating such uncertainty down the line, that some shows that might have appeared this summer either didn’t complete filming or, like CBS’s The Amazing Race (previously announced for a summer run) are being held back for later to fill holes on the fall lineup. That said, so many of the shows you list from past summers didn’t make it past a season or (if lucky) two that it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the networks weren’t skittish about loading up on scripted summer fare when the returns are so paltry. That doesn’t mean they won’t keep trying when things get back to whatever normal will be, but the balance seems to have shifted even before the virus towards game shows, physical competitions and documentary/reality programming.
The Hapless Heroes of Stargirl
Question: I so enjoy your commentary on TV shows, and I agree with you for the most part. I thought Stargirl would be a good show I could watch with my son. My son is bored by it. I find it interesting. I don’t know why. Maybe the actress? I thought it would be a Buffy Light, but for the most part real people didn’t die in Buffy. And this show is really killing people. The heroes seem so young and pathetically inept. I think I like the characters while at the same time, I don’t see how they survive from one episode to the next. Do you have any thoughts on this show? — Kristi
Matt Roush: Stargirl is on my to-do list, but I haven’t gotten very far into the series yet, so will withhold my own judgments. Your comments intrigue me as much as anything I’ve read about the show, because flawed heroes are always more interesting, and who was more fascinating than the endearing Scooby Gang on Buffy? From what I’ve heard, Stargirl is brighter, more fun and less convoluted than much of The CW’s superhero glut. As the summer progresses, I hope to find time for a binge.
HBO Max Not Available on All Platforms
Question: Why didn’t HBO Max make a deal with Roku and Amazon Fire before they launched their streaming service? You would think HBO Max wanted to be a success by having a very wide audience and millions of subscribers, but with no deal with either Roku and Amazon, how are they supposes to achieve that success? This makes me nervous for NBC Universal’s upcoming Peacock streaming service, since I haven’t heard anything yet about them getting a streaming deal with Roku and Amazon! — Alex W
Matt Roush: It seems like an epic fail to me as well, and while there are ways around this blockage, you’d think any new streaming service would want it to be easier, not harder, to access their shiny new product through these portals. (At the moment, Peacock also doesn’t appear to have a deal with Roku or Amazon yet, but there’s still time before the July 15 launch.) The business entanglements here are way outside my comfort zone, but the conflict is rather like those situations when a cable operator threatens to dump a major network, usually for a short period of time, over retransmission fees. In this case, Roku and Amazon Fire are holding out over financial and technical issues regarding HBO Max with AT&T and WarnerMedia, so it’s hard to know exactly which side is to blame here. Eventually, someone’s going to cave, or they’ll make a deal they all can live with, but I agree. It’s not a good look.
Question: I sometimes miss things, but what has happened to Virgin River, the new streaming series. I loved the stories, the cast and the setting. Will there ever be a second season—what’s up? — NM
Matt Roush: Patience, dear viewer! You’re talking about Netflix, and there’s often a long wait between seasons — more so now because of TV production being suspended during the pandemic. It’s unclear if that affected Virgin River, which dropped its first season in December and was renewed for a second season shortly thereafter, so that’s the good news. There are reports that production was completed on a second season before the virus hit, but post-production has also slowed on many shows, so until Netflix announces a date, we’re all in the dark. Just be happy that there’s more story to tell in this romantic drama.
That’s all for now — and until after the July 4 holiday. 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, and have a happy 4th!