Ask Matt: PBS’s Vacated ‘House,’ Jimmy Kimmel’s Hiatus, ‘Yellowstone,’ What’s Canceled or Not & 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 (@TVGMMattRoush). Look for Ask Matt columns on many Tuesdays and Fridays.
Masterpiece’s House Without a Home
Question: PBS cannot be serious! How can you leave Beecham House with such a cliffhanging ending? Is it true the show is permanently ended? Many fans are devastated! — Helen
Question: It’s a shame Beecham House wasn’t renewed for a second season. I thought it was very well done. A little bit upstairs/downstairs with some palace intrigue thrown in. I’m surprised the Downton Abbey crowd didn’t jump all over it. That was one helluva cliff they left the viewers hanging off of. It might be past time anyone in the BBC would be interested in footing the bill for at least a wrap-up TV-movie, but would PBS do it? I have no idea what the ratings were or even what the PBS threshold is for a success. — Woody
Matt Roush: You can’t say I didn’t warn you — in my initial review of Masterpiece‘s opulent drama set in pre-colonial India, and even in my latest blurb in advance of Sunday’s finale, I flagged (which I rarely do, for spoiler reasons) the fact that the series was going to end with a very unsatisfying (because unresolved) cliffhanger. This isn’t PBS’s doing, to be fair. The British broadcaster ITV (not BBC this time), the same one responsible for nixing Jane Austen’s Sanditon after one season, chose not to continue Beecham House for a second year. And WGBH, the presenter of Masterpiece for PBS, can’t produce drama on this scale without an overseas partner, so unless someone picks it up over there, it’s over.
I only wish that, in the transfer to the U.S. market and with the foreknowledge that there wouldn’t be a second season, they had just lopped off that final scene of John Beecham returning home to such bloody chaos. Leaving him and Margaret in bliss at the Taj Mahal would have been a much more crowd-pleasing ending, even if still premature, and wouldn’t have been likely to have the show’s fans so stirred up.
Love Live the Queen! (Where Is She?)
Question: I watched Victoria on PBS’s Masterpiece when it first started. I watched either two or three seasons of it, until Victoria found Albert lying on the floor at the end of the season. The following winter I looked for it on PBS but it never was shown. Is that how the series ended? — Susan
Matt Roush: This question comes up every so often, and since we’re on a Masterpiece roll… It is a puzzlement that so much time has passed since the third season aired in winter 2019. (Again, the UK broadcaster is ITV; sense a pattern?) When asked, all the Masterpiece representatives are able to say is that the series is still currently on hiatus. From all accounts, Victoria has not been canceled, and there’s obviously a lot more story to tell regarding Victoria and Albert, so I’m staying hopeful we’ll see more of these legendary royals someday.
Will Jimmy Kimmel Live Go Back to Normal?
Question: With Jimmy Kimmel taking the summer off of Jimmy Kimmel Live: 1) Do you think it’s real/legit, or he’s just taking 2-3 weeks OFF? 2) Whenever this pandemic nightmare is over, do you think he will RETURN to his hour long format, like he did before, or keep the half-hour format? My guess is that it’s ULTIMATELY ABC’s decision. Have you heard anything either way? — AR
Matt Roush: I see no reason to find anything sinister in Jimmy’s summer hiatus. There’s a long tradition — maybe not so much in recent times — of guest hosts filling in for the star, though maybe not quite of this duration, but it’s not really as revolutionary as it might seem.
As for the format itself: I see it as a public service that ABC airs the Kimmel show at a half-hour, allowing Nightline to provide its essential services earlier in the late night. To be frank, these at-home versions of the late-night shows struggle to stay entertaining for a full hour, and it’s well known that even in more normal times, the audience tends to drop off (if not fall asleep) after the first half-hour or so, where the strongest material and guests tend to appear. When this “nightmare,” as you so well describe it, is behind us, and shows like Kimmel’s can gear up with full production and live musical guests, I imagine Jimmy Kimmel Live will revert back to the profitable hourlong format. But if the situation hasn’t changed when he returns from his summer break, I’d expect it to stay at 30 minutes. In this case, less is more.
The Pandemic and the Fall TV Season
Question: With the coronavirus epidemic and social distancing, will there be any new TV episodes this fall? — C Brown
Matt Roush: A fair and simply put question, but it’s an impossible one to address simply if at all at this moment in time. There will be a semblance of a fall schedule, but how many returning scripted favorites will be back in business by the traditional premiere weeks of late September and early October remains to be seen. Given the dire current situation across much of the country as we inch towards August, when most productions would be underway, I’d expect we’ll see a significant delay in getting new episodes ready for air on many prime-time shows, as they figure out how to proceed with rigorous safety protocols among other complicating factors.
Not Buying What Yellowstone Is Selling
Question: I don’t get the popularity of Yellowstone. The first two seasons were challenging enough, with no lead characters being anything but violent jerks. I finally gave up on the current season with the absurdities. The worst is when John Dutton (Kevin Costner) gets “punished” by being forced out of his position as commissioner, but gets to pick his successor: one of his sons! Then Jamie (Wes Bentley) gets moved to be the state’s attorney general (other than a law degree, no qualifications), and John gets to make his other son commissioner. Surely the writers can do better. — Ken, Durham, NC
Matt Roush: Most of the complaints I hear about Yellowstone are about its raunchy content and language, so this is a refreshing change of pace. But I’d beg to differ, because beyond the contemporary-Western trappings, Yellowstone is essentially a story about power, access to power, who has it and who can keep it when new sources of revenue threaten to upend the social order (which is what Season 3 is shaping up to be about). The Duttons are Montana royalty, and John’s close ties to the governor help explain how incestuous these recent dealings have been. Look around you: Is it really that far-fetched? The conflict I’m looking most forward to seeing played out is what will happen to the Duttons’ influence when the deep-pocketed developers make their next move.
What’s Staying, What’s Going?
Question: These are all shows I’ve seen may be canceled. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Project Blue Book, God Friended Me, Blue Bloods, The Conners, This Is Us, Council of Dads, New Amsterdam, Manifest, The Good Doctor, Grantchester on Masterpiece, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the darker Prodigal Son. I watch all of these as often as possible. Are any of these safe? What can be done to help save those at risk? — Keith
Matt Roush: I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but The Good Doctor? This Is Us? Never in danger. And I know I spent much of the spring putting out fires where Blue Bloods in particular is concerned. Why anyone thought that show was on the ropes is beyond me. When CBS says goodbye to Blue Bloods, it will likely be with the consent of Tom Selleck, and audiences will know well ahead of time of any endgame. As for the others: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. long ago announced this would be the final season, so that’s not a surprise and should be accepted in that spirit. Shows on this list that have officially been canceled too soon include God Friended Me (which at least was able to cobble together an ending), Project Blue Book and Council of Dads. The rest are safe for now, including I’m happy to say one of my first-season faves, Prodigal Son.
For future reference, TV Insider keeps a running list of shows that have been canceled and of shows that have been renewed. In all cases, if you’re concerned that a show is in danger or want to protest a decision that has been made about a favorite show, write the respective network — check online to see if there’s a feedback area as well — and engage in social media if that’s your thing to see if there are campaigns, petitions, etc. It may not result in a magical rescue, but it can’t hurt and you might feel more empowered. (For the record, most cancellations are final.)
Matt Roush: No relation. Brec’s parents aren’t famous, and the spelling is even different (Kim’s last name is Basinger). And some good news: Stargirl was renewed for a second season, at which time it will become exclusive to The CW and its digital platforms (not streaming on DC Universe).
Question: FOLLOW-UP for the recent question about the scheduling of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness. I suspect TNT is airing two episodes each week because the NBA season is resuming July 30, thus consuming multiple prime-time hours devoted to the league for the next few months. — Michael B
Matt Roush: Thanks for that observation. You could be right. Angel of Darkness will continue through Aug. 9, so there will some overlap — and the Alienist sequel may even be able to take advantage of some promotional boost during the early games.
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.