Ask Matt: The Future of 'Spenser,' More Emmy Gripes ('Plot,' 'Yellowstone'), 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' Love and 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.
Not-So-Confidentially Pining for More Spenser
Question: Will Spenser Confidential, the Netflix movie from March starring Mark Wahlberg and Winston Duke, be made into a series? It was a great tease!! I want more of the fun duo to solve crime. — Estelle C
Matt Roush: You're hardly alone, and at the time of the movie's launch, there was buzz that this could eventually develop into a series franchise of movies for Netflix, when the timing is right. Nothing definitive has been announced and these are busy people—not just Wahlberg, but director/producer Peter Berg—so it could be a long wait (pandemic or not) before Spenser revs up again, but I'd be surprised if that's the last we see of this incarnation. (Remember that Spenser: For Hire, starring Robert Urich, had a decent run in the mid-1980s, even spawning the brief 1989 spinoff A Man Called Hawk starring Avery Brooks.)
An Emmy Plot Against America?
Comment: I too hate award shows. Case in point: the omission of HBO's The Plot Against America from any acting, writing or directing Emmy Award nominations. Insane! I loved the book and felt the series more than did justice to it. The whole cast, but particularly Zoe Kazan, was amazing. I know there's a lot of quality TV out there now, but not recognizing a show of such high quality as this one is just wrong. — Robin B
Matt Roush: Not to mention its timeliness as an allegorical cautionary cry against homegrown fascism. (Read my review.) As I've mentioned before, the limited-series categories are arguably the toughest and most packed with top talent—some of whom, like Mrs. America's Cate Blanchett, do very little TV. In handicapping this particular field, I felt Plot was likely to fall just short of the top list, with HBO's muscle going towards Watchmen, which is what happened. (The only "surprise" limited-series nominee is Netflix's quieter Unorthodox, but I can't argue that it wasn't as worthy. All of them are.)
A Voice Unheard at the Emmys
Question: Do you think The Loudest Voice was snubbed because the unpleasant subject matter is something the news and entertainment business wants to forget? Awards just bring it back. — Unsigned
Matt Roush: Doing a deeper dive into the Emmy categories, I was amazed to learn Voice didn't even earn a nomination for Russell Crowe's makeup transformation! I've addressed this before where the Roger Ailes docudrama was concerned, but this level of media controversy and unpleasantness is exactly why his story not only inspired a premium cable limited series but an Oscar-winning (for makeup/hairstyling) feature film, Bombshell. Why it didn't make the cut at the Emmys had less to do about subject matter than the surplus of potential nominees. (I still rank Crowe's omission right up there with Bob Odenkirk not being nominated for Better Call Saul as this year's two biggest shockers.)
A Mom Votes for Yellowstone
Comment: I think I missed an awards show once when I was having a baby. I gave up hoping for Outlander but snubbing Yellowstone, one of the best series ever, is unforgivable. Stick a fork in me. I'm so done, done, done. — Maria W
Matt Roush: I trust you're keeping those forks out of the reach of your children. But yes, in a different time (say, pre-Netflix), it's hard to imagine this series, and especially talents like Kevin Costner and ferocious scene-stealer Kelly Reilly being ignored.
S.H.I.E.L.D. Going Out on a Happy High
Comment: Not really a question, more of a statement. I'm pregnant and it's a pandemic and I really haven't found much escapism the past five months. The one bright spot in this dystopic heck-scape has been the ongoing final season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's obvious that everyone involved decided to just have FUN. The title cards changing every week to match the theme of the episode, the allusion to "Max Headroom," and even turning a time-loop episode into a murder mystery. I only hope that next week's series finale will be as emotionally satisfying as the Season 5 finale (which was written to be a series finale in the event they were not renewed). I know this is the end of Marvel TV on broadcast TV and I am enjoying EVERY minute of it. Especially since I have no idea what will be on in the fall, considering I don't think anyone has restarted production yet. — VP
Matt Roush: As the series nears its end, I'm hearing from quite a few S.H.I.E.L.D. fans that it's going out on a high. Which is exactly what you want after following its wild path for so long. And yes, while the TV industry appears to be cautiously creeping back to life, the outlook for how and when to expect a fall season to take shape remains murky.
In Terror of Limbo
Question: I just finished watching the first two seasons of The Terror and loved the combination of history with horror. While the feel of the two seasons felt different, the storytelling and acting were superb and yet no Emmy love. When can we expect Season 3? — Unsigned
Matt Roush: No time soon, if ever. AMC execs have spoken positively about developing future seasons of the anthology should the right story come along, but nothing has been announced, and given all the current uncertainties in the business, it may be a while before we hear of a green light. I agree, though, that using history as a backdrop setting for an original horror story is ripe with possibilities. If you liked The Terror, HBO is mining similar territory later this month with its ambitious (if muddled) Lovecraft Country, which uses monsters and other devices of cult pulp horror as metaphors for Jim Crow racism in 1950s America. Quite a bit of terror right there.
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.