Ask Matt: An ‘Ozark’ Oversight, Cooking With Amy, a Musical ‘Diana,’ ‘Blue Bloods’ Crossover Dreams & 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.
The Ozark Actor Who Stole the Show
Question: [Spoiler Alert] How could you watch Ozark‘s “Fire Pink” episode, with Tom Pelphrey in the taxi, and not just hand him an Emmy? His performance was phenomenal and believable. He was robbed. What are the odds he’s still alive? — Cheryl
Matt Roush: Tom Pelphrey is alive and well, but I’m afraid the same can’t be said for Ben, the tragic character he played in what has to be seen as a breakthrough performance. I agree that he should have made the Emmy cut, but with multiple nominees from Succession and The Morning Show in the supporting actor category among other Emmy favorites, he wasn’t able to get traction against such high-profile competition. It’s a shame, because his arc was arguably the most powerful in Ozark‘s terrific third season. And it’s not like the Emmy voters are ignoring Ozark, which got 18 nominations this year (including outstanding drama, three for writing, two for directing, and acting nods for Jason Bateman, Laura Linney and last year’s supporting actress winner, Julia Garner). This oversight stings, though, because this was his only shot. Still, I look forward to seeing what opportunities come Pelphrey’s way after this memorable role.
Someone’s in the Kitchen with Amy
Comment: I was going to ask if my new favorite show, Amy Schumer Learns to Cook, was going to come back to Food Network, but I didn’t need to. I was thrilled to learn that they are going to start showing it again. During the height of the pandemic in May, it was a breath of fresh air, the funniest and happiest show on TV at that time. Amy and her husband chef Chris have perfect chemistry together. I never appreciated how funny Amy Schumer is, and also a little naughty (there was a reason why it was on at 10 pm/ET). Having just the right amount of adult humor. I also enjoyed the recipes. Not one episode would go by without chef Chris using fennel, which was hilarious. I thought I was the only one to enjoy this little gem. It was great to find out others appreciate it as much as I have. — Leslie K
Matt Roush: Not only that, but the show got an Emmy nomination for unstructured reality program, which is a pretty fast turnaround for such a new show. I’m glad to have it back as well, because I’m always happy for any reminder that I’m not the only one who needs a tour guide to perform even the most rudimentary tasks in the kitchen. (Is it any wonder my other favorite Food Network show is Worst Cooks in America?)
Question: What do you make of the plan to film the Broadway musical Diana for Netflix before it officially opens next spring? Joe DiPietro, David Bryan and Christopher Ashley previously worked together on Memphis, which streamed on Netflix for a while during its Broadway run. I loved that so much that I traveled to another state to see the tour live, so I certainly think streaming can enhance the viability of a good show. But when Memphis did this, they had already won the Tony and were in the midst of a successful run. Choosing to stream Diana before it has even opened is a different situation. Also, the out-of-town reviews were not kind, and using the taping to generate buzz will only work if the show is good. I certainly wish them well, and I’ll watch it on Netflix when it is available. But I’m very curious to see if this works out for them or not. — Jake
Matt Roush: It’s a very interesting marketing strategy, coming at a time when the theater community is suffering like never before, with theaters shuttered and no end in sight to this wretched situation. Diana will be filmed without an audience on the same Broadway stage where it was in previews, scheduled to open at the end of last March, when Covid-19 shut everything down. So it will likely have a very different feel to the electrifying Disney+ presentation of Hamilton, which made musicals on TV hot again. Quality aside — I didn’t see this before it shut down, so don’t have an opinion — it seems to me that the musical’s producers see this as an opportunity to get the word out, whatever its fate on Broadway when it reopens. And even should it not be a hit in New York, this exposure will set the stage for a national tour, if only because of the “as seen on Netflix” factor. And don’t discount the marketability of anything Princess Diana.
Taking The CW to Task
Question: I was shocked when The CW pulled Taskmaster after just one episode. This comedic game show got decent reviews (including from you), and is in the same comedic spirit as Whose Line Is It Anyway, which has been running on the network seemingly forever. What happened to it? — Janet
Matt Roush: Apparently The CW, whose shows often dominate the very bottom of the Nielsen ratings, does have a limit on how small an audience it can tolerate. And even though I did enjoy the episodes of Taskmaster I saw in advance, I felt it was very British, with in-jokes even I had to look up to get the joke. So maybe it was more niche than they expected. For those who’d like to see the entire season, all 10 episodes can currently be streamed on CW’s Seed digital network. (And if you really like it, Taskmaster has a YouTube channel where all seven seasons are available.)
A Doppelganger Crossover Dream
Question: After the first season of Blue Bloods on CBS, I’ve always wondered if any of the CBS execs had ever considered doing a crossover episode where the Reagans go on vacation to Hawaii and get involved in solving a crime involving Magnum PI. There could be some “mike drop” lines about how Frank Reagan was stationed in the Navy in Hawaii at the Pearl Harbor NAS years ago and how he had always wanted to return to the islands. Do you know if they’ve ever considered this? This could be an excellent way to close out the series in their final season. What do you think? — Joy L
Matt Roush: I think you have a great future in fan fiction, but even as a wink-and-a-nod in-joke, I’d think this would be a long shot. We reported back before Magnum returned to TV that Tom Selleck graciously gave the reboot its blessing, but he wanted nothing to do with the new series. His mind could have changed since then, but I seriously doubt that the Reagans would go the Brady Bunch route and have a Hawaiian adventure just to mollify fans. Blue Bloods isn’t that kind of show. But if they ever did, it would have to be toward the end of the show’s run, because there’s no going back from that kind of fantasy.
Comment: Recommended companion reading for Star Trek: Below Decks: John Scalzi’s Redshirts. You can thank me later. — Jon D
Matt Roush: I’ll thank you now. Because shortly after I saw this recommendation, the book showed up as one of the Kindle Daily Deals on Amazon, so I downloaded it and it’s now high on my list of digital reading, waiting for a time when I get a breather to actually read. Sounds like it could be even funnier than Below Decks.
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.