Ask Matt: ‘Cobra Kai’s Netflix Move, a ‘Dreadful’ Cancellation, ‘SVU’ Job Switch, ‘Outlander’ Emmy Snub & 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.
How Far Will Netflix Take Cobra Kai?
Question: I recently binged through the first two seasons of Cobra Kai and was really surprised how true it is to the spirit of the original Karate Kid movie series. All of the returning actors easily fall back into their characters, now 30 years older, and the new cast of younger actors are all realistically portrayed and well acted. The production is nearly movie quality and the fight sequences are great and don’t rely on special effects. Now that the already produced third season of the show is moving from YouTube to Netflix (along with the first 2 seasons), I really expect it to take off with viewers since Netflix has such a higher global viewership reach. Do you think Netflix has plans for extending the series further? They typically don’t rescue shows unless they plan on producing their own seasons of the show. Yet I haven’t seen any PR for the series and they seem to be dragging their feet on announcing when the new season will debut. — Mark H
Matt Roush: Since I received this question, Netflix announced that the third season will premiere in 2021. It’s a bit of a wait, but I don’t see that as a negative. While Cobra Kai earned an enthusiastic following as a YouTube original, the expectations are high that the series will grow exponentially in reach when the first two seasons land on Netflix on Friday. The executive producers recently told TV Insider, “We’re really focused on the excitement of people getting to discover Seasons 1 and 2 or rediscover them on Netflix … so when Season 3 comes, there is this collective payoff for everybody.”
I see this as a rare moment of restraint on the part of the streamer, to acknowledge that for many, a 20-episode binge will be enough for the moment and will merely whet the appetite for a third season that can enjoy another round of promotion. I’d be surprised if fans will have to wait very long into the new year for the next season, and I’ll be even more shocked if there isn’t a considerably longer life to the franchise. At the time of the pickup, the producers described Netflix in a statement as “a new home where we can not only continue the series, but also explore opportunities to further expand The Karate Kid universe.” Sky’s the limit.
What a Dreadful Development
Comment: I am so sorry that Penny Dreadful: City of Angels has been canceled. I really enjoyed it. This was adult entertainment. Maybe enough people do not subscribe to Showtime and really were not familiar with this show. — Gloria
Matt Roush: Showtime has yet to elaborate on this decision, but I doubt it has anything to do with the size of its subscriber base as much as the size of the audience that chose to tune in. You’d think during a time of quarantine that more subscribers would be inclined to watch new shows on premium services, so it’s possible this new version was just too different from the original Penny Dreadful (which ran three seasons), or other factors kept it from catching on. It was ambitious, to be sure, but I often found the supernatural elements to be an uneasy fit with the Chinatown-style social-realism crime stories. I would have liked to see this get another shot as well, but it’s also possible that economic factors during the pandemic — including the fallout from the ViacomCBS merger — played a part in this. At least the original Penny got to end on its own terms, even if it was a surprise to the viewer. This is unsatisfactory on many levels.
The Greenhouse Went Dark Too Soon
Question: I just finished all four seasons of Greenhouse Academy on Netflix. What a show filled with so much mystery! I realize the show has been canceled. Do you think there’s any way Netflix could reverse its decision, or maybe another network could pick it up? — Joe
Matt Roush: Highly doubtful. It usually works the other way, for Netflix to come to the rescue of a prematurely canceled series. Netflix has a history of dropping shows after three or four seasons, and they’re less in the habit of reversing course. (Case in point: the furor over One Day at a Time.) It would be interesting to see another network specializing in young-adult/tween programming try to keep this going, but it seems a long shot.
Why Did Carisi Leave the SVU Team?
Matt Roush: I imagine the actor might disagree with you, but as often happens on long-running series, producers like to change things up to keep characters and storylines fresh. And with the revolving door especially prevalent in the DA’s office on this show, Carisi was tapped to take the ADA job when a new show-runner took over. In an interview about the then-new gig in 2019, Scanavino reminded us that Carisi had gone to law school and passed the bar, so it made sense for his character. And I get a sense they like the dynamic of a former member of the team working in the DA’s office, providing some interesting conflict.
Will Outlander Always Be an Emmy Outsider?
Question: I have one simple question: Why did Outlander not get any votes for the Emmys this year? It’s a good series, and not a “bodice ripper,” full of history and interesting characters. Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan both deserved a nomination. — Cheryl H, The Villages, FL
Matt Roush: Simple question, no easy answers. Except to point out that this is one of those high-quality productions that somehow continues to fly under the Emmy radar. Back when Outlander premiered with much fanfare, and the actors and the show were first ignored (though Caitriona Balfe has fared better with Golden Globe nominations), this sat a pattern. Some shows break through, but many don’t, especially these days with so many candidates. The romance/fantasy/period genre could be what’s keeping the Emmy voters from taking it seriously, but it’s an oversight that’s no longer a surprise, though it is unfortunate, and fans complain about this every year. Outlander will just have to settle for being popular and beloved by those who appreciate how it elevates the genre.
Comment: I just have a response to Luke’s issue in a recent column with Days of Our Lives being preempted. In the San Francisco area, when the entire show is preempted, I can usually record it when Kelly Clarkson‘s repeat is on (approximately 2:30 a.m.). With my CBS soaps, I can always watch them on CBS All Access (unless it’s a classic episode and then I lose out entirely), and, for General Hospital, if I don’t want to watch it On Demand, I usually record all of the ABC news shows that are on after Nightline. It’s hard being a soap lover but it is what it is. I just wish they could let people watch important news online or another channel because a lot of times the news isn’t even local. Thanks for letting me vent, Matt. You do an excellent job and we really appreciate you for it. — Ronnie M
Matt Roush: Thank you for weighing in. It’s always interesting to learn how people work around the roadblocks TV networks and stations set for them. (I had a similar issue when Jeopardy! was occasionally pre-empted for local coverage, and the episodes would end up being moved to the overnight slot where Jeopardy or Wheel repeats were scheduled, all too late in the game to be reflected in the on-screen grid.) Sometimes you just have to improvise and use common sense. Nobody said watching TV would be easy.
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!