Ask Matt: The Upside of Pandemic TV ('Transplant,' 'One Day'), 'Filthy Rich,' 'Walking Dead,' 'Mom' & 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.
Filling Up on TV "Filler"
Comment: I'd like to make an observation about pandemic-era television: While I certainly am eager to have my old favorites back, I'm really enjoying this autumn "filler" programming that I otherwise wouldn't have seen. Given how I barely subscribe to any streaming services (other than Netflix and Hulu), I'm addicted to Tell Me A Story on The CW, and it's a shame that CBS All Access had canceled it. (Dare we hope it ends up revived somewhere else, several years from now?). I'm finally getting to see the newest episodes of One Day at A Time after it departed from Netflix. L.A.'s Finest and Transplant have been very strong out of the gate, creatively, as they migrate to broadcast prime-time. And I'd say Fox and CBS are looking pretty smart right now for waiting until this fall to hold over Filthy Rich, Next and The Amazing Race's upcoming 32nd season. If only ABC had done the same with The Baker and the Beauty! — Kenneth D, Wichita
Matt Roush: It is such an interesting grab-bag, isn't it? Transplants from Canada, streaming and On Demand services, fringe cable and a few holdovers from last midseason, anything that might help mark time until our returning favorites are back along with a smattering of new network shows. And it’s a pleasant bonus when something like Next is actually good. I agree it was especially far-sighted for Fox and CBS to make the strategic decision to delay certain premieres until fall, even though there was just as much if not more demand for shows like these during the most intense months of quarantine. Because so few shows are ready for airing right now, they’re especially welcome. (I've been counting the days for The Amazing Race to return.)
A 'Filthy' Ratings Dilemma
Question: I haven't seen Filthy Rich yet, but judging by the ratings on Fox, it's pretty low by the network's standards. The show already has its first three episodes available to stream on Hulu, so maybe that will help out the show a bit ratings-wise? It's sometimes hard for me to start investing in a new show if it has low ratings, fearing that the show will end its first and only season on an unresolved cliffhanger without having any closure. I know that Filthy Rich's lead-in show is L.A.'s Finest, which was acquired from Spectrum, and its ratings are also low, maybe because most people have already watched it on Spectrum. The fact that these shows have been up against stiff competition like Big Brother on CBS and Dancing with the Stars on ABC are also hindering their ratings as well! Will the time-shifted views (depending on how well they do) help Filthy Rich score a second season, or will it be another casualty of low ratings that affected other shows like Broke and 68 Whiskey that happened during this pandemic? (The latter was not only cancelled due to low ratings, but because of COVID-19 and Paramount Network rebranding.) And will Fox acquire the rights to Season 2 of L.A.'s Finest, or will its low ratings convince Fox not to air its second season? — Chris B
Matt Roush: You're asking me to read way too much into ratings during an uncertain and unstable time for TV. (I'm not obsessed by ratings even in better times, to be honest, because everything's so fragmented anymore.) While I appreciate Kenneth's optimism in the previous discussion, there's also a drawback to being one of the very few original series trying to get traction when everyone’s so distracted by current events and shifting sports schedules. It's always possible Fox will take time-shifting and streaming numbers into account when making a decision on Filthy Rich, but unless L.A.'s Finest really popped, I'd be surprised if the network continued poaching series from elsewhere when it's not as necessary.
A Deadly Letdown
Comment: I really had to write in about how badly disappointed I was at The Walking Dead's season [or mid-midseason or whatever] finale. Seriously, we waited 6 months for this??? The previews all prepared us for this big battle and there was hardly any of this. Plus our heroes only endured one minor character fatality but gave a lot of impending doom to Gabriel and Carol, only to be saved at the end. And let me just say in Carol's case, if you are going to hint at her destruction you do not announce that she is going to be in a spinoff two years from now before the episode airs.
My main disappointments were in the lack of program time for Maggie, about 3 whole minutes, and no big payoff between the Daryl, Negan and Beta confrontation. The best part of the whole Whisperer battle was the previous fight between Daryl and Beta, and I expected more of this and not what we got (about 2 minutes). Ryan Hurst had a much better send-off on Sons of Anarchy. What this episode did have a lot of were ads, sometimes encompassing up to five minutes at a time, but I am going to correct this since The Walking Dead was about my last show to watch live, it will now be DVR'd from now on. — JV
Matt Roush: In my experience, I'm always more surprised when an episode as hyped as this meets expectations. So this kind of reaction seems par for the course. Personally, I'm just so glad to be rid of the disgusting Whisperers that I accepted the win. And regarding the lack of tragedy, I figure they met that quota at the end of the previous season, when Henry, Enid, Tara and the others were felled in one mighty swoop. I do agree, though, that by the producers announcing a Daryl and Carol spinoff so far in advance, that takes away some of the tension I currently feel whenever they're in peril. And I expect when the show returns as promised in the new year to finish out this endless 10th season, we'll see a lot more of Maggie. We'd better.
Mom After Christy
Matt Roush: None of the reporting I've seen about the series so far indicates they're looking for someone to join the ensemble to make up for Anna leaving, but anything's possible. I figure Mom will deal with the implications of Christy's departure for a while before starting to look for a new recruit. Besides, would it surprise you to learn (if my quickie Internet research is accurate) that Jaime Pressly, who plays Jill, is actually younger than Anna Faris (by less than a year)? And Pauley Perrett is actually closer to Kristen Johnston in age. She'd made a great guest star, though, if they're looking!
Comment: I have to disagree with you on Mom. Without Anna Faris, I don't believe the show will last the year. I won't be watching, as Anna Faris was the catalyst that made the show tick. — Jerry
Matt Roush: That's your choice, of course, and I would agree with you that Anna probably never got enough credit for being the catalyst, as you put it, or in other terms the "straight woman" to Allison Janney's more outrageous mom. Contractually, this could be its final season, with or without Anna, but billing aside, Mom is in every aspect an ensemble show with many terrific female co-stars carrying the comedy. (That became even more evident when Johnston came aboard as the outgoing Tammy.) Christy and Anna will be missed, but Mom’s going to remain a must-see for me when it comes back this season.
Up a Creek
Question: We are binge-watching all of the episodes of Schitt's Creek and really enjoying this show. I may be 79 years old, and this show is nothing like my generation is supposed to enjoy. Well, I'm truly loving it. This type of comedy series is such a breath of fresh air. The acting and writing is so good and refreshing. Now I see why they walked away with all of those Emmys. Please tell me there will be more. I've tried googling info on renewal but no luck. Any new info?? — Lois, Rainbow City, AL
Matt Roush: When you get to the end of the sixth season, which pulled off that historic Emmy sweep, that's all there is. It was announced well in advance that this would be the final season, and once you see it, you'll know why. Even when you're left wanting more, there are few things more satisfying than a show going out on a creative high. That said, I wouldn't be the least surprised, given the post-Emmys hubbub, if there won't be a Schitt’s Creek reunion, if not reboot, sometime in the future.
Question: I just discovered the wonderful Last Tango in Halifax on Netflix this past week and binged 3 seasons. Then I went looking for more on PBS and watched the last four episodes, and this week's was labeled Series Finale!? Seriously? — Sharon, Waterville, Maine
Matt Roush: As with the previous question about Schitt's Creek, it's never too late to discover a great TV show. But in this case, it's not necessarily over. From all I can tell, no decision has been made about a fifth season. There might be confusion because in British TV parlance, a season is called a "series," so Season 3 would be Series 3 in the U.K., and a "Series Finale" might be another way of saying "season finale." There was a four to five-year gap between seasons this time (depending on how you count Christmas specials), and the show's writer-creator Sally Wainwright is a very busy producer, so if Last Tango is renewed, we might still be in for a wait until new episodes become available. (Although the wonderful Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid aren't exactly spring chickens, so let's hope the wait isn't too long!)
That's all for now. Thanks as always for reading, and remember that I can't do this without your prticipation, 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.