Ask Matt: Emmy Reactions, ‘Grey’s’ Late Launch, More ‘Dancing’ and ‘Stumptown’ Fallout
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.
Couldn’t Emmys Have Found a ‘Place’ for Another Underdog?
Comment: I will say right off the bat that I don’t watch Schitt’s Creek, which I know you and others like, so I can’t fairly judge that show. However, I find it sort of sad that its sweep means The Good Place went for its entire run without winning a single Emmy. It is amazing that a show as thoroughly unconventional, surprising and ethical as The Good Place was allowed to exist, especially on network TV, and I am grateful that NBC saw it through to its conclusion and supported it the whole way. So I guess that’s the award in and of itself. But it still would have been nice for them to get acknowledged somewhere in some way in some category for this extraordinary piece of work. — Jake
Matt Roush: I admit when I heard Maya Rudolph had won a guest actress Emmy, I hoped it had been for her work as the Judge on this wonderful show. (It wasn’t. She was honored for her equally fine take on Kamala Harris on Saturday Night Live.) I know how you feel, but the fact that a broadcast network comedy of any sort could be nominated for best series the last two years is a true achievement. While The Good Place‘s terrific and ambitious-to-the-end final season was at least as good as Schitt’s Creek‘s, there’s no denying the industry’s embrace of the heartfelt Canadian underdog, which is very much worth seeking out. (It gets better by the season.) The Netflix exposure somehow conveyed a cool factor around Creek that The Good Place for all of its acclaim and cult fandom couldn’t match. They’re both among the most humane and lovingly life-affirming shows anywhere on TV, but the historic Schitt’s Creek sweep is such a great TV story that I can’t get too worked up about the fact that not everyone can win.
Where Was Broadcast TV?
Question: I’ve become disenchanted with the Emmys over the past several years, but after this year’s Emmy Awards, I am totally disgusted and may never waste my time watching them again. When … and WHY… did these awards become about programs on “streaming” channels to the complete exclusion of the many quality shows and actors on broadcast TV shows, and a drastic reduction in programs on cable channels??? Not everyone has Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Apple, etc., and I believe more people, like myself, would like to see broadcast and cable channels (HBO, Showtime, etc.) recognized. Shows like This is Us, The Good Doctor, A Million Little Things, just to name a few, receive no recognition. There should be either separate categories for shows on streaming channels, and shows on broadcast and cable channels. Alternatively, have a separate Emmy Awards show. The present format is completely unfair, and I am completely… FED UP! – Rosemarie
Matt Roush: I usually see this sort of rant when the nominations come out, but it’s a fact that the snub of network TV is even more obvious when you watch the show and realize that a whole segment of TV just doesn’t exist in the eyes of Emmy voters anymore. Jimmy Kimmel can joke about the death of network TV, but the Emmys beat him to it. We lament this every year — I’m still amazed that Freddie Highmore‘s work on The Good Doctor remains unnoticed, as just one example — but that ship has sailed for the moment, and outside of Saturday Night Live, late-night TV and a very occasional nod to a show like This Is Us (which won a guest acting Emmy for Ron Cephas Jones), network TV is as foreign to the Emmys as cable once was.
But as I’ve argued every time this issue comes up — and it’s an annual occurrence to say the least — the TV Academy isn’t going to segregate network TV from other platforms, and it shouldn’t. It’s all TV, and network TV is either going to have to raise its game or boost its marketing if it wants to get back in the game. The real truth is, though, that network TV is no longer in it for the Emmys — that’s for HBO and Netflix to battle it out for bragging rights. Network TV is essentially a business focused on providing mass-market entertainment, some better than others with some exceptional work being done, but little of it is as distinctive or groundbreaking as what is seen on cable (especially premium cable) and streaming. It may not seem fair, but that’s not why the Emmys exist. For many, this makes the Emmys irrelevant, and that’s not likely to change, either.
Fall Launches in November: Too Little Too Late?
Question: ABC recently announced that Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 are returning on Nov. 12. This Is Us is supposed to come back that week as well. What struck me about these dates is how close they are to when the networks are usually airing midseason finales. In a normal year, Grey’s would air from the end of September through the week before Thanksgiving. Then they would take the holidays off and return with the second batch of episodes in January.
We all know why that is not the case this year and I’m certainly not complaining. But in thinking ahead, I’m wondering how the network will handle holiday periods this year. Will ABC really want to air only a few weeks worth of Grey’s before taking it off the air at Thanksgiving? It doesn’t make much sense to have new episodes around the holidays, but it also doesn’t make much sense to start and then stop. Considering the circumstances, I’m happy to get any episodes whenever we can get them, but I am wondering how the delayed start will affect the scheduling of episodes this season. – JL
Matt Roush: It’s a bit early to start worrying about this, and as you noted, just having the shows back at all will be something to celebrate. And keep in mind that this season is still operating under a cloud of uncertainty, and if all of the safety protocols don’t keep new outbreaks of the virus at bay, these delayed productions may have to shut down again, which is something no one wants.
The way I figure it is that the shows that are premiering in early to mid November may be able to get as many as five or six episodes on the air, with a possible Thanksgiving break and then the usual late-December holiday hiatus of at least two weeks, whereas in a normal season they would have averaged around 10 episodes by calendar year’s end. Even if only a four-episode arc would be possible, that’s better than nothing, and should get us hooked for what I expect and hope will be an onslaught of new and returning programming in early 2021.
The Anti-Tyra Tango
Comment: As far as Dancing With the Stars is concerned, I think Tyra Banks is Over The Top. There is too much of her and not enough interaction with the dancers. She was OK when hosting America’s Got Talent on NBC, but ABC and DWTS have a softer “family” appeal which was fostered to the max by Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews. We at home felt drawn in to the fabulous friends and fun people we could see each week dancing their hearts out. Now we have to be confronted by a Ringmaster type of person — not a comforting thought at all! I cannot see Len Goodman putting up with her bossiness — wait and see! (Someone among the advertising sponsors PLEASE listen and send her a thumbs down.) — Valerie L
Matt Roush: Let’s just say that I’m not encouraged by this description from ABC of what to expect in this week’s show: “The show will begin with a comedic cold open featuring host Tyra Banks and the origins of her ‘smize’ as she teaches the celebrities how to use it through the competition.”
Phoning Home on Away
Question: While watching Netflix’s Away, I had a question. How can the astronauts in space halfway to Mars use a cell phone to call Earth? They also do FaceTime and it is all done with no lag time. I have been in Antarctica, and when I called home (Washington state), it was about a 15-second lag time. — Darryl
Matt Roush: That’s why they call it science fiction. I figured they had found a way by whenever this is taking place to boost the signals, or that the ship itself had special tech to keep the crew in touch with home and Mission Control for as long as possible. One of the most compelling aspects of Away‘s narrative to me was the knowledge that at a certain point, they were going to lose the instant communication that had kept them relatively grounded. When their lifeline began to falter and when they had to say their goodbyes, it was a pretty powerful moment.
Question: Regarding the Stumptown cancellation, and the suggestion that the coronavirus was the reason, couldn’t it really be that the Portland background was no longer available due to all of the burning, looting and rioting? Just wondering. — Stuart
Matt Roush: Stumptown was filmed in Los Angeles (the pilot episode mostly in Canada), so that wouldn’t have been an issue. Besides, it’s not like Portland is Syria.
Question: I got hooked on FX’s Mr. Inbetween starring Scott Ryan. I haven’t seen any info on a new season filming. Is it coming back? — Juanita
Matt Roush: The show was renewed for a third season this spring, but as with most things right now, it’s hard to say when new episodes will be available. Sometime next year, most likely.
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.