Ask Matt: ‘Jeopardy!’ Oddities, Where’s the Great Pumpkin?, ‘Dexter’ Comeback & More

Dexter Michael C. Hall Showtime Season 4
Showtime/courtesy Everett Collection

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.

What if No One Makes It to Final Jeopardy?

Question: I was struck by last week’s Jeopardy! episode in which only one contestant (returning champion Kevin Walsh) was left standing for Final Jeopardy. Alex said he didn’t recall the last time this occurred, and I’m wondering if it ever has. The incident also made me wonder: Does the show have a contingency plan in place if there was ever a game where everyone was in the negative after Double Jeopardy? I mean, that would be really bad and really embarrassing, so it seems unlikely. But if it ever happened, they would all three be ineligible to continue. And yet the show would still have to produce enough content to fill its allotted time slot. — Jake

Matt Roush: It is rare but not unheard of for only one player to make it to Final Jeopardy; the last time was reportedly in 2015. (It’s somewhat more common when all three players end with zero scores after Final, meaning three new contestants step up for the following game.) According to Jeopardy‘s website, the scenario of all three players ending up with negative or zero scores before Final has yet to occur in the Alex Trebek era, but the rule book states, “In the event all three contestants have $0 (zero) or minus amounts at the end of Double Jeopardy, no Final Jeopardy round would be played.” The website suggests the final clue might still be shown for viewers to enjoy, but according to a Reddit thread, when this allegedly happened once during Art Fleming’s reign, the host spent the final segment chatting with all three losers. Hoping it never comes to this, because that really would be embarrassing for all.

The Great Pumpkin Patch Is Now on Apple

Question: When is ABC airing It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown this year? I know they usually use it to sub in for one of their sitcoms on an off week before sweeps. But since the sitcoms are all premiering this week, it’s obviously not on then. I’ve been looking for it in my listings grid and it doesn’t seem to be there. Am I overlooking something? I can’t believe they would skip a year, especially because there is so little scripted programming ready this year. I know it always performs well for them when it’s on. I really should just buy all the Peanuts specials but just end up watching them every year. So where is it? — JL

Matt Roush: Quite a few of my readers seem to have suddenly realized that Great Pumpkin was nowhere to be seen on ABC’s lineup this year. (The answer to this puzzle is forthcoming.)

From one unsigned correspondent: “The recent question regarding It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown got me noticing that ABC hasn’t advertised it or Toy Story of Terror this month. We have only one more week till Halloween. What are the chances that between the election and Covid-19 that ABC skips showing their annual Halloween specials this year? Also, I’m given to understand that ABC’s rights to the Charlie Brown holiday specials are set to expire this year. Given the fact Disney/ABC don’t own the characters, what are the chances CBS could get the rights back next year?”

From another unsigned reader: “Is there any truth to the rumors that ABC hasn’t scheduled It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown because it encourages trick-or-treating and due to Covid-19 they don’t want children thinking about it this year? Also what are the chances some of the secondary digital channels like MeTV, Antenna or Decades could secure the right to the Peanuts specials?”

Matt again: Please spare me the conspiracy theories. Here’s the deal, and I wasn’t aware of this until just now myself. Turns out that Apple TV+ is now the home for all things Peanuts. The streamer already produces a Snoopy in Space series, and has a new The Snoopy Show in the works, as well as a Peanuts 70th-anniversary documentary. As part of a new deal with the companies holding the rights to the Peanuts brand, Apple TV+ will present all of the major holiday specials, and Great Pumpkin began streaming this week. For non-subscribers, it will be available for free next weekend from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. (A similar arrangement is planned for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas.) Future holiday specials include Peanuts celebrations of Mother’s Day, Earth Day, New Year’s Eve and back-to-school.

Whether this means there will be no broadcast presence for Peanuts in the foreseeable future is unclear, but if you’re looking for Great Pumpkin on regular TV this month, you may end up as disappointed as Linus. (As for the Toy Story of Terror special, it has aired on Freeform as part of the “31 Nights of Halloween” lineup, and there are multiple airings scheduled on Disney Channel and Disney Jr. through Halloween.)

Is a Dexter Revival a Good or Bad Idea?

Question: What do you make of Showtime’s announcement that it will bring back Dexter next year? The show was great in its time, but it had seemed to run out of gas by the end, and no one was happy with how it ended. Is this just an act of desperation, or is there more life in the serial killer of killers? — Alan

Matt Roush: In some ways, Dexter was always a bit of a redemption story, as this extreme version of an anti-hero, so well played by Michael C. Hall, saw his dark impulses and murderous acts as a way to rid the world of other monsters. Its run reminds me a bit of Showtime’s other signature thriller Homeland, which also started strong and had a few excellent seasons, then lost its way, found a creative surge toward the end, and then wrapped it up in a way that left some viewers dissatisfied (in both cases, sending the main character off into exile). Dexter‘s ending was much more controversial, and few were satisfied with the thought of him forever hiding from society as a lumberjack. So maybe this limited-run comeback will redeem the show, and the character, by giving fans the closure they seek. I know I’m curious, if a bit skeptical as well. There’s no way I wouldn’t watch, because when Dexter was on his game, there wasn’t anything like it.

We’ve Seen It Before, But What Do You Call It?

Question: Do you believe the terms spinoff and reboot get mixed up? I believe a reboot is like MacGyver and Hawaii 5-0 where they bring in new actors and update the series. A spinoff would be like The Conners and Fuller House, where the same actors who played them before play them years later. — Jeff

Matt Roush: You’re mostly right, although the terminology can be tricky, because there are also remakes (where you basically just retell the story of a show or movie, like Netflix’s upcoming Rebecca), revivals (see Will & Grace) and reinventions (One Day at a Time, HBO’s Perry Mason). With The Conners, you have a spinoff from a reboot, so is that a spin-boot?

Give These Finest TV Detectives a New Home

Question: Tell me there is another season of Spectrum’s L.A.’s Finest! It has more twists and turns than a roller coaster. The team of Sydney and McKenna (Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba) is wonderful. Maybe Netflix can grab it. — Michelle

Matt Roush: For now, sorry to tell you, there won’t be a third season — on Spectrum, anyway. But the show has had such an unusual history that I wouldn’t necessarily write it off yet. Originally developed for NBC, the show ended up on Spectrum’s On Demand platform, and the first season is currently airing on Fox as part of its stopgap scheduling. That indicates a fair amount of interest in the show as a property, and the studio behind Finest is known for aggressively shopping its shows around, so anything’s possible.

And Finally…

Question: I have searched high and low for any tiny bit of info on the PBS Masterpiece series Victoria. It’s been over a year (almost 2 now) since season 3 ended. I have not been able to find out if it’s on hiatus, delayed, canceled or renewed. Can you help me out? It’s such a good show and I’d hate for it to have ended the way it did. — Jessica

Matt Roush: This question comes up so frequently I feel I should address it from time to time, and if there were news to report, we’d happily pass it on. Officially, the word is still “on hiatus.” By all reports, a fourth season remains in development, but has yet to get an official greenlight from U.K.’s ITV network, and while this is an uncommonly long time to go between seasons, Queen Victoria had an uncommonly long run herself, so I’d expect when the time is right, we’ll see more of her story.

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.