Ask Matt: ‘Grey’s’ New (Last?) Season, ‘Blacklist,’ Shows Gone Missing, Alex Trebek RIP & More

grey's anatomy ellen pompeo season 17
Grey's Anatomy

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.

Grey’s Anatomy, the Twist and Its Future

Question: The first time I heard Grey’s Anatomy was going to do COVID on the show, I wasn’t sure if I would be interested in watching that or not, wondering if it would make the show too depressing. I think what I appreciated in the premiere is that the show still felt like the show. Although COVID was an issue, it almost felt like a setting to me. While they were right to include it, it didn’t feel like a radical shift and I was still invested from a character standpoint finding out where things went personally after last season. I was glad to have it back.

Regarding the Meredith twist: I know they won’t kill her — they’ve said enough times that the show hangs up when Ellen Pompeo does — but seeing her with Derek, while wonderful, did make me think back to Season 3 when we had her in the water with Coach Taylor the bomb guy, and Denny. And then Season 5 with (ugh) Ghost Denny. So however they go with this, I hope it’s handled better than that. I’m sure you saw that Pompeo told Variety that this “might” be the last season. If she does not renew, I do hope there is enough time for them to come up with a conclusion that is more satisfying and less clunky than with Alex last year. I would like it even better if she were to decide in advance that whichever season was her last year and give them a full season to arc the show out. Especially since COVID is going to make this season shorter and more challenging than usual, I would think they’d like as much notice as she can give them about when to end things. — Jake

Matt Roush: As I noted in a previous column, TV’s medical dramas had no choice but to confront the pandemic head-on, and from what I’ve seen so far, they’re doing a good job with it, and Grey’s Anatomy in particular was effective in dramatizing the toll it takes on gifted but helpless doctors who aren’t used to losing so many patients or being so isolated from their loved ones while going through this trauma. In the bigger picture, it’s always a fraught guessing game when it comes to the life span of a long-running series so contingent on its lead (title) character, but I’ve convinced (for now) that ABC will do whatever it can to keep Grey’s going beyond a truncated pandemic season, and if/when the time comes, the network and producers will have plenty of time to plan the endgame and make the final season an event. Of course, all bets are off in a year like this, but this doesn’t feel like a show on its last legs.

Seeing Red, the Last Time?

Comment: An observation on The Blacklist: They’re off and running, as expected. In this its final season (I assume), all questions concerning Red and Libby will be answered, yes? This show may well have the most twists and turns of anything I’ve seen in over 60 years of watching the tube, with the possible exception of Lost. And I trust the producers all remember how the fans felt about that particular finale. I’m sure these guys know better than to pull another Lost, I hope — Carroll

Matt Roush: You may be assuming too much, because NBC has made no indication that this is the last season of The Blacklist. But when that time comes, it’s helpful to be reminded that answers are almost never as satisfying as the mysteries and questions that propel a series like this. Lost learned that to the peril of its reputation (some might think unfairly), so it will be a particular challenge to wrap up a thriller like The Blacklist with all of its layers of deception and intrigue.

When Shows Go Missing

Question: A few months ago, TV Guide Magazine had a nice article about uplifting shows to consider watching in these hard times. The top mentioned was The Love Boat. I’ve been watching it for years on MeTV every Sunday night at 6 pm. This week it’s not there, and when I speak into my remote, it says no results found. Is this another show that has gone away? — Marianne

Matt Roush: Vintage syndicated shows have a way of falling on and off the schedule, but The Love Boat sails on, eternally. Just not during holiday season. While the “A Very Merry MeTV” stunt continues through November and December, The Love Boat will be bumped from most Sundays for classic-TV holiday specials — although a Christmas-themed Love Boat episode will air on Nov. 29. The show returns to its regular time period in January.

Question: The last two episodes of Manhunt: Deadly Games were replaced on Nov. 7 by “CBS News 2020: America Has Decided” — no complaint about that, worthy reason. But I have wondered if CBS was planning to broadcast them and when. I thought the series was well done and appreciated CBS putting it on “free” TV, but I do think if a network shows the first eight episodes of a mini-series for free, it should do the same with the final two. And maybe give enough notice of when that will be for the viewers to catch them. Any help you could give with that info would be appreciated. — Glenda

Matt Roush: I got quite a bit of mail about this pre-emption, and the good news/bad news is that because the final episodes did air on the West Coast that Saturday night (long after the president-elect and running mate signed off), CBS has no plans to rebroadcast the episodes on the linear network. But all is not lost. The final episodes are available On Demand, on and on the CBS All Access subscription streaming service, whichever is most convenient.

A Game-Show Loyalist

Comment: Regarding the recent discussion of game shows: I happen to love Supermarket Sweep and Press Your Luck. I love watching people win big bucks. So not everyone agrees with you. But that’s OK. We’re all entitled to our opinion and our personal likes. — Lyberty

Matt Roush: That’s how it works. If we couldn’t agree to disagree, we’d have… well, look at the White House. If a significant number of people didn’t enjoy this brand of TV game play, they wouldn’t be airing in prime time. My taste leans more toward Jeopardy!, Millionaire, even Weakest Link, or games built around word play like Pyramid and Password. I have nothing against the more raucous games (though The Wall exploits chance to a degree I find unbearable), but that’s not how I choose to spend my leisure TV time (what little there is anymore).

Agreeing to Agree (About Alex Trebek and Others)

Comment: I would like to give a big shout out to you for often echoing my sentiments as to favorite shows in everything from current shows to great nostalgia TV, as I noticed once again you referencing a favorite — all-time for me, no less — of Dark Shadows once again in a recent column. You also referenced Jeopardy! as your favorite all-time game show as it is for me. How sad at the great Alex Trebek‘s passing. A few years ago after we lost the great Casey Kasem musically and his top 40 shows, I had the same sense of loss I am experiencing now, as I begin to occasionally think of aging and losing more of my favorites over the upcoming years. I will always have Jeopardy! and Alex in reruns, and I still listen to an old ’70s and ’80s top-40 shows featuring Casey every week on various stations. — JV

Matt Roush: I appreciate the feedback and the desire to honor and hold onto those in the popular culture who loom so large as a daily or weekly presence in our lives. I will say that my heartfelt tribute to Alex Trebek was one I wished I’d never had to write. It’s incredibly poignant to be watching these final weeks of new episodes, knowing how much he loved hosting the game and how much so many of us loved watching him do it.

And Finally …

Question: Would you know when The Rookie is due to premiere? I’ve seen ABC shows listed but not The Rookie. — Jharts

Matt Roush: Along with several other networks, ABC has yet to announce its specific plans and dates for returning scripted series in 2021. I’d expect we’ll hear more over the next few weeks, but needless to say, this has been a challenging time for everyone in the business, but at least The Rookie is still confirmed to be coming back at some point. [Update: On Thursday, Nov. 19, ABC set The Rookie‘s premiere date for Sunday, Jan. 3.]

That’s all for now—and until after Thanksgiving, as I take a brief holiday hiatus. But 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.) We can’t do this without your participation, and not a week goes by that I don’t give thanks to our loyal and passionate readers. Have a great and safe holiday!