Ask Matt: Canadian Transplants, Undone by Hugh Grant, Artistic License on ‘Big Sky,’ ‘Grey’s’ Ghosts & 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.
TV From Our Northern Neighbors
Matt Roush: As it turns out, both of your new favorites hail from Canada, and they came in handy for the American broadcasters when they needed to fill holes on their schedules because of delays in production of their regular prime-time shows. Happily, both have been renewed by their respective Canadian networks: Coroner for a third year — the CW aired the first two seasons consecutively — and Transplant for a second. There’s no reason to think they won’t return at some point in 2021 on their U.S. counterparts, possibly as summer or midseason replacements.
Granted, This Was a Change of Pace
Question: I am a long-time fan of Hugh Grant. I have enjoyed him in all of the romantic comedies in which he was so perfectly cast. His performance in HBO’s recent The Undoing was a real testament to the depth and breadth of his natural talent. As I watched all the episodes of this dark drama, I was enthralled by this “new” Hugh Grant — and I want to see more! In my opinion, his performance in The Undoing is worthy of an award. I hope you agree. My question: Does Mr. Grant have any other projects in the works that his fans can hope to see? (In addition to the talented Mr. Grant, the young boy who played Henry did an outstanding job. The scenes featuring both these actors together were the best of the series. I am sorry to say Nicole Kidman‘s performance in this drama was not impressive.) — Linda W, Muncie, IN
Matt Roush: Hugh Grant can next be seen in a very timely mockumentary, Death to 2020, being made for Netflix by the producers of Black Mirror and presumably to be seen before year’s end. (No air date has been announced yet.) If you liked him in this, let me recommend A Very English Scandal on Amazon Prime Video, where he’s nearly as unsympathetic as an attempted murderer — and worse, a politician! Grant earned an Emmy nomination for that fact-based miniseries, and I’d expect he’ll repeat the honor for this chilling and against-type turn as a most malignant narcissist. (For the record, the son Henry was played by Noah Jupe, who I agree nailed all of his scenes — including during the last big reveal involving his monstrous father. And in retrospect, Nicole Kidman probably wasn’t helped by all of that glamorous styling, which distracted from the internalized torment she was trying to convey.)
From Page to Screen
Question: Do you have a problem with ABC’s Big Sky barely resembling the book? In this day and age, shouldn’t a series follow the original material? I can easily name five things including the heroine that are different. Episode 3 was almost all new. — Debra
Matt Roush: If they had named the show The Highway — or Badlands, or another of the titles of C.J. Box’s thrillers featuring Cassie Dewell — I might have been more upset by the creative liberties David E. Kelley took in adapting this for TV. But that’s how it often goes when a property is translated into another medium, and Kelley obviously saw potential in teaming Cassie (who in the book this is based on is not a private investigator) with Cody’s estranged wife, Jenny (also way different from the books). That’s his path going forward, if there is a going forward. What jars me the most is that by slowing down a page-turner that took just a few hours to read, and dwelling so much on the torment of the teenage captives, Big Sky is a much more unpleasant experience to watch than The Highway was to read. If Big Sky continues, I’ll be curious to see if Cassie and Jenny embark on entirely new adventures or if Kelley will keep borrowing storylines from the Box books.
The Ghosts of Grey’s Anatomy
Question: I know we just went through this with Derek (Patrick Dempsey) on Grey’s Anatomy, but I have to ask about your reaction to seeing George (T.R. Knight) again. ABC’s promo department ran ads for the previous two weeks indicating that “Someone else from Meredith’s past returns.” Even though we had already had the surprise of seeing Derek, I would still have preferred that they not say that. I had thought it would be Lexie because of her being Meredith’s sister, and if they continue with these returnees, I hope they can get to her before the end of the beach storyline. But I was so happy with this episode because it gave George a much better sendoff than his original exit did.
The design of that 2009 episode — when George was taking the day off of work and then came back in as a patient and no one knew who he was until the final act — meant that he didn’t really get to say goodbye to anyone in the way that had been done for other departing characters. So it meant much more than I expected it would to see him again and for him to have a meaningful conversation with Meredith. I just about lost it when I saw that shot of him and Meredith and Bailey and Webber together. While I certainly don’t blame Knight for wanting to leave after a fifth season in which he was relegated to the sidelines, I did wish his exit didn’t feel so abrupt. This episode improved his original finale retroactively and I didn’t really think that was possible. What did you think? — Jake
Matt Roush: It was a nice surprise to see such a beloved character return, and I’m glad they’ve been able to keep these cameos from the past under wraps (despite ABC’s promo teases), although I’m not sure how many more of these J. Crew beach indulgences I can endure. (I’d make an exception for Lexie, I suppose). As for George’s initial exit: It’s one of the moments I remember most vividly from the show’s past, to give this endearing young man such a heroic but tragic and unexpected send-off. Dramatic to be sure, though admittedly lacking the sort of sentimental farewell speeches more common in shows like this. If this was an attempt to give him and his fans some closure, that’s OK with me. I was most amused by Meredith calling out the fact that George had gotten older in the afterlife. T.R. Knight still looks pretty boyish to me.
Renewed or Not?
Question: I was reading the article on which shows have been renewed and didn’t see if HBO has renewed We Are Who We Are for a second season. Do you have any update on if this show will have a second season? — Unsigned
Matt Roush: No news since last month’s finale. It hasn’t been renewed or canceled at this point. It has been reported that series creator Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) has created a bible of an outline for a second season, should it happen — which I expect it will — but he has other projects lined up and it’s unclear when this could happen, if it happens. It might be even more interesting if there were a significant time jump between seasons, to revisit these unsettled and provocative characters at a new stage in their emotional journeys.
Gone But Not Forgotten
Question: I am still incredibly bummed out that ABC canceled Stumptown. Any news about anybody picking up that series or is it gone for good? — Pete
Matt Roush: I’ve seen no updates since the proverbial “being shopped around” reports at the time of cancellation. The longer time passes and actors and producers move on to new projects, the less likely are the odds of a rescue. Never say never, but for now, consider Stumptown truly canceled. And yes, I’m bummed, too. (But even more so to have it confirmed that the new version of One Day at a Time appears to have finally run out of lifelines.)
That’s all for now. We 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.)