Ask Matt: ‘Walker’ Woes, Two More Votes for Ken on ‘Jeopardy,’ ‘Resident Alien,’ ‘Big Sky’ & 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.
Snap Out of It, Walker!
Question: I have been waiting for the new Walker series on The CW. Having watched the first few episodes, I am so disappointed in the story line. In the original series, my favorite with Chuck Norris, the shows were exciting to watch. Norris and his team were martial-arts experts and the fight scenes were always true to life and kept you on the edge of your seat. So far, this version has Walker a defeated man by the death of his wife, so much so, he comes off as not very macho or manly and has yet to display any fight in him. His tiny female partner is not much better. Can I look forward to this show getting any better when it comes to fighting for right over wrong, good over evil and more exciting stuff? Disheartened — Linda
Matt Roush: This seems to be the prevailing opinion so far in my mailbag, and I’m not surprised that anyone who tuned in hoping for a carbon copy of the Chuck Norris hit would be disappointed by a show that (as I wrote upon its premiere) has “more angst than action” and a title character who “leads as much with his emotions as his fists.” The CW hasn’t provided advance episodes, so there’s no way to know if this initial period of resetting the premise is an indication of what’s to come. Still, Walker has done well for The CW so far — even dropping in the second week, it topped 2 million viewers on a Thursday, which is big for this small network — but it does seem a weird hybrid of a CBS premise adapted to fit a CW star.
Keep Ken on Jeopardy!
Comment: My wife and I have been big fans of Jeopardy! and Alex Trebek for many years. We were saddened by Alex’s passing. We both think Ken Jennings is doing a fine job as host and hope that the producers will keep him on permanently — of course if he wants it permanently. My feeling is that Alex had a special relationship with Ken as a contestant and as a person and would like to see Ken kept on permanently. I think if Alex were looking down during the shows, he would be pleased at Ken’s performance! If the producers are looking for viewer critique, please let them know Ken has two votes: my wife and me. I hope you are getting similar feedback from other viewers. — Gordon L, Milford, CT
Matt Roush: Now that we’re three weeks into this experiment, I bet most Jeopardy! viewers have achieved a comfort level with Ken Jennings as guest host. I know I have. With very few exceptions, my mailbag has been supportive of his time behind the podium. But as I’ve discussed previously on this topic, I get why Jeopardy! wouldn’t rush to name a full-time successor, especially with more guest hosts waiting in the wings. With Alex Trebek passing away while the season was still in progress, I wouldn’t be surprised if the show waits until the season is over or mostly over before making a decision. The last thing they want is for this to look like a contest. But at some point, to be able to plan for and promote the next season, Jeopardy! will have to make a move. And I agree that at this point, Ken should have first right of refusal or at least remain part of the process going forward. He has been an honorable steward of an incredibly valuable property.
Poison Pen for AMC
Question: Regarding The Salisbury Poisonings being shown on AMC in January after its AMC+ debut this past fall, I was miffed that there was no press release letting viewers know when it would be premiering on AMC. It wasn’t listed as new in thefutoncritic.com listings so it was easy to miss. I only was alerted when I saw it listed in TV Guide Magazine. Is there a possible reason AMC wouldn’t make a big effort to let viewers know exactly when they were showing it on their linear channel? I’m concerned I’ll miss Gangs of London for the same reason – Dana
Matt Roush: I’m glad TV Guide Magazine was helpful. Let’s hope it will be again when Gangs of London crosses over to the linear channel — and also (as noted in an earlier column) when the second season of A Discovery of Witches finishes its exclusive streaming run on Sundance Now, Shudder and AMC+. If memory serves, I received a number of PR updates about Salisbury‘s linear premiere on Jan. 25, from AMC and its outsourced press reps, but if they and we didn’t make as big a deal about its AMC launch, that’s a sign of the times. The emphasis these days for so many companies is on their streaming platforms, and by the time a series like this finds its way to the linear channel it may feel to many like old news. We’ll always do our best to keep viewers in the loop, but from the consumer angle, it’s an almost impossible amount of content to keep track of. And for those who’ve missed The Salisbury Poisonings, a first-rate true-crime drama, episodes are also On Demand through AMC.
Alienated by TV Comedies
Question: I’m mostly annoyed by comedies … most don’t even make me chuckle. Exceptions are the witty and clever The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, and Last Man Standing. I watched and LOVED Resident Alien. What do you think of it? — Maria W
Matt Roush: As always, nothing’s more subjective than what makes someone laugh. Or not. But I’m glad you consider Syfy’s Resident Alien a comedy, because that’s where this new adventure in sci-fi whimsy hits my sweet spot as well. I’m liking it a lot, and having seen seven episodes, I can attest the twists, and laughs, keep coming.
The Sky’s the Limit
Question: I’m in Cincinnati and love your weekly segment on the WLW morning show with Mike McConnell. I’m loving Big Sky on ABC, but how can they keep this show going? This case has to wrap up eventually. What do you think? — Scott
Matt Roush: Thanks for listening. It’s a highlight for me as well, given that I grew up outside of Cincinnati (on the Indiana side) and it’s a kick to be heard on a station I grew up listening to. To your topic: Week by week, the net has been tightening on the kidnapper/sex traffickers, so I’m fairly sure you’ll get your wish, and Big Sky will eventually move on to another case — and possibly future seasons of Cassie (Kylie Bunbury) and Jenny (Katheryn Winnick) working their P.I. mojo. This first season has mostly been a very loose adaptation of C.J. Box’s The Highway, taking so many liberties with the source material that even someone who’s read the books can’t be sure just where it’s heading. Which is OK by me. But if this follows Box’s trajectory, we might have a scenario where the case is resolved with some elements left open-ended. Remains to be seen.
And Finally …
Comment: In regards to The Flight Attendant‘s Cassie talking to ghosts: She wasn’t talking to a ghost. She was talking to the image of Alex as a sounding board about questions that only he would know the answers to. “Alex” never gave her any concrete answers, just opened doorways to things she needed to consider: her subconscious guiding her towards answers. We all have that figure in our mind. Sometimes the figure is that of ourself, sometimes it’s a lost loved one, and sometimes it’s the dead hot guy you woke up next to. In any instance, talking to yourself is far different than talking to ghosts. (The Book of Daniel, NBC, 2006 is a good example.) Also talked about in your column was the subject of reboots. I’m binge-watching Homeland, the first time I’ve seen it (starting season 7 as I’m writing to you), and I keep thinking to myself it’s already time for a reboot, this time starring Chyler Leigh! Thanks Matt! — Mark W
Matt Roush: Thank you for the thoughtful clarification, and for mentioning the too-short-lived The Book of Daniel, but whether a ghost or a sounding board for the subconscious, the “Alex” device was so overdone that this gimmick became one of my least favorite things about The Flight Attendant, so I’ll stand by that opinion. As for Homeland: Maybe it’s a different experience if you binge-watch a series many of us spent several years of our lives following, through ups and some very definite downs, but I vote for giving Carrie Mathison a rest. As the series wore on, even when it picked up steam again it never made sense to me that someone as unstable as Carrie would remain a valued asset. Once a show wears out its welcome, even if it sticks the landing, the last thing it deserves is an instant reboot.
That’s all for now. Remember that 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.)