Ask Matt: Globes Quirks, Ordinary ‘Zoey,’ Diversity on ‘Jeopardy!,’ ‘Walker,’ Other Reboots & More

Zoeys Extraordinary Playlist Season 2
Sergei Bachlakov/NBC/Lionsgate
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

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.

Does Flighty Kaley Have a Chance at the Globes?

Question: I know your mailbag is probably overflowing with complaints about the Golden Globes nominations, and I know you’ve talked about this before, but who determines into which category a show is placed? The Flight Attendant is in the comedy category. It’s up against Schitt’s Creek, a show that is destined to win every award it’s been nominated for. Compare the performances of Kaley Cuoco and Catherine O’Hara. Two extremely different styles: one playing for laughs and getting them, one in slightly humorous situations not meant to double you over in laughter. I know the “dramedy” category used to be talked about for shows like Desperate Housewives and Gilmore Girls, and rightly so. But for goodness sake, those shows were far different than The Flight Attendant. It’s clearly a drama with humorous elements. Before TFA was renewed for a second season, I was worried about it competing against The Queen’s Gambit in the limited series category, a show I would give the very slightest of an edge over TFA. I wouldn’t have been able to decide which to root for. This situation, though? Kaley Cuoco deserves recognition for her remarkable performance, but because of the category, she more than likely will lose to O’Hara.

On a related note, The Prom‘s James Corden played a stereotypically flamboyant gay man in an underwhelming performance in an ok movie, arguably one of the reasons the movie was just ok, and he gets nominated for best performance in a comedy? I just don’t get it. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. — Mark

Matt Roush: Let me start by noting that any awards show or organization that nominates lurid nonsense like Ratched for Best Drama has so sold its soul that it’s very hard to take anything about it seriously. (That said, I’ll probably play the game and make some wildly random predictions closer to the broadcast because that’s my job.) Nominations are largely determined by the network and/or studio, or possibly the actors and their reps. And while I thought Kaley Cuoco was fine in the flawed (and overrated by Globes voters) Flight Attendant, she would be at an even greater disadvantage in the drama field. (Same goes for the SAG Awards, where she’s again nominated for comedy.) While there was more depth to the character of Cassie than you typically see in a pure comedy, with her psychological and addiction and daddy issues, Cuoco was still largely giving a comic performance in an improbable caper film. (How they get a second season out of this is beyond me.)

I agree her most formidable challenger is the great Catherine O’Hara, but those quirky international Globes voters could just as easily go for Elle Fanning‘s take on Catherine the Great or even Lily Collins in the insipid but escapist Emily in Paris. (Personally, I’m hoping for an upset in the Best Comedy category with a win for the universally beloved Ted Lasso.)

As for The Prom, officially a “movie” so not TV per se, the musical/comedy categories aren’t especially distinguished this year — what the heck even is Music? — and this is possibly more a reflection of James Corden’s clout in the industry than what he did for that role, which was unfortunately expanded and made more blubbery than how it played on Broadway. Whether his or the adapters’ fault, he was the weak link in that musical. If the Globes had any integrity, they’d have looked past the cast’s lopsided star power and nominated the one true gem in that ensemble: Jo Ellen Pellman as teenage Emma. But that’s not how the Globes roll.

Big Zzzz’s for Zoey

Question: Have you been keeping up with Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist this season? I’m trying to hang in there, but honestly, this season is a bore. The romantic triangle was gone (and I was Team Simon anyway, but Max .. fine). But then they broke up that couple literally the next episode. Lauren Graham is gone due to COVID scheduling changes. And it feels like they didn’t know where to go, so they just threw in a bunch of new characters and character combos to see what would stick. I don’t care about the journalist, or the new guy who’s just been fired, or the stupid neighbor, or Emily’s sister who’s now just left, or the ridiculous restaurant concept of Max and Mo’s. I ADORED this show last season, but all the relationships I found interesting are gone. It’s like Mitch died and the writers just decided to upend the entire show. This year, I’m only trying to stick with it because I’m hoping it finds its footing again. – Kirsten

Matt Roush: While it got off to a strong start, what you’re describing is a classic sophomore slump, and I’m sticking with Zoey through thick and (current) thin because I adore the premise and much of the cast, and there are moments, though fleeting lately, that still delight and move me. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that Mitch’s inevitable death, which brought the first season to such a shattering and poignant close, has been as difficult for the show as well as the characters to recover from. While I’m happy to have Zoey still on the air, a part of me wonders if it might not have been more effective as a one-season limited series.

I agree that Max and Mo’s restaurant concept makes no sense — and how would other local eateries even allow them to flourish? — and seems more of a contrivance to keep them in the story. (The less said the better about Jenna vandalizing the car, thankfully offscreen, of Zoey’s mom’s client.) On the plus side, I enjoyed What We Do in the ShadowsHarvey Guillén in his few episodes as ill-fated George — Zoey struggling to be the boss is one of the season’s few fresh and promising elements, and at its best has some echoes of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — and I’m looking forward to Tuesday’s midseason finale (already?) focusing on Simon (John Clarence Stewart) dealing with the racial bias at SPRQ Point. There’s a lot of talent here, so much so that I’m willing to forgive its stumbles in hopes that it will again achieve the extraordinary. And yay for Jane Levy getting that random Golden Globe nomination!

Will Jeopardy!‘s Host Search Be a Whitewash?

Question: I do not wish to belabor the discussion about the new host of Jeopardy!, and if it turns out to Ken Jennings, then so be it. Most of the other “guest” hosts seem to be more of stunt casting, with a nod to this being done for a charitable cause. But none of these should be taken as serious contenders for permanent host in my opinion (I mean, Dr. Oz, seriously?). On the other hand, I have seen a somewhat disturbing trend in some of the comments I’ve read on the subject, that seem to indicate that there is a perception that the host must be a white male. Personally, I’m on the bandwagon for LeVar Burton to at least get a shot at hosting, and I will hold it against the show if they do not at least give him a try. But I’m mostly worried that having Ken be the permanent host continues to perpetuate the image that an intelligent show like Jeopardy! can only have a white male as host. How does TV address the need to change such perceptions? A difficult task, I am sure, but one that badly needs addressing. Or am I expecting too much from a game show? — Claudia

Matt Roush: What comments are you reading? I have no patience for such racist bile, and I’m somewhat encouraged by the fact that among the celebrity guest hosts there is at least an attempt at including diversity of race (60 Minutes Bill Whitaker, Sanjay Gupta) and gender (Katie Couric, Mayim Bialik, Savannah Guthrie). As noted in earlier columns, I wouldn’t characterize the succession of guest hosts as auditions or any indication of where the show is heading toward a permanent replacement for the irreplaceable Alex Trebek. I’ve seen LeVar Burton’s name floated in other mail and messages, and I’m sure he’d be welcome, though I haven’t a clue if he’s on their short or long list. Any groundswell around Ken Jennings has less to do with continuity of race than continuity within this very special show. Whatever happens, he’ll remain a part of Jeopardy!‘s future because of his past and current triumphs. I’m not sure if Jeopardy! alone could address your bigger concern of systemic bias and homogenization of certain types of roles on TV, but you have to think they’re taking into consideration the cultural significance of this role on TV’s best-ever quiz show.

Boot the Reboots!

Question: I don’t understand why people are infatuated with remakes and reboots. Case in point: Walker. I absolutely have loved the first two episodes. Now I never watched Walker Texas Ranger with Chuck Norris, so I had no expectations. But for people to dismiss the new show simply because it is not an extension of a show from long ago seems pointless. For what it’s worth, I’m very tired of all the reboots. Most have been utter failures (Murphy Brown, Will & Grace, for example) while Hawaii Five-O was a rare success (although I never watched the reboot). Have the creativity juices stopped flowing in TV land? And with the desire to chase the younger demographic, why are the networks bringing back shows that are only remembered by people in the older demographic? — EC

Matt Roush: Im not sure the response to Walker has everything to do with memories of the past (see the next response), but it’s inevitable for comparisons to be made — especially when the initial tone is so different. I’ve discussed at length my own analysis of why remakes and reboots are so common in today’s difficult network environment — though I would take exception that the Will & Grace reunion, which never expected to run three seasons, was a bust — but it’s a fair point that rehashing the past seems to contradict current demographic trends. This is another reason why Walker‘s reboot on The CW is so curious, because in most ways it’s such a CBS sort of title. In the bigger picture, though, it’s a sign that the mainstream broadcast networks pretty much know they’ve lost the battle for young eyeballs against streaming and social media. Refreshing old titles is one way of trying to hold on to whatever loyal audience they once had and still have.

Walker the New Everwood?

Comment: I am very disappointed in The CW’s Walker. Look, I am a huge fan of Jared Padalecki! Loved the idea of having Jared as the new Walker and thought I was going to watch a thrilling action case-of-the-week show. Suffice it to say that it has been a big disappointment! I thought, well, fair enough, maybe they are going more CW brand and this is the new Everwood, which I would have loved, but again I found nothing but disappointment. Walker is boring! There is no way around it. The central mystery is boring, Walker’s life is tedious and the work cases are just too simple. In addition to this, Jared is seriously miscast: He is too young to be the father of two teenagers! Apologies, but if the CW was aiming for Everwood, bring back Treat Williams. — David L

Matt Roush: No disrespect to Treat, but he’d be a bit ripe for this gig anymore. (As for Jared: At 38, it’s conceivable Walker could have started a family in his early 20s, but even with his stubble, the guy doesn’t look his age!) Where I agree with Walker‘s early critics is that the show needs to amp up the action even just a little. It’s all so mopey, and the Ranger stories so far seem like an afterthought. But if nothing else, the new Walker has time to develop: The CW just increased its first-season episode order to 18 and, like almost everything on this network, it’s already been renewed for next season.

And for what it’s worth, since David brought up Everwood, those still in mourning for the old WB network should know that all four seasons of that beloved drama are now streaming on HBO Max.

Let the Viewer Be the Judge!

Question: I have tried to watch TBS’s Go-Big Show and I enjoy the judges and the contestants, but what I cannot abide is the constant switching of the cameras to the judges and the audience instead of showing what the contestant is doing. I watch the show for the exciting acts. I do not enjoy seeing the shocked expressions of the judges or the audience of people in their cars. A few shots of the judges is fine, but the camera switches during the act! How are we to appreciate the danger and excitement of the trick when we can’t see it? This is extremely frustrating, and it gives me pause when I think about watching it again. Why do contestant shows always do this? Thank you for letting me vent. — Carol

Matt Roush: I haven’t yet made this show’s acquaintance, but as you suggested in your final question, this complaint could apply to almost any competition series. I hear this complaint about all of them, from America’s Got Talent to World of Dance and so on. The real culprit here is that the producers believe we’re watching because the judges are so famous — a calculus that works against shows like The Voice when the coaches steal the spotlight from their discoveries — and they keep feeding us reaction shots when what most of us really want to see are the acts. It’s pretty much turned me off of the genre as a whole.

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.)

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