Ask Matt: Will ‘Superman’ Lift The CW? ‘Resident Alien,’ Globes Nominations & 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.
Up Up and Away with the New Superman!
Question: Superman & Lois is starting soon, and The CW is going all-out on promotion for the show. This is a big deal for them, the Arrowverse (I’ll die before I call it the CWverse), and the larger DC Universe. This will be the first series focusing on Superman since Smallville, or if you don’t count that, Lois & Clark in the ’90s. This will also be the first time that the Arrowverse has had a series starring one of the most popular DC Heroes. From the trailer, it looks to have a larger budget and more cinematic style than other Arrowverse series. Tyler Hoechlin is also a very charismatic lead, and I think that he has the ability to carry the show to great heights. Now, we all know that TV ratings aren’t what they used to be, and we also know that they don’t hold the same importance that they used to. However, do you think that Superman & Lois could be a breakout hit for The CW? Could it possibly bring in ratings and viewership to match with the Big Four networks? — Eli
Matt Roush: Out of curiosity, I looked back to see how Smallville did for the still-lamented WB Network, and was stunned to see that it averaged 6 million-7 million viewers in its first seasons in the early 2000s, when that was seen as a generally low number, though not anymore. (It later came down to earth with a 2-3 million average for its later seasons, reflecting the overall slippage for broadcast network viewing). If Superman & Lois could reach those heights, it would be an enormous top-10 hit given today’s standards, but that’s highly unlikely. The best we should hope for is that it will rank in the top tier of CW shows, like Walker has done. I expect this will get a solid tune-in given the appeal of its title, its legend and its casting — I’ll be watching the pilot soon and I’m looking forward to it — but if it gets too tangled in some CW “verse” where it can’t stand on its own as a series, that would probably inhibit it from being the breakout you’re hoping for.
Alien Love and Global Perspective on Chicago 7
Question: I see by a recent column that you and I are once again on the same page for a new show with the debut of Resident Alien on SyFy, which I consider the best thing that this network has done since Defiance. I started laughing almost immediately and still haven’t stopped — it is that good!!! I certainly hope that come Emmy time it will get some consideration and for the actor portraying the alien, Alan Tudyk, who I honestly have not seen before. With his deadpan delivery, he nails this role. What else has he done???
I also have some thoughts on the Golden Globes nominations concerning The Trial of the Chicago 7, which I was glad to see scored a nomination for Best Picture, but I personally thought the nomination for best supporting actor should have gone to Frank Langella’s portrayal of the racist and bigoted judge — he actually made me utterly despise him — rather than Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Abbie Hoffman. I think this is more a reflection of a current hot actor getting a nod over maybe somebody who deserves it more. — JV
Matt Roush: If Resident Alien, which I agree is a hoot, raises Alan Tudyk’s profile, that would be an additional bonanza. (Emmy nominations, however, are probably a long shot for a genre hybrid on a commercial network, but this is certainly one of the top comedy performances we’re likely to see this year.) Tudyk has done a great deal of terrific voice work over the years and has been in a number of series, most prominently on Joss Whedon’s Firefly (stream it on Hulu) and on the big screen as the droid K-S2O in the Rogue One movie from the Star Wars franchise.
Regarding The Trial of the Chicago 7: The Globes loved it so much it got five nominations (including two for director-writer Aaron Sorkin) and I agree with all of them. While I’d have been thrilled if Frank Langella had also scored one — he’s been nominated twice before at the Globes (including for Frost/Nixon) — I wasn’t surprised that among that splendid ensemble cast it was Sacha Baron Cohen they singled out, if only to be able to nominate him twice (for this and for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm in comedy) to acknowledge his range. The SAG nominations likewise broke Cohen out of the pack, while nominating the entire ensemble in the grouped nominations. I’m not sure that this was so much because he did a better job than everyone else but that he was both 1) excellent and 2) a surprise. Let this also be a recommendation for Chicago 7, which was one of AFI’s Top 10 movies, streaming on Netflix.
Don’t Take the Globes Too Seriously
Comment: Short & Sweet: The Golden Globes are and always have been a JOKE. As an awards show, THEY should be in the comedy category — with no jokes and no punchlines. Voted on by about 80 “foreign press” people, none of whom write for the biggest papers in their given city. As for categories, this is an organization that used to nominate the James Bond movies in the “Best Musical or Comedy Feature” category. The actual show is a hoot because the guests get drunk at their tables so you don’t know what they’ll say on stage. I liked James Corden in The Prom, which was a fun movie, but NOT in any way shape or form award-worthy (and I saw the show on Broadway – much better live on stage), but with James garnering a nod and Meryl Streep did not — the rumor is it was the HFPA’s way of softening him up to host the show next year. Personally, I wouldn’t waste the time it takes to read the list of nominees. — Mike
Matt Roush: Once the Globes started airing on NBC and earning big ratings because of its early timing and its looser atmosphere, a legitimacy began to attach to the ceremony, and possibly some self-importance. But for all of its flaws and silliness, the Globes is an established part of the Hollywood system, though clearly should be taken with a boulder-sized grain of salt. (You could be right that the Prom nomination could be a precursor to a hosting invitation, but would he really jump networks to do that?) While Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are among the best hosts this show has ever seen, it’s going to be a challenge to make good TV when the soused nominees from movies and TV are no longer crushed inside the Beverly Hilton ballroom.
A Walker by Any Other Name Would Be Sweeter
Comment: Not to continue on with the Walker trample, but… I’ve watched the episodes. The show is pretty good as a stand-alone series. Simply change the name of the show and character. Let it stand or fall on its own merit. It shouldn’t have a name of a hit show attached to it to draw viewers. The only thing that the show has in common with the Chuck Norris show is that it’s in Texas and he’s a Ranger. — Mike
Matt Roush: If the show were simply titled Ranger, would we even be talking about it? Probably not, so there’s The CW’s argument in a nutshell.
Golden Globes Snubs & Surprises: 'I May Destroy You' Shut Out, 'Emily in Paris' Gets In & More, Well, Choices
When Shaky Storylines Disappear
Question: On The Resident, Dr. Randolph Bell (Bruce Greenwood) was a jerk, borderline crooked and had a tremor that jeopardized his career. I can believe that he became an all-around good guy, but what happened to the tremor? — Doyle
Matt Roush: From what I can tell, there were references quite a while ago to some experimental treatment or other, but what clearly happened to Bell’s tremor is that the writers decided to deep-six that troublesome aspect of his character and wrote it out. (Kind of like Kevin Costner/John Dutton’s cancer/non-cancer from Yellowstone‘s early days.) By all accounts, Bell’s redemption arc is one of the more satisfying elements of The Resident.
Such A Bad Trip It Was
Question: I was surprised to see that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist was back for a second season, and I thought the first episode was a great comeback for the show. However, having the main character be persuaded to try acid in a later episode seemed inappropriate for so many reasons. What the ——-? — Rusty
Matt Roush: Let’s just think of the choices made in last week’s (Feb. 2) episode — the acid trip, the subplot of Jenna vandalizing the client’s car, casting Broadway veteran Chip Zien as Max’s dad, and not letting him sing — as a low point for Zoey, shall we? On a positive note, this week’s (Feb. 9) episode, the last before a hiatus until late March, is the best since the season premiere, with Simon (John Clarence Stewart) especially strong. About the drugs, though: Consider where Zoey lives, among hipsters and tech geeks in San Francisco, where this kind of behavior may not be uncommon. She shows enough regret this week about her behavior while tripping that this shouldn’t be seen as an endorsement, more as an ill-advised detour that happened while she was looking to blow off steam and found herself vulnerable to her neighbor lad’s peer pressure. Maybe it was a cautionary tale?
And Finally …
Comment: I feel the need to defend Call Me Kat, because I find it to be a really charming show that is doing a good job at portraying a single woman in her 40s who isn’t depressed, miserable or sad. She’s full of life, joy and confidence. I also happen to think it has an awesome supporting cast. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy watching Swoosie Kurtz? She’s been fabulous since Love, Sidney and Sisters, and Kyla Pratt is really funny, too. I also love Cheyenne Jackson here. It’s nice to see him playing a decent guy for once and not a jerk or stereotype like he usually does. I also enjoy the breaking the fourth wall element, it adds a charming element that really helps me connect with the show. I think this is a perfect vehicle for Mayim Bialik and feels like a natural successor to her Blossom role from back in the day. Kat certainly has traces of Blossom Russo in her! — MJ
Matt Roush: As I often say, I like being able to end these columns on a positive note. So while acknowledging that no show is all things to all people — I even have a friend who doesn’t care for The Crown! — this is as fine a defense of Kat as I could imagine, accentuating what it is about the show that its fans enjoy. Especially that “life, joy and confidence” thing, which we could all use more of.
That’s all for now — and because of the President’s Day holiday, there won’t be another Ask Matt column until late next week. 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.)