Ask Matt: Is ‘Mom’ the New ‘Golden Girls’?

Mom Allison Janney CBS
Robert Voets/CBS

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.

Too Soon to Lose Mom — Or Spin It Off!

Comment: Big mistake to cancel Mom. It could be the next Golden Girls. With the characters on that show, there are tons of stories to be told. — Jeanine

Matt Roush: I hear you. This remains a popular topic in the Ask Matt mailbag, but this comment got me thinking, so I looked it up, and would it surprise you to learn that Mom has actually had a longer run (eight seasons) than The Golden Girls (seven seasons)? In terms of episode count, they’re about equal, because back in the Golden Girls day, they were averaging 26 episodes per season, while Mom (a more modest hit) usually produced the current average of 22 a season — although this and last season were somewhat shortened because of COVID. So while The Golden Girls left with a library of 180 episodes, Mom will get to about 170 when it ends on May 6.

Question: I share other fans’ sadness about NCIS: New Orleans ending. I will point out, however, that any of its characters could still somehow pop up on either of the older two predecessors. But with all the talk of an NCIS: Hawaii spinoff, there’s another CBS show that would seem to be a logical candidate for breeding its own spinoff: Mom. Take any combination of Marjorie, Jill, Wendy or Tammy (I’m assuming Allison Janney would be too expensive at this point) and put them in a new professional/social situation that is L.A.-centric or L.A.-adjacent.

Viewers need to understand that once a series hits the 7-, 8-, or 9-year mark, licensing costs plus cast members’ salaries can become too exorbitant…unless you have a megahit like a Big Bang Theory, a Two and a Half Men, or NCIS original blend. But spinning off Mom could utilize some of the same beloved characters, plus a bunch of interesting new characters, while doing a “reset” when it comes to the show’s financial contract. Let’s face it: Freshman multi-cam sitcoms are just cheaper to produce, unless you have a superstar in the lead role. Although The Golden Palace, Joey, and Archie Bunker’s Place weren’t exactly hits, I assume that completely resetting their locales, character ensembles and series contracts was what gave them their initial shots as freshmen series? — Michael in Tampa

Matt Roush: Thanks for your observations and spot-on rationales. Regarding those mostly misbegotten spinoffs you reference in your last sentence, you may be right that the reset made the shows cheaper to produce—obviously less costly than the long-running classics they were meant to replace. But they’re also an argument for the dangers of spinning off a show and being unable to recapture the original’s magic. (After-M*A*S*H, anyone?)

Basically, I agree with both Jeanine and Michael. There’s a lot of life left in Mom and these characters, and I’m going to miss that weekly laugh on Thursdays. I’d champion a spinoff if CBS and Chuck Lorre‘s team could agree on one, but I would also worry that without the comic engine of Allison Janney as Bonnie (presuming Michael is right and she’s priced out of a sequel), it wouldn’t measure up and could sour Mom‘s afterglow.

Longing for Those Nasty Roys to Return

Question: Any news on when Succession will return? I heard it described on a podcast as a show that “was really good, though you hate all the characters.” Out of desperation for something new, we started watching this during the lockdown and totally agree with the podcast’s assessment. — Denise

Matt Roush: This has been an especially painful absence on HBO’s schedule, coming off that sensational Emmy-winning second season. The good news is that production, delayed by the pandemic, is currently underway, and while nothing has been officially announced, there are reports suggesting we could see it in the fourth quarter (think fall). Can’t wait.

Feeling Tricked

Question: I really enjoyed the show Trickster on The CW and learned that it was recently canceled. This show was a Native American (Indigenous Canadian) take on supernatural folklore. It was well written and well received and represented a much-ignored demographic. It was a big plus that it was not about the normal vampire/werewolf/zombie stuff out now. Is there any chance that another network would pick it up and give it another chance? Netflix maybe? — Tara

Matt Roush: This could be (no pun intended) tricky because Trickster was originally picked up for a second season before the first even aired, but those plans were scuttled by some behind-the-scenes controversy surrounding the show’s creator. Unless someone entirely starts over, this sounds like a show that’s not coming back — although given its distinctive nature, it could be an opportunity to tell a different sort of supernatural story. While stranger resurrections have happened, I often argue that when under-the-radar shows like this are canceled after just one (in this case short) season, it’s a long shot.

Alien Invasion on SNL?

Question: I have been trying in vain to see how anybody can possibly get a note to Lorne Michaels on how to recommend a guest host on Saturday Night Live — because I would like to see Alan Tudyk from Resident Alien get a crack at it. I think Lorne could get a lot out of it, particularly using his alien persona. What do you think? This would also get more great exposure for Alan, which he greatly deserves.

Also, I see where USA is going to start repeating last season’s Queen of the South on Mondays after Raw. Could this mean that this season is imminent, and have they announced a date yet? If so, I hope that it is because this is one of my favorites. — JV

Matt Roush: I love the idea of Alan Tudyk guest-hosting SNL, and I’m sure NBCUniversal would love it, too, as Syfy is part of the corporate family. My mailbag notwithstanding, I’m not sure Resident Alien has reached that critical mass level in pop-culture consciousness yet. But given all of the musical acts they’ve booked I’ve never heard of, I’d love to see them take a shot with a guy whose resumé is so much greater than his name recognition. As for Queen of the South, bringing it back in repeats to put the show back in the public eye is a good sign. It was announced that the show’s fifth and final season will arrive April 7 for a 10 episode run.

And Finally …

Question: Could any of CSI ever come back? I am all for a spinoff of NCIS or CSI. — Sandra

Matt Roush: You’ll almost certainly get your wish for the NCIS franchise continuing to grow. And CBS has been developing a limited “event series” reboot of CSI with original cast members William Petersen and Jorja Fox for some time. Nothing official on that front yet, because production was stalled during the year of the pandemic — which would have been the 20th anniversary of the CSI mothership’s premiere in the fall of 2000. But I’d be surprised if we don’t hear that Who theme again before the end of 2021.

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.)