Ask Matt: Big Problems With ‘Big Sky’ Shifting Gears Mid-Season
Welcome back 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.
The Sky’s the Limit on Confusion
Question: The first season on Big Sky was awesome and got us hooked. We couldn’t wait for the new season to come on. Yuck! We watched both opening hours and when it was over, we looked at each other and asked do you know what’s going on? None of us did. Seven or eight new characters and plots jumping all over the place. Were these writers high on something? They didn’t come close to how good it was last season. It stunk!! Doubtful if any of us will watch any more episodes. A pity, we loved last season. — Heilig
Matt Roush: You’re not the only one who wrote in being confused by the sudden shifting of gears. To be clear, Big Sky is still officially in its first season, although there was a clear break in narrative when the show went on a two-month hiatus. The kidnapping storyline was resolved in February, and while psycho trucker Ronald Pergman is still on the loose, Big Sky basically did a reset when it returned in April to tackle another book in author C.J. Box’s “Highway” series of thrillers, the show’s source material. I agree it was a messy transition, trying to establish the new partnership of private investigators Cassie Dewell (Kylie Burbury) and Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick) while also introducing in rather murky fashion the dirty dealings of the Kleinsasser family (including such fine actors as Ted Levine, Michelle Forbes, and Michael Raymond-James). This storyline, taken from Box’s novel The Bitterroots, should probably have been integrated more slowly into the mix. But Big Sky watchers should get used to multi-episode arcs, which seems to be the show’s style.
From Parody to Podium?
Question: Any chance that they will get Will Ferrell to guest host any of Jeopardy? It would be interesting to see his style as a host versus what he was like while impersonating Alex Trebek on Saturday Night Live. — Adam D
Matt Roush: What a fun idea. But sadly, this doesn’t appear to be a possibility. Jeopardy! recently announced its final roster of guest hosts through the remainder of the season, which includes Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, CNBC’s David Faber, Fox Sports’ Joe Buck, and popular choice LeVar Burton. I don’t know if they ever considered Will Ferrell because of his satirical connection to the franchise, and while I’m sure he would have respected the game if he’d stepped in, there might have been some concern that a scene-stealer like Ferrell might upstage the players, because what Alex Trebek always made clear was that he was the “host,” not the “star,” of Jeopardy!
Another Hosting Controversy
Comment: I hope that you will allow me to vent about what I believe is one of the biggest faux pas ever committed in the history of Saturday Night Live: namely, Elon Musk being guest host of the May 8 show. What can Lorne Michaels possibly be thinking here. Did he not learn his lesson from Trump: Why give more credence to another billionaire egotist who has no comedic chops???? Earlier this year I wrote to you advancing the case for Resident Alien‘s great Alan Tudyk, who I think would certainly bring much more to SNL than this. Finally, before one of your readers accuses me of contributing to being a part of cancel culture: This is not that. I am firmly against the censoring of Dr. Seuss and Pepe Le Pew and believe that Musk can use news outlets for his views, though I am sure that I would not agree with anything he has to say but he should be allowed to say them. But appearing on a comedy show is not one of them. In the meantime, I for one will not watch this travesty. — JV
Matt Roush: It would be underestimating the reaction on social media to say eyebrows were raised when this hosting gig was announced. This is without doubt a controversial choice for Saturday Night Live, which has a mission to be provocative and make noise. But the ultimate goal, as you note, is to produce comedy, and this just feels desperate and sad. (And yes, I also agree Alan Tudyk would be an amazing guest host. Maybe if Resident Alien’s cult reputation grows between seasons?)
Where Was the R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Aretha?
Question: I recently watched Genius: Aretha and although they mentioned some of her big hits like “Respect,” they never played them. Did they not have the rights for certain songs? — RS
Matt Roush: That’s exactly the case. How curious and unfortunate for a sprawling biopic not to be granted rights to license some of Aretha Franklin’s biggest hits, including “Respect” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” It takes nothing away from Cynthia Erivo’s terrific performance to lament the absence of these songs. While National Geographic did get permission from Franklin’s estate (a mess with multiple disputes over the late singer’s will), the producers reportedly didn’t consult her family, which led to some backlash. (Apparently, the upcoming feature film starring Jennifer Hudson did get input from the family, so maybe we’ll hear those classics in that version.)
Why Not Revive TV’s Bloopers?
Comment: Given the need for alternative programming, I’m surprised no network has revived some sort of version of a TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes show. I imagine there has to be a nearly endless amount of material available as there hasn’t been a similar version developed in over a decade. Plus it also serves as cheap promotional material for the included shows/movies. — Mike
Matt Roush: With game shows proliferating on network TV as a relatively inexpensive way to fill time slots, a new Bloopers show would seem to be a no-brainer (in more ways than one). I wonder, though, that given the corporatization of the industry if it would be more difficult to license clips from competitors, including streamers. If memory serves, one of the reasons the original series began to lose steam was when it basically became a platform for bloopers and stunts on NBC, where it aired during its glory days.
Duty’s New Home
Question: We’ve recently seen reviews of episodes of a new season of Line of Duty but it’s not available here yet. I think it airs in the U.K. before we get it. Do you know when Season 6 will be available on Amazon Prime? — Gwen
Matt Roush: This terrific British police drama has set a return date for the U.S., but it won’t be on Amazon Prime Video. BritBox has exclusive rights to the sixth season and will begin streaming episodes weekly on May 18. (The season just wrapped in the U.K.) Whether and when Amazon Prime or another platform will eventually get rights to these episodes remains to be seen.
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.)