Ask Matt: Why No Rerun Recaps During Hiatus Madness?

Kylie Bunbury in Big Sky - Season 1
ABC/Darko Sikman
Big Sky

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.

[Editor’s Note: Even columns take a hiatus from time to time. After this week, Ask Matt will return with new columns in early May.]

Would It Kill the Networks to Remind Us Where Things Left Off?

Question: You’ve noted before how COVID is causing shows like Big Sky to go on hiatus midway through their seasons. With that occurring, would it not make sense for the networks to air at least the episode BEFORE they broke for hiatus, whatever the reason, AGAIN? Say, one week before it comes back from the break. This way, we can be reminded of what happened. (Never mind on demand. That’s kind of annoying.) — AR

Matt Roush: It makes sense, but from the networks’ point of view, not good business sense anymore. For many series, including heavily serialized thrillers like Big Sky, repeats perform abysmally, in part because there are so many platforms available for catching up. On Demand may be annoying to you, but the networks see it as an essential service, as well as putting many series online on their websites and, of course, their real priority anymore, which is streaming. (Hulu carries all episodes of Big Sky the day after they air on ABC.) I realize these options aren’t available or preferable to many, but that’s the reality. The good news with Big Sky is that upon its return, the show will jump into a brand-new story (with the carryover of the mad trucker still being on the loose), so it shouldn’t be hard to catch up.

Not Mad About Chad

Question: Is it just me or is Chad (played by Nasim Pedrad) the most annoying character on TV EVER?  And no, I am not forgetting Urkel. — David C

Matt Roush: He’s right up there. But it’s absolutely intentional. The more pain you feel watching Chad fail miserably in his mission to be cool on this new TBS comedy, the more Chad has achieved its mission. (See my review for more.) Unlike nerdy Urkel, Chad (a role created as well as performed by Saturday Night Live veteran Pedrad) isn’t meant to be cute in his quirkiness. He’s meant to make you uncomfortable. The real question here is whether you find this sort of cringe comedy entertaining. Because believe me, it’s only going to get worse (or, from a different perspective, better).

Not Getting Any Younger Waiting for the Final Season

Question: My question, or should I say, disappointment, is the following. I have watched every episode of every season of Younger on TV Land and was so excited to see it was coming back. Then I come to find out, it will be on Paramount+, a channel that we don’t get with our cable package. When I checked it out, they said I would have to go to the next tier to get that channel, which means more money each month. Well, that isn’t going to happen, because we already pay the ridiculous amount every month for barely anything (including $14 a month just for the Marquee channel so we can watch the Cubs games, which is such a greedy move by Cubs owners/Comcast). I’m so disappointed in the producers of Younger, plus my cable company, Comcast (which keeps removing channels and moving them to higher and more costly tiers). And my husband refuses to get all these different streaming services. Anyway, do you think possibly someday in a couple of years the seventh season will be on DVD for Younger?  I’ve got to know what happens with Liza and Charles, or her tattoo boyfriend! — Pam L

Matt Roush: You’re not going to have to wait that long. (And to be precise, you’re confusing cable’s Paramount Network with ViacomCBS’s Paramount+ streaming service, the latter of which will be presenting the final season of Younger starting Thursday, with Hulu also streaming the new episodes.) While it’s aggravating for fans to have to wait, if streaming isn’t an option, it has been promised that Younger’s last episodes will air on TV Land sometime later this year after the season finishes its exclusive streaming run. So be patient, and beware spoilers, because apparently, a lot is going to happen in Liza’s world before it’s all over.

We Can’t Read What They’re Saying!

Question: I enjoyed watching the first episode of Atlantic Crossing on PBS’ Masterpiece except for the closed captions. I could not read most of these items due to the fact that white letters become invisible against a white background. I had no idea what the characters were saying. Why not put these captions in a black box or just have everyone speak English? Do the post-production crews ever actually watch the finished product before it is released for broadcast? This same problem exists in many other television programs that try to use the actual foreign language of the characters for an English-language program. — Taylor F

Matt Roush: This series was imported by Masterpiece from Norwegian television — partly due to other shows in the pipeline being delayed by, what else, COVID) — and I’m actually glad they didn’t dub the Norwegian dialogue, for authenticity’s sake. I watched my screeners on a computer and don’t remember having a problem with the subtitles, but on a regular TV screen if they don’t do a better job of shadowing the lettering, I can see how that would be a needless aggravation. I’ve fielded this complaint before on other imported European shows, and it should be top of mind for any distributor that at the very least the subtitles should be legible against any background.

Another Reboot Bites the Dust

Question: Why is CBS canceling MacGyver? It’s a great show and we love the cast. Any chance that another network will pick it up? — Pat R

Matt Roush: As usual, CBS didn’t explain this decision. Industry analysts pointed out that the show dropped by more than 20% from season to season in the demos and viewership, but it’s far from a ratings disaster. It’s also unclear whether this has anything to do with last year’s firing of the show’s creator, Peter Lenkov. It’s more likely that CBS looked at its development slate for next season, and as they’ve done in the past (and also with NCIS: New Orleans, which ran two seasons longer than MacGyver’s five), opted to retire some shows in favor of promising new ones that could refresh and reinvigorate the schedule. These calls aren’t made lightly, and they know fans are never happy when a show goes off the air. And given CBS’s involvement in producing the series, it seems unlikely anyone would pick up these procedurals, though stranger things have happened. With nearly 100 episodes produced, I imagine this will have an afterlife in streaming and syndication.

When “Hall of Fame” Meant Something

Question: I really miss the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies from the ’80s and ’90s. They were always well made, with great storylines. (Stones for Ibarra comes to mind with Glenn Close) Any chance Hallmark will bring these back, instead of the hokey love-story movies they continue to produce? — James K

Matt Roush: The first Glenn Close Hallmark Hall of Fame that comes to mind for me is Sarah, Plain and Tall (which came a few years after Stones), but I get your point. Last time I checked, there weren’t any “Hall of Fame” movies in the pipeline, and even if there were, they wouldn’t have the pedigree of when they were among the most prestigious movies being made by the broadcast networks. It has been years since a “Hall of Fame” movie lived up to the revered franchise’s reputation of adapting literary works like Anne Tyler novels and, amazingly, August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. Another factor in all of this is that the networks have pretty much given up on making big-budget movies for TV, high or lowbrow, which when I was first covering TV dominated Sunday nights. Unless and until the pendulum swings again, those days appear to be over.

Million’s Meta Moment

Question: I wonder if anyone else caught the Easter Egg nugget in the April 7 episode of A Million Little Things. (The one that actually aired right after Easter.) It went by awfully fast and it happened right after the opening title card. It starts when the teenage boy, Delilah’s son Danny, is watching TV. “I can’t believe this,” he says. “They changed the time slot of my favorite show. Again! I got used to watching it on Thursdays, it started my weekend off right. That’s it! Weekends start on Wednesdays now.” Of course, the reference is to A Million Little Things, which that day moved from Thursday nights on ABC to Wednesdays. It was a very brief moment, but a great one if you like inside references that almost break the so-called fourth wall. And it shows the move was in the works long enough for the writers to slip it into the script that week. — Aaron F

Matt Roush: Haven’t watched that yet, but yes, this can’t be an accident. Considering the amount of promotion ABC gave Rebel in advance of its recent premiere in Million’s Thursday time slot, that scheduling was in the works for quite a while. And while A Million Little Things probably isn’t thrilled to lose the Grey’s Anatomy lead-in as it moves back to its original night and time period, it also wasn’t a surprise.

And Finally …

Question: A quick, simple question: Do you think American Housewife has any hope of being renewed? One of my all-time favorite shows, I don’t understand why they would end this season on a cliffhanger. — Mark

Matt Roush: Most observers see this sitcom as being “on the bubble,” so it could go either way — which means there’s hope, but we probably won’t know for sure until next month. Once again, if the network doesn’t renew it, the blame goes to the producers for leaving storylines dangling. If they think that’s going to force the network’s hand, they’re often sadly mistaken, and it just ends up making the fans more annoyed than they need to be.

Question: I loved the second season of Pennyworth on EPIX. Have you heard if there is a third season? — DW

Matt Roush: No word yet. But this doesn’t seem the sort of show that typically ends without warning, so stay hopeful.

That’s all for now. And because I’m taking a long-overdue break, there won’t be another Ask Matt column until early May. But 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.)