Ask Matt: Angst Over Those CBS Cancellations (‘Mom,’ ‘MacGyver,’ ‘NCIS: New Orleans’)

NCIS New Orleans Scott Bakula
CBS
NCIS: New Orleans

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.

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These CBS Exits Are Hard to Accept

Question: I am still having trouble with the CBS decision to cancel Mom, MacGyver and NCIS: New Orleans. The fabulous ensemble cast of Mom has only gotten better with the departure of Anna Faris. We so seldom see a group of women in the main roles covering many important and sometimes difficult subjects with such humor and wit. And the show (as well as MacGyver and NCIS: NOLA) has been consistently high in the ratings. We need shows like Mom to show how important (and rewarding) friendships with other women are in our lives. Is there another network out there that understands this and will pick up the show, or will CBS please wake up and renew it (and the others)?! — Debbie E, Strum, WI

Matt Roush: As we near the end of all of these series (with MacGyver already gone), the outcry has just gotten louder in my mailbag. Which is understandable. No one likes seeing a favorite show go away, and it’s somewhat rare for so many high-profile and long-running series to go out at once. (At least we knew the end was coming. Imagine the reaction if these had been sudden, unexpected and after-the-fact cancellations. Which are no doubt coming as the networks will reveal their fall plans later this month.) From what I can tell, these decisions weren’t so much driven by ratings as part of the network’s business process, which is why CBS planned for their departures in most cases, such as ending NCIS: NOLA with a big wedding for its main character.

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Mom ran for eight seasons, only one fewer than megahits like Everybody Loves Raymond and Seinfeld, which chose to go out at the top of their game. There’s an argument that Mom, having lost one of its leads before fulfilling the final season of its latest contract, was due to end, though obviously there’s still life in these wonderful characters. With 170 episodes, it’s guaranteed a healthy afterlife in syndication and streaming. And it’s hard to imagine the studio striking a deal to keep it going elsewhere — although now that WarnerMedia has a corporate streaming partner in HBO Max, who knows? (Still: Unlikely.) If this analysis makes me sound dispassionate, I’m not. I’m going to miss Mom more than any comedy since The Middle left ABC.

Question: Has CBS gone through an ownership or leadership change?? They are destroying their lineup of programs. First we lost Hawaii Five-O. Next was MacGyver. Now we are losing the second best NCIS (New Orleans) franchise. The scheduling lineup worked better when all three NCIS franchises were on the same night. Now that two of the Friday-night programs are gone, it would work well to put the two FBI franchises on Friday along with Blue Bloods. I for one am a very unhappy CBS fan. They are rapidly running off a longtime committed follower. I just hope they are not planning to fill the void with a bunch of imbecilic “reality” programs. It seems hard to imagine they can come up with anything that has the staying power and ability to draw in serious followers like the shows they are dropping! – Stan

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Matt Roush: Far from replacing these procedurals with reality shows, CBS is doubling down on its franchises next season, with an NCIS set in Hawaii, a reboot of CSI and an international extension of FBI. The network has a long history of regularly retiring some of its series to make room for the new — even if this alphabet soup doesn’t feel all that new. The pain you’re expressing now will likely subside once viewers settle into the new routine, although experience suggests that we never really get over shows we like going away. (And despite our protests, we usually come back to sample the new stuff.)

Frustrated by This Season’s Long Breaks

Question: My question is about all the hiatuses, either long or short-term most of the shows on prime-time TV are taking this year. I get it that the current national situation has not been good for the industry and so many seasons have been shortened. But if there are 10 episodes to be aired, why space them out to cover five or six months worth of a regular season? Some shows (mainly on NBC or Fox) have aired one episode, then waited three weeks for the next one. It’s hard to keep up and it’s making me lose interest in good shows that I’ve been following for a long time. Seeing that fall TV didn’t start until late 2020, shouldn’t networks have foreseen and planned accordingly to the new year and new shows/seasons? — Ella

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Matt Roush: There’s no way the networks, or more specifically the producers of these shows, could have planned adequately for making TV during a pandemic. Scheduling has been erratic at best, often changing at nearly the last minute, and no show would choose to air several episodes and then go on a month’s break the way Fox did with the 9-1-1 series and its Tuesday dramas (The Resident and Prodigal Son). Ditto with This Is Us and its stop-and-start scheduling all season. Hopefully the safety protocols and other factors causing these unforeseen delays will be less of a factor going forward, but the best way to regard the TV season that’s about to end is as an aberration. And we’re lucky to have seen as many new episodes of anything as we did.

The Sister’s a Scene-Stealer

Question: So, here’s the thing: The Big Bang Theory made Sheldon Cooper one of the most iconic characters in the history of television. Now Young Sheldon gets great ratings, and at some point, Sheldon’s going to go off to college. [He’s currently enrolled at East Texas Tech.] At what point will we have to get used to a post-pubescent Iain Armitage as not-so-young Sheldon who looks nothing like Sheldon in his 30s? I have the perfect solution: Missy. Raegan Revord has turned out to be a comic gem, the underrated scene stealer of the show. They should end Young Sheldon with him going off to college and replace it with a new show called Missy. They can recast the role as a college-aged Missy but have the voice over done by Raegan! The Cooper family has the potential to be on air for 20+ years: The Cooper Family Legacy! And it would be perfect because Missy wouldn’t have to graduate from college within the 7-year run it gets because she could just go on to modeling. I should be a TV executive. How would you feel about giving me a glowing recommendation? — Mark

Matt Roush: Pitching a spinoff? You’ve definitely got the making of a TV executive. There’s no question that Raegan Revord is an asset to Young Sheldon, along with the rest of his well-cast family, up to the Meemaw of Annie Potts (who has been a treasure since at least Designing Women). And how clever to suggest a younger Missy narrate the story of her older self in an inverse to the Young Sheldon format. And while I appreciate your enthusiasm, I think it’s pretty clear that Sheldon is and always will be the franchise. But I look forward to seeing what this young actress does in her next act when that time comes.

She Finally Woke Up!

Question: Do you think it’s safe to say that they are done with the beach scenes on Grey’s Anatomy? I’m just so tired of every episode seeing Meredith waking up on a beach. I like it better when you get to see her work on patients at the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. — Brad

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Matt Roush: Yes, I certainly hope this is the case, and it appears to be. (Having McDreamy fade out of her dream beach limbo pretty much confirms it.) I haven’t seen what’s to come for the rest of the season — this week’s episode was focused on Jackson Avery, and I’m not privy to any upcoming storylines — but with Meredith Grey back on her feet, and presumably back to being a doctor before too long, is better for everyone.

Frasier Signing Back On

Question: I thought there was a Frasier reboot in the works? I read that Jane Leeves said she would not leave her current show if that happens. Then I read that there was going to be another Kelsey Grammer show that didn’t get picked up. Is that Frasier reboot not on at all? — Unsigned

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Matt Roush: By all accounts, a new Frasier is still a go for Paramount+ sometime in 2022, though it’s likely to be a far different series than the beloved Cheers spinoff. (It’s still unclear how or if any of his former co-stars, including David Hyde Pierce as brother Niles, will be involved.) Kelsey Grammer’s other project, a sitcom co-starring Alec Baldwin, was a separate deal and was recently nixed by ABC (though there are reports the pilot has been shopped elsewhere). Whatever happens with that, a new Frasier is coming our way.

Where’s Our Party Invitation?

Question: Any news on the revival of Party Down? I’d heard that there was actual talk of bringing the show back at one point, but haven’t heard any news recently. The original series is still a classic in my opinion, funnier than even Arrested Development. It also featured a bevy of the actors involved with Rob Thomas’s other series Veronica Mars as either main characters or guest stars. The only downside for the show was that it aired on Starz, which was uncommon for an original scripted comedy. — Mike

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Matt Roush: I haven’t seen any updates since the project was announced in March, but whenever the stars align (literally) and that terrific cast can be reassembled — Jane Lynch, Ken Marino, Adam Scott, Martin Starr, Ryan Hansen, Lizzy Caplan, Megan Mullally — no reason to think we will be denied the six-episode comeback of this truly cult comedy. Something to look forward to.

And Finally …

Question: Will there be a new season of TBS’s Miracle Workers? That was one of the few shows that made me actually laugh out loud. I’ve always loved the silly offbeat type of humor from shows like this. Any news? — JC

Matt Roush: The comedy anthology show has been picked up for a third season. No timetable announced yet, but much of the core cast is expected to return for a new wacky tale set along the Oregon Trail in the 1800s. (Earlier seasons were set in a warped version of Heaven and then in the Dark Ages.) Again, something to put on any discerning TV viewer’s calendar.

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.)