Ask Matt: Uncertain Fate of Shows on the Bubble (‘Clarice,’ ‘SEAL Team’)

Rebecca Breeds as Clarice Starling in Clarice
Brooke Palmer 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved

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.

Was Clarice Doomed By Its Scheduling?

Comment: It seems unfair that some TV shows will be canceled this year not because they were bad but due to the terrible way the networks broadcast what they had due to the pandemic. CBS’s Clarice is a perfect example. The show was put on hiatus for a month at a time and seemed like they repeated that every other month. Viewers never had a chance to get into the show and unfortunately they will probably not renew it. This hiatus stuff needs to stop for all shows. Broadcast what you have and if you don’t want reruns, then broadcast more shows. I believe this method only hurts the networks themselves and their advertising dollars. — Ray

Matt Roush: We’re now at that point of the TV year, with network upfronts looming all next week, where anxiety runs rampant regarding shows that didn’t get early renewals from their networks. (These are what are generally thought of as “bubble shows.”) I agree that CBS’s handling of Clarice, one of its few truly distinctive crime dramas, has been far from ideal, with long breaks between episodes. After its first five weeks, only two episodes were aired in April and in May, with two more set for June to wrap the season on June 24. Whether this was a result of filming difficulties during the pandemic, as it has been with so many shows, I’m not sure, but this sort of scheduling does no show any favors, and I hope we can get back to a more steady flow of episodes in the fall. If Clarice doesn’t make it to a second season, though, I doubt the scheduling will be that much of a factor, because the network isn’t blind to how the show rolled out. (They’re the perpetrators.) The bigger problem is that the Silence of the Lambs sequel isn’t part of a formulaic franchise, is more emotionally complex and has a darker tone than most CBS crime dramas and wasn’t the self-starting ratings hit they’d hoped for out of the gate. Given that its first season isn’t entirely over, I’m hoping they’ll give this show some special consideration before deciding its fate. But that’s not really CBS’s way.

And What About …

Question: Has CBS made a decision about the renewal of SEAL Team? They will lose me completely if they cancel this show. The acting is excellent and the content important. People need to know that the worst thing that can happen to a soldier is not just physical injury. We need awareness of the psychological impact as well as impact to the families and this illustrates these things well. — Unsigned

Matt Roush: No word yet, but it would be a surprise if CBS were to relieve this show of active duty before it embarks on its fifth season. Taking a longer view of this network’s actions lately, I’m sure no one is surprised that my mailbag is overrun with complaints about CBS ending the runs this season of MacGyver, NCIS: New Orleans, and Mom, all of which were announced in advance and in most cases allowing the creatives time to plan an appropriate ending. (Mom’s is especially satisfying.) It’s only human nature for fans to lament losing a show that’s become a favorite, but wouldn’t we be even more upset if these shows were yanked off the air after their last episode without warning?

Question: Is Pennyworth renewed for season 3? — Fred

Matt Roush: Now this is an interesting situation. Recent trade reports have revealed that the show’s fate might hinge on negotiations between Epix, which currently airs the action series about Batman’s future butler, and WarnerMedia, which may be leaning toward premiering the next season on HBO Max (home to other DC Comics-based properties) and then licensing it to Epix for a linear run after an exclusive window. So it looks good for a third season for Pennyworth, but you may be in for a wait if you’re watching it on Epix.

Give This Band of Brothers the Spielberg Treatment!

Comment: I Just finished watching the closing segment of 60 Minutes this Sunday. The story of the Ritchie Boys, who helped win WW2 for America and the Allies, cannot be undersold. I only hope Spielberg was watching. If ever another story was deserving of big-screen, motion-picture treatment, it’s this one. Or better yet, multiple episodes of an HBO series. These formerly unsung heroes deserve their place in the sun, as well as our history books, in bad need of rewrites! — Carroll W

Matt Roush: We felt the same way watching that terrific two-part segment. (Look it up On Demand or streaming on Paramount+.) What a stirring account of exiled German Jews who were recruited by the U.S. to participate in military and intelligence-gathering missions which helped turn the tide of the war. The fact that several of these heroes, now in their late 90s, are still able to reflect on their exploits so vividly was just remarkable. A quick online search revealed there are several books, both non-fiction and fiction, written about these mostly unsung heroes, and a 2004 documentary that’s currently out of circulation. (I bet the 60 Minutes segment has suddenly spiked demand.) We were still watching the story unfold when we remarked what a great movie or series this would make.

To the Doghouse!

Question: I enjoy Rebel Wilson and I love dogs, but ABC’s show Pooch Perfect show made me disgusted. They make dogs stand on a table for four hours while they’re trimmed and painted. To me this is cruelty to animals. One episode was more than enough time for me to know I won’t be watching the show again. Does anyone else have the same thoughts? – Nita H, Estacada, OR

Matt Roush: I’m surprised you couldn’t hear the howling. Any reaction I’ve seen in my mailbag has been all about sympathy for the canines. While I’m sure the dogs on the set were well treated, and there’s no doubting the love these outrageous groomers have for animals, the optics are as off-putting as the results are ridiculous. Where’s the doggone dignity?

And Finally …

Question: I’m anxiously awaiting the premiere of Leverage: Redemption and can’t find a release date anywhere. Any idea when it will be released? — Nikki L, St. Louis

Matt Roush: In case you missed the announcement earlier this month, the free streamer IMDb TV will launch the reboot of the caper drama on July 9 with eight episodes in the summer and eight more set for the fall. Noah Wyle is joining the cast as a corporate lawyer who’ll help the crew turn the tables on the corrupt rich and powerful. Sounds like fun.

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.)