Question: When you mentioned in your recent column that you were a jury member for deciding the Top 10 TV shows of 2018 for the AFI, I just had to drop a note to say THANK YOU for including Pose on that list. I was also thrilled with the Golden Globe nominations the show/cast received. I felt this show kind of flew under the radar on FX but I absolutely loved it and discovered some incredible new talent, which always excites me. Don’t know how the ratings were for the first season, but any word on whether there will be a Season 2? If so, I hope you will get the word out about this terrific show so more people will watch. And thanks again for choosing it as one of 2018’s best! — Beverly
Matt Roush: I was also gratified that Pose made the cut during the always difficult deliberations of the AFI panel—it only gets harder every year with so much great content—and was glad to see the show and the sensational Billy Porter get nominations from the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards (announced this week). I wish that a few of the trans performers (most notably Mj Rodriguez as Blanca) had been singled out as well, because their inclusion in this series is part of what makes Pose so remarkable. (I could have done without the Trump Organization subplot involving the over-the-top James Van Der Beek, which felt shoehorned in like a bad parody of Wall Street, but that’s a small quibble.) Happy news that FX renewed Pose for a second season, which had less to do with ratings than buzz and appreciation for the flamboyant, heartfelt world Ryan Murphy and his collaborators created.
Why Is Marvel Detaching From Netflix?
Question: Is it true that the reason Netflix has canceled their Marvel superhero shows Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil is because of the upcoming Disney+ streaming service set to debut next year? If so, why cancel them when they were only exclusive to Netflix? Does this also mean that both Jessica Jones and The Punisher will get canceled after their upcoming seasons on Netflix next year? I also see rumors that Marvel will resurrect all those canceled Marvel/Netflix shows on Disney+ next year. How can they after Disney CEO Bob Iger publicly said that R-rated mature content won’t be on Disney+, but only family-friendly content—which doesn’t apply to the the Marvel/Netflix shows! Couldn’t the canceled shows be resurrected on Hulu (which Disney will have majority ownership of after the Disney/Fox merger is completed next summer), which Iger said will only feature the mature Disney content instead, and also streams Marvel’s Runaways? And what will Disney+ mean for all the past and present Disney-produced shows like Once Upon a Time and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Will they leave Netflix and migrate to Disney+ next year? (We already know all of the Disney movies will move to Disney+) I can’t afford to pay for another streaming service! Why is Disney (along with the upcoming Warner Bros.’ WarnerMedia streaming service) being greedy like this, and won’t share their toys (with the exception of WarnerMedia sharing streaming rights to Friends with Netflix) with other streaming networks? — Chris B
Matt Roush: You’re asking a lot of questions on issues that are pretty much beyond my ability to answer. I don’t have a crystal ball that allows me to see how things will play out between Disney and Netflix as the Mouse House preps its own streaming service, but it’s a fairly logical assumption that some of these decisions have been made out of corporate concerns—though it’s also possible that Netflix overextended its Marvel branding with diminishing returns. (Not only were there too many franchise series, they were all too long and bloated.) If Marvel ends up with only Jessica Jones, which would allow some of the other characters to make appearances, that would work for me.
The bigger picture here is that when studios like Disney and Warner/AT&T set up their own streaming services, potentially removing their content from behemoths like Netflix (excepting those few properties like Friends that Netflix will pay a fortune to keep in the tent), we’ll have to see how many will choose to subscribe to how many outlets in what now seems an endless number of streamers. This is not a consumer-friendly development, but as the media business evolves and companies are looking for new revenue streams—because advertising isn’t cutting it anymore—we may have to wait to see where the tipping point will be. Some think it’s already here, but it’s only going to get worse for a time.
Reflections on The Middle
Question: Just wanted to talk about The Middle for a second. Since it’s gone off I’ve been in “mourning” of sorts, but coping in the reruns and laughing my a– off. It was quite a refreshing show in this current era of TV “comedies” pushing agendas or being overrated like crazy and getting all the attention when they aren’t even that funny. To have a show that was just a classic and heartwarming but also actually FUNNY family show, especially at a time where the American family is being pulled apart, was so needed. I just don’t get why it wasn’t a much bigger hit? It was as good if not better than most of the award-winning comedies. Hell, unlike most shows it didn’t fall apart as it went on, it stayed pretty consistently funny and strong while also evolving the characters over time. BTW, Patricia Heaton should have won Emmys for her portrayal of Frankie. She won a few for the equally amazing Everybody Loves Raymond, so I don’t get why she wasn’t ever at least nominated for one during The Middle? — Patty
Matt Roush: Through all nine seasons of the run of The Middle, I lamented the fact that this terrifically funny and relatable comedy never got the industry recognition it deserved. Part of this was because it premiered the same season as Modern Family and never really emerged from the shadow of that industry darling. But as the years went on and The Middle stayed fresh and hilarious, it just grew more aggravating to fans (and critics like me) that its reputation didn’t grow. The Middle was a success without ever reaching mega-“hit” proportions, and its under-the-radar existence also may help explain why Patricia Heaton, an Emmy favorite during the Raymond years (deservedly), never made the cut playing such a different sort of TV mom.
While it may not lessen the sting, I will point out here that while ABC may have lost The Middle this year, it has added another modern classic to the mix this fall with The Kids Are Alright, which delights me every week with its tart and funny look back at a rambunctious house of boys and their tough-love Catholic parents (the excellent Mary McCormack and Michael Cudlitz) in the 1970s. Like The Middle, it feels specific, and its younger characters are each well and hysterically defined. I doubt it will do any better with awards and such than The Middle managed, but it also seems very deserving of attention and acclaim.
Are Reboots a Dying Trend?
Question: I’m curious what you think about the recent failure of reboots/revivals lately like Murphy Brown, Magnum P.I., Charmed, etc.? I know that The Conners is doing OK, but they aren’t getting the numbers the network must’ve expected compared to Roseanne, and frankly no one even watches or cares about Fuller House or Will & Grace anymore. Could this be a sign? And BTW, I know Hawaii 5-0 and that godawful MacGyver remake are doing fine, but those are more exception to the rule than a fact. — Liza
Matt Roush: This may be overstating the case a bit—some of these shows are doing just fine, considering how few actual hits exist in the broadcast TV world (and how would anyone know if no one’s watching Fuller House, not that I’d dream of it)—but the trend is definitely coming down to earth. I’m sure CBS had hoped for better returns from Murphy Brown (too preachy) and Magnum (too unnecessary), and I can’t imagine the expectations were high for Charmed, since almost nothing pulls a notable number on The CW in linear ratings. If the conclusion ultimately is that the networks have dipped from the nostalgia well too frequently, and as a result we see fewer remakes of titles from our past, that’s probably a good thing. (In other words, memo to ABC: Leave Bewitched alone!)
JoJo Whilden / Netflix
No Second Chance for Seconds?
Question: Why was the great TV Drama Seven Seconds canceled after one season? It was Netflix’s best show. Please explain, I am completely disappointed with their programming ever since, and many other viewers share my view. — Mary from N.J.
Matt Roush: I wish I could explain, but Netflix keeps its secrets on such matters more secret than the Kremlin. On the positive side, star Regina King won an Emmy and is nominated for a Golden Globe for her starring role in what is now considered a limited series. (Netflix saw the first season as “a complete, stand-alone” self-contained story, and if Seven Seconds had been renewed, it probably would have told a completely different narrative in anthology fashion.) The reporting at the time of the cancellation suggested that Netflix makes these decisions by weighing viewer data (which they keep private) against cost factors. In other words, a business decision, which makes Netflix not that much different than other networks. (After all, ABC eventually put an end to American Crime, which won Regina King her first two Emmys, after three seasons, and Seven Seconds was in that genre of storytelling.)
Waiting is Murder!
Question: We are huge fans of the British police series Midsomer Murders. Netflix has 19 seasons and we have been trying to find out when or if we will get to see Season 20 and Season 21 being filmed now. — Maggie
Matt Roush: If, almost certainly. When, can’t say, because Netflix doesn’t always announce such things long in advance. If you’re really eager to see Season 20, the episodes are currently being streamed by Acorn TV (a great repository for British, Australian and European mysteries and other imports), which I’m told tries to make popular series like this available as soon as possible. Acorn doesn’t have exclusive rights to Midsomer, so presumably Netflix will put the latest season up when it’s able and/or willing.
Shane Mahood/Crown Media United States LLC
And Finally …
Question: I love the Hallmark movies. I am halfway through Hallmark’s Christmas movie season, and call me crazy but I notice A LOT of the movies have the same plot. Some are better than others, but nevertheless it’s the same “meet, fall in love, have fight, disagreement or misunderstanding and back in each other’s arms for their first kiss to end the movie.” Would you agree that it is time for some fresh ideas??? — A. Proctor
Matt Roush: You’re not crazy, but it sounds like you’ve finally awakened to the Hallmark formula. It tickles me that anyone thinks Hallmark would ever change what works so well for them by injecting something as radical as originality. People watch these Hallmark movies because they’re as comfy and familiar as their favorite blanket. Would I prefer it if Hallmark shook things up a bit? Sure, but I also like singing many of the same Christmas carols every year, and don’t see that changing, either.
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. Click through the gallery above for all of your questions and answers!
One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won't be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it's already common knowledge. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.
Thanks as always for reading, and remember that I 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.