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.
We’d Leap with Joy at a Renewal
Question: I have been obsessed with Fox’s The Big Leap since its premiere, and I laughed and cried through the season finale this week. What do you think the chances are for a renewal? I’m worried since my other favorite, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, was canceled so unceremoniously by NBC. — Sharon
Matt Roush: You’re probably right to be worried, but the truth is that it’s almost impossible to predict how the pendulum will swing when so few new series emerge as hits anymore. And likening it to Zoey makes sense because emotionally driven series with high entertainment value but low franchise potential are especially endangered these days. (Anymore, when I see a pilot for a broadcast-network show like The Big Leap, my heart both soars and sinks when I consider its uphill battle to break through.) I guess I’d put its chances at 50/50, which may even be wishful thinking, but that’s also how I felt about my last favorite Fox series, Prodigal Son, before the boom was lowered on that one. What these networks have to weigh is the passion of the audience (huge) against its size (small).
Blessed Continuity on Jeopardy!
Comment: I’m very grateful that Jeopardy! is sticking with Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik as hosts for the remainder of the season and are not doing another parade of guest hosts. But what it feels to me like Sony would like to give it to Mayim full time and they are trying to wait out the season to see if Fox cancels Call Me Kat after its second season. I do think it’s weird that Mayim gets announced as “the host of Jeopardy” while Ken gets “and now, hosting Jeopardy, Ken Jennings” even though they are doing the same job. — Jake
Matt Roush: Agreed on all counts (though not speculating about Mayim Bialik’s future with Kat vis-à-vis Jeopardy!). I do not wish to endure another circus of guest-hosts pulling focus away from the game and the contestants. Ken and Mayim have stepped up admirably, conveying an excitement for the game and establishing a connection with the players, and both lucked out by supervising exciting long runs with compelling champions. (Go, Amy!) I wonder if Ken preferred the “now hosting” introduction over being called “the host of” before the gig was more permanent, but the discrepancy is jarring and they need to work that out.
Accentuating the Positive — Or Not
Question: Am I only one bemoaning the fact that the new B Positive opening production number, not to mention the expanded version, fails to utilize such Broadway musical legends from the cast as Linda Lavin, Priscilla Lopez, and Ben Vereen? Producers couldn’t give them cameos? What a missed opportunity! — MT
Matt Roush: Good point. I get that they’re showcasing Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford’s prodigious talent in the new opening number, but there are three other Tony winners at their disposal — granted, Linda Lavin’s was for Neil Simon’s non-musical Broadway Bound, but she has great pipes dating back to that Superman musical in the 1960s. Opening credits on shows like these tend to change season to season, so if B Positive continues to a third year, maybe they can take advantage of these pros waiting in the wings.
Question: B Positive has been excellent this season. Not just hilarious but extremely well-acted and sentimental. Do you think there is a chance one of those excellent veteran actors will be rewarded an Emmy? I just saw the Critics Choice Awards nominees and not one was mentioned. So sad. — Fred
Matt Roush: Not a chance. No slight on the considerable talent pool in this series, but this sort of comedy tends to fly under the radar of the Emmys and other awards groups. (Full disclosure: I participated in several Critics Choice nominating committees this year, though not in comedy.) I wish multi-camera shows shot in front of an audience got more respect, but unless you’re a massive or critical hit, you might as well not exist. And now for an alternative view:
Question: Last year I found B Positive very charming. And while I appreciate the attempt in change of direction after the kidney transplant was complete, the changes are not working for me! First of all, focusing on a nursing home is turning the show into “Be Depressed,” with a woman dying of cancer and worried that her husband is going to commit suicide after she dies and another guy slowly losing his memory. Not the best atmosphere for uplifting comedy. I also do not get why two straight opposite-sex people can’t just stay friends. Drew and Gina‘s friendship is one of the best parts of Season 1 and I especially liked it because there was no romantic angle. I guess no TV show can stay that way! Don’t know how much longer I can stick with it. — Alex H
Matt Roush: I won’t make an argument for B Positive as a great comedy — it’s not there yet — but the setting is not the problem, and one thing I appreciate about the new premise is that it takes the problems and even joys of aging as legitimate grist for the sitcom mill. Not to mention giving opportunities to some terrific character actors we don’t get to see often enough. A nursing home isn’t a conventional comedy set-up, to be sure, but that’s what makes it interesting.
Give Yellowstone Some Bleep-ing Respect!
Question: Yellowstone is one of the best dramas on television! It’s perfection on all fronts: acting, storytelling, and cinematography. So how come it never gets any Emmy love or any other awards acclaim? Beth Dutton is one of the best characters on TV and Kelly Reilly is amazing! She should be nominated every year! Your thoughts? — Terry
Matt Roush: I’m with you on the Kelly Reilly front. She is a true breakout star, love or hate Beth (or both simultaneously). All I’ll say about the Emmy/awards situation, as I do every time this comes up, is that the field is crowded, especially in drama. Maybe it’s the genre, perhaps it’s the too-easy proliferation of profanity turning some voters off, maybe it’s that the story arcs are inconsistent — where, for instance, did Jacki Weaver disappear to for several weeks? Yellowstone is an enjoyable series and an undeniable hit—so much so that maybe this is the year it will get some Emmy attention. I just wouldn’t put money on it.
Comment: I understand the personality of someone like Beth on Yellowstone, but I think the show has gone a bit overboard with some of her comments. For example, “I hope you die of a- cancer” is offensive. I hope they realize that. — Cynthia
Matt Roush: I hope anyone would realize that. That’s why she said it. Beth is outrageous, and she tends to be the first thing anyone mentions when the show comes up in conversation. Precisely because she delivers offensive comments like these without remorse. One of the pleasures of Yellowstone is that on occasion she gets as well as she gives.
Why Is the Spinoff Streaming?
Question: Why are they putting the Yellowstone prequel 1883 on Paramount+? Some people like seniors and others on fixed incomes cannot afford to be buying all these streaming apps, especially when we are already paying close to $200 for cable. They have done it to other shows after sucking us into watching them and getting interested. NOT RIGHT!!! NOT FAIR!!! Can you influence the producers not to do this? — NCP
Matt Roush: Can I? No. It wouldn’t do any good, anyway. Streaming is the future and in many cases the now-and-forever, of these companies. The angriest mail I get any given week is from viewers who feel they’ve been given the bait-and-switch in instances like this, and they’re not wrong. But from another perspective, when technology has made a reliance on advertising on broadcast and basic cable such an iffy proposition, digital and subscription TV has become their priority. If Yellowstone came along today, it almost certainly would have premiered on a streamer. The next evolution, which has already begun, is people trading their pricey cable bills for a bundle of streaming apps. Fairness has nothing to do with it. When did it ever?
And Finally …
Question: What happened to Mayor of Kingstown? It was on for two weeks, then the third week was a repeat of the second episode and now it’s not on the schedule at all? — Kathy
Matt Roush: Speaking of bait and switch: Mayor is still airing — or, rather, streaming — just not on Paramount Network, which ran the first episodes behind Yellowstone as a tease, and as a promotion in hopes viewers would follow it to the Paramount+ platform. Whether that worked, or backfired, 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.)