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.
Three Seasons Isn’t Enough for This Picard Fan
Question: So what’s the deal with Star Trek: Picard being planned for only three seasons? This would be disappointing enough if the show’s seasons were more respectable in length, such as a standard 22-24 episode season. But planning to so quickly end a show that puts out a measly 10 episodes per season? That’s ridiculous. Yes, I’m all for a show ending before it wears out its welcome, but come on, people! Be reasonable! — Chad
Matt Roush: Maybe because I’m so overwhelmed with new programming these next few weeks, I can’t find anything in Chad’s rant to agree with. I understand any fan’s desire to want more of a favorite thing, but when a show announces its intention up front of planning its story over a set number of seasons, we should respect that decision — and the days of 22-episode seasons for most series, especially in the streaming and cable space, are pretty much over. Picard in particular has been an extremely serialized and narrowly focused character-driven story from the start, unlike Discovery or other Trek series from the past that were more episodic in their exploration of the cosmos. I look at Picard more like a 30-episode (over three seasons) limited series with what appears to be very distinct arcs, and even if I make my “less is more” argument for purely selfish reasons, in this case I feel it’s creatively justified.
Not Music to Her Ears
Question: I am delighted that Star Trek: Picard has returned to my computer screen. Although the series is not perfect, any chance I get to spend time with Jean-Luc, one of my all-time favorite characters, is to be cherished. But I was dismayed to discover that Jeff Russo changed the arrangement to the theme music. The Season 1 theme was beautiful and fit so well with the contemplative nature of the show. I never skipped the introductory screen credits and tried to find a recording of a longer version online but was unsuccessful. The changes to the Season 2 theme make it too hard to pick out the melody, and in my opinion lessen the listening experience greatly. Do you know why the changes were made? Was the Season 1 theme not well-received by the audience? Of course, I will still be enjoying the further adventures of Picard and crew each week but, like much of the audience, I will be skipping the intro. – Kelly
Matt Roush: I haven’t seen Jeff Russo or anyone comment on the new arrangement, but the credits sequence itself is so different from the first season’s (with the Borg and other elements), I would suggest that the music was tweaked to reflect how different the tone of this season is from the first. Theme music has been known to evolve along with their shows.
Could Big Bang Go the Muppet Babies Route?
Question: Congratulations to the cast of Young Sheldon on their 100th episode. With CBS embracing iterations of shows with the same theme (NCIS and FBI), has there been any talk of the network doing a Young Leonard or Young Penny or any other young character from The Big Bang Theory? With all the characters from the original show, CBS certainly has a large stable from which to choose. — George
Matt Roush: No developments on this front that I’m aware of, and I think they’ve squeezed quite enough from this franchise, but nothing would surprise me in this age of reboots and “reinvention.” Young Sheldon has given fan service with shout-outs to some of the other Big Bang characters during its run, but to build another entire series around any of them seems a bit of a stretch. Sheldon was always the show’s centerpiece, for better or worse — which brings me to the next comment.
Who Is This Smart-Mouthed Kid?
Comment: I am 79 years old, a retired policeman, fireman, and history professor. I have watched a number of the Young Sheldon shows because of the high ratings in TV Guide Magazine. I am sorry to say that I can’t agree with the high #7 rating it received. In all my years of dealing with various members in our society, I have never run across any 9- or 10-year-old child like Sheldon Cooper. I find it hard to believe that one even exists. He is selfish, self-centered, obnoxious, and disrespectful of everyone, especially adults and teachers. He is very mentally unstable and a nasty little jerk!! If there was ever a child like this in Texas especially, he would have gone missing in short order!! I have also never met or known any mother like Mary Cooper. She is nasty, she is a bully, and she is just plain unbelievable. Now I know this is my own personal opinion, but I was wondering if you ever heard this stuff from anyone else? — Dennis C
Matt Roush: Not regarding Young Sheldon exactly, but even at the height of The Big Bang Theory’s popularity (which was immense), there were always those who found Sheldon so insufferable, and not comically so, that they couldn’t enjoy the show. (And for the record, the ratings you’re referring to are an imperfect measure of viewership, nothing to do with quality.) Whether young or adult, the character of Sheldon Cooper has always been presented as a genius in everything but human interaction, most likely on the Asperger’s spectrum, who can’t understand or process the impact of his intellectual arrogance. Seeing it displayed in a child is meant to be amusing, but it obviously isn’t to everyone. As for your reaction to his self-righteously overprotective mother, that’s a new one.
Move These Stories Along Already!
Question: What do you think has really been the point behind how NCIS: LA has gone this season? Callen’s constantly being-rewritten past, whatever Hetty is doing in Syria, Kensi and Deeks stuck in a never-ending baby or child-fostering struggle, along with every other long-going-on arc. This season has been really terrible because of all this, and it kind of makes me wonder what has really been behind it all: Really bad writing? Someone just really loving angst? Or is this all just a big set-up for an unexpected death or departure in the very last episode of the season? – Maria
Matt Roush: This is what I’d diagnose as a classic case of franchise fatigue. Callen’s murky past has been a through-line for quite some time and I imagine they’ll keep playing with those mysteries to the end, but otherwise, this sounds to me like the exasperation of a viewer who’s finally had enough. I wouldn’t tease upcoming twists even if I could (which I can’t), but reactions like these are not uncommon for long-running shows. And yet if these series were to suddenly disappear, I would expect to hear howls of distress from those for whom these shows, however imperfect, have become a weekly habit for years.
And Now, An Argument for Patience
Comment: Give Law & Order some time. I read Cam’s dislike of the rebooted series, and I agree with some of her points, yet I am not despairing. For Jeffrey Donovan, I think the writers went out of their way to paint the rough edges of his character in the early episodes to establish his character, but they’ve already started to smooth those edges out. As to Camryn Mannheim, I’m no fan either, but let’s face it: Except for two or three episodes a year, the squad leader gets 7-8 lines and that’s it. Let’s also remember that for 20 years, every cast change led to some people proclaiming that L&O was ruined. In this case, MOST of the cast was changed, so there will be more reaction. Finally, we all should remember Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of everything is crap.”
I still watch a lot of reruns of L&O. There are perhaps 50 episodes that I will stop and watch whenever they come on, even though I’ve seen some of them over 20 times, and maybe another 100 that I will watch unless there is something more compelling on against them. The remaining 300+ episodes I’ll watch if there’s nothing else on, or I’ll skip entirely. I think a lot of the criticism wanted the first handful of new episodes to be on the level of those 50 best episodes. This is one of the great shows in TV history. Let’s give it some time to find its feet. – Rick C
Matt Roush: Spoken like a true fan, and I so rarely hear pleas for patience that I’m happy to share this perspective. I agree wholeheartedly that the idea of bringing classic Law & Order back to life is a good one, and while I remain surprised and to a degree chagrined by how stubbornly this ensemble has failed to gel at the start, it’s still early days. I also appreciate the reminder of how vociferously viewers of the original series would object any time a favorite detective or ADA would disappear through the cast’s ever-revolving door. (Which makes me wonder that if the show is renewed, which I expect it will be, if there might not be some immediate cast adjustments before the fall.)
By the way, most of my Law & Order mail is still less forgiving, including this observation from Jon K: “Is it just me, or is the newly rebooted Law & Order starring Jeffrey Donovan and Anthony Anderson as the lead detectives a thinly veiled attempt at a reincarnation of the All in the Family knuckleheads Archie Bunker and George Jefferson?”
And Finally …
Question: Last November, USA Network aired a Nash Bridges reunion movie. I was wondering if you heard anything new about more follow-up movies or a potential new TV series? Also, do you know if the cable film will be coming to Peacock? – Richard
Matt Roush: So far, silence on this front, which doesn’t mean a continuation in some form won’t ever happen. And if there is more Nash to come, I’m sure they’ll announce it far and wide. No information on the movie’s streaming future, either, although it appears to be available on the NBC and USA apps and online.
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.)