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] and follow me on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and very occasional Fridays.
Say It Isn’t So, Ted!
Question: I received the best Valentine ever with the announcement that the third season of Ted Lasso will be coming to my screen on March 15th. What wonderful news! I am still surprised by how much I have fallen in love with these beautifully funny and all-too-human characters. The writing team has done a brilliant job creating stories on starting over, found family, and the frailty of our mental health. My devotion to Ted and Company reminds me of my first TV love, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That the incomparable Anthony Stewart Head bridges these shows with his superb portrayals of evil Rupert and good Rupert is enough to make me … “Believe.” Have you heard anything on the number of episodes we can expect for this long-delayed season and is there any hope for a fourth? I am more than willing to get out the crystals and sage, cast a sacred circle to invoke Hekate, and implore her to bring forth a fourth! — Kelly, Clayton, CA
Matt Roush: If Ted Lasso’s Powers That Be happen to read your most entertaining entreaty for more, maybe that will move the needle. On the plus side, since I’m all about staying positive, nowhere in Apple’s announcement of a third season (including the fact that there will be 12 episodes) does it mention anything about a “final” season, so maybe they’re in denial as well. Until they make it official, I’m going to “believe” as Kelly does that depending on where they take the show this spring, there could be more. On the other hand, as some including Emmy winner Brett Goldstein have said elsewhere, if they did approach this as a final season and wrote it accordingly to stay true to the initial three-season pitch, we’ll just have to accept it, especially if there’s a satisfying resolution. Though this is a series that’s only filmed in the U.K., it’s a very British thing to produce shows of limited duration that leave us wanting more.
Could Magnum Cross Over Networks?
Question: We know that Hawaii Five-O crossed over with NCIS: Los Angeles and Magnum P.I., and NCIS: Los Angeles has crossed over with NCIS: Hawaii. Although the Magnum reboot is now on NBC, do you think a crossover is possible with NCIS: Hawaii since each show is on a different network, but both film on Oahu? Supergirl and The Flash did it when the former was on CBS, and Chicago P.D. (NBC) and FBI (CBS) swapped characters, so I hope it’s possible. — Darren
Matt Roush: I’ve learned over time to never say never, but this may be trickier to pull off. Not only are these shows now airing on rival networks, but unlike two Dick Wolf series (P.D. and FBI) or a similar franchise (NCIS and DC) crossover, Magnum and NCIS originate from different studios (Universal and Paramount/CBS Studios) and may operate on different production timetables, with Magnum only airing (according to the current deal) 10 episodes this and next season. Logistics are a headache even when they’re all on the same team, and I’m not sure who beyond the fan base would benefit from this cross-promotional stunt. Still, I imagine their paths cross from time to time as they both film on location, so anything’s possible.
Why Send All the Good Stuff to Streaming?
Question: I just watched the trailer for Hulu’s UnPrisoned. I do not get why this show isn’t on ABC. It will be on Hulu hours later anyway. This is a big star (Kerry Washington) who is beloved in what looks like a unique family comedy. — Marc
Matt Roush: A fair question. Though also owned and operated by Disney, as is ABC, the Onyx Collective (the brand presenting this series) seems to be developing shows primarily for streamers including Disney+ as well as Hulu (which previously aired the Onyx Collective drama Reasonable Doubt). That said, this question raises the larger issue of how a company decides which show goes where, and that these corporations seem to be favoring their streamers while leaving the legacy broadcast networks high and dry when it comes to quality high-end fare. Case in point: Peacock’s Poker Face, which with a few tweaks to its main character’s salty language (or possibly relaxing the restriction on saying “b.s.” in prime time), could easily air on NBC, or on USA Network back when it was still in that business. I haven’t watched more than the trailer of UnPrisoned yet — it arrives March 10 — but this does look like it wouldn’t be out of place on ABC. Let’s just be grateful that somehow Abbott Elementary and Will Trent didn’t end up on Hulu first.
Shrinking, or Cringing, From Potty Mouths
Question: There was a lot of hype about the new show Shrinking on Apple TV+. I’ve watched it, and it generally lives up to the hype and I enjoy the show. The characters are interesting, and the storylines have a nice balance of hilarious and heartfelt. The one thing that bothers me about the show? How liberally they drop the f-bomb. (And I say that as someone who uses it from time to time.) There are so many instances in the show when it’s totally unnecessary and acts more like a verbal filler (“um”) rather than dialogue that adds anything to the scene or plotline. It feels like lazy writing to me. Maybe I’m being too sensitive? — Shelby
Matt Roush: I would never accuse the writers of this terrific series (which include Ted Lasso veterans Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein) of being lazy, but it’s a fact that overreliance on profanity is a crutch for too many shows. I watched this entire season (minus the March 24 finale) more than a month ago to review it, so it’s not all that fresh in my memory, but it didn’t strike me as especially foul-mouthed, or gratuitously so. But then, with Goldstein as one of the writers, maybe he was channeling his Roy Kent character from Ted Lasso a bit too freely. Regardless, my takeaway from Shrinking was that there was a lot of affection in the writers’ room for these flawed characters. But when I jump back in soon to preview the finale, I imagine I’ll be listening for each of these unsweet nothings.
Poker Face’s Super Bowl Bet
Question: Generally, it seems like commercials won’t advertise a channel other than the one they’re playing on (or maybe their sister channels). For instance, if I’m watching Fox, I won’t see a commercial for an NBC show like Law & Order: SVU, but more likely to see one for Accused. Makes sense to me. I assume that networks are unwilling to sell ad time to their competitors. So why was it that during the Super Bowl, Fox ran an ad for Poker Face on Peacock, which is owned by NBCUniversal? I’m sure that NBCUniversal is excited about Poker Face and really wants to get subscribers right now, so I get why they’re willing to pay the big bucks. But why would Fox agree to play an ad from one of their competitors? Are they more willing to allow it because it’s for streaming? Is there more of a precedent for this than I realize? I’m trying to remember any time when I can recall one network advertising their programming on another network, but I can’t think of one — Ethan
Matt Roush: I’m not a marketing or advertising expert, but the rules don’t seem to apply when it comes to some cable and most streaming shows. (Given the challenging ad market, no one probably can afford to turn away lucrative streaming ads. Would anyone walk away from money from Netflix, which is everyone’s rival?) I have often seen cable and streaming ads on networks not associated with the product, but usually, they don’t include specific tune-in information, as that might violate policy. The Poker Face ad, much like the show itself, was especially clever, with Charlie (Natasha Lyonne) calling out lies about the other Super Bowl TV ads she was watching. It was a very smart buy.
And Finally …
Comment: I’m sure, as previously discussed, that NCIS: Los Angeles fans will get their wish with a Hetty finale appearance. Most viewers get to see the conclusion they request. It seems that only fans of JAG are ignored with their request to see the wedding of Harmon Rabb Jr., USN, and Sarah MacKenzie, USMC at Annapolis. They have been asking for 18 years and continue to want their happy finale to a great series. — Nancy H.
Matt Roush: A reminder that when it comes to TV, hope never dies. Neither does resentment.
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. (Please include a first name with your question.)