Ask Matt: Parenthood, Good Wife, Fox Dramas, Last Resort and Other Cancellations
Monica Potter | Photo Credits: Danny Feld/NBC
Question: How do you feel about the subject matter on Parenthood this season? Some of my favorite moments on the show have always been the lighthearted sibling moments with the jokes and teasing. Those moments are all but gone as the Kristina storyline has taken precedence this year. From the Twitter and Facebook comments I've read, it is really ringing realistically to many viewers. The show is handling it with grace, but it's so very heavy that it seems like a departure for a show that has always had a good dose of comedy in each episode. I doubt that they're gaining viewers this year. My fear is that for a show that has always seemed to get renewed by the skin of its teeth, this feels like the end. Do you have any insight as to ratings or where it stands with NBC? — Jennifer
Matt Roush: Let me start by saying this is my favorite season to date of Parenthood, in large part due to the remarkable work of Monica Potter and Peter Krause — and in the few episodes where she came home from college, Sarah Ramos as a necessarily matured Haddie. The scene where she quietly made a sandwich for her overwhelmed mother moved me greatly. And while it's true that the material can be heavier than the norm, I've seen the next two episodes (background for a review column that will appear in this week's magazine) and am happy to report that while there are still plenty of reach-for-the-hanky tear-jerking moments, the cancer storyline isn't quite as prevalent, and the Kristina-Adam moments tend to be less depressing and wrenching: this week focusing on getting Max to attend a school dance, and next week Kristina delivers one of my favorite scenes of the season, harking back to the desire to see more comedy, when Julia comes to the house to get parenting tips from her supermom "guru," only to find Kristina stoned. The advice Kristina gives is hilarious, very real and refreshingly angst-free.
I'm also loving the poignant romance between Amber and troubled war-vet Ryan, with great chemistry between Mae Whitman and Matt Lauria. (On the other hand, the situation dramedy in which Sarah finds herself, making bad decisions as she tries to balance her boss Hank's needs against her duty to her boyfriend Mark, is nothing short of exasperating.) Regarding the show's status and future: Parenthood is never going to be mistaken for a hit, and being on NBC these last few seasons has been something of a blessing, since nothing was doing well, so why single this one out for cancellation? This fall the network has been on an upswing, but even so, Parenthood is competitive in its time period, often winning in the important demos, so I wouldn't worry too much about its chances. The shortened seasons may also be a cause for concern, but in this case, I tend to think of Parenthood as being handled more like a cable series. And while I'd like more, if NBC is happy with airing it for half a season, I'll take what I can get.
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Question: The Good Wife has long been "a cable series that happens to be on network TV," to quote its star Julianna Margulies. Now that it is four seasons in, is close to hitting its episode requirement for syndication, and most importantly that its ratings have continued to soften this season (damn that NFL overrun), might the show move to cable or find some other arrangement that allowed Friday Night Lights and Damages to continue without ratings being so much of an issue? I know CBS loves The Good Wife and enjoys the accolades it brings to the network, but it seems like its weak 18-49 rating (1.6 low this season) can only go on so much longer when it already has several other veteran dramas. Also, as a huge fan of The Good Wife, I am proud of the quality it maintains across a 22-episode season, but I have to admit I'd love to see what the writers could do with a tighter 10-12 episode run. What do you think? For a show that has long seemed made for cable, might it be possible for it to move there for a final few seasons at reduced episode orders? — Stephen