Ask Matt: Canceling an ‘NCIS’ Spinoff, ‘Ghosts’ Postmortem, ‘Organized Crime’s Move & More

LL Cool J and Vanessa Lachey in 'NCIS: Hawaii'
Karen Neal/CBS
NCIS: Hawai’i

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 or developments here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected]. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays.

Choosing Young Gibbs Over Hawai’i

Comment: We don’t need a prequel to Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ story! It was all beautifully laid out in poignant flashbacks during the entire series when Mark Harmon was in the role. We know all we need to know! So why is CBS wasting its time on this and canceling NCISHawai’i? I am beyond angry that they’ve done this. They saved S.W.A.T. twice! It’s time to rethink this latest cancellation and look beyond their narrow lens. The Hawai’i characters were real, and the stories were different—all played out in a beautiful setting. AND in the USA! NCIS: Sydney has its perks but, honestly, I don’t think it’s nearly as relatable as Hawai’i has been. This decision stinks! — Barbara S.

Matt Roush: Cancellation angst is a given this time of year, and I returned from a week away to my e-mailbox still overflowing with fans grieving the loss, often quite eloquently, of So Help Me Todd (the subject of my previous column, so I’m giving it a brief rest to move on to other topics). While not as often mentioned in my e-mail queue, the sudden demise of NCIS: Hawai’i is in many ways a much bigger surprise, for a spinoff of a hit franchise, not to mention being the first with a female lead, to be shut down after just three seasons (previously the shortest duration was that of NCIS: New Orleans after the more typical seven-season run). The reasons for this appear to be mostly economic, but the optics surely look as if they’re trading out Hawai’i for NCIS: Origins, which is taking over the show’s Monday time period. (I had expected CBS to maybe move Hawai’i to the dreaded last hour of Sunday prime time in the fall, but the network is wisely programming repeats in that slot until football overruns are over in the new year.)

As for the “why” do Origins, blame the success of Young Sheldon, which showed that telling a fan-favorite character’s origin story, of which we were kind of familiar, could still draw fans of the original series, especially those who have been longing to hear the voice of Mark Harmon, who’ll be narrating the series much the way Jim Parsons did for Young Sheldon. I expect this show will find its audience the way Hawaii did (at a time when viewers were still smarting from the New Orleans cancellation). For me, the biggest shock of all is that come fall, there won’t be a single CBS series filming in Hawaii.

And One From the Gaffe Squad

Question: Was watching the end of NCIS: Hawai’i where they’re supposed to be in Fiji, but anyone who’s been to Oahu would recognize the Chinaman’s Hat (“Mokoli’i”) islet in the background. So many other places to pick that wouldn’t have been that obvious. — Terri G., Simi Valley, CA

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Matt Roush: Not to beat a dead horse now that the series is over, but good catch. Though if it’s now seen as cost-prohibitive to film in Hawaii, it would be a stretch to expect a weekly series to shoot on location in Fiji. (Still, couldn’t they have borrowed some footage from Survivor?)

Was Third Season a Charm for Ghosts?

Question: Now that the latest season of Ghosts has wrapped up, what do you think of Season 3 overall? You’ve already shared your thoughts about the whole Flower scenario, which I agree with! But I’ve read many fan complaints on social media about how the show seems to have leaned too heavily into sex jokes and double entendres this year — from Carol’s lascivious behavior and the Poltergeist “jerking off” onto a living, to the stripper’s (hilarious) scene and the “throuple” between Thor, Nancy and Flower. I see commenters complaining that they now have to “screen the episodes before being able to watch them with kids” — which, to me, is a bit of a head-scratcher because while the show certainly has a family-friendly vibe, it has never shied away from naughty humor!

Then there are some who claim certain episodes just weren’t as funny this season (“meh” being a common critique) — such as the one with Trevor’s brother, or Isaac’s money being used to help fund the restaurant. Personally, I’ve enjoyed every episode this season. I don’t think any of them could be labeled “bad,” though some are certainly more solid and better-written than others (the Halloween episode is a delightful highlight, and “Holes Are Bad,” with Hetty’s tragic backstory, is an absolute standout.)

My personal thought is that we need to remember what the Ghosts team were up against this year: the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strikes, rushing to produce scripts in time for a tight production schedule, the fact that they shoot in Montreal, and not one but TWO cast pregnancies affecting availability and onscreen action, including their leading lady! Factor in the tragically shortened season of 10 episodes; a HUGE ensemble of regulars and guest stars, each of whom has individual/multiple storylines that need serving; and the sad reality that episodes are only 20 minutes long—and I think the writers/producers had quite the challenge before them this year! Given this context, I think they handled it with aplomb. I’m sure things will feel back to “normal” in Season 4 now that Rose McIver and Sheila Carrasco will be more available, and the writers have more time and fewer constraints to map out a longer season (huzzah!). I for one am looking forward to it, given that cliffhanger worthy of an Isaac Higgintoot gasp! Your thoughts, please?

Matt Roush: I don’t have much to add to this thoughtful and enthusiastic defense of one of my favorite TV comedies, except to note that Ghosts is a show I view as pure entertainment and tend not to nitpick or expect to hit a home run every time out. (Their batting average, to torture a metaphor, is pretty strong, considering that even a strike-shortened season is longer than what the equally wonderful U.K. original series produces.) The high points this season were very high, and the way everything came together in the finale — from Pete’s wanderlust and frantic homecoming to Isaac’s ambivalence and comeuppance — was quite satisfying. I’m resigned to the fact that the industry will fail to recognize the show’s quality with Emmy nominations, though hopeful that without Ted Lasso around this year, something might break through. It’s certainly deserving. Regarding the show’s naughtier side, read on.

Is Ghosts Too Risqué?

Question: Is Ghosts becoming too sexually boring? Maybe the writers are having trouble with Sam being pregnant in real life and being limited to just the mansion, because they can’t seem to write much else for the characters these days. Sure, Pete discovered he can leave the grounds, but that kind of flopped as soon as he hit the street. Shouldn’t Pete have been more overwhelmed knowing that the Black Friday ghosts could see and talk to him? He didn’t seem surprised, happy or scared until the nighttime ghosts threatened him. That could have gone further, but we were stuck listening to more sexual activities between the other ghosts. Writers seem to delight in pushing the limits on how many sexual innuendos they can slip in, but now it just seems like over-the-top lazy writing. We snickered and laughed a lot at first. Now it’s become so obvious what’s coming we groan with boredom. Really hoping they can explore other stories next year with a bit more comic depth. — Teresa

Matt Roush: I don’t know what it means to be “sexually boring,” but it appears some viewers are bored by Ghosts and its innuendos. I’m not. And here’s why. (Though I will concede not every joke scores. When do they ever?)

I’ve always looked at Ghosts as a sitcom with a high degree of difficulty because the main characters carrying the comedy are limited by their non-living state. With the exception of Pete (more on that later), they’re stuck geographically, and unless someone brings another spirit into the house (which is rare), they’ve only got themselves to bounce off of, so to speak. (Even I can’t help lapsing into innuendo.) Because they are deprived of most of their senses, I’m not surprised when they fall back on their ghostly sensuality, and with a character like Hetty, observing their sexual awakening is comic gold. (Also love the running gag that no one believes Sasappis is experienced in love, and all hail Carol joining the group this season with her voracious appetites.) Until Sam and Jay brought the joys of watching TV into their lives (I can relate), they only had each other, and watching all of those cheesy reality “romance” TV shows may have further stimulated their desires. Bottom line, while it may be true that the writers (who I’d never accuse as being lazy) lean too easily on sexual innuendo at times, there’s usually emotion underscoring these moments, obviously in the case with Thor and Flower — and the eternally hilarious Nancy from the basement — and also with Isaac still coming to terms with his sexuality all these centuries later.

Finally, let’s talk about Pete. This e-mail arrived before the season finale and the existential crisis when he discovered he would just disappear if away from the house too long. That was a great payoff, but I didn’t see a problem with his encounter with the Black Friday ghosts. It’s not like this was his first time seeing new ghosts, and the first ones seemed kind of nice. This was more about Pete being amazed at his new surroundings — after all, he died before WalMart was a thing — then panicked when he got separated from Jay. That’s a lot to deal with, even before the scary ghosts chased him out of the store. And I’m curious where they’ll take this ability in the future. Again, I’ll just say upfront that picking apart Ghosts is something I’ll probably rarely do, unless given good reason. (The Flower incident a case in point.) Three seasons in, I’m still sold.

Will Streaming Segregation Hurt Organized Crime?

Question: I’ve heard that Law & Order: Organized Crime has been renewed for another season but will be moving to Peacock. I suppose that is good news that the series isn’t being canceled, but as far as I’m concerned it has been canceled because I just can’t afford yet another streaming service. I already subscribe to two services as well as pay for cable. I suppose I could wait until the season runs its course and then subscribe for a single month and binge-watch. I am guessing if not for the move to Peacock, Organized Crime would have been canceled.

While some viewers may see this as a good move, saving the series, I wonder about the costs. How many episodes will there be next season? It seems like streaming series don’t have the number of episodes that a series on regular TV does. But more importantly, does this remove Organized Crime from the Law & Order universe? I enjoyed the crossovers with SVU and the mothership series, as well as cast members from one series just popping up or getting mentioned on the other series. Would that still be able to happen? I don’t think everyone who watches Law & Order mothership and SVU also subscribes to Peacock, which means not all viewers would be able to watch both episodes if a crossover occurs. It seems to me this might also put the kibosh on any further developments of a Stabler-Benson relationship. What do you think? Is the move to streaming worth the possibility of isolating this series from the rest of the L&O franchise? — Rob R.

Matt Roush: The reporting in the industry trades suggests that Organized Crime will produce a 10-episode season for Peacock, a move that will likely be confirmed at NBC’s upfront presentation next week. That’s standard practice, and not much different than if OC had been pushed to midseason, which I believe was rumored as another option at some point. To the bigger issue, I’d expect that characters from the Law & Order universe could continue to show up on Organized Crime, but maybe less likely vice versa, unless there’s a reason for Benson and Stabler to share scenes on SVU in a non-crossover way. Crossovers with Organized Crime I’d think will be off the table given the nature of the separate platforms, and the reality that many loyal linear TV viewers haven’t or won’t or can’t make the leap to streaming. You ask if it’s worth it, and my answer is that for those making the show, I imagine it will be, even with the diminished footprint. Given the alternative, this is another interesting chapter in the evolution of broadcast-to-streaming programming, and I imagine we’ll see a lot of promotion for OC on Peacock when the streamer gets a new surge of subscribers during the Summer Olympics.

A Spinoff in Limbo

Question: In the wake of Law & Order: Organized Crime moving to Peacock, it makes me wonder what became of the franchise’s Hate Crimes installment. Last I heard, it was supposed to move to Peacock and was never heard from again. Any news about what happened to it? — Shon

Matt Roush: When you never hear any new news about a show that has been stuck in development hell as long and with as many twists as the Hate Crimes saga, it’s best to consider it a goner, put on the shelf for good. Or at least for now. Law & Order as a franchise isn’t going anywhere, so it’s always possible this concept will be revived at some point, but from what I can tell, its time hasn’t come yet.

And Finally …

Question: Any word on when the new season of Deadliest Catch will air? It’s usually in the spring. I enjoy and admire the captains and crew so much! — Mandy

Matt Roush: Happy to report that Discovery finally gave the milestone 20th season of the pioneering reality docuseries an air date this week. Look for it to return on June 11.

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 X (formerly) Twitter @TVGMMattRoush. (Please include a first name with your question.)


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