Feb 11, 2011

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes takes your questions. Ask about the drama, comedy and heartbreak of the world of television -- both onscreen and behind-the-scenes!

Super Bowl ads -- best ever or The Big Snooze? Idolette telling Ryan Seacrest he's all washed up emotionally from 10 years hosting the show -- best TV moment of the season? Will Keith Olbermann get you to watch CurrentTV? So much to talk about this week. Let's get started..

Lisa, how does USA Network get such great shows? do the writers bypass the NBC/Fox/ABC/CBS and just go to USA, or do they pass on the shows? I simply can't understand why the top networks have passed on some of those shows... starting with Monk, then Psych (which I guess was copied by the Mentalist)- Burn Notice, White Collar, Fairly Legal, Royal Pains, etc. They're about a million times better than half the junk they currently show...

Hi,

I disagree in re "million times better" but let's consider some of the considerable differences between broadcast and cable. Starting with standards and practices...then, cable orders for a season tend to be  13-episodes...and seasons are split in half with months in between Season 6A and Season 6B...It gives creative types so much more breathing room/time. Frankly I think it's a miracle broadcast TV is as good as it is, given the sausage-factory schedule...

Pookie - don't you think Wipeout is the best show on TV

I have to stop watching Wipeout because I was getting so badly bruised watching it...

So, pookie, I watch the following: Blue Bloods, White Collar, Modern Family, Castle, Hawaii Five-0. I am sorta bored with them, except for Modern Family which is always top-notch. Castle is amusing at least. What should I start watching?

"Episodes" on Showtime because it's the best comedy on TV, "Mr. Sunshine" on ABC (just to see Allison Janney play crazy), "The Good Wife" because Alan Cummings is fab, new season of "American Idol" because Steven Tyler is a revelation...I could go on and on...

So Pookie, I was watching Bravo last weekend and they were still running "Countdown with Keith Obermann" commercials. It's been more than two weeks since the MSNBC debacle. Is it really so hard for NBC properties to look up their ads and remove ones that reference shows no longer airing?

lol...have you seen them more recently than last weekend? I'll contact them after this chat and see what they have to say....

I find that I liked the Tuesday episode of Glee better than the Super Bowl edition of Glee. Was the absence of Sue and the minimal use of Will a factor in this? p.s. Loved the Puppy Bowl.

Puppy Bowl was very good this year, though I miss having it produced in Washington and knowing all the dogs are local rescues. The Tuesday episode of "Glee" was in fact better than the Super Bowl episode because the Super Bowl episode was dumb.

I thought this show was a bore. Why so many glowing reviews ahead of time?

Two words: Shawn Ryan.

TV critics LOVE Shawn Ryan. They think he's the cutest boy in school....they hang on his every word and bat their eyelashes at him when he walks by at Press Tour... When one of his shows gets cancelled (Terriers), the network(FX)has to hold a telephone conference wake to provide grief counseling for the critics...He also created "Chicago Code." Hence rave reviews....

When didWwednesday become a bigger tv night then thursday. For me anyway, The Office and park and rec are the only thing. Wednesday, I got Modern Family, Top Chef, L&O, American Idol: the DVR is nuts.

Wednesday is the most competitive night on TV because, a few seasons back,  no network had control of the night and everyone sensed opportunity. It was like a vast open frontier, just waiting for some network to come in and build its strip malls. Now they're all fighting over the turf...

Third season? Yes or no? Please say yes.

I'm guessing yes because NBC has so many bigger ratings problems on its schedule...

In Tuesday's "Glee" they featured one of the gay students serenading another gay person where he worked at The Gap. The Gap employee was fired. Did The Gap have to pay for the product placement? Were they concerned about the potentially anti-gay vibe they sent out for firing a gay employee? Maybe I'm overthinking things.

If you are, you were in good company -- me! I wondered how the Gap would feel about being portrayed so nastily as having fired the guy just because one of their employees was being stalked by a whole glee club. Isn't he more to be pitied? And, more importantly, what has Gap done to Ryan Murphy that he decided to go after them like that? Did they not have his favorite khaki pants in his size?  It is a great mystery...

I don't know what it is about that guy, but I think he should have a TV on TV at all times. If he's between shows, guest spots. Or maybe he could do a talk show. I loved him on Lost, but now I love him on every other show (HIMYM, Mr. Sunshine, can't wait for Alcatraz), and I haven't given the rest of the Lost cast a second thought.

Sounds like there is plenty of Jorge to be had on these days.  I feel the same way about Cummings...networks should get tax breaks for putting him in their shows...

I think that's her name, with the nice old-fashioned feel, but is there any way she could win? I'd just like to see her stay on a while and sing some good stuff. I mean on American Idol of course.

I love her voice -- at least the 30 seconds I have heard of it so far, but I tend to fall in and out of  love with Idolettes in the course of the season. Except the Adam Lambert season. He was my pick from the get go. I'm still mourning his second place finish...

I am not a fan of police shows: I could never get into Law and Order, NCIS, CSI, (were there other initials). Yet, I enjoy Blue Blood. It seems less a "cop" show than a family show with some building ongoing intrigue about a brother's death. I like it. Also, if it matters, I do agree with you on The Good Wife, which I consider more a lawyer show than a cop show. But it seems to have some of what I stated above: it has an ongoing story with good characters.

Blue Blood is doing well for CBS in its Wednesday tryout, which is not great news for "Defenders" which had been in the slot. CBS TV stations want the strongest shows possible at 10 weeknights because that's what powers viewers into their local newscasts by which stations live or die financially...

Why doesn't NBC cut costs and get rid of the rest of the cast on "30 Rock" and devote the half hour to Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey?

Wait a minute! You want to get rid of  Kenneth the page? And Tracy Jordan? And Jenna? I admit Liz's writing staff could go but I draw the line at Kenneth, Tracy and Jenna....

Hey Pookie, last week a questioner compared BBT with King of Queens, to imply the show is "dumb" humor. My question is why do people think that watching NBC's comedies make them intellectual? It's not like you earn a PhD watching Community? It's a sitcom! I just hate the superiority many viewers show because they have a different taste in humor.

I'm guessing it's mostly guys you've heard this smugness from since NBC's Thursday comedies are a niche-guy play -- except of course "The Office" which chicks also watch because the looooove Pam and Jim (gak)..Are you talking about their old "well, you just don't get it" line of defense? When I was a tiny girl, my mother taught me to say to nasty boys who were bullying me,  "Your epidermis is showing" ...strangely, it always worked. They'd turn beet red and run off. I suggest you come up with some variation on that to us  to reply to those who try to intimidate you over your fondness for "Big Bang Theory." ...

I didn't make it to the end. I like Matthew Perry. I found Allison Janney surprisingly funny, but the love interest just turned me off. Why don't I like her? Please let me know. But I nearly actively dislike her.

I hated her in "Joey" but then I hated everything about "Joey." Didn't think much of her in "Better Off Ted" either. But, strangely, I'm not hating her in "Mr. Sunshine" and Allison Janney is the best crazy I have seen in ages on TV...

I was looking forward to this show, but it suffered from trying too hard to include too much. (Just like Matthew Perry trying to be writer, exec producer, and actor.) Am I being unreasonable in expecting a sitcom to divert from type (Allison Janney could have been a tough Murphy Brown instead of a pill-popper nutjob) and still be funny. Modern Family does it perfectly.

Just keep reminding yourself how much better "Mr. Sunshine" is than, say "Better with You" or "$#!* My Dad Says." Not every show can be a home run. I'd say "Sunshine" made it to first based. Or is that a creepy metaphor?

I liked it - this is the first time I've been excited about a network show in a while. Do you think it has enough staying potential to warrant watching regularly?

Very soft opening -- around 9 million viewers off of a "House" leadin of 12.3 million..Let's just say  I have not yet brought my black dress to the office so as to have it in ready to attend Fox's phone wake/grief counselling for "Chicago Code."  But it's not a great start...

LdM, Can we all agree that the word journey is the most overused, schlocky word in reality TV today? Everybody talks about their journey, my journey to American Idol, my journey to stop hoarding, my journey to find the perfect shoes, my journey to blah blah blah. Ack. It's driving me nuts. It needs to be banned from the airwaves, unless, the networks will agree to refund me 5 cents off my bill every time someone uses it. How do we get this word off the air?

We need to start a movement. And can we also try to get the word "mythology" banned in all discussions about drama series? I'm sick to death of "mythology"...

I thought this show was good with a lot of potential. But I never saw any mention of it ahead of time. Is FOX trying to set low expectations so it will seem like a big hit?

If you have not seen any mention of it ahead of time, you are not driving past all the billboards in Los Angeles and you maybe do not watch a lot of Fox shows, because they were promoting it heavily on their own schedule. I think I even saw a promo or two during the Super Bowl, but maybe I just dreamed that. Anyway, despite the fact it's just the latest in the long line of comedies about guys just trying to cope with the harpies they're hooked up with, I found it fun. The British actor from "Love Actually,"Kris Marshall, who is in the show, is terrific. You may have figured out by now that I tend to watch shows for individual performances as much as for overall good-ness.

yes, get rid of the rest (except maybe for Kenneth). I find both Jenna and Tracy unfunny and obnoxious. And since we hardly see the writing staff, it won't be much of a loss. But yes, I had the same thing cross my mind last night while watching 30 Rock - make it the Tina and Alex show because the rest is just blah filler.

getting lots of love her in this chat for the idea of culling the herd on this show...

Did the 30 Rock ratings get any better during the later airing times? It's one of the only things I have to look forward to, Pookie, and I'm afraid of what kabletown might do to it...

Be afraid -- be very afraid. Sadly, "30 Rock" seems unable to grow a larger audience than the one it's got, no matter where NBC puts it on Thursday night, because no matter where they put it -- it's still on NBC!

This was precisely my reaction too, Pookie! I sure hope the Gap didn't PAY for a product placement that was this unflattering. Or maybe it was revenge because Gap was approached by "Glee" but refused to pay? Inquiring minds want to know.

DOes Gap have a tune "Glee" wanted to cover and turned them down? That's my other theory.. Or maybe one of the bands that turned "Glee" down on a request to cover one of their tunes, instead sold the cover rights to the tune to Gap for a commercial. The conspiracy theories are endless. I love conspiracy theories and I welcome any and all anyone cares to contribute...

If "Mr. Sunshine" performs well, is that the end of "Cougar Town"?

I hope not because I like "Cougar Town." There, I've said it. My vote is to cancel ABC's Wednesday comedy "Better with You" which is just dreadful...

Why wasn't that the focus of the commercials?!?! I'd watch thirty minutes of that woman drinking coffee and paying bills. Way to bury the lede, network executives. Sheesh.

In this case she's drinking whiskey, popping pills with Spanish writing on them and tossing small children into the path of oncoming clowns... and I agree she should be more heavilyfeatured in the promos for the show...

 

If Conan can't beat Jon Stewart, how long will TBS give him before pulling the plug. I just can't believe how bland this guy is! Other websites rarely bother to post a Conan clip, which is the complete opposite of Stewart, who always gets a clip posted from that night's show.

I would like to go on record saying I really like Conan. That is I think he's capable of being great. Like in his show that ran after "Tonight Show" for, what was it -- 17 years? Brilliant. And during a writers strike -- fantastic. And on "Tonight Show" that final week when he's resigned and didn't give a darn -- wonderful. ANd during his Not Allowed to Be on TV (or whatever it was called) Tour -- hilarious... Even hosting the Emmys he's awesome. I don't understand why he isn't cutting loose and going for broke on his TBS show....

If February is "sweeps" month, why wasn NCIS a clip show this week?

I think I am not getting your question. Why would a popular show do a clip show during a sweep week?

Did you say that "Human Target" is getting cancelled? I'm not thrilled with Ames a lot of the time, but I've enjoyed the last few episodes I saw.

The "Human Target" season finale was this week. This is not a good sign...

Are there other television show stars that would cause such great losses to their networks bottom line if they lost a major star? Its mind boggling. Please post a picture of Winkie. Congratulations on the new family member!

Drat, I forgot to get Winkie photo  to include in chat this week. Will do that next week. Just picture a little grey Ewok and that's pretty much Winkie... Meanwhile, any show that has one central figure would be in the same pickle but the issue here is that he's the star of the No. 1 comedy on TV....that's a big financial hit for CBS if it goes off the rails...

My 11 year old daughter welled up when the purple girl from NC was sent home packing with her 11 bags but I was doing a silent happy dance that she (Victoria?) and her creepy stage Mom were out. You have wisely schooled us in proper ways to express displeasure at American Idol (throw soft rolls at your TV at an angle) but, how do we best express sheer delight??

By spreading your happiness and joy on this chat with us all. I too was thrilled they unloaded her but I thought they did  because she wasn't the right "type" -- just like the accountant. They were NEVER going to let an accountant be a finalist on "Idol" so why, why, why did they give him a Golden Ticket to Hollywood (or, more accurately, Pasadena, where "Holywood Week" is held)

Hey, Pookie: I'm looking forward to seeing Keith Olbermann's literary wit and acerbic commentary resurface on Current TV. Do you think he made a good career decision joining a fledgling cable network and should MSNBC be worried?

MSNBC seems to be hanging in there without Keith. ANd as to the career move, it depends on his equity stake, I think....I always enjoy watching Keith move from network to network... And I'm anxious to see what other shows he's going to exec produce...

I have decided, in total frustration, to stop watching network series like Harry's Law, The Good Wife, Gray's Anatomy, Private Practice, etc. because of the absolutely unacceptable number of advertisements decimating these programs. Have there been any studies made tracking the percentage of time devoted to advertising? Is there any popular movement, for example, a call for boycotting programs that have become merely advertising vehicles interspersed with occasional dramatic (or comedic) content?

Ad clutter is a big big issue because it's a) annoying and b) messes up storylines...But, Pookie, you need a DVR. You will be much happier. In these difficult times, being able to solve such an annoyance as ad clutter seems to be to you with one easy purchasing DVR seems well worth your money. Think of it as much cheaper than a shrink...

The first 10 minutes of Mr. Sunshine was painful for me to watch. Not funny at all. What is the buzz on this show?

I thnk people want to like it because Matthew Perry is a talented guy. But it's not all that it should be. Maybe it gets better in subsequent episodes...

I realize they are probably trying to attract a much younger audience than oldsters like me, but I've been a faithful fan and the last months have been very disappointing. Story lines are odd and often not that funny. Does anyone agree with me? They cast is talented, but they are not being shown to their advantage. I understand that Will Farrell will be a guest on 4 shows. I hope it's soon - I am losing interest.

This show has run out of gas. It's nothing new -- happens to shows all the time that stay too long at the party... Ricky Gervais is suggesting they hire Will Arnett to replace Steve Carell which I think is a terrific idea and maybe will bring some new creativity to the show. Or not. There ought to be a law that shows can't last more than four seasons.

All episodes of "Glee" are dumb. I don't understand the appeal at all. Horrible people acting bitchy for an hour. And the ruining of great music. Write some original songs!

They haven't the talent or time to do that. And yes, everyone on the show has, at some point, been varying degrees of awful -- I no longer know who to root for.

 

Is it wrong that I can't wait until the day Justin Bieber is on Celebrity Rehab?

and I thought I was cynical....

The more I watch and think about their ads, the more I laugh. Are people really that sensitive that you can't do a juxtaposition between the oversensitivity of bleeding heart liberals and money grubbing free market conservatives?

I love those ads -- did you notice they've responded toe the criticism by adding lines at the bottom of the screen directing people to a web site to contribute money to help save the rainforest, whales, etc... I'm out of time. See you next week!

In This Chat
Lisa de Moraes
Pulitzer Prize winner, Peabody recipient, Medal of Freedom honoree -- Lisa de Moraes is none of these, but she is an authority on the bad direction, over-acting, and muddled plot lines being played out in the TV industry's executive suites. de Moraes worked for a decade as the television editor at The Hollywood Reporter, the entertainment industry trade paper, where she was routinely on the receiving end of more shouting phone calls from TV suits than Paula Abdul's manager.

When she upgraded to The Washington Post in 1998, a well-known executive producer called to suggest she have someone else start her car, but her trenchant writing (and refusal to use words like "trenchant") earned her the following praise from the brilliant, handsome media observer at Slate: "She writes like a wicked bitch." Wikipedia has called her "a noted television columnist," but they're often unreliable. It's pronounced "deh more ICE."

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