The Latest in TV with Lisa de Moraes

Feb 01, 2013

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes discussed all the latest in TV news - on and off the screen.

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Thoughts on the finale? I have to admit I lost interest after the first couple of years, even though I love Tina Fey.

Series finales are hard -- almost as hard to do as pilots -- in the former writers are always tempted to wrap things up with  a neat little bow, and in the latter they have to set the stage and introduce all the characters. Usually, what works best is to toss out all those rules -- like the St. Elsewhere finale which is still the best ever, followed by that Newhart series finale. The "30 Rock" finale was okay, little treacly, but served its purpose... but then I never lost interest in the show...

Is that what happened to this show? It started out so promising and I enjoyed the first few episodes. Then, all of the sudden the plots began to get extremely convoluted and the show seemed to suffer from a sever lack of joy.

Yeah, it seems highly contageous over at CBS, this "CSI"-pox....

Hey Te'o, your 16 minutes are up already. Just admit that you have feelings for this guy so you can move on....even Gomer Pyle came out and got married!

Did you see Dr. Phil's interview yesterday with the guy who perpetrated the fraud -- Ronaiah Tuiasosopo -- who still insists the voice in the phone calls with Te'o was his?  If you missed it, he steadfastly refused to speak in the "female" voice to Dr. Phil and left viewers feeling he was not telling the truth and protecting someone else who participated in the ruse....

I spend all of my money on Satellite TV, Pookie. How do I get "House of Cards"?

you subscribe to netflix

Hi Lisa. First of all, I love your columns. You frequently make me laugh out loud. I watched the season finale of "30 Rock." Thank heavens for Netflix, because now I want to watch all 7 seasons. No, I'd never seen "30 Rock" before last night; lash me with a wet noodle. I can understand why critics loved it and why audiences (sorta) shunned it. The writing was smart and the wit was quick. Which doesn't mean all TV audiences are dull or slow-witted, but watching such a show requires an intellectual commitment that one isn't always up for. What do you think?

I think it would've been a called a hit had it clocked these numbers (about 4.8 million last night for series finale) had it run on HBO ....Unfortunately it aired on NBC during that network's sad years and so couldn't be hammocked between two hit series for protection. If your only experience with "30 Rock" was last night's show and you really are going to watch all 7 seasons, you're in for a treat, because last night's finale was most definitely not its best work...

Jack's idea of the clear dishwasher was sheer genius. I would so buy one.

Me too, I'm sorry to admit I thought as I was watching the episode.... But then, I'll watch a cat watching a fire in a fireplace....

Just wanted to say hello! My Outlook calendar reminder re: "weekly Friday conference call" just came up again. :-)

Hello! We are, of course, going to address the U.S. adding 157K jobs in January on today's conference call, in case your boss asks

 

Lisa, unless you were trolling for page views, explain how you can honestly state that Jon Stewart "shot himself in the foot". Other than letting Costas sit on a stack of phone books and make himself even more insufferable, Stewart did nothing of the kind. He doesn't choose what commercials run during his show, you know.

No, but he knows they're coming, as he specifically said the next night on the show, when he told his guest they were going to take a break for some violent programming ads.. Leading Costas down that path with that question was dicey, as illustrated when Costas immediately launched into his argument about not being able to throw a brick on TV without hitting a "Bullet to the Head" ad -- Stewart's show had just come back from airing such an ad... note Stewart responded by turning it into a joke, thereby letting the air out of that conversation....

I'm all Te'o and Ronaiah'd out. Next scandal please.

accepting applications....

Which one do you watch Pookie?

Both. The beauty of Puppy Bowl is that it's recorded ages ago and Animal Planet starts running it before the game....

On NPR, they called it the show most responsible for the ending of Must See TV on NBC Thursday Night. Was that a good thing, or a bad thing?

Jeff Zucker was most responsible for the end of Must See TV on NBC Thursday night -- not "30 Rock." Shows aren't responsible -- executives are. And, if you want NBC to remain a robust broadcast network, it was not a good thing. Which is why Bob Greenblatt has said, to the chagrin of TV critics, that NBC is looking to "broaden out" its Thursday lineup. He later modified it -- when critics began to make shrill noises of protest -- to, looking for "more inclusive" programming or something like that...

Hey, Pookie: What did you think of the "30 Rock" finale last night? Did it satisfy you? Have the right amount of humor and irreverence?

I thought it was good -- not  for-the-record-books brilliant, but good. I'm happy.

Oh goodness no, St. Elsewhere was one of the worst finales.

sorry, pookster, but it's generally acknowledged to be one of the very best series finales ever -- as evidenced by the fact people are still talking about it...

I bet Stephen King doesn't earn that for his latest book!

I haven't counted but my guess is you're right!

I am going to watch it, knowing full well that there will never EVER be another Francis F.U. Urqhart. I'm thinking it's going to be a Prime Suspect redux (then again, we are all talking about it, so score one for Netflix, I guess)

NBC already did a Prime Suspect redux. It was dreadful....

If you can't subscribe to Netflix, try downloading it via bit torrent.

thanks for that advice to satellite subscriber

I heard 30 Rock was going to have every single guest star it ever had on the finale-- I was really geared up to see Michael Sheen's Wesley Snipes make a return-- so I guess my expectations were too high. No Matt Damon, no Jon Hamm, no Edie Falco (who would've made way more sense than Pelosi); also, it would've been nice to see Rachel Dratch in the finale- but I guess Fey napalmed that bridge already.

you mean like how "Lost" producers promised they were going to answer all our questions in the final season and then didn't?

I agree w/ you Pookie St Elsewhere finale was very good if not ground-breaking. How about MASH as best ever finale. It's ratings would bear that out also don't you think. Or Cheers finale, loved that one.

All good...but St. Elsewhere was best because we didn't see it coming...

Apparently no one watch it. Does it really suck that bad? Should I try to catch one before it goes away just for the yucks?

Don't bother...

Live chat tech difficulties, elimination of Emily Yahr function, and Celebritologist Jen sudden exit - can you blame me now for panicking if your upcoming chat isn't listed or gets cancelled? It's like the 10 seconds between when I wake up in the morning and confirm my 14-year-old dog is still breathing... However, I hear Wikipedia is raking in oodles with their on-line "please contribute" banner. Any chance the WaPo chats could get such a button? I'm never going to buy a WaPo subscription, but I (and I bet a lot of others here) would happily donate a honking amount if there was a "click-and-donate" feature. (I'm surely not the only overpaid lawyer here reveling in my hour of snarky escapism!)

I have those same few seconds some mornings, except I'm trying to figure out where I am and who I am...does that count? Meanwhile, hoping your 14 year old dog is doing well....and thanks for joining us in the snarky escapism hour

Downloading Netflix's copyrighted material, outside of Netflix's site, would be illegal. You weren't just advising a reader to break the law, right?

I was trying to stay out of it...

I loved The Sopranos. Don't know if I'm in the minority on this one but I liked the mystery at the end not really sure what happened. Seinfeld's was terrible. Any thoughts?

Seinfeld's was The Worst Ever -- because our expectations were so high....even Larry David has proclaimed it a disaster area, I think...

I loved St Elsewhere! But for the life of me I can't remember the finale....synopsis, please.....

Finale revealed the whole run of the show tohave been a fantasy in the head of  Westphall's autistic son... a humdinger of an ending

I just wanted to say Thanks again for continuing to chat with us.

absolutely my pleasure....thanks for joining us.

For me, it was Newhart, when Bob turned on the bedroom light and said to Emily that he'd had the weirdest dream about being a New England innkeeper. I don't think anyone saw that coming.

also great!

THat's exactly my point- it's trying to fit a square peg into a round hole when trying to translate British shows into American markets. Prime Suspect, Coupling, Spaced, the Office (deal with it), Downton Abbey (it's gonna be a trainwreck if it ever gets greenlit); the adaptations tend to be AWFUL.

On the other hand, some are brilliant, like "All in the Family."

We were talking at work the other day about how back in the early 90s... and the 80s... ABC/Disney would, perhaps once a month, do a movie on Saturday/Sunday night. Eisner would introduce it, through in a little joke or two, while sitting at his desk. Whatever happened to family stuff like that? Lost out due to $$?

One of the problems for broadcasters with the Sunday movie is that, as the audience became more fragmented and the nets had to ratchet up promos for their series, the movie gobbled up too much promo time... the franchise had to be sold every single week to those people who only watched when the flick was a title in which they were interested, or the star that week, or whatever.  Networks instead decided to fill Sunday with more easily sustained franchises -- aka series,  like "Desperate Housewives"

" elimination of Emily Yahr function." Wha? Huh?

Not sure what that chatter was referencing there.... Emily's not either, but is anxious to know if that person knows something she doesn't know but should...me too. We await your response.

I think by that standard, the ending to "Newhart" is the best ending ever. I thought it was better than "St. Elsewhere>" By the way, do you disagree that the ending to "Seinfeld" has to be the worst ever?

I'm willing to entertain the newhart show ending as being tops too...and totally on board the Seinfeld finale hate-train...

Yes, that finale was terrible. It was essentially a clip show. (I think of the last true episode as the series finale.) Larry David reunited the cast on Curb Your Enthusiasm as a do over.

Thanks for reminding us of David's make-good!

I watched the first episode this morning. It was pretty good, but I really don't like it when characters talk directly to the audience. That only really works on the stage.

It's a device that was used in the British original, where it worked beautifully...

30 Rock is available on demand. BBT isn't. So, sorry Tina.

excellent point. CBS wins.. sorry Tina.

Mash was the best. Cheers was a good one...though it could have been better.

Cheers was okay, MASH was fantastic and remains one of the most watched program in American TV history when measured in terms of the percentage of the population  watching...nearly 80 percent of the country watched that finale...

Best-done example of breaking the fourth wall: George Burns on Burns and Allen. Runner-up: Rocky and Bullwinkle. Yep, I'm old ... and nostalgic.

No apologizing needed here...

Ugh. I'm going to have to sit through another year of this? That Mother better be worth it.

My money's on Lily.  Marshall meets with some tragic end, Dad marries Lily, the kids are his stepkids... any other theories?

I usually run a week or two behind on my shows so imagine my annoyance when I was reading a story on the WaPo health page the other day and noticed a link on the side to another story on the health page discussing the death of a major character in Downton Abbey! The name of the character was right in the title! I thought I'd be safe from TV spoilers in the health page. You really need to educate with your colleagues in that section on TV etiquette!

I can't speak for our health writers, but that character died six months ago in the UK and there have been press rep0rts on it ever since... More importantely, as I was  writing yesterday about Super Bowl ads being released early, I was wondering why no one ever complains about all those spoilers ruining their Super Bowl viewing experience... and I swore I'd ask the next person who complained on this chat about spoilers how they feel about all the Super Bowl ads that are "leaked" in advance of the game.. and, you're it! Does that bother you too? I'm not being snarky, seriously want to know...

How I Met Your Mother! Oh wait, they are still beating that dead horse. Never mind ...

I think next season really most sincerely will be the last... Jason Segel wants out...

Hasn't Ted referred to her as "Aunt Lily"? I know he's referred to Marshall as "Uncle Marshall"...

details, details...

Quick comment....hating this season.

you are not alone, if that helps....

I always hear that a show's ratings did really well last night because the episode was so good. But the viewers didn't know it was going to be good. In other words, MASH's finale being fantastic has nothing to do with its great ratings for the night. What am I missing?

MASH was such a phenom in its day...I can't think of a show that's on now that holds the same place in the cultural zeitgeist... It was a very very big deal when that show ended. Also there were not nearly so many viewing choices...

By even posting an illegal method for obtaining House of Cards, you tacitly encouraged it. Not cool, sorry.

I will ground myself for a week...

Lisa, How shocked were you when Lady Sybil bit the dust? I liked her the best of the 3 sisters. Edith is starting to grow on me now.

I was very surprised when it happened in the UK six months ago.. I was not surprised when it happened in this country... it's a small world. I don't know when I've seen smaller...

I know I'm in the minority, but I hated the last episode. I think I was already annoyed that the last couple of seasons had turned into The Alan Alda show, and that last episode was the most reeking example of it. Absolutely hate Very Special Episodes when comedies think it's OK to turn into melodramas.

Yes, the show went on a couple seasons too long.. and many of the original cast members had left, which is one of the reasons the show was so tightly wound around Alda at the end...

A few seasons ago Ted said that he married the roommate of Rachel Bilson's character. Lily was already married to Marshall, so it's not Lily.

you guys are intent on wrecking my theory... what if they're in a parallel universe? Or the smoke monster shows up? or....

Two and a Half Men. I don't care what it is, but if it means this show is finally over and forever more dead, then it will be the greatest episode of TV ever.

You mean it will have done the greatest public service? I'm with you...

Quick comment from someone who's seen them all--it gets better. Eps. 6 7 and 8 (the last three before the Christmas one) are really, really great.

thanks!

HA HA HA Did you ever think you'd write THOSE words, Pookie?

no. never.

It can't be Lily because there have been flash forwards showing Marshall and Lily still together and Marshall's a successful environmental lawyer and everyone's living the 'burbs.

drat, drat drat! My only hope now seems to be the smoke monster...

Perfect ending: Bob Newhart wakes up in bed next to Pam Ewing while Bobby and Emily are in the shower together.

thanks for that nightmare I'm going to have tonight...

maintain the integrity of the show. Newhart was great because it was the same half hour as the entire series. MASH was an excellent TV movie that wrapped up the show with the war, but the final half hour episode (the Time Capsule) was also good. Roseanne was bad because the characters changed.

golly, I don't even remember the Roseanne finale...

Hi Pookie, When I was a young kid, about 10 or 11, my parents got a dishwasher and I wanted it to be see through so I could watch what was going on inside. I wish I would have know that that idea could make me CEO of GE!!

I had the same thought when someone stole my idea for a celebrity diving series... well, actually my idea was a celebrity autopsy series -- close enough...

The answer: ‘How I Met Your Mother’ back for ninth season. The question: "What is worse than nails on a chalkboard or the sound of a dentist's drill?" for $600, Alex.

it has gotten old, hasn't it? But CBS very much needed it back if it was going to be able to sustain a Monday and a Thursday comedy block, once "Partners" crashed and burned and "Friend Me" plunged into limbo with the sudden exit followed by sudden death of one of its creators...

Who are your picks for Sunday's Puppy Bowl?

I'm going with Blitz, though I reserve the right to change my allegiance based on game play...

I cannot wait!!! Puppies! Kitties! HEDGEHOGS?! YES PLEASE! Do you plan to watch? This is honestly probably my most favorite thing of the year because it negates the overall masculine feel of the day when you see grown men squeeing over the bowl cam! ;)

I remember introducing Puppy Bowl to a Super Bowl viewing party and got same reaction...

Pookie, really? Really?! Cripes. Let me teach my dog to talk and maybe she can get a talk show too. She's smarter than any of those K-bombs, despite licking herself clean each night.

Unless your dog's name starts with a K and ends with Kardashian, never gonna happen...

Pookie, you look fabulous! Where did you get that outfit? I remember remarking to a friend a few years ago that I was glad my funny, smart, cynical niece, who wants to be a actress/writer, was coming of age during the reign of Tina Fey. Now Tina is off the air and the heir apparent to Power TV Woman and role model is Lena Dunham and that seems like a huge step backwards for female persons. Can you make me feel better about this?

Hope this helps:  Tina Fey has a deal with NBCUniversal for four years in which she will create a new show...

Dear pookie, why? Why carry on with this show? It hasn't been consistently good since its 3rd season. I don't understand why its ratings have gone up in its later years. It's like the decline in quality attracted more viewers. And yet I keep watching, and I honestly can't explain why now.

You answered your own question: ratings good (it's also CBS's youngest skewing show) and, as I mentioned a minute ago, CBS's two new comedies for this season both crashed and burned, for various reasons, leaving the network needing to bring back HIMYM in a big way...

One of the local stations where I live has started broadcasting early episodes of the Simpsons, and I cannot say enough how brilliant those shows are. So sad how far it has fallen.

In its defense, it has been on the air since 1989....

Why, oh why did Mick Jagger et al need to sell the rights to Sympathy for the Devil to be used in a Mercedes Benz commercial? They can't need money. It doesn't even make sense!

sad, isn't it?

What Ad are you looking forward to see?

None of them, I don't think, since I've already seen most of them...it's like I opened all my Christmas gifts four days before Xmas... what a letdown Xmas day is going to be... guess I'll just watch more Puppy Bowl...

Pookie, will you be my Valentine?

love to....

Hey Pookie! I can't be on the live chat, but I wanted to know if you caught Suburgatory Wednesday night. The B story was, primarily about her having doggie depression and George's ability to cure it. It was great! Hopefully, we'll continue to see the cute pooch in the season's remaining episodes. ...Also, given that The B was cancelled, and Happy E, The Middle and Neighbors all suck and are doing pooly in the ratings, how does that bode for Suburgatory's fall renewal?

odds looking good once ABC yanked other comedies... and I too liked the canine story line...

Good Gawd what happened? Is she the latest victim of plastic surgery gone wrong? Or way too much sun and too little UV protection? Her body is still in great shape, but her face is so wrinkly and crinkly for 50 years old

If you think her face is wrinkly and crinkly then probably it's not owing to plastic surgery...what did you think of Kevin Costner's face?

Hi Lisa, Let's say NetFlix's "House of Cards" turns a reasonable profit AND drives in new customers - will the regular ol' networks follow suit by producing a whole season and laying it out there all at once? Will they wait and see how "Arrested Development" shakes out? What's your take on which TV Executive Impulse wins? The impulse to play it safe by doing the same thing? Or the impulse to "borrow" someone else's successful strategy?

no, because it's a different model, at least it is now.. Broadcast networks have stations to support, and ad time to sell, etc...

So the Puppy Bowl will include hedgehogs as cheerleaders or some such nonsense. I've never met a hedgehog---do they demonstrate feelings of affection, or better yet, do they emote complete disdain, as garden-variety terriers often do?

Apparently they're cranky at childbirth....

Is anyone else as distracted by Courteney Cox's face as I am? It is so, so awful. I wish beautiful women didn't feel the need to do that to themselves. Or at least that they hired a decent plastic surgeon so that they don't end up looking like bloated corpses.

no comment...

The Divine Ms. deM: I'm not a big Jimmy fan, but the "Matt Damon" takes over show was great. Now, if Kimmel could just keep Andy Garcia on board, and Nicole Kidman as a permanent guest - I'm a regular listener. Was I the only one who thought Robin Williams had an off night?

I liked Williams that night but he was performing a very specific function that night -- though, for the life of me I can't remeber what it was. Oh yeah, he was delivering opening monologue gags for Damon... Nope, I thought he did great... did not mow down Damon, which was just right...

I admit I teared up a teeny bit in the final minute or two, and I liked some of the conceits -- especially where Kenneth ends up and who Liz's kids are like --, but I had hoped for more a biting farewell commentary on TV and US culture in general. Did I miss some zingers? Also, Jenna's farewell song was a puzzler -- was there some hidden message in it?

Farewell tune was an inside gag....I too was expecting more zingers and less 'sweet'...

Are we allowed to talk about how awesome the premier of "The Americans" was ? Or is this chat only for network programs ?

1) FX is a network

2) Viewers don't distinguish between broadcast and cable networks. They just watch shows.

3)All TV discussion welcome here

So talk away about the awesomeness of "The Americans" launch!

Now, I'm the exact opposite. I really like my series finales tied up with a bow rather than thinking outside the box. I like closure on all the main story lines, even when that is totally unrealistic. And I really hate when they leave you hanging, not knowing what happened afterwards.

Then you liked the "30 Rock" finale? I'm out of time. we can pick up this thread next week. Thanks for joining me!

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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