The TV Column Live

Mar 19, 2010

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes takes your questions about the drama, comedy and heartbreak of the world of television -- both onscreen and behind-the-scenes.
Take today's poll:

"Siobhan Magnus is from Cap Cod. Her very large family looks like a Where's Waldo picture."

Please explain/elaborate. I don't understand the reference.

Hi. I said that because hers is a huge family and they looked kinda Siobhan-ish, and the shot of them came and went so quickly I found myself  madly looking to see if she was in the shot or not..... Okay, it seemed like a good idea at the time....

Why did he quit? Could he not handle the vulgarity and excessive violence of this show?

Thank you for this question!

Yes, that's it -- his conscience finally got the best of him and he quit to go work on his squeaky clean stand-up comedy.... My theory is he could not handle the suspense, wondering day after day after day what TBS is going to do with the show. They are still saying it will return in the fall of 2010. On the bright side, it was reported this week that Rachel Harris is joining the cast, playing Mike's love interest, Marcia.  Which means that  "coming back in the fall"  does not mean "dead which all serious students of TV know is one translation. ..and sorry this is taking so long to answer questions.  I have been having trouble getting questions into the queue...

Is 30 Rock really in a position to be making fun of NBC's financial troubles? Seems like Tina Faye & Co. are part of the problem, what with their low ratings and all.

Excellent point -- despite all its Emmys, etc., this show does not pull in a broadcast-sized audience. And yet, Fey's skewering of NBC is so hilarious,  I don't care if she is part of the problem. This show really speaks to me, because I'm covering all this nonsense she's skewering. Watching this show is, for me, like sitting in a bar getting fractured with another Repoter Who Covers Television and swapping horror stories..

I thought "Flash Forward" was going to be a remake of "The Dukes of Hazzard" told from the POV of Roscoe's dog, Flash.

(Spoiler alert!) It isn't.

Maybe it would be doing better ratings if it was. ABC had to try really really hard to come up with a show that stars Joseph Fiennes but that I actually can't watch -- and yet they did it!

So what is our theory on Seacreast - 1) he's trying to goose the ratings by creating faux drama with Simon because otherwise there's not a darn thing going on with this show this season; 2) he's trying to tank the show now because he knows next season will be similar to the Titanic after the iceburg without Simon; or 3) he's having a nervous breakdown?

I think he's a) starting to buy into his own press that he is a Big Stinkin' Deal -- bigger than "Idol"...and b) trying hard to establish himself as the star of the show. I noticed -- did you as well? -- that Seabiscuit got a whole lot less airtime during the auditions portion of the show this season. They focused a lot more on the Idolettes and there was a lot less of See Ryan Horse Around with Auditioners. I think he's not happy about how little the show is focusing on him and he's making sure that changes. Have to say, he did a great job this week! For those of you who missed it, Seacrest stormed off the stage and down to the judges's desk and got up in Simon's face after a comment Simon made and Simon had to push his chair back and Randy said it was "very hostile" and it made about 20 million people watching very very uncomfortable, if my reaction is anything like everybody elses, which it usually is.. much of the on-air conflict between Simon and Ryan do you think is staged (a la professional wrestling)?

They go back and forth from snapping at each other to being totally courteous and professional...within the same episode.

I can't believe that any two people could successfully navigate that emotional range that quickly...unless they were totally insane. What do you think...all a put-on?

No. I think Seacrest is out of control and Simon at times snaps.. My theoryis that Seacrest's new contract with the producers has him drunk with power... .

"Flash Forward" wasn't so bad last night. Is there any chance of it being appropriately wrapped up in one season?

Really? I have not watched the episode yet -- it's at the bottom of my "to watch" list. What happened? Give me cause to hope -- please!

I'm a huge Idol fan that hates the show...yes you read that correctly. I feel like all this "controversy" is just a way to drum up publicity for faltering ratings.

Every week is the same thing (and has been for years). Every Tuesday morning EVERY media outlet carries a fake Idol news story, the show airs Tues night, then Wed morning EVERY media outlet again carries a story on how something "crazy" happened Tues night with the hook Wed night so you can see the resolution of the drama.

Ugh. Same cycle every year. I'm done with it. I watch the performances on youtube after the show airs. And the banter between the judges is so scripted it's becoming a joke.

Sometimes the judges' responses to the contestants are so off-base from the reality of the performance that it is clear they are advancing the above news story cycle (or contestant storyline) already planned by the producers

You are not the only one who subscribes to this theory -- you are in good company. The only point I'd take issue with is in re the off-base response to performances. We have heard from the judges many times over the years that they thought a performance was very good and then when they watched it back on the feed that went out to viewers they came away thinking it as not good.....I take them at their word.

Hi Lisa - Remember when Seabiscuit would preclude each AI results show with some remark about the in-cred-ible number of votes they had recieved? You know, something like, "last night a record 33 million of you called and texted in your votes...." Such braggadocio is absent this year. Are the voting numbers so far down as to be hushed?

I think they usually did not get into that blather until right around now in the season. That said, once already this season they bragged they'd gotten 27 million votes I think was the number, then stopped reporting numbers. I too am deeply suspicious...

I heard that they are going to cancel the show and replace it with a series of TV movies to give the fans closure. Is that true?

Let's write those TV movies for them -- one for each character and the last one for fans who have been waiting patiently for something that may never happen... A Greek tragedy of sorts. Starting on a dark and rainy night...

Pookie, I love the Good Wife. But I think it is jumping the shark already and I want to scream. The latest episode is playing out a which-man-will-she-pick storyline. I hate it because it is so soap-like (think Grey's Anatomy) and one of the reasons I admired Julianna Marguiles' character is that she was NOT being written that way. Thoughts?

Yes, this is usually the kind of nonsense shows get into in the third season -- during sweeps -- when they've run out of ideas. Will they have to change the name of the show from "The Good Wife" to "Put Upon Wife Looking For Comfort in the Arms of Another Man"?  I'm just happy Alan Cummings is guesting -- he is always worth watching.

This show is getting very good. I love Alan Cumming and think he's a great addition. And even with Chris Noth out of jail this new finding religion angle is pretty interesting. What are your thoughts on the progression of this show? I hope its a definite pick up for next season!

Oh, it's definitely coming back next season -- count on it. But any time a show gets "religious" I'm outta there...

Stars who think they are bigger than their shows have a questionable future ahead of them. Is Seacrest George Clooney or Shelley Long?

Ryan Seacrest has totally done Shelley Long -- I love that!

It's back! Yea! But for how long? I thought NBC had it axed. Are the current episodes a vault-clearing thing or did someone at NBC get a good idea to keep this show going?

Pookie, having cancelled  "The Jay Leno Show" and moved all the "Law & Orders" back into the 10 p.m. timeslot, NBC is now pulling every episode they can find out of their Cancelled Closet to help fill all the holes on their schedule.


Glorious Pooklekins, How can ABC expect people to get into a show like Flash Forward (that has a premise interesting enough to get me to want to give it a chance), but not make the full season available online? A "catch-up" episode before the inaccurately promoted "premiere" this week doesn't really cut it.

If you're going to have a show that kinda sorta requires people to, you know, WATCH every episode, you need to make those episodes available somewhere. Same thing with "V." It seems like all the networks have decided that only the most recent five or six episodes will be available for online viewing. That makes sense, I guess, if you have a self-contained-weekly-episode kind of show - but how on earth do they expect new viewers if they're not even willing to meet us halfway?

ABC is the worst offender, they've made entire seasons of LOST available - why can't they follow their own precedent? For what it's worth, HBO, Showtime, etc. seem to understand this concept.

You are preaching to the choir. But what they REALLY should have taken away from the "Lost" experience is that heavily serialized, paranormlish shows, that tend to draw obsessive but very impatient viewers, should never ever ever be put on the schedule until they can run from the season's star to its finish, without interrruption to get out of the way of Winter Olympics, etc. This may mean starting a show in the first quarter, like "24" and running an original EVERY SINGLE WEEK until the season ends. If  "FF" and "V" do not work, ratings-wise, ABC suits have no one to blame but themselves...


Premiering soon, is it worth watching?

Hey -- I'm having coffee with the executive producer when this chat is over. He apparently read my coverage of the show's Q&A session at Winter TV Press Tour 2010 and wants to explain in person why Jeremy Northam was seated in the back row, where he was surrounded by the show's other I-don't-care-about-them-cast-members-who-think -they-are-rock-stars, while the writer and producers were hogging the front row --  like they were the rock stars...

Or Katherine Heigl or now Amanda Seyfried. Actors really don't get where their bread is buttered.


When is it starting, this fall or next?

In the fall and, hooray, I will be blogging it -- I like to think of it as  "American Idol: Fall Edition"....

I LIKED Ryan Seacrest the first couple of years. He was kind to the contestants, seemed like a really nice talented guy smoothly running a difficult show. Now I think he should manage the show in a Summer's Eve T-shirt.

And speaking of T-shirts -- love how he matches the seriousness of the show with his outfits.

He should be wearing a T-shirt advertising feminine hygiene products? I'm not understanding his character development as you have described but I'm guessing it's supposed to be a slight. Anyway, yes, I like seeing Seabiscuit in bespoke suits when it gets down to the final 12 -- nobody can deny he's a very natty dresser and I, frankly, love seeing men in gorgeous suits.  And, speaking of nice guy Our WaPo TeamTV Totally Unscientific Poll  this week -- hope you all will vote -- suggests 80 percent of America also prefers him as  Nice Guy....hope someone from the show is with us on this chat...

Actually, Paula Abdul seems to have gone that route.

Okay, so Paul gets to be Shelley Long. Who, then does Seabiscuit get to play? David Caruso: the 'NYPD Blue' Years?

Why would she want to take the Sunday AM job at ABC? Did they offer her a boatload of money more than CNN was paying her? Does she know which ones are the Republicans and which ones are the Democrats? And will the airlines go out of business without her constant globe-hopping?

I have no idea whether it was the money, or whether she wants to do less globe-trotting because she is a mother, or what was her motivation. But in re "does she know which ones are the Republicans and which ones are the Democrats" I want to point out that she is an extremely intelligent, capable woman,  and --  with all due respect to the hosts of  the Sunday Beltway shows --  this is not rocket science. And, in conclusion, I want to make it very clear that I  think it's terrific that ABC has gone out of the  Hail-Fellow-Well-Met School of On-Air Talent to fill this slot....

I realize he's very good at what he does, but he's SO tightly wound! His smile never reaches his eyes, and he just seems like a huge bagful of desperate ambition. That stare-down with Simon was so uncomfortable. Can we vote him off?

Yes, I will get another poll into the blog on that. Your description is spot on...

That was a spiffy Rosslyn station that they showed the other night. If only our stations looked like that, with the futuristic trains to boot. Also they drove from Capitol and E to Georgetown in 5 mins. Is this possible? I give it to them, the streets were dark and traffic-free. I have a terrible sense of direction so I have no idea. But at least it's a real intersection!

Though I was yelling "NE, NW, where are you?" at the screen. I assume NE. Looking at a map, I see it's on the border so it doesn't really matter. Obviously I am not a DC native.

Okay -- you are being WAY  too literal.  In the pilot episode, they were riding a bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles, where no bullet train exists.. Heck I don't even think there's an Acela train from SF to LA....But is the train-issue on "Human Target" really anywhere near as bad as the swimming-under-the-White-House gag on "24" last season?

Lisa, in this morning's article I didn't see a start date for Christiane Amenpour with "The Week."

Did ABC announce that?


I LOVE Alan Cumming!! I love the whole cast of "The Good Wife" and think that we're safe from a predictable affair. It looks like both Alicia and Will have agreed to put their feelings back in the closet. No shark-jumping. Maybe they just wanted to make sure (duh) all the viewers got that there was something kinda between them.

Okay, I'll forgive them. But they have to stop scaring me by walking right up to the edge of show-killing storylines... I can't take the strain...

She talk funny

Are you one of the Nancy Naysayers who wonders why ABC went with Amanpour because she's does not have a distinctly American accent? Between now and August I urge you to watch  Craig Ferguson's late night show, "Lie to Me," -- and, of course,  "American Idol" --  to get over your fear of accents....

The previous poster knows that we are talking about Christiane Amanpour and not Christina Applegate, right? I never thought I'd hear someone sincerely doubt if Amanpour was smart enough to host This Week!

I love your theory.  But maybe Amanpour will get Applegate on one edition of the show, as a roundtable guest... I'd watch that...

I hate The Goodwife because they are filming on my street this weekend and now I won't be able to park. I was happy that Ugly Betty got canceled because of the same reason.

(I don't really wish them harm, I just like to complain)

Oh, I feel your pain. I live very near Georgetown Cupcake and my life has been a living hell ever since TLC announced they were doing a show about the store. Do you have any IDEA how hard it is to park in the area now?!

Ooo...I like him. What show was that again?

"Miami Medical" on CBS. Debuting soon. I must warn you,  based on the pilot he seems to be playing the token old person, like CBS procedural show always seem to have -- like David McCallum on "NCIS." On the bright side, he does take his shirt off in the first episode and maybe viewer response will convince CBS that he needs to be the star, rather than the 20-year-olds who primp their way through the pilot episode.

How far do you think she'll make it? Will she voluntarily leave to get away from the makeover madness, or will we watch her succumb to the lure of fame and riches right before our very eyes?

She will get far enough along and then, hopefully, not win, so she can go out and have a brilliant career which the winners do not have any more. These days winners are always Beige Safe Rocker Guys, like David Cook and Kris Allen. My money's on Lee Dewyze....

It seems so odd to have all these shows suddenly returning after the Olympics hiatus. I'm learning how little I missed most of them.

You are part of a very large group of viewers and it has the broadcast network suits getting the vapors...

All together now: "Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the wild frontier."

ON NPR last night they played the WHOLE song. I was in the car and I admit I sang along. But I did not know there was a second, third and fourth verse. I always learn things when I listen to NPR...

Pookie, is Glee on the verge of overexposure? The WH Easter Egg Roll AND Oprah AND the tour AND now maybe Broadway?

Yes. Make it Stop. Please.

Jim Gaffigan? FWIW, his stand-up isn't really that dirty at all. It's mostly about food. Hot Pockets!

I know....but really, announcing he's leaving a TV series to focus on his stand-up career -- like he couldn't do both, given that they only ordered 9 episodes of My Boys. Paleeze.. that was about the lamest explanation I've heard ever for someone leaving a show..

Pookie dearest, which is going to garner higher ratings this spring, "Dancing With The Stars" or "American Idol"? And do we want Kate Gosselin to leave early, or stay on to torment poor Tony Dovolani, yielding even higher ratings?

"American Idol" but it will be close. And apparenly all the polling shows Gosselin -- star of Silver Spring-based TLC's "Jon & Kate +8" -- to be the first voted out. Apparently a large swath of the country does not like her. "Why do you think that is," she asked sweetly.

Sometimes they come back, like David Caruso and his sunglasses. Can't you just see Seabiscuit, in 2018, in "CSI: Galveston"?

No, but I can see him in "CSI:Hollywood"....

Are you ready for the show where people have a minute to do something goofy to win money? I'm rooting for the guy who wraps himself in an unbroken stream of toilet paper.

Yes, I had been in training  ever since it was announced and I think I got through the debut rather well. I only threw up my hands and cried "How long, God, how long?" once...

There, I said it.

Dunkleman -- they should bring him back. Poll: still 80 percent of America prefers Nice Guy Seacrest to Raging Bull Seacrest. Are you listening, Ryan? I'm out of time. Thanks for sticking with the very slowed-down chat today. Bye.

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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