Lisa de Moraes' TV Column Live: American Idol Top 9, A second season for 'Smash' and more

Mar 23, 2012

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes chatted about the about all the drama, comedy and heartbreak of the world of television. See below to see what questions readers brought up and what Lisa had to say about in response.

- Find everything Lisa de Moraes:
Lisa's Blog
- Lisa's Column
- Lisa's Chats

Follow @PostLive on Twitter

The teenage son on V. The teenage son on Terra Nova. Now the teenage son on Smash. All were/are just plain awful and grating, and I can't decide if the acting or the writing is at fault. Maybe I've just forgotten what it's like to be around sullen teenage boys.

I applaud and subscribe your decision to spend as little time as possible around sullen teenage boys. But aren't there any non-sullen ones, or is that a hormonal impossibility? TV writers do love their stereotypes -- sassy/finger-wagging black chicks,  stupid old people, etc. and I'm guessing this is another case in point. Anyone out there a teenaged guy, or parent of such?

I know ABC is positioning "GCB" as the replacement for "Desperate Housewives" but frankly, that show seems really stupid. Any chance ABC would plug in "Revenge" at DH's old time slot?

GCB is fumbling about a third of DH's leadin audience and DH is going away because its audience is considered too weak to continue the show at its current cost.  So GCB is nto a slam dunk for the timeslot, though that was clearly what ABC was hoping for when it scheduled GCB on Sunday nights... We'll have to see how ABC's development pans out over the next few weeks.

I loved the blind auditions, but have found the last two episodes disappointing. It's nowhere near as compelling, never mind that they're almost always choosing the people who look better in tight clothing. Did this show do the same thing last year? I'm not sure I want to waste my time on it next year, although I'm probably in the minority.

Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels the judges work hard to make up for lost time after the "blind" auditions by picking people with lots of emphasis on their looks. It's not really "blind" if you get to "correct" the blindness of the auditions during the next round of competition when viewers do the voting. I'd like to see the judges spend their whole time in power being "blind" and then let viewers take over... because we know viewers don't vote based on people's appearance, and only on their vocal abilities, right? Oh, wait....

I was trying to figure out why they broadcast the discussion with Jermaine rather than just make a brief announcement, which actually does sound more humane to me. Then, several minutes later, they're doing another anomalous extended bit in which they present a barrel of crawfish to Joshua, the lone remaining black contestant, involving giggling girls from the audience, Joshua demonstrating how they're eaten, etc. I couldn't help but wonder if there's a connection. There were so few black contestants who made it to the final 24 this year that I wondered if the subtext was to show they weren't prejudiced against African-Americans. Then they underscore that several minutes later by orchestrating a light-hearted moment in which they bring the lone remaining black contestant, a gift that surprises and delights him. Your thoughts?

Lots to discuss here! First: they had the "confrontation" with Jermaine rather than just announcing his departure on the episode, because it's "good" TV. Anyway, it's good reality TV. And "Idol" is in a deathmatch this season with NBC's "The Voice." But I'm not reading so much into the other antics as you, maybe because this show has such a good track record of "casting" minorities, though, yes, this season the cast seems whiter than usual. The've added a lot of kitschy elements to the show this season - I'd filed the crawfish gag under "Kitsch", alongside this weeks' performance of "Happy Birthday" by Tyler's Aerosmith pal Joe Perry....

Pookie, As a life-long connoiseur of television, I have stopped watching Glee. I am fed up with how the show has so blatantly become simply a vehicle for selling music and other products. The plotlines and characters are so inconsistent and pointless, I am offended. Whatever happen to TV for TV's sake? I know, I'm a dinosaur.

TV for TV sake is not a time honored tradition -- remember cigarette brand and other products embedded right into episodes of old TV series, like George Burns' show? and Kraft Theatre? Think os "Glee" as returning us to the Golden Age of Television, with all its selling of product in programming.

Has "The Middle" been victim of any fallout from the bad press one of its stars got recently? We swore we were done with it, but it really is a funny show, so we couldn't resist watching it. BTW, can you make sure someone nominates "Sue" for an Emmy this year?

For those of you who missed it "the Middle" star Patricia Heaton got some flack, and apologized for having tweeted some nasty stuff about Georgetown student Sandra Fluke, who testified to a Democratic Congress panel  about having the Jesuit school's heath care program include covering birth control. Among the things Heaton tweeted were a suggestion that "Georgetown Gal, please let us also pay for your Starbucks" and another tweet suggesting that if Fluke's parents have to pay for her birth control maybe they should get a say in re who she  "sleeps" with...ayway, it does not seem to have affected the show's numbers...of course Heaton did delete the tweets....and, yes, Eden Sher should have received nominations for her brilliant turn as the daughter in "The Middle" since its debut. In fact, the show has the best kid cast of any series on TV -- including, BTW, the sullen teenaged son.....

Someone told me that they are doing an office spinoff that stars Rainn Wilson and takes place on Dwight's beat farm. This can not possibly be true because a network would never greenlight such a horrible horrible horrible idea. Say it ain't so, Lisa!

I can't say that because it is in fact true...think "Green Acres"....gak.

How's it doing?

"Missing" clocked 8.7 million viewers last night, behind only American Idol. Demographically, yes, it appears to skew old-ish.

From ABC:

From 8-9pm opposite American Idol, ABC’s Missing finished as the 2nd most-watched TV show for the 2nd week in a row, topping CBS’ NCAA Basketball coverage by over 1.5 million viewers and more than doubling the audience (+142%) of NBC’s original comedy block (Community/30 Rock).   The ABC drama also ranked as the #2 regular program in the hour to Idol with Adults 18-49 and Adults 25-54, while taking second overall with key Women (W18-49/W25-54).  ABC’s Missing qualified as Thursday’s 2nd-most-watched scripted program, topping all 4 of NBC’s comedies and the drama Awake at 10pm, and trailing only Fox’s Idol-driven Touch premiere.

You mentioned that CSI NY might be cancelled this year. Does it really get fewer viewers than the one in Florida? I have a hard time understanding that! Actually, maybe they could take this opportunity to take the better actors from both shows, and form one new, better show. Or, put all the bad people together, and then it will fail ever so quickly, so we can put it all behind us.

Yes, "CSI: NY" numbers are pretty lame these days. But it's not just about ratings. Think of it as a big "X"...the line that starts at the top left is the ratings. As a show gets older, that line heads down. The other line that starts at the bottom left is "Cost" and it goes up as time goes by, mostly because cast and writers, etc. want raises, and Gary Sinise can't have been cheap to start with...At the point where the two lines intersect -- after that, the show starts becoming a "loss leader" for a network. This of course is oversimplified, since these days networks also own the shows they air, so they make money in syndication, overseas sales, Netflix deals, DVD sales, etc...

In last night's show, I think it would have been entertaining to show the editors of this week's Lame Ford Music Video springing into action to recut the footage to remove all traces of Jermaine Jones in 24 hours. (That was my first thought when it started, and sure enough, he was nowhere to be seen until the quick final shot of the entire group.) Seriously, though, how did it take the AI producers this long to find out about his four warrants? And do you think if (as they told him in the meeting) he'd come clean at the start they would have saved him? They didn't even put him in the original top 24.

I saw a story after the whole thing was over in which the producers say they will now employ a serious background check company to vet the auditioners. WHich, of course, they'd been saying they did all along, but who really believed that? And, still, I'll believe it now when I see it...

Rules wasn't included in CBS's Fall Schedule announcement for this week. What do you think the chances are that CBS will order one more season?

You can't kill "Rules" with a club. Just because the show wasn't on the list does not mean it's not picked up... It means CBS suits want to see how their development goes. But every year "Rules" is a bench-warmer and every year CBS needs the show pretty quickly. It just can't ever get any respect.....

Guilty pleasure of mine is watching Selling New York and Selling LA. Any plans by HGTV to include a new area? Love LA, but New York I'm over - all the apartments look the same at this point. Thanks!

Presonally I'd love to see a Selling Washington since it's a market that seems to hold up well even in down markets....

Which NBC show is more likely to come back next season -- "Community" or "Parks & Rec"?

Well, "Parks and Rec" has the more high profile cast, which is just another way of saying "Amy Poehler," but just this morning NBC boasted, in re last night's  "Community":

COMMUNITY is highest rated show of the night for NBC.

COMMUNITY (1.7/6 in A18-49, 3.9M viewers).

- #3 in its time period in A18-49, behind IDOL and NCAA, but tied for #1 with NCAA in M18-34 beating IDOL.  Also #2 in its slot among women and A18-34, only behind IDOL.

Here's the saddest part of the news release: at 3.9 million viewers, "Community" was NBC's MOST WATCHED comedy series last night....that's absolutely tragic, for thos of us who remember when NBC owned the night, and with comedy....

Are they really serious about an "Office" spin-off based on Dwight's life on Schrute Farms?

You betcha!

If the season starts out with decent dancers and high scores, isn't it likely we'll get bored? But I've become disillusioned with The Voice, so I kept switching back to DWTS.

Not while there's Maks! Thank goodness for Maks....he and Melissa Gilbert are getting along -- not at all. So, if it's melodrama you're looking for, don't write off this season yet....

Is the failure of OWN going to slow the seemingly endless proliferation of cable channels? There are too many choices out there (paradox of choice, yo!), and with viewers migrating to cable, a lot of my network shows are struggling!

Well, media companies have all that digital shelf space to fill, but the "proliferation" of cable channels has already "slowed." OWN, for instance, wasn't a new channel, it was a re-branding of Discovery Health.. One "network" went away and another was born....

Erika was not in my top three and I knew she was never going to win but something got to me when she and Elise were sobbing together; a pair of 27-year-olds who are just too ancient for the fans of this show. Maybe ratings are going down because the whole idea that you might watch someone develop into a great singer over the course of a season (which I do think the two of them had some potential to do) is just gone, and it's all about the madly texting tweens. I have to wonder if Kelly Clarkson would even make it on Idol now. For Deandre and Heejun to remain while a serious working singer is thrown off just seems WRONG.

Hey, DeAndre has a nice enough voice; he's just not a great performer. Heejun, on the other hand, is, like Jimmy Iovine said, a walking "bad Adam Sandler movie gone straight to DVD." But, about Erika:  Tommy Hilfiger killed off Erika this week. That black helmut hair he got her to agree to was fatal. She looked far better with the extensions the "Idol" hairdresser had added into her hair right before Hilfiger got his hands on her...I don't care what any of the judges say -- she looked awful...

After the advice from you and the pooksters about the show, I was very excited to see the first season on Netflix. Alas, Downton Alley has been in the queue for over 2 months!! since January. All the Netflix note says is "very long wait'. Is this part of the new issues with Netflix? I have had the same thing with movies, too. They come up in the queue with 'very long wait' and it's been weeks! What's happening?

I'm surprised they would have so not anticipated enthusiasm for "Downton Abbey." Are you a get-the-disc customer, stead downloader?

How was tonight's episode the "World Premier" if the first episode was broadcast last week? It's very confusing.

I assume we're talking Kiefer Sutherland's new series "Touch" here.. It's a "World Premiere" because that sounds so much better than "Second Epsiode"... And, you know, you CAN fool some of the people some of the time...turns out, 11.7 million, to be exact...Fox aired the Actual Premiere of "Touch" back in January, and re-ran it last week in anticipation of last night's Second Episode "World Premiere." I'm anticipating that next week's episode will be the World Premiere -- of the third episode....

Parks and Rec is way funnier than Community! I don't understand how it can be so highly rated... but I've accepted that it will return next year to annoy me. I've rarely wanted to slap an entire cast at one time than I do when my husband watches that show.

Here's an idea -- don't watch...

Hola. Como estas? So what do you think of Touch? Is it doing well? Also, do you have an opinion on Awake? I liked it but find the age difference between the main character and his wife disturbing. I don't usually feel quite so skeeved out by huge age differences but it just looks like a dad is cuddling his daughter when they are in bed together. I don't know if I can get past it.

  • NBC wants you to know, in re "Awake": At 10 p.m. ET, “Awake” averaged a 1.2/3 in 18-49 and 4.6 million viewers overall.  Note that “Awake” has started out as one of the most time-shifted shows on television, with the “live plus same day” rating for its premiere growing by 56 percent when Nielsen issued “live plus seven day” ratings for that week (to a 3.05 rating from a 1.96).

I like this show, especially the parts where it re-tells familiar fairy tales. Am I allowed to say that in public, or should I keep it my secret shame?

Shout it to the hills. This show is hot and okay to love...

The kid on AWAKE is actually quite good; sullen and annoying but only where appropriate. The kid can actually act.

Well, in fairness, he's got good reason to be sullen, what with him being DEAD and all....if that's not an excuse for sullen-ness I don't know what is....

Umm...I thought Glee was always a vehicle to showcase the songs. Plot and character development have always been ancillary to that premise. Someone actually had expectation otherwise?

Apparently so....I admire their optimism....

I just watched the last GLEE episode .... wow, how many 'very special episode' themes can you cram into one episode!? Gay teenage suicide & txtng while drvng

Yes, it was pretty clock a bloc with Very Special Episode-ness, though I was disappointed they did not work in a date-rape storyline....

I almost didn't watch this week because I didn't know who half the people were, but it turned out the first episode was utterly charming. It feels like the real stars are the pro dancers and the "stars" are just an amiable group of ordinary people who have been unaccountably invited to be on TV---and yet the show still works on that level.

I'm with you. And Emily Yahr, WaPo TeamTV's  "Dancing" expert, also tells me she expected to be bored with this season, but wound up enjoying the first week far more than she had expected...That said, she wants Maks to hurry up and have his meltdown.. The whole "nice" thing seems to be really hard on him.

Going to a Gtown showing at 8:30. Any thoughts on when we should get there?

Um, yesterday?

Pookie, while we agreed to disagree on the Ivy storyline on SMASH, I have to point out something. If she's been a chorus girl for 10 years, there is NO way the entire Broadway community doesn't know she's a famous Tony Award winner's daughter. Enjoyed Bernadette's guest spot, but just didn't buy it.

Preaching to the choir! Implausible storyline, bordering on the "Glee"-esque... Did you see the show's main creative person, show runner Theresa Rebeck, is stepping down at the end of this season?

I didn't get why Stephen Tyler was angry at Hee Jun. Yes, it was cheap theatrics to pull off his tux, but I didn't feel he was mocking the song itself. Besides, all kinds of AI staff had to have helped him with his little stunt, including the musicians who set up the false start on the ballad and the costumers who gave him a break-away tux. So it wasn't like he went out there and did something outrageous that no one expected.

How fun is that, that the music industry is so stuffy they can't countenance the guy...On the other hand, I loved watching Tyler finally get mad, or get anything as a judge on the show. Mostly he just tips his head to one side and say how brilliant everyone is....

Just some gratitude for expanding my communication skills. A few weeks ago at work, a colleague was trying to identify a new (younger) guy who I had mentioned by name. Once I explained the he was the guy with "the pettable hair", my colleague knew exactly who I was talking about. Thank you, Pookie.

you are welcome!

This is what I will name my band!

except it should be "beet"...unless this is a farm where they raise sado-masochism interesting!

We're talking about the network that gave us "Joey," "The Tortellis" and "Hello Larry." Pathetic spin-offs are catnip to these guys.

Ah, but that was all pre-Bob Greenblatt. He's supposed to be the high-brow programmer -- the guy who did "Six Feet Under" and "the Tudors" etc....

Does that Rainn Wilson is a rural Pennsylvanian beat farmer idea seem any worst then "Joey." Damn "Joey," since would have made more sense and better closure if Phoebe and Joey had gotten married then Phoebe marrying some rando nobody.

Okay, you guys really are going to have to explain to me what a "beat farm" is....

Hey! Green Acres was funny. Well, mainly because it was massively stupid. But other shows have been massively stupid and not funny.

A show starring Rainn Wilson definitely has the potential to be massively stupid. In fact, it hardly has the potential to be anything else. But he needs to cast a Gabor sister in it somewhere. Are there any left, or any offspring?

Maybe it's because I'm not a parent, but I find myself wanting the slap the kids at least once an episode for being self centered brats, and wanting to slap the parents for letting them get that way. Unfortunately, there are a lot of kids like them, and boy are they going to be surprised when they grow up and realize that everyone else is not going to kiss their butts like their parents did.

Pookie, you do know this is a pretend family and these are not real people, right? I too question their parenting skills, and yet find them hilarious. Maybe it's because I don't have kids that I can laugh....

I enjoy Smash, but the show has a major problem: the actress playing one of the central characters (a certain Ms. McPhee) suffers from a serious deficit of charisma and acting talent. Was her casting a stunt just to draw AI fans? The show grinds to a halt in every non-musical scene that revolves around her.

Yes, and yes... Any time you see an Idolette cast on a show it's about trying to grab some of those viewers and yes, she has a talent for bringing  scenes to a screeching halt. I used to enjoy the irony, since all the producer-types around her kept raving about how brilliant she was... then it got old...

I just can't focus on the singing on the Voice when they cut to Christina's cleavage and her ridiculous tiny hats. She reminds me of that character one of the Wayans' used to play on In Living Color. With more cleavage, of course.

I love the bedazzled platters she wears on her head. Who besides maybe Lady Gaga would have the nerve to appear on national TV expecting to be taken seriously while falling out of her dress and wearing a bedazzled plate on her head...the women's a groundbreaker...

Real World is casting for a DC version again? What? I thought we settled it that reality shows in DC are unwatchable. (and yes, I mean to include DC Cupcakes, notwithstanding its having been renewed).

the show's not going to be set here -- it's just one of the casting stops. They stopped in Washington last year too...

How long until all the girls are voted off American Idol? 4 weeks? 5? What are the odds that Heejun will be voted off before all the girls are? 50-50?

My expert on this is Emily, who is very proud of the fact she's batting 1,000 on "Idol" this year, having correctly predicted Jeremy, Shannon and Erika would be tossed....she thinks Heejun will be next to go -- particularly as he promised this week that if he survived he would do something even "wilder" next week...Emily has predicted the top 2 in this year's competition will be Skylar and Phillip -- the country vote and the scruffy white guy with big brown eyes, pettable hair and guitar vote.....

What rehabilitation center with any sense of patient welfare would expose struggling emotionally vulnerable patients to the BS which is The Situation. Shouldn't there be a special rehabilitation center for celebs so that normal people can start their recovery in peace?

More interestingly, will MTV show The Situation drinking on "Jersey Shore's" next season, when he's in rehab....

And yes, they are JUST like the characters on those shows. I'm one of those parents that can't WAIT for him to get his license next month so he'll get the heck out of the house and give his mother and me some peace and quiet!

what happened to boarding schools. I thought that's why god invented them....

Lisa: Why did NBC show two new episodes of 30 Rock last night. I know it's not a "burnoff theater" move so I don't get. And by the way, as you mentioned Milady's Boudoir a couple of weeks ago, you should know I have taken out a subscription to Wee Tots in your name.

Thank you! Always happy to meet a Wodehouse fan....

Whatever it's called, will be finally be going off the air now? For years, it's been like a fungal infection that's resistant to antibiotics.

This is the best review of 'Rules of Engagement I have EVER read....I am out of time.... have a lovely weekend. Please join me next week when we will talk about "Mad Men's" return, etc....

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."

The TV Column
Lisa's Blog
Lisa's archived Q&As
Entertainment: Television
Recent Chats
  • Next: