New fall shows, 'Idol' news, 'DWTS' and more -- The TV Column Live with Lisa de Moraes

Sep 24, 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 this week's poll:

I am sure you immediately had your television repaired so that those who have their knickers knotted will understand why you said Elmo was orange. That was your excuse wasn't it?

Hi! There is a raging debate among people who read the TV Column in re my use of the word "orange" to describe Elmo. I always thought he had a sort of tomato red-orange personality, but I have been overruled and the majority has spoken. Red it is...

Over/under: Number of episodes before it's canceled -- 13?

Actually "Outsourced"'s performance was okay. It's "Lone Star" we have to get ready to say goodbye to. The creator blogged yesterday literally begging people to watch next week's second episode on Fox, on Monday. TV suits were surprised Fox didn't kill it after one episode -- it only clocked about 4 million viewers off a "House" leadin of nearly 11 million. That is a disaster. Sounds like Fox is giving it exactly one more week to find an audience. Bye Bye!.. Also faring badly in Premiere Week:  ABC's  "The Whole Truth"  and NBC's "Chase."  Both Bruckheimer shows, BTW. Seems Bruckheimer shows don't do so well off-CBS.  But, I have digressed. Back to "Outsourced," which came in second among 18-49 year olds in its Thursday 9:30 p.m. timeslot and averaged more than 7 million viewers. Here's a little secret: what network suits really look for in a show's first outing: retention of leadin audience. And "Outsourced" hung on to 88 percent of "The Office" leadin (8.4 million). Anything over 80 percent retention is considered good.


I'm catching up on my DVR and finally saw "Hawaii Five-0." I have a new guilty pleasure. I can't even call it craptastic, I like it that much. I would call it cheesetastic but I don't care.

I've had a crush on Alex O'laughlin since he had the unfortunate timing to star as a vampire before it was uber trendy. I've only seen pics of Scott Caan, but he's a new crush already. Add in a Lostie and an actress who seems to be making a career of reimaging iconic male characters as women, what more could I want?

Please tell me it got good enough ratings to last.

I've got the theme song going in my head now, as I write that "Hawaii Five-O" is one of the new season's better launches so far, easily winning its Monday 10 o'clock timeslot among 18-49 year olds -- the hot blondes of Madison Avenue -- and in total viewers (14.2 million). That includes beating highly hyped return of "Castle" on ABC which had a whopping 21 million viewer "Dancing with the Stars" leadin audience, while "Hawaii" had a "Mike & Molly" leadin of half that. And "Chase" on any other network but NBC, would be called a trainwreck with its audience of 7.3 million in the hour.

Was that the worst kept secret in television history concerning the "new" AI judges? What's your take? If their trying to get younger, how does a 70-year-old rocker make sense? Was Perry Como not available? How about the bubble man, Lawerance Welk ?

Rocker squirt Steven Tyler and popster J-Lo was such old news. The real news in Wednesday's announcement -- and it was pretty big news -- is that Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine is taking over as permanent in-house mentor. This guy is a big deal in the music industry. They're throwing out the "If it's The Second Week in March It Must Be Country" format and each singer is going to stick in their genre of choice from week to week with Iovine working closely with each to see who can and who cannot be burned into a money-making machine for his company which had the new recording deal with "Idol"...Yes, we're going to get to see the sausage being made in the great sausage-making factory that is the music industry. I'm already excited...

I need to know which new shows are going to make it, and which shows are probably going to be cancelled. It looks like "Lone Star" will disappear, and "The Event" will stay around. Any others (also, any new shows I SHOULD be watching)?

Yes and yes, on your two observations. Also looks like "$#*! My Dad Says" will stick around on CBS's Thursday lineup, but don't get too attached to ABC's "My Generation." "Nikita" launched well and the threshhold for success on CW is so low I think you can expect that to stick around. The two Bruckheimer non-CBS shows -- "Chase" and "Whole Truth" staggered out of the gate, and JJ Abrams's new "The Undecovers" was unimpressive in its first outing, though it's really hard to launch a new show at 8 -- even if everyone from the Church of JJ tunes in. It averaged about 9 million viewers and got whomped by CBS's moved "Survivor" (13 million) on Wednesday night.

Ugh, it's sad to see a truly great show fall so far. And I'm pretty sure Ted is the "best man" at Rachel Bilson's character's lesbian wedding. You know, because it's funny to have a "best man" there to show what they're giving up.

gak! I haven't watched it yet and am sorry to read this report..I'm focused this week on watching the new shows and what advertisements they've attracted...

I missed this on Wed night and I wanted to see it, mainly because of Rob Morrow. I think I've had a crush on him since Northern Exposure. I'm hoping to watch it online this weekend, assuming it is online somewhere. Is the show any good or will be be canceled quickly and I'll have to wait for him to show up in another series?

If you like Morrow, you and your friends need to step up and watch or it'll be gone. I am morbidly fascinated by this whole phenom of people waiting to watch a show because they don't want to get invested in something that might be cancelled quickly, but the very fact they're waiting is what kills the show.. It's interesting!

The internet asked me to take a survey about (I can only assume it somehow knew I was an 18-34 year old white male, and thus count more than everyone else), and I told them the website needed more of you (and Steve Pearlstein).

I love you 18-34 year old white male --  and not in a creepy way. In a "thank you for your support and enthusiasm" way..

How much longer do we have to pretend that J.J. Abrams is good at what he does?

I guess about as long as people pretended that David Kelly and Steven Bochco were gods in the industry, long after they'd lost their mojo...

I've got "$#*! My Dad Says" in the office pool as the first series to be cancelled in the new season. I think I''m going to be a winner!!

Nope. you're not. I'm guessing the lucky person who picked "Lone Star" is gonna win...

Last night's Community must have been off-putting to newcomers - it had too much stuff only an old fan could get, including the plot line. Is this one time a network suit could have helped a show out and advised them to be a bit more conscious of bringing in new people?

This show really grew on me over last season, to the point I watched it over TBBT last night, and your chatters who gave it short shrift last year should give it another chance.

Hey -- I have really great news about Thursday nights. Turns out, you really DO still want comedy on Thursday. You just don't want NBC comedies! I think you've landed on one of the reasons why. CBS moved "Big Bang" theory to Thursdays last night and it bagged a whopping 14 million viewers. At 8 o'clock. Which is even better than last season's debut when it was in familiar territory on CBS's Monday comedy lineup.

In the same timeslot, "Comunity," the show you mentioned, averaged 5 million viewers. Oh, and "Big Bang" got more than double the "Community" rating among 18-49 year olds that NBC says it the only audience it sells to advertisers any more. Younger and older viewers can tag along, NBC doesn't mind, but they don't much care.

BREAKING NEWS ALERT: one of my numbers sources just phoned. The last time NBC -- the network that used to OWN comedy on Thursday nights (remember Must See TV)-- managed to attract 14 million viewers (Like CBS's "Big Bang Theory" just did last night) with a comedy on Thursday night, was -- wait for it -- 2004.....

I read a bit about the latest Joaquin Phoenix-David Letterman exchange and am fascinated by the intellectual property issue. If I'm reading this right, Casey Affleck et al were okay to use Phoenix's Late Show appearance when making a documentary. However, they are different licensing issues involved with a fictional film. Now that they've admitted the whole thing was a hoax and therefore a faux documentary, Letterman suggests he needs to be paid for that licensing. Whether Letterman is kidding about wanting money or not, is it true that they might owe people money now that they've revealed the film is not a documentary?

I don't care whether he's right or wrong, Letterman smells ratings and publicity and I'm hoping he milks this one for weeks and weeks and weeks.

I loved watching Phoenix squirm on Letterman's show the other night when Letterman kept drilling in that he is owed a million bucks and Phoenix needs to get his lawyer out to work it out.

When Letterman's mad, he's brilliant.

I love the new Fall television season. My favorite show is "Hawaii Five-O" which surprised and delighted me. Instead of new actors reading scripts from 40 years ago, they re-invented this series and packed it with entertainment and intelligence. Do you enjoy this season's new series?

Yes I do. But, I admit, I love every Premiere Week. It's just interesting to me, like Fashion Week is to people who cover that industry, even when the clothes are awful. I'm marveling at the success of Jim Belushi's new "The Defenders" for instance. It pounded Jerry Bruckheimer's new "The Whole Truth" Wednesday night. Did you expect a Belushi drama to pound a Bruckheimer show?

Watching Hasselhoff dance was like watching Skeletor trying to do the cha-cha. It might have been interesting to see if he could improve, but it was kind of scary.

Not half as scary as Margaret Chow and her batwings, in which she got (deliberately, she says, calling it a "joke") twisted,  were annoying.

Now that Jeff Zucker is jobless, will you let him come to your house and watch TV with you?

You know what I love best about Jeff Zucker. That he is so relentless. He was gonna get CBS's great story this morning "below the fold" as they say in the newspaper business, if it killed him. So, the day CBS nukes NBC out of the Thursday comedy business, ending its decades-long reign, Zucker choses to announce he's leaving NBC Universal when the Comcast deal is done... he really is brilliant, I've got to hand it to him.

Three months ago, I began to hear about "The Event."

Four nights ago, I watched it.

Two weeks ago, I bought into the hype and decided to give it a try.

Three days ago, I read all the morning-after reviews of people who felt as knocked around the time-space continuum as I did.

Eight minutes ago, I decided the "Others" were probably form an alternate universe and I should just stick with "Fringe."

Three days from now, do you think anyone is going to watch the next episode of this show?

Tough question! Seriously, I had trouble staying focused, but I've been covering Colbert's testimony, CNN chief "departure" and Jeff Zucker's announcement simultaneously today so my head is spinning. Anyway, in answer to your question -- I think -- "The Event" got off to a good start, particularly given that it's on NBC which has very few programs on its own lineup now have enough viewers to be effective places to promote new shows to lots of eyeballs.

"The Event" averaged about 11 million viewers and -- more important to network execs -- about doubled its "Chuck" leadin (5.8 million viewers). That's a big success for NBC. But the real test with heavily serialized, conspiracy dramas is the third week. That's when people who are a little confused, or trying to decide whether they want to make the time commitment, usually decide whether to hang on for the ride or cut bait.

You told a wonderful story about Those Who Cover Television singing "The Patty Duke Show" theme at an upfront.

I just want to share that I sing along with the theme song from "The Big Bang Theory" every week. Somehow it makes me feel really happy to do so.

I think we should have a sing along of that tune at the end of one of our chats. Everyone can sit in their cubicles at their offices, or wherever they are at 2 p.m. and we'll all sing the theme song. I'd seriously do it -- they already think I'm nuts here so I have nothing to lose....

Fell out laughing for most of the show. Loved the sheer stupidity of an entire family trying to raise Princess Beyonce. Any chance the show survives?

I hope so but,man, is Fox ever having a lousy Premiere Week when it comes to new shows. I loved the first episode -- huge Plimpton fan -- and so did 7.3 million other people . But it's "Glee" leadin averaged 12.5 million people and that's not a great retention rate. On the bright side, "Lone Star" really really tanked on Fox -- 4 million viewers -- so they'll make that the virgin they throw into the ratings volcano and work like little beavers trying to find a way to get more people to watch both "Raising Hope" and "Runnign Wilde" that followed it to a crowd of about 6 million.

Well, I just love the Clooney-esque lead guy on "Lone Star" and loved the show, too. That is, right up till the moment that he decided to marry the second woman. I mean, I can only suspend my disbelief so far. Do you think Fox will break up with this series or stay wedded to it?

They're already estranged, nearly separated, and divorce could follow quickly...

Oh, I wasn't talking about ratings. I just meant because it wasn't very funny and was borderline racist/stereotypical humor.

Yes, there has been a lot of debate about that. I haven't done that much cringing when watching a pilot since I watched the last episode of Fill In Name of Any Comedy Central Scripted Series.

Especially loved the references to Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, or as Liz called her "that woman on the Food Network whose husband is only home on weekends so she spends the rest of her time eating and drinking with her gay friends."

No shark jumping here imho.

I loved it too. Only it got under 6 million viewers and just under 3 percent of the country's 18-49 year olds,  while CBS's new "$#*! My Dad Says" in the same tie period averaged a timeslot winning 12.5 million viewers and nearly 4 percent of the country's 18-49 year olds. Imagine, NBC's once Must See TV Thursday comedy getting pounded by a retro show like Shatner's new CBS one.

I feel guilty, but I'm actually glad it's going to be canceled. It was the only new show this season I had any interest in whatsoever, but I just don't have time to keep up with a new show.

Now that is the first time anyone on this chat has fessed up to THAT....

Hello? What about using CGI to insert a turtleneck onto Katy's dress?

Modesty would be preserved and Katy could still bond with Elmo.

I'm still trying to get my head around the idea that people objected to Perry's dress, which looked like your usual 20-something's party dress. Apparently there are a lot of people using YouTube who don't get out much. Oh wait....!

Remember when Jeff Zucker did the intro to My Name Is Earl? That was awesome.

I remember it fondly....

Do you have favorite Jeff Zucker success or catastrophe to share? I think Jay Leno at 10 p.m. is mine.

Oh yes. "Good Morning Miami" which was a thinly veiled Jeff Zucker autobiography cum sitcom. It was so deliciously bad.

Hey, Pookie: With "Mad Men," "House," "The Good Wife," "Inspector Lewis" on Masterpiece Mystery and, now, "Boardwalk Empire," my TV dance card is heavy and full of dramas.

Convince me that, beyond "30 Rock," there are any comedies worth my time and space on my DVR.


I'm a fan of "Big Bang" -- though I thought they'd broadened it out too much for last night's episode which I assume has something to do with moving it to Thursdays and getting some viewers who were new to the show. And I loved the first episode of Fox's new "Raising Hope" and urge you to check it out. Martha Plimpton is always worth watching and hopefully, they will kill off Cloris Leachman as crazy grandma after the third episode -- let the email campaign begin...

I tried to record as many pilots of new shows as possible which was hard considering premiering everything in one week! Any word on what is likely to be the first show to get cut? That will help me prioritze my tv catch up watching this weekend!

Watch "Lone Star" because it may be your last chance...

Best comment hands-down, from Ann Curry on Today yesterday, in reference to Katie Perry's breasts: "I think kids have seen those before."

Good for her. And, it wasn't "breasts" people saw in the video. It was "cleavage" -- and not much of that.

First of all, I love watching country singers trying to do rock or disco on "American Idol." Secondly, won't the show be the same week after week if each contestant only sings his or her type of music?

It will be a duller format. We can only hope Iovine will bring more drama. And of course, Tyler may be due for another stint in rehab....

Really, the only reason I watched the show was to kill the half hour between Big Bang Theory and CSI (though I am a longtime Trekker). But I was surprised to find myself laughing much more than I expected. The best line was Shatner complaining about people trying to do impressions of him. I love that man's willingness to laugh at himself!

Shatner is fearless. This was the second pilot shot for the show. They re-cast the son -- thank goodness because the first one was all wrong. And, of all the shows that got re-shot, this was by far the most improved. For those of us who saw the first pilot on the Shatner show, the second one was unrecognizable...

"I'm focused this week on watching the new shows and what advertisements they've attracted..." That's fascinating! I never thought to watch TV that way but I'm going to start noticing that more!

Being a serious student of TV, you have to pay attention to who is advertising in what show and what are the new season's advertising trends. Really, this is a serious job. And yet, I can't even convince my family....

Lisa, CBS needs to do two things, both related to the rebooted Hawaii Five-O:

One, they need to eschew maybe one commercial and use the full theme music, not the cut down version currently in the opening credits.

Two, they need to make that rebooted/re-recorded theme available as an audio download -- I'd buy it, happily!

Otherwise, the pilot was pretty entertaining (and I am old enough to have watched the Jack Lord original as a kid).

I loved the ending touch of the preview for next week -- Grace Park's "Be here. Aloha." -- no one seems to have mentioned that, that was a Jack Lord thing too.

I admit, I got kinda choked up when I heard that line and also the "book 'em, Danno"...I'm a sentimentalist.

Pookie, I know you've sarcastically wondered how Alex O'Loughlin got another shot at a TV show, but he is one very good-looking man. I hadn't realized that until I watched Hawaii Five-0, which is actually not that bad. I think I will stick with it, mainly because O'Loughlin is h-o-t and the bromance is funny. Maybe CBS agrees that he's too good-looking to drop...

For reason I cannot explain, he has been given a membership card in the Leslie Moonves Repertory Theater which means that, like Simon Baker, they will keep slapping him in shows until they find one that works. But given the results they finally produced with Baker on "The Mentalist" that's apparently a good strategy..

Who wouldn't want ALL of them to show up? Congress would be so thrilled. And on that note, can't they bring say Fred Astaire back from the dead to testify? Didn't he sweep while dead?

No, he vacuumed while dead --  and I will never ever ever forgive his widow for that. Meanwhile, it appears that, next to Steven Colbert, who testified this morning before a congressional subcommittee and made C-Span the hippest network on TV, the celeb you most want to see testify on the Hill is Alec Baldwin (as Jack Donaghy on "30 Rock") on the NBC-Kabletown -- er, Comcast merger. Which is great, because that's my pick too. I'm sorry that the merger is expected to go through by the end of this year because Baldwin's bits in "30 Rock" about Kabletown have been brilliant ...

Oh noes! I really liked "Chase" - I don't know why (other than I also like L&O CI and SVU, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, White Collar). But I was really into it.

The good news is it's on NBC, which has so many problems on its schedule it might not get to this one for a while...

Get thee to cable. This is a good show. David Keith was cast perfectly

I don't know if it needed to go to cable, though that would have been a good idea, but it definitely does not belong on Fox. It was never a Fox show and I was very surprised when they picked it up. Even in this day of everyone being their own scheduler, what with DVR, Hulu, blah, blah, blah, there is still such a thing as right show on the wrong network.

I even hate the previews. They were awful, and something about that actress makes her difficult to watch. I think it's the way she talks and the facial expressions.

She looks like a blonde halibut who has had a lot of bad things done to her in her life by other halibuts...


What were the numbers on "The Defenders?" I rather liked it.

12 million people watched it live on Wednesday at 10...

The premiere was execrable. Does this show redeem itself in any way or should I write it off now with the bad taste it left in my mouth?

No, it's going to be just another of those inexplicable comedy successes on CBS -- like "Rules of Engagement," speaking of bad taste left in one's mouth...

Considering how much marketing and promotion CBS put into Hawaii Five-O it seems there was no way the debut could do poorly. Will it hold its audience is the big question.

I saw some air-headed Access Hollywood type anchor say the other day that the show is called Hawaii Five-O because Hawaii was the 50th state!

Stupid me, I always thought it was because Five-O was shorthand for police.

two words for you pookster: "Undercovers" -- oh wait, that's one word. Anyway, NBC spent a bajillion dollars in marketing and promotion on that one and it did not open big, despite its JJ-ness...

What about Shatner as Denny Crane on tort reform?

Glenn Close as Patty Hewes!

I'd pay money to watch Shatner take on congress....

Even my husband refused to watch "Lone Star," declaring that he could never care about the flagrantly cheating lead character. This is network TV, after all, not some boutique production on premium cable that can survive with a small paying audience.

I'm not sure who we are supposed to root for in this show. I thought they were trying to make the lead guy sympathetic -- under his dad's thumb, really hates who he's become, blah, blah, blah -- and then he goes and commits bigamy, and he lost me.. wonder why Fox suits didn't get that.

I actually watched "Community" over "Big Bang Theory" last night. I won't be making that mistake again. They just basically told viewers that the end of last season didn't matter and reverted back to the way things were. Come on! No more Betty White, and no more Twitter jokes!

Yikes. I've got it DVR'd but it does not sound pretty... I'm out of time. have to get back to Zucker and Klein sagas. See you next week. 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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