Oct 08, 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.

Hi Lisa! I just started watching Fringe - all caught up on the seasons and now watching it when it airs and really enjoying it!

However, I've heard bad things about the ratings - just how bad are they? Is this going to be the last season? (I can't imagine Fox would cancel it during the season, considering all their problems this year.) Thanks much!


While it's not a "broadcast" hit, it's a demographic bulls-eye and international sales were great on this one, etc...these days, ratings aren't the only thing networks haves to look at to decide whether a show sticks around. I think you're good to go on this one because Fox has already had to cancel 50 percent of its new programming -- it pulled the one hour "Lone Star" which leaves it with two new half hour sitcoms, one of which it just ordered for a full season based on pretty puny ratings and the other one of which should be cancelled but probably won't becuase it's Will Arnett and Mitch Hurwitz and they're teflon -- or have really interesting photos or something...So Fox probably isn't in a position to start messing around with shows that aren't badly "broken"...

Best as I can figure, FX's brand identity is "Smelly, Dirty and Profane." How, then, do "Two and a Half Men" reruns fit in?

Hahahaha....Oh, seriously? That said -- I did make a point, didn't I? -- I do so wish FX actually had the nerve to use your tag suggestion: "Smelly, Dirty, Profane." It would boost their young-guy audience another 10 percent.

This season has seems lackluster to me. I understand the greater focus on Jim Parsons's Sheldon since he's the breakout character (and best actor on the show). But this over-reliance ruins the dynamic of the show, as the character must engage in increasingly outrageous behavior that becomes less and less funny over time (see, Stinson, Barney in "HIMYM").

You are preaching to the choir, Pookie. I'm sure it's happening because CBS has banked a lot on the move of this show to Thursday night -- a move that's paying off big, BTW. But that means focusing a spotlight on the character everyone's heard about and seen on magazine covers -- especially "everyones" who had not seen the show before -- and also doing broader comedy to try to bring in as many new viewers as possible. I miss the old version and also hope it calms back down.

Besides the whole problem with the "Housewives" show, the problem with the DC version is that none of these are well known "DC" personalities. We would need to have some politicians or wives of politicians or Cabinet Secretaries (or former Secretaries) to make it "DC".

Oh yeah, like that's going to happen.... They took what they could get.. and, of course, we mean that in the best possible, most respectful sense of "could get"....

Are the zombies in Walking Dead SEXY zombies?

Before I can answer that I need to have you explain to me how someone can be sexy while their flesh is falling off their bones like an overcooked turkey....

This is the only new show I'm watching this season, and it seems like I'm pretty close to the only one. I have a habit of falling for at least one show every year that's cancelled in a season or less. What are the odds of this one making it through the season and beyond?

The most recent episode of "Terriers" only averaged about 486,000 people. Which, in one of those incredible ironies that make covering the TV industry so exciting, is almost exactly the same number of people who watched the first epsiode of "Parker Spitzer"! Anyhoo.....Some Reporters Who Cover Television speculate that's becasue DISH isn't carrying FX right now because DISH is in a carriage fee dispute with FX parent NewsCorp... and you thought Reporters Who Cover TV didn't have a sense of humor...

First TV couple to be shown in bed together on prime time: Fred and Wilma Flintstone. Yabba-dabba-do!

Since there's not a question in there, I will pose one of my own: What was Wilma Flinstone's maiden name?

What was with all the serious religion/mortality/parental illness and death on the comedies this week? Glee and Community? It's early in the season ... can't we enjoy a little light comedy? On a completely unrelated note, and I'm pretty sure I'm about a year late with this question, is Better Off Ted gone for good? I thought at one point I'd heard ABC was bringing it back, but haven't seen any signs of it in ages.

Hello Mr. Van Winkle!

Yes, you are about a year late on your Better off Ted question, but that's okay. Sadly, it's dead. And speaking of dead, what IS up with all the comedy storylines om comedy about mortality, etc.? I don't mind them, I just wish the storylines had arisen on comedies in which I'd like to see some character bumped off. Like "S#*! My Dad Says" and make it the sister-in-law first, please, followed by the live-in son in a Very Special November sweeps episode. And then, there are a couple characters who have stayed on well past their expiration dates on comedies like "Two and a Half Men" and "The Office" and "Grey's Anatomy." You say that last one's not a comedy? Look again....

Pookie -- I assume the ratings for the "Glee finds God" episode were lower than the "Glee fawns over BritBrit" episode. Does think mean more Ryan Murphy tribute episodes in the future?

Oh yes. For sure. Sigh. When someone has run out of storylines, they start introducing bells and whistles. I never thought it would happen on this show so soon....

When you've single and celibate and for awhile, I'll admit that even folks with their flesh is falling off their bones like an overcooked turkey start to sexy. Don't judge me.

I can't decide whether your answer made me sick to my stomach -- or hungry...

Am I the only one who thinks it's just "My Name Is Earl" with a baby?

I do too (with the very important distinction that it's My Name with Earl andThe Fabulous  Martha Plimpton)  -- and I'm thrilled....

Was Wilma Flintstone's maiden Slaghoople? Almost certain her mother's given name is Pearl, right?

Hooray! I am not alone....I love this sense of community.

Slaghoople! Where's my prize. BTW Elizabeth Taylor was her mother in the movie!

Your prize is getting to be part of the club....

I'm going with the vaguely but non-threatening "Stone." It was the 50's, after all.

Wrong... so sorry but thanks for playing...

Lisa, What's up with this show? The most popular personality, Capt. Phil, dies and then, just as filming for the new season is about to begin, three of the remaining ship captains abruptly walk. Seems like Captains Andy, Johnathan and Sig are trying to leverage Phil's death into bigger bucks for them. Smells to me like dead fish.

Neither camp is saying what the kerfuffle is about. All we know is that the Hillstrand brothers had worked on a spinoff special -- which I think was probably a so-called "backdoor pilot" -- and were scheduled to do some final work on that special but did not show up, according to the network. Then the brothers, via a lawyer, issue  a statement expressing their inability to go back to work. Then Discovery files a lawsuit claming they're out millions that they would have made on the special...a lot of this kind of thing goes on in reality TV these days -- "Jersey Shore" contract re-negotiations, the whole Gosselin debacle, etc.

So, Comedy Central and the Marines have gotten into an actual pissing contest?

This just goes to show you what happens when you try to rally to restore sanity in Washington...it's apparently much harder than it sounds

I watch all the Housewives shows and the DC one is by far the most boring and unwatchable. These are pretty shallow women who talk about politics, even though they have no clue about what's going on, and the constant talk about race by Stacie and her friend is tiresome. Watching the Salahi's host a grape-stomping party with grapes bought from Safeway was pathetic. I hope they cancel this show.

I think this one is not a slam dunk to get a renewal. FOr starters, now that the other housewives have openly declared their distain for Michaele Salahi, where do they go with her on the show? And, the show is the oldest skewing of the franchise -- in its first season the median age was nearly 40 years, which is not ideal for a network that targets 18-49 year olds, because that means half the audience is older than 40 and audiences on shows only get older as the years pass, not younger (yes, I know, it has happened at times, but it's rare)...

I really like Hawaii Five-0 so please tell me CBS will order a complete season. Scott Caan is the best part of that show. It seems to be doing well in the ratings -- what do you think? I like Castle but ABC seems to inflate its numbers -- for the past 2 weeks its ratings were inflated due to football but they fail to mention that.

I think you mean that for the past two weeks its ratings were inflated due to "Dancing with the Stars" -- not football, though I see the similarities. Anyway, for those of you who do not follow ratings obsessively which I freely confess I do -- total ratings junkie -- the so called "fast national" stats Nielsen puts out in the morning are "timeslot" ratings -- NOT show ratings. And ABC has been letting "Dancing" run over a minute or so into "Castles" timeslot on Monday nights. This is nothing new -- networks have been doing it for years with hit shows. There is nothing insidious going on here. It's just that they want to see another ad break or two at "Dancing" rates, instead of  "Castle" rates. "Castle" is doing very well this season but "Dancing" has become a big hit. But it means that the preliminary TIMESLOT numbers put out by Nieslen for "Castle" at 10 p.m. MOndays are going to have a minute or two of  "Dancing" audience in those numbers. Which means "Dancing's" audience is "inflated" until the final national numbers come out in the afternoon, in which Nielsen has weeded out the "Dancing" minutes.  Again, to repeat, ABC is not doing the inflating...it's just a function of how Nielsen works and these overruns on hit shows...

Jumping the shark does not adequately describe the fact that the Office is allegedly planning an episode revolving around the Office characters watching "Glee." What is the step beyond shark-jumping?

Speaking of shows that have run out of ideas and are pandering for ratings....I dont' know what's one step worse than jumping the shark. Jumping two sharks? Naked shark jumping?

Canceled? I was one of the 12 people who watched it, I know, but I did enjoy it

Yes, cancelled. And I hope, hope, hope you aren't also attached to NBC's Jimmy SMits as renegade former Supreme Court Justice drama "Outlaw" because that's the next one that's going to go. NBC has shut down production and will air one episode tonight and I think they have one more after that. Unless one of these two episodes pops a promising number, it's over. I'm hoping that means we're about to be treated to another Jimmy Smits nude scene ( "NYPD Blue" -- good times) --  in one of these episodes...

What's up with Bones? Dr B was showing some signs of humanity in previous seasons, but this year the character is reverting to robotic tendencies, idiotic explanations of things, and yesterday's show was awful with that silly 'guidos' theme. I'm about to give up on it. Should they just quit before it gets even worse?

I haven't seen the episode yet -- DVRd -- but the whole idea of doing a Jersey Shore themed episode seemed a little lame... was it that bad and more?

Lisa, what is the deal with the terrible new shows this year? I like to add and subtract each season so I gave a bunch of new shows a try - at least 8. And they're just bleck. And I was really excited because I love Will Arnet, Keri Russell, Melissa McCarthy, Martha Plimpton, and Steve Buscemi. And last season I got hooked on a whole bunch of great new shows - Glee, Community, Modern Family, Cougar Town, the Good Wife.

This year I couldn't even make it through one episode of most of these shows. Only one show, No Ordinary Family, even made it to a second recording. and I'm kind of luke warm on it. So what happened? I really thought we were on a quality programming roll.

You're not watching the right new shows -- except "Boardwalk Empire" and "Raising Hope" which I have liked so far though I acknowledge they're both in the Acquired Taste category -- like bourbon...Where was I? Oh yeah. Try watching some different new shows. At all cost avoid "Hellcats" and "Better Together" and try "Hawaii Five-O" and "The Defenders" -- better yet, try "The Defenders" with bourbon...

On behalf of all Hispanics, as much as we would like more representation in cable news (primetime or otherwise; cable or network), we can do a lot better then Rick Sanchez. Also I'm a Hispanic Jew. We exist, Rick.

No question in there so far as I can tell, but you do bring up one of this week's more interesting TV stories...

Last night's episode of "CSI" featured vampires vs. werewolves. Maybe they've hit upon a new premise for "West Side Story" (instead of Sharks vs. Jets), ya think?

"CSI's" numbers slipped badly and they're trying to pump them back up. It's a well known fact that people who are into vampires and werewolves will watch pretty much anything that promises to show them vampires and werewolves. The problem is, they will not watch the next week, unless you promise them more vampires and more werewolves, so I'm not sure what CSI has accomplished here, unless you're telling me they've added a vampire detective to the show, which would just be crazy talk...

...was in a show called "Mary Kay and Johnny" which ran from 1947--1950. Some early episodes of "I Love Lucy" had what appeared to be a double bed but if you looked closely it turned out to be two smaller beds pushed together.

Then comes The Flintstones, and then came (the usual wrong guess) Herman and Lily Munster.

My goodness, we are a well educated group today, aren't we? I'm lovin' this...

Hiring Ted McGinley?


...Dancing with the Sharks?

...even more perfect!

I didn't know that calculus was required for chats. My head hurts.

See, covering TV really IS best left to professionals...

turns into whale eating

also great!

SO good this season, again. Glad to see it's not suffering from Glee's issues.

Christopher Lloyd is one of the best writers in the business. He will not run out of ideas that fast...

Does that mean jumping a shark while you're naked, or jumping a naked shark?

Either way is good..

I gotta say that Skeet Ulrich is looking old and I noticed he has skinny girl arms while watching the most recent episode...but I love that all the crimes are happening in my backyard - Mar Vista, Venice Beach...seeing familiar neighborhoods makes the show worth watching. What do you think of it?

I simply cannot accept the idea of Skeet Ulrich getting old, must less having skinny girl arms. I will have to re-watch this week's epsiodes. Glad you're enjoying the show's scenes in your neighborhood. Dumping the mothership and reinventing it in Los Angeles was a terrific idea -- if only so they can do all those ripped from the headlines stories about Los Angeles celebrity-messes like Paris and Lindsey, etc... You wonder what took them so long to think of it...

Dancing with the Shark Octuplets


Never mind how sexy it will be, please tell me how violent it will be! BTW, I'm really worried about the quality of the show, since the comic book it's based on has won just about every award out there, and that's the sort of material that TV always screws up totally.

TV always messes it up because they don't make it violent enough? Since this one's on AMC I'm guessing that won't be a problem. I'm prepared to believe they'll spare no expense to make it the most violent zombie show ever mounted on TV...

Are we anticipating great things from Jane Lynch on SNL tomorrow night? Think she'll get to do a Britney cover?

We are anticipating very great things. So happy that after all her years of great character work, guest starring gigs, etc. on television, she is finally a "breakout" star. Kudos to the creators of  "Glee" for giving her that opportunity.

If was a creating a TV pilot, the very first scene would be my main character jumping over a shark tank with a motorcycle. C'mon, it would get attention from the TV critics.

And, as we see from the huge ratings on  "Lone Star" and the lousy numbers on "$#*! My Dad Says" and "Mike & Molly" , viewers pay close attention to what TV critics say and make their viewing choices based on critics' reviews....

Why isn't "Fringe" getting the same level of hype and cult following that "Lost" received. "Fringe" is far more coherent in terms of it's sci-fi story lines. "Lost" became an incoherent mess by the end yet everyone still fawned over it.

Have you ever heard the story about the emperor's new clothes?

Everyone knows a new baby added to the story is what comes after shark jumping.

oh yeah -- of course!

The Simpsons for the past ten years.

I don't know if I agree in re all 10 years. The interesting thing about "The Simpsons" is that is waxes and wanes. Some seasons will be very weak, and then it will come back with a roar. I'm guessing it's about who's writing it that season and how burned out they are or are not...

As long as AMC casts a big redheaded zombie, I'm in.

I'll pass that along to AMC suits...


If only there were some sort of shark-themed television event we could use to tie all of these together... but I imagine we'd need a whole week to get through it.

Emily Yahr is cackling madly over your comment. I'm posting this in her honor....

How are the ratings for the live-action version of "The Incredibles" starring that malevolent munchkin from "The Shield"?

Stop It You Guys! Em and I are choking from laughing. This chat started off so high falutin and educational.. Where did it derail?

Isn't that already taken by SPIKE?

Oh, of course, silly me. So FX would have to go with "Smellier, Dirtier, and More Profane".. which is even better...

Sharks Dancing with the Deadliest Catch

spinoff begat spinoff

And at age 50, no less. Talk about defying the odds. Is she the first 50-year-old female break out star in the history of TV?

I don't know about 50 but Candice Bergen became a TV star in her 40s, and middle aged women have recently been all the rage on basic cable: Holly Hunter, Kyra Sedgwick, Glenn Close, blah,blah, blah...

Is your story about an upcoming nude scene for Jimmy Smits for real or just the launching of a rumor? I would tune into that episode of "Outlaw," although I have stayed away from it after catching the godawful premiere.

It's just a dream of mine to see him do another primetime nude scene. did not mean to start any rumor here...

BBT has become so over-the-top this season that I expect soon the guys will test some experimental rocket propulsion device that makes a shark jump over Sheldon.

.. let's give it a few more weeks. I'm willing to put up with this for a while if it helps bring in new viewers, but they've got to settle down quickly or they're going to start losing devoted fans, like you...

I like Jennifer Finnigan and have ever since she was in Close to Home (which was a waste of Christian Kane!). I also watch Detroit 1-8-7 because of Michael Imperioli (although I wish he wouldn't glower so much!) and Blue Bloods, which I enjoy and Hawaii Five-0..

"Better With You" makes "The Middle" look brilliant and "Modern Family" look historic...What happened to the whole concept of the pilot? Now it's just Another Sitcom Family...and why on earth did they do a Christmas episode in October?  Is there something about Christmas cards I don't know about? Do the photos have to be taken in early October?

Did you catch this? What very, very different paths Eric Roberts and Julia Roberts have taken in their careers....

Are you suggesting Eric Roberts's tour de force performance as the mad scientist who creates the half-octopus/half-shark monster is not a program Julia Roberts would have been proud to guest-star in, had she not been so busy recovering from "Eat Pray Love"?

Which new shows will be pulled in the next two weeks?

"Outlaw" and then possibly "The Whole Truth" on ABC, which is doing poorly in the ratings as well.. I'm out of time. see you next week!

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

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

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