2011 Emmys and Fall TV returns: Lisa de Moraes' TV Column

Sep 16, 2011

Welcome back Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes! After a brief hiatus, she is ready to chat about all the drama, comedy and heartbreak of the world of television -- both onscreen and behind-the-scenes!

Emmy award chats:
Sunday at 7 p.m.: Chat with Lisa during the 2011 Emmy Awards.
Monday at 11:30 a.m.: It's the morning after the Emmys. Join Lisa to recap it all and maybe even see what happened at the after parties.

- Find everything Lisa de Moraes:
Lisa's Blog
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Hi everyone...We're here to talk all things Emmys and new TV season -- plus, anything else that's on your mind. Emmy-wise, it appears WaPo TeamTV fans think "Boardwalk Empire" is going to win the golden winged-chick-holding-atom for best drama series -- in marked contrast to, say everyone else, who seems to think "Mad Men" will win again. And, we appear to be convinced "BE's" Steve Buscemi will take the atom-wielding winged chick for best drama series actor, instead of "Mad Men's" Jon Hamm, who is getting literally 100 percent of the predictions to win among TV-industry navel gazers....Congrats for being out of the box thinkers and I hope you're right in both cases. I like the idea of longtime character actor Buscemi taking the Emmy for best lead actor in a drama series and, since that derby is voted on by his fellow actors and he's a well-regarded guy among his peers, I think he's got a chance, though conventional wisdom has it that Hamm will win on the "sympathy" vote since he hasn't managed to snag it yet. Sympathy vote is also expected to carry the day for Steve Carell as best comedy actor -- it's his last stab as star of "The Office." Sadly, I think conventional wisdom will prove correct in that particular derby.  TeamTV is also taking an independent stand on Best Miniseries/Movie competition, predicting PBS's "Downton Abbey" will win instead of  HBO's "Mildred Pierce" which is getting all the TV critics votes. My money's on "Abbey" as well -- maybe that's why HBO suits aren't happy "Downton Abbey" is in that competition and note privately that "Abbey" has been ordered for a second season, which is highly unusual for a "miniseries" -- quacks more like a "series" they think...

Welcome back Lisa! We've missed you!! When will we see you again in print in the paper?

Will begin writing for paper this coming week -- thanks for asking!

Oh, Pookie, don't ever do that again, okay? It was Just. Too. Much. All seriousness, you were missed; welcome back. So tell me what I should watch this fall. I am not enamored by any of the new shows based on the commercials I've seen. Help, wise one.

Well, definitely watch "X Factor" -- because I'm going to blog it each night and want everyone to jump in with comments.  Then, by way of expressing support for those who are giving mouth-to-mouth the barely-got-a-pulse NBC -- the result of previous management's' shrewd program-to-margins strategy, you should give its new comedies a try. Particularly "Up All Night" and "Free Agents" which have already premiered, following "America's Got Talent" in the strange non-comedy 10 o'clock timeslot, but, on the bright side, got good sampling off of "Talent's" bigg-ish audience. If you still have not had all you can stomach of Steven Spielberg and dinosaurs,  give "Terra Nova" a try -- special effects are great, anyway.  And give "Playboy Club" and "Pan Am" a shot if for no other reason than that "Mad Men" "homages" -- read: ripping off --  seems to be this season's "trend" and we're serious students of television. (Meanwhile, I hear HBO's new Dustin Hoffman series "Lucky" is great, so we have that to look forward to. )

Dear Lisa, can you forward my letter to NBC? Thanks, Pookie! "Dear NBC, Stop trying to make 'Whitney' happen!"

Do you know that NBC's new "Whitney" is really good, on morphine? I can attest. Laughed out loud.

Oh, here is our Emmy prediction poll, in case you haven't voted yet on the TV Column blog. Please vote early -- and often!

This was on the other day at the gym. It is without a doubt the worst television show I have ever seen. How in the world did this get in production? It makes no sense that anyone thought this show was a good idea.

NBC burn-off over the summer. The brainchild of the program-to-margins team that is no longer in control of that network. Meanwhile, shockingly, Emily Yahr has just confessed that she liked "Friends with Benefits".. We love her anyway...

I can't participate in the chats, but I print them out to read on the bus ride home - I've missed my Friday decompression from work reading!

We're  back. But - and this is important -- why can't you participate in Friday chats? Hope you read this tonight on bus ride home and respond next week. If it's because it's not "work related" I'm always delighted to include questions that are, to help out loyal chatters.

Pookie, can you please tell me what the NBC Suits were thinking (or smoking) when the scheduled Playboy Club at 10 on Mondays. It is up against two very male oriented shows, Castle and Hawaii 5.0 and in the fall there is Monday Night Football. Really, guys are going to change the channel to see fully covered Bunnies?

They were probably thinking that the show is going to feature a lot of music from the 60's -- faux Ike and Tina Turner performing at original club, etc. -- and it made sense to schedule it after "The Sing Off" and that they have more confidence in their remake of "Prime Suspect" so it got the plum Thursday at 10 timeslot? Or, here's another possible theory:  new series inherited by new programming chief Bob Greenblatt get less-than-great timeslots while new series he brought to the network get better ones...

Why is Buffy so lame in her new Twins Are Scary show? And why do my 20 yo son, his 20 yo gf, and I all love that new show about a divorced PR exec and a widow who keep sleeping together so fun?

Maybe Sarah Michelle Gellar was always "lame" but we're just noticing it now that we're not distracted watching her tangle with vampires?  Meanwhile, we need to start a secret society of people who, so far, like NBC's new comedy "Free Agents" even though it stars Hank Azario, who is always terrific doing voiceover work but when it comes to taking a role in a live-action series on TV -- not so much. BTW, I am a member too, much to my surprise..

How great is Martha Plimpton in Raising Hope? I always thought of her as sort of a theater-acting, independent film making type who took herself was too seriously. She's friggin' hilarious!! Plus she is an Elivis Costello fan (I saw her at one of his concerts in NYC years ago) so she is my kind of woman! I hope she wins the Emmy.

She is terrific but she's not going to win the Emmy for best lead actress in a comedy series. Pundits think it will go to Laura Linney for her hilarious turn as a terminally ill cancer patient. Personally, I don' t see it but there you are...

Why doesn't anyone, including the people on this chat apparently, give Friday Night Lights the credit it deserves. It has been the best drama on television for all of its seasons. While this season was indeed the worst, it is better than anything else out there. I just don't get why people don't like it!!

Well, apparently people do like it well enough that it got nominated for best drama series this year and its two leads also are nominated. Shouldn't this be the year you're happy instead of frustrated?

Ooh ooh ooh, I hadn't thought about The Killing all summer. Mirella Enos is fabulous. I hope she wins. She deserves it.

She's considered a long shot...

Do you know when we'll see new episodes? (and yes, I missed you too!)

AMC and Matt Weiner are still playing coy -- will only say  that it'll be back early next year...

The ads for "Whitney" was a bit confusing, and then distasteful, yet, we haven't seen it yet. Maybe it is not as bad as its ads (although, that is seldom the case; usually the ads are better than the show.) Yet, I will not prejudge it until I've seen it. But, then, you've seen it, right? I respect your word. Should I give it a chance, or is there something better on in that time slot?

Slate wrote a fun piece about Whitney Cummings being this season's broadcast TV  "It" girl -- she's starring in NBC's "Witney" and worked on CBS's new "Two Broke Girls." Apparently "perky raunch" is another trend this new season. Perky raunch has been a trend at CBS, comedy-wise for some time, but critics never pay any attention to CBS, which is why people are writing that it's a new trend...

I refuse to watch the Emmys because they have passed over John Noble for the third year. And they didn't nominate Michael Emerson as soon as they should have either. I'm sick of the same people & shows winning again & again (except for Modern Family, which I love). That being said, I hope that Steve Carrell will win. And too bad there's no Emmy for Most Gorgeous Actor--Matt Bomer, hands down!

Don't you want to watch Steve Carell's acceptance speech? And how about Jane Lynch doing "Jersey Shore" in her opening bit on the trophy show Sunday night? For those two things alone, I'd argue this year's Emmycast is worth watching...

Because I hate football. I resent any moment in my life I have to waste on it. I am secretly mad when my young son wants to pollute my ears with it. I always have to talk myself out of a letter to the editor when it winds up on the front page of the NEWSpaper. I'm definitely not using my entertainment time on anything related to football. Sorry. I have heard it's a high quality show.

Wow -- it's like we're soul mates, or related, or something! But can you add "And don't get me started on cheerleaders!" to your argument? For me?

Okay, so I watched the pilot of NBC's "Up All Night" and WTF? I generally like the actors involved, but was that the best they could come up with?

No. The original pilot was better. Same actors and much of same set-up, except Maya Rudolph ran a PR firm and Applegate was her star employee. Sadly, someone in middle management at NBC -- that's our guess anyway -- noticed they had scheduled two new back-to-back comedies on Wednesday night that involve PR firms and decided that was one PR firm too many. Anyway, they've changed "Up All Night" to the extent that Maya is now an Oprah-esque character who stars in and runs her own daytime talk show and Applegate is her star producer.  Somehow it did not work so well. But one of the funniest things about that first episode as I saw it -- which was on a disc sent to me by NBC so it may have changed by the time it went on the air -- was the size of Lorne Michael's name in the credits that ran at the end of the show, compared to everyone else's names.  Again, laughed out loud.

I'm very sad because I was really looking forward to this show based on reviews and previews, and it just wasn't as funny as I thought it would be. The cast doesn't seem to be clicking and there's way too much cooing over the baby (and the swearing thing was only funny once). I'm going to watch for at least another few weeks, though. Does it get better?

Hope so. Remember how "30 Rock" didn't start clicking until half way through its first season? Hoping its kind of like that. Both are Lorne Michaels shows...

Hi Lisa -- Welcome back! What Emmy win this Sunday night would please you the most? Which one wouldn't?

I really want to see Steve Buscemi win the Emmy for best drama actor and really want to see an actress starring in an actual comedy win for best comedy series actress. Plus, I'm hoping "Downton Abbey" takes the win for best movie/miniseries -- just cause all the critics are expecting HBO to win that race, just cause...

Will it help or hurt his Emmy cred that he appeared in an episode of Lisa Kudrow's genealogy series "Who Do You Think You Are," searching for an ancestor who twice deserted the Union Army during the Civil War? (I personally found it endearing, but I'm a sucker for genealogy).

Personally I like him even better, knowing as I now do that he had an ancestory who twice deserted the Union Army during the Civil War....

Watching Maya Rudolph on this show is like, to use an extreme example, watching Jack Black in My Dinner With Andre. Was she more tolerable when she had a smaller role in the original pilot?

Now wait just a minute!... That would be epic bad-- "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" bad.....You don't want to miss that new Fox comedy series., BTW -- It is totally Jack Black/Dinner with Andre bad.

While I enjoyed the new Sarah Michelle Geller show, "Ringer", the bluescreen effects when the twins were in the same shot were terrible. The scene where they were on the boat was blurry and looked very low budget. I read that the pilot had a high budget because it was created for CBS, so I hope things don't get even worse now that they have to live on a CW budget.

Maybe they won't put the sisters together in the same scene for the rest of the season. We can hope....

How can shows with a limited viewing audience on the Pay Cable networks, like HBO, Showtime, garner this many Emmy nominations. Most of us are scratching our heads, wondering what show is that? Why do the network procedurals not garner any Emmy nominations? NCIS for example? CSI was one of the last ones to get a nomination and that was ages ago.

Because shows get nominated based, not on how many people watch them but on how well they are executed. The voting is done by members of the television academy -- not popular vote, like on People's Choice Awards....That said, you are correct that the number of wins doled out to pay cable shows does hurt the ratings on the Emmy broadcast -- too many categories for programs most of the American public has never seen and doesn't have a rooting interest in. Which is why, for example, they decided to combine the TV movie competition and miniseries competitions this year -- cuts down on number of categories on Sunday's broadcast that are about tony, but little watched, programs...

Do the people on that show get paid for their appearances? I don't understand why they would subject their children to such ridicule otherwise.

Except these people have been subjecting thier children to this horror before the show was even a gleam in TLC's eye. These kiddie beauty pageants have been around for ages.. Remember JonBenet Ramsey?

So, how long do you give the new Prime Suspect? The show hasn't even started and already I change the channel whenever one of the promos with Maria Bello comes on. CANNOT.IMAGINE.WATCHING.THAT.SHOW.

If you watched the Helen Mirren original and liked it, this one is going to disappoint you. A lot. Otherwise, doesn't matter -- just another chick cop show.

Which would be worse: Jack Black as Andre, or as the other guy?

I can't even contemplate Jack Black in the Wallace Shawn role. It's too horrible....

Since you went away I have seen the pilot On Demand. Please tell me, WHAT WAS ZOOEY DESCHANEL THINKING??? I love her in movies, but this!?

Maybe she was thinking she's 31 and too long in the tooth for her trademark cute ingenue schtick  in flicks any more --  but TV would feel lucky to get her. Particularly Fox which has had so much trouble getting live-action sitcoms to work... that's my guess anyway...

Thanks, I like the explanation....I don't watch because I don't watch the pay cable shows...kind of wish they would separate those categories too...regular cable and pay cable shows...seriously I think then people would watch. Thanks again!!!

They used to separate them into two entirely different trophy shows. One was the Emmys, for broadcast TV, then there was the CableAce Awards... good times...

I think the Patty Duke Show had better twin effects than "Ringer," even if the PDS effects weren't actually "effects." Sometimes a little old school sleight of camera trumps computers. That worked often enough in the Lord of the Rings movies.

You lost me with "Lord of the Rings" but I agree, in re Patty Duke versus Ringers...

I just couldn't sit through Mildred Pierce and believe me I tried. I think they were trying too hard or something. I voted for Cinema Verite. Caught that a couple weeks ago during a late night TV watching extravaganza.

It was very earnest --- and much more true to the novel -- than the Joan Crawford flick. But, here' s a secret: I like the Joan Crawford flick best...

I have noted some writings that the new TV shows mostly show women as sex objects. First, do you agree? Second, when did TV not show women as sex objects?

According to the actresses on some of these shows, -- particularly the lead actress in the new Playboy Club drama series -- "sex object" is the new "feminism" --  because they're "choosing" to be sex objects...

What's the point? I loved the BBC original and Helen Mirren but how many people ever saw it? And if you're going to gut everything that made it special in the first place why not just call it "Police Woman"?

I can't answer that because the new show bares so little resemblance to the original. Usually when you re-make something you hope to pull in fans of the original -- that's what makes it a "pre-sold" commodity. But if you're just going to make all those fans very mad, what have you accomplished...

Hi Lisa - welcome back. Which show debuting this fall is going to get cancelled first?

Conventional wisdom has "Grimm" heading the list -- it's about a guy who discovers he's one of the Grimms -- those guys who could see Grimms fairytales in real life. In the pilot episode, a chick in a red hoodie goes running through the woods alone -- Little Red Riding Hoodie, get it?! -- and meets a terrible end when a guy, who is really a wolf, kills her....But, if there's a god in heaven, the first to go will be "I Hate My Teenage Daughter".....

Especially in the first LotR movie, a lot of the "size difference" issues were solved by using creative camera angles and stand-ins rather than blue screens and digital adjustment. If you're geeky enough, the ten hours or so of extras are enlightening.

Thank you very much for explaining. Now I get it!

I know, it's not a show like The Ringer or Modern Family but I used to watch the Talk while eating dinner - background tv that only requires 10% of your attention. Well, why did they get rid of Leah Remini and Holly Robinson-Peete? Seriously, those two were the most clever ones on the show. Julie Chen = blah. Sara Gilber = watching paint dry. Sharon Osbourne = whatever, she's not as great as she thinks she is. I know you don't care about The Talk but still...I am bummed.

Julie Chen: wife of head of CBS. That answers that question as who why she survived.  Sara Gilbert, meanwhile, created the show, so I'm guessing she's a lock because of that contract. Meanwhile, Molly Shannon is guest hosting and Sheryl Underwood is giving it a whack as well, as is Kris Jenner. Presumably, a couple of them will become the new Leah Remini and Holly Robinson-Peete.

Once a person or show has won an Emmy, why can't they be eliminated from competition for the same role thereafter. Spread the wealth, so to speak? We just might get some new faces/shows and maybe, just maybe, even a deserving sci fi show like Fringe might be nominated. Or someone could at least graciously refuse to have his/her name in contention--refuse a nomination?

Trust me -- the academy has been working hard for years to try to minimize the redundancy. They have done a better job in the past few years, at getting new programs at least nominated.. But, let's face it, TV trophy shows operate at an enormous disadvantage compared to feature film trophy shows which enjoy a whole new crop of nominees every year...

I love Wil Arnett, but boy that show sucked. He and Christina Applegate have zero chemistry. I like her but she was miscast.

I thought she was good -- I'm hearing such mixed reactions on this show, it's fascinating...

I think the parents are getting their 5 minutes of fame here by appearing on the show. Most of them are living vicariously through the kids. The majority of those parents are homlier than a mud fence. Some of the kids are real pills -- one little one (about 5 I think) was getting bleeped! She was swearing at her grandmother. Why is this stuff still on?

Because it does good ratings. TV is a business, not a pubic service..

They were let go because Julie Chen hated them. I think the entire cast hated the shrillness that is Leah Remini.

People tend to either hate her or love her. She's not for everyone...

Does the fact that I am a Mad Men fan make me more likely or less likely to enjoy the new Mad Man rip-offs? My inclination is not to watch because there's no way they can be that good. Not without Joan Halloway.

More likely, I should say. Good, very fun, period details in both shows...

We missed you. Did Winki kick you out of the house and tell you to get back to work to make money to buy more toys? Or did he just want control of the DVR back? Whatever reason, we, your "littles" (to borrow a Mr. Tony term), are glad to have you back, whatever the reason.

Thanks very much. Nice to be back. I'll be live-chatting the Emmys Sunday, starting with the glutinous red-carpet arrivals shows about one hour before the actual orgy of trophy spewing begins. Hope you'll join me. Otherwise, I'll be chatting with 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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