On Christmas specials, Pan Am, and Brian Williams: Lisa de Moraes' TV Column Live

Dec 02, 2011

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes chatted about the Fall television lineup. See below to see what questions readers brought up and what Lisa had to say about in response.

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It looks like they got the message and are showing the Vampire dog less. I do love the newest twist where the real Emily is posing as the returned Amanda and now Emily has to figure out who's more important: dating your pre-pubescent crush or your plan of REVENGE! ?

Yes, but what's episode No. 38? You wait -- Vampire Dog will be back in no time, with adorable tricks...

I heard it could find a sponsor and is going on hiatus. Is this true?

Yes, it's true. It's going on hiatus at the end of this month. According to Ebert's blog, he and his wife were financing most of the production and he can't afford it any more, so he's searching for a sponsor.  (FYI, for those of you not up to speed on this show, the current version is hosted by AP film critic Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of Mubi.com... let's just say they're no Ebert and Gene Siskel.  Chemistry -- you've either got it, or you don't).

I'd thought "Suburgatory" was an OK show, but the Thanksgiving episode made me a big fan. OMG, Cheryl Hines made pinot gris come out my nose, when she defended fitting her daughter with an IUD to improve her cell reception! How well is this show doing? I like it almost as much as "The Middle" (which also had a good TG episode).

I haven't watched the episode yet and am now moving it to the top of my "To Do" list. The show is doing very well for ABC in the 8:30 "hammock" timeslot, between "The Middle" and "Modern Family" -- all part of a good fall ABC is having with the first lineup developed by its new-ish programming chief, Paul Lee.

Pookie, what's this old-school guy to do - too many choices now for 11 pm television viewing! (Still no DVR in my house, either - the tried and true VCR still works). Andy Cohen's WWHL, now expanded to 5 nights, Chelsea Lately, Logo's 1 Girl, 5 Gays and the occasional Friends reruns. Help!

You're in luck! "1 Girl, 5 Gays" episodes available on Logo's Web site, Chelsea highlights available on E!online, and I'm guessing Bravo will either re-run the heck out of Cohen's show, once it becomes a strip, or make it available online, to increase sampling. Oh, and "Friends" boxed sets are available worldwide....But, seriously, no DVR?

Pookie, I frequently have TV broadcast questions that are sports related, especially during this time of year. I know you prefer old movies over football, but since you are an expert in all things television, and have a superior forum for answering TV questions, is there anybody there with you who might be able to help answer such questions in the future?

I will see that they get answered -- either by me or various sports experts at my disposal. Ask away!

Has Wilfred, the FX comedy starring Elijah Wood been cancelled? I haven't seen a new episode in a while. How are other shows on FX doing? I've become a big fan of the "The League", "Always Sunny...", and Louis. (I promise, I'm not a flack for FX, just a fan of offbeat comedy - can't watch another Tim Allen sitcom without barfing).

FX says it's coming back, but has not yet set a date.....

Is the "Dallas" remake going to suck? Why not just make a movie reboot with a new cast?

If the trailer TNT has put out is any indication, then yes, it's going to suck. I wish they'd just made a movie reboot with a new cast....Bobby Ewing is so old, and I hear Larry Hagman's eyebrows have gotten so big their own talent agent.  Really, they need to be weed-whacked or something to get them down to a reasonable size. Otherwise they're going to  terrify children who are exposed to the show.

What do you do when the fire alarm in your building goes off?

Glad you asked, Brian...At my office, I tend to ignore it and keep working on deadline until my boss tells me to get the heck out... At my home, I tend to smash it with the end of a broom handle -- worked like a charm! Maybe "Nightly News" producing staff needs a broom? And, while we've got you, Brian, can you explain why network news studios aren't set up with an audible alarm in the sound-proof control room where the exec producer and others are sitting --  producers who are in constant touch with  anchor and would let him or her know if there was genuine fire and they were cutting to commercial and needed to vacate...And, maybe a visual-only fire alarm the anchor could see, but viewers could not?  I wondered that back in '02 when Connie Chung went through her similar on-air fire drill during her first week anchoring her CNN newsmag, and I'm still wondering it today. That said -- nice recovery on Jon Stewart's show the next night!


Twice in the last week we've been watching shows on major networks, and there have been scenes with obviously faked backgrounds. Last night, it was in Bones. Two of the characters -- Booth and a junior agent -- were talking about something that could have been discussed in a car, at the office, or almost any venue. But they choose to sit them outside with a fake screen behind them. You could have practically taken a pair of scissor and cut the actors our of the picture, the demarcation was so obvious. Can't remember the other show this happened on, but why would any show do it? Was there a sale on faux outside screens in LA?

I love your description. I had not noticed, but then I did not watch most recent "Bones" episode. What are the other shows?

Ugh! It was pretty terrible. Is the reason why it came out so late because they didn't want it released during fall sweeps?

You must be talking about "I Hate My Teenage Daughter -- aka  The Worst TV Series Ever, According to WaPo Team TV's Bad Show Bureau Chief Emily Yahr. Hard to know with Fox -- their fall schedule is so jammed what with all those football commitments... But yes, the scheduling of this one is a little suspicious -- a few episodes in December, then off the air until "spring"....

So Lisa -- are they ever going to put new episodes of 30 Rock and Cougartown back on the air? P.S. LOVE Revenge and American Horror Story!

"30 Rock" returns Jan. 12 -- Thursday nights at 8. But, ABC has only promised  "Cougar Town" is coming back "some time"...I'm guessing the publicist who put out that nugget of information is a guy who used to use that line a lot when girls would ask when he was going to call...

If they want people to sample the show, why not go retro call it Captain Kangaroo's Newsroom. People will watch at least once

"Capt. Kangaroo News" -- CKN... I like it.. I'd watch it.. Can it have a champanzee?

I've seen a few stories in the news lately about people getting really upset with school teachers and newcasters debunking the Santa Claus myth. Seems to me a backward step to hold so firmly to such fantasy for our kids when the world is changing so fast. I guess as long as they don't talk about God in the classroom, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are okay.

In difficult times, people tend to get all nostaglic when it comes to TV viewing preferences -- it's why you have shows like "Mad Men" -- about the "good old '60s" -- and "Pan Am," and "Once Upon a Time" (Snow White and Prince Charming -- most successful new series of the season, really?).. I'm guessing this is part of the same phenom..notice how deftly I turned that into a TV question?

I see they're putting Kiefer Sutherland's new show, Touch, in the same slot that his old show"24" was in. Any chance Mary Lynn Rajskub can be back to be his Chloe?

If the ratings are not great, she will surely be back as his something -- that's Stunt Casting 101....

What was up with Michael Jackson's kids and the shots of them throughout "The X Factor" Wednesday night? Blanket looked like he wanted to run away, the oldest one was doing microphone tossing tricks and at one point and I thought I heard Paris snoring. Shouldn't they have shown some respect to the greatest singing competition ever created in the history of man? (My tongue is firmly planted in my cheek.)

If by "shouldn't they have shown some respect to the greatest singing competition ever created in the history of man" you mean "shouldn't Granma be ashamed of herself for dragging these kids out as Exhibit A on a reality TV series as part of a campaign to keep the family gravy train running smoothly".. then yes, I totally agree

A few weeks ago, someone here made mention of Southwest Airlines. Is there any chance "Airline" might come back? I think it ran from 2001-2005 on cable, and I thought it was funny as all get out. It was as good as most current reality programs, plus there were no silly competitions. Only crazy passengers, and the workers who have to deal with them.

Yes, TLC announced last month it was resuscitating a Southwest Airlines reality show -- Southwest has 13 episodes to do damage control, after suffering a slew of bad publicity when staffers tossed from flights: kissing lesbian "L Word" star, a pants-on-the-ground rocker, and a corpulent movie director. Apparently Southwest thought that helping to finance a reality series was cheaper than training its staffers to recognize celebrities and not boot them from flights because that's going to wind up in the press...

Pookie, Do you and Hank Stuever ever just sit around the newsroom (okay, I know you work on opposite sides of the country, but humor me) and get your snark on? From Hank's "Weed Wars" column: "Set in Oakland's Harborside Health Center, which bills itself as the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary, 'Weed Wars' does a fairly good job of explaining how such a business works. It works greeaaat, man." You are the acknowledged queen of snark, but Hank certainly has his moments. And just a passing observation... there has been a remarkable lack of focus and discussion in this chat regarding the shoes on display in the new programs this season. I attribute much of the modest success of 2 BROKE GIRLS to their shoes. Full disclosure: I work for CBS and have to pimp the product whenever possible. By the way, did I mention that THE BIG BANG THEORY is syndication crack?

Hi CBS Person! Actually, my office is right next to Hank's.  I too attribute much of the success of "2 Broke Girls" to their shoes...And, though you work for CBS, I'm here to confirm that "Big Bang Theory" is syndication crack...

I LOVE this concept. It would take the Broadcast News format to a new level. The Captain would be anchor (ha, ha), Mr. Green Jeans could do the weather, Mr. Moose do sports, Bunny Rabbit could handle entertainment....

Yeah, you'd pretty much have to do no tinkering with the format. Except, they're all dead I think....

Stopped briefly on The View Thursday when clicking past. They were talking about grudges. One of the women prefaced a story with "Now that Blockbusters is out of business, I can tell you this" (anecdote about running into an old boyfriend while renting a movie). After she finished, Lisa Chin responds with "The producer in my ear tells me that for legal reasons I'm obliged to point out that Blockbuster is NOT out of business." Uh oh. Discussion moves on to whether Blockbuster will hold a grudge...

Forget the legal reasons --  how about the "for the sake of not looking stupid" reasons...geesh....

Good morning from the Left Coast ... I really appreciate the links at the top of the Live Q&A, making it easy for us to read the TV column. That is all.

Hi Left Coaster! You are welcome. We are doing this weekly, since people report having so much problem finding my column, I thought it was the least we could do every Friday... Happy catching up!

Maybe a crew member pulled it to get out of a test that evening. It's weird when the news becomes the news.

and particularly when it's something that could have been handled so easily before the first commercial break -- just one broom handle, that's all it takes, folks!

Is it going to be "Are you there vodka? It's me, Chelsea." or something whimpy?

NBC's new sitcom is based on a the Chelsea Handler book, "Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea?" but the network has changed the name for the show to "Are You There Chelsea?" ....yes, the network that isn't afraid to hire Howard Stern to judge "America's Got Talent" is afraid of the word "Vodka."

How are they comparing to American Idol. And, wasn't it awesome how much Simon looked like he wanted to punch in the face everyone he could last night.

this week's 16 million votes would be "Idol"-ish, I think, for the midway point in the finals....

It is physically possible for an object to visit all the homes of good Christian children in one night. That time is, of course, cut down if one stops to eat the cookies.

Of course it is Pookie, when the "object" is  powered by reindeer, though the cookie breaks do make it more challenging...

These are two of my favorite shows. So: when is Justified coming back? And will I be able to get the last season of Damages from Netflix since I don't have whatever channel that it they've been airing it on and have been gnashing my teeth since they announced that?

"Justified" is coming back Jan 17. "Damages" is coming back for a final and this time they mean it season, but no start date yet...

I used to look forward to Tom Shales' annual review of the Kathie Lee Christmas Special. There should be a book that gathers them all together to make a wonderful coffee table book. It would make the perfect Christmas gift. Will there likely be anything this year that rivals a Kathie Lee special in all its craptastic glory?

There are sooo many "celebrities" out there, who would be perfectly capable of  re-creating Kathie Lee's Christmas special degree of craptastictude. How about, for instance...

a Kardashian Kristmas Special. Yep, that would pretty much be the most awesome thing ever. They looked so great in their family Christmas portrait last year-they need to bring that to life!

... "A Very  Kardashian Kristmas"...

I, too, have trouble reading your column, but mainly because I never learned to read.

we have a function on this chat for people who can't read....if only anyone could find it...

your column about David Milch and Faulkner was brilliant - and funny! You can write my cliff notes any day!

I still have nightmares about reading Faulkner in school...don't you?

Thanks for doing such a great job today.

Emily says she appreciates the pat on the back... Emily very nicely volunteered to be WaPo Team TV Clip Collector, in case anyone is trying to figure out the reference....

I'd like to see A Very Vampire Christmas, with guest appearances by zombies.

Me too -- because nothing say Christmas like rotting flesh... 

But, has anyone noticed all the "personal appeal" ads on Wikipedia lately? What the deal? Is the porn industry hurting like everything else?

I've seen the ads but have no idea what is the connection to porn. That said, I desperately want to know... Tell me more!

Did you happen to catch the Christmas video they did this week at Rock Center tree lighting. Many shots of Mariah's rear view. Ruined the song for me, I never thought of it as soft porn

Somehow this has turned into an adult chat.. I'm game -- what were they singing?

Chelsea Handler gets her own Thursday night show? I love her, but her show is going to be awful isn't it? She was awful on Whitney last night....

It's not good -- and I'm a big Chelsea late night fan..

Ratings on cable networks - "Walking Dead" seems to have a nice little niche following, how many viewers are they getting per episode?

Let's put it this way -- NBC would love to have it...

Kellie Pickler---to whom we owe the euphemism---was on some country Christmas show, and it looked like she had gotten a new pair of shoes in a smaller size. Or maybe her dress just made it look that way?

Smaller size? that's crazy talk. Everyone knows shoes get larger as you age....

It's one of the perils of working in a large office building (and especially a really high one like 30 Rock). They put in these sophisticated systems that are way beyond a broom handle -- I think they usually have to be turned off by the fire department, even when it's a false alarm. Brian Williams explained at some point that the alarm was telling them there was something on a lower floor. My office building in DC is like that -- we will get this incessant alarm telling us there has been an issue 5 floors below, and eventually we're like, "OK, fine, now shut up about it unless it spreads." And my guess is that the reason it's not isolated in the control room or something is probably a NYC fire code requirement, without regard to network preferences.

well, then they need to put Brian in a sound-proof man-cave... or, more sophisticated broom handles...

If only they had gotten Smirnoffs to sponsor the show!

sadly, no hard liquor ads in primetime on broadcast TV -- it's one of the " rules" to which broadcasters are held by Decency Police hanging on to the 50's with their death grip....file it under "not a level playing field"

Pooks, in the last few chats I've read, you have questioned the "change" in characters for the African-American roommate. They never changed the actor, they explain in the second episode this is someone else--I think it's great, if the other show the Wayans brother is on fails, he can come back!

Yes, I'm aware of all that -- but it was still a jolt for a second episode and very far from ideal... and wouldn't that be great if he came back, only "Happily Endings" seems to be hanging on okay this season. And ABC programming chief Paul Lee apparentl likes it a lot... So, not going to happen. sigh..

I used to ignore them, until the time I decided to leave because it was making my headache worse. Had to stop to help a manager figure out how to turn on his PC (after 5 p.m., for the first time that day). Reached the staircase--7th floor--and found it smoky. Continued to the 6th floor and found a fire hose connected to the standpipe. Proceeded down much more quickly... Outside, the streets were clogged with hook 'n ladders and there were firemen crawling around the 6th story windows. Now I leave if the alarm doesn't shut off in the normal "drill" period.

good rule of thumb...

I was really impressed with Paris' demeanor on "The X Factor," and somehow found myself crediting Michael rather than Grandma for her polite behavior. She really knew how to handle herself. But I loved Blanket more for clearly not giving a hoot about the whole thing. It was awfully cynical of Grandma to haul them out there to promote a posthumous album.

I still maintain Blanket looked like taxidermy...

I just love seeing this apparently buttoned-down guy slow jammin' the news with Jimmy Fallon and setting off false alarms to goad Jon Stewart. Who knew he was so funny?

Anyone who's ever met him. ... Seriously. One of the funniest guys I know...

Earlier in the season, we saw Jane's new boss call him a "textbook psychopath." He's now shown no remorse for killing a man who was *not* Red John (I suppose because he was still a very bad man) and has also sent a serial killer to certain death by goading him into dissing Red John on TV. I thought he was just out to avenge his wife's death, but he's looking more and more Dexter-ish.

pretty fab, huh? Oh wait, you meant this as a complaint? Not a fan of "Dexter"?

When will this crap end? I'm not sure why, but this show in particular makes me want to scratch my eyes out. And I USED to watch it way back in the first or third season. I fast-forwarded past promos for the next season and almost started crying last night.

When someone starts keeping count of the number of actual relationships that come out of this show. Honestly, that's just a best guess -- I can't explain why people haven't become totally cyncial about this franchise...

Is I Hate My Teenager Daughter worse than the one about guys in drag to get a job? Or does it really matter which is worst because we are obviously so close to the End Times?

I think it matters, but you may be right. In which case I need to tidy my house. I hate leaving with it so messy...

That actually happend to me. I was doing a live radio interview via telephone when the fire alarm went off in my building. I just continued with the interview until the interviewer said something like "well, maybe we should let you evacuate your building." I am sort of surprised they have sound alarms on sets, just for that reason. I would have presumed they would have just visual alarms, or sound only if the fire is confirmed and headed for that particular room. We learn something everyday.

I had part of the roof fall down on my head when I was doing a phone interview with the Mayor of New York City, when I worked for New York Magazine... Leaky plumbing upstairs.. Just thought I'd share...

Wow, it was so awful. I like Jamie Pressley so I gave it a chance. The only time I cracked a smile was when the moms danced at the school dance to embarrass their daughters. I don't enjoy shows where the chraracters are all supposed to be unlikeable (like SATC, blech).

I think the reason this one bothers me more than the pharmaceutical guys in drag show is because I am a big Jamie Pressley fan and think she deserves better...

I kept pausing the "X-Factor" broadcast every time Blanket was onscreen. His total lack of affect---particularly contrasted with Paris' poised, polite, "I'm paying attention" graciousness---was enthralling. But then I got to wondering: should I be worrying about this kid? I mean, why did they never pass the mike to him? Does he speak?

Yes, he really creeped me out too...

I absolutely love it when you make an appearance on Mr. Tony's show. The two of you play well off of each other. It would be awesome if the two of you talked Christmas specials. Do you have any appearances coming up on his show?

I love talking to Tony and no, we have not talked Christmas specials yet...

We didn't get to see that NBC News with Fire Alarm. Thank goodness for You Tube!

It's also on NBC.com... even bad publicity is good publicity at NBC these days. I'm out of time. Thanks for joining me. 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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