The Latest in TV with Lisa de Moraes

Aug 24, 2012

The Post's TV columnist Lisa de Moraes discussed the latest in TV news - on and off the screen.

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I was home for a few weeks before I started a new job so I got to see more daytime television than humans should be allowed. What is up with Oxygen? All they show is either Roseanne marathons or House marathons. Are they that broke? This isn't daytime related, but Burn Notice is one of the best shows on television. How did the "summer" finale do? Does NBC/Universal/Comcast/Kabletown spend all of their money on USA network and leave Oxygen with the leftovers? Inquiring minds want to know.

Don't yet have the stats... And yes, USA Network is a very successful brand for Comcast/NBC/Universal2.0 while Oxygen, which NBC bought back in '07, is still trying to become a break-out in the crowded chick-net universe.

With the Office entering its last season, who is left to put the dirt on the coffin? Is NBC still planning on running a Dwight Schrute beet farm spin-off?

Apparently so, to the point of recently casting Thomas Middleditch as Dwight's pot-farming brother. Presumably this spinoff will get tested as an episode of "The Office" this season -- because "The Office" can't get any worse... do so wish they'd ended this show a few seasons back, when it could have gone out with a bang instead of a wimper, creatively.

He was a terrific actor and, by many accounts, a pretty adventurous guy. I had the good fortune to see him on stage when he brought his one-man show of Thurber readings to DC in '74. Those who only remember him as the cranky doctor on "Murder She Wrote" should try to find episodes of "My World and Welcome To It", the Night Gallery drama "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar", or his portrayal of the DA opposing Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird".

Here's an obit with a comprehensive list of his credits and an interview with  Windom the Times said was conducted for its obit -- which sounds a bit ghoulish.

I've notice CBS is running a public service announcement featuring Justin Silver of Dogs in the City. Does that mean the series will return in the fall (or winter) and does Winkie watch?

I don't think it means that, though I think it means CBS would like it to. No, Winkie does not watch -- Vanderbilt thinks he watches too much TV....

Any word on whether another network will pick up "The Killing" from AMC?

Netflix and DirecTV are both kicking the tires --  though they both have said repeatedly they kick the tires on loads of programming that's been whacked by broadcast or cable networks....word of the tire kicking was "leaked" to TVLine, and "leaking" is something the producers like to do in hopes it will gin up lots of media and social network activity and make the show look more attractive to the prospective buyers. It's a TV industry form of putting on a red dress....

It was pretty good last night, with Harvey actually joining Mike in a doobie. When does it come back andd for how many episodes?

Haven't watched. "Suits" returns in January but I don't know how many episodes....

Have you already seen the pilots? How is your internal guessing about whether shows will make it or not? I don't want to waste my time on a show that won't make it, so do you think Nashville will last?

I have watched the pilots. I am not the right person to make the call on "Nashville," what with it being about country music, which causes me to crawl under my desk when I hear it.  It's called  Country Music - Gak- Syndrome. Emily Yahr, on the other hand, is an expert on the genre -- she's writing a piece on the show for our TV Preview Issue on the show.  She thinks it's great, does a fine job of weaving in the music, thinks country music fans will like it but that it's accessible for non country music fans as well.

What the heck is up with the formatting of this Web page today????

I can't see it but others tell me the chat has been condensed to the left side of the page, with only a handful of words per line,  and the right side is blank. Is that what you're seeing? On the bright side, I hear it's affecting all our live chats today, and our crack tech team is looking into it.....sounds like fun! Sorry I can't see it...

Happy Friday Lisa, and you look marvelous. I watched Copper last Sunday night, and then watched it again to pick up on the parts I missed the first time. Does that mean I get counted twice, if I were one of those Nielson ratings people? Could that be a strategy for NBC to follow?

You mean make a show so convoluted people have to watch twice to figure each episode out? Didn't NBC already try that with "Awake"?

Seriously? I thought their "Last Minute Promote the the crazy understudy" was fantasy enough! Is it just that hard to find a good producer nowadays?

It is very very hard to find producers who can produce live TV, yes... That said, I don't think Craig and Neil have live-TV on their this could get interesting... don't miss it!

Not that I ever planned on watching this 'cause the promos stink! But when I read that Janet Montgomery is British!! And has to wear hair extensions -- which are way too well-coiffed, by the way. Who do Les and Co. think they're fooling, anyway? Apparently, Executives aren't keeping an EYE on their sister station MTV or they would know what REAL Joisey looks like! Or better yet, how about creating a show with the brilliant Debi Mazar. ...Oh, darn ABC already did. It was called "Civil Wars," and it was grrreat!

Are you saying British actresses should not get to play American roles, or that British actresses shouldn't do American TV, or that British actresses who wear hair extensions should not work in American TV? I find this all perplexing....

I put a "Google Alert" for Downton Abbey stuff and been noticing a lot more interviews with the cast about DA3 and just realized, "Oh yeah, it's starting next month in England." Can PBS really expect to have a repeat of last January's success when DA really only got on the public mind's after all those award show wins. We'll really know all the plot twists of DA3 long before January and then folks will just be pist-off at PBS.

I love your new spelling of 'pissed' -- seriously. I'm a huge, huge fan of creative spelling and do it every day, to the chagrin of my editors. PBS has been airing episodes of "Downton Abbey" behind UK telecasts since the show began. So far it does not seem to have 'pist' off viewers; the show is clocking enormous ratings by PBS standards... am I allowed to say 'pist' on this chat? I'll soon find out...

Is Kathie Lee Gifford toast now, after unadvisedly discussing Taylor Swift's, um, presence at KLG's step-granddaughter's wedding on the "Today" show? I DO hope so.

Why would she get sacked just for talking about Taylor Swift crashing -- or not -- the wedding?

Yeah, the formatting is wacky, just as you described. So have you seen the pilot for the new CBS show, Elementary? I am allergic to Lucy Liu but love Sherlock Holmes so I feel horribly torn about watching it this fall. What is your take?

Watch it. The pilot is  fun -- says Lisa, once again demonstrating why she's not the Post's TV critic.... I know that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but, darn it, TV needs to be more fun.... Jonny Lee Miller is worth watching, even if you are allergic to Lucy L.

I've watched about six episodes of Charlie Sheen's new show. While it isn't terrible, it's getting tedious. It's the same exact show every episode, with one-dimensional characters saying almost the exact same lines every week. Yeah, I know, that describes 2.5 Men, too, but at least the writing was better and the ancillary characters were funny... I'm speaking about the Charlie-era 2.5 Men. I can't stand the new Kutcher version at all.

Yes, it has come across like a show that was very hastily put together. Which it was. It's the downside of that 10-90 model under which the show is being produced -- production schedule is a fraction of the usual TV series schedule, time-wise....

Will Julia and Tom host? Or (worse yet) will the opening number duplicate the scene in Smash where they are writing a song as the show begins?

No, and maybe yes -- those are my guesses. I am anxiously waiting to see who from the Craig and Neil Repertory Theatre they get to host the show...

When I heard that Michael Strahan was going to be paired with Kelly Ripa, I thought it had to be a joke. I admit that I only know him from his work on Sundays, both on the field and on pre-game shows. I'm sure he's a nice man in real life, but I've never really cared for him. I can NOT imagine him on a weekday morning talk show.

In fairness, nobody could really imagine soap star Kelly Ripa hosting a weekday morning talk show either, before she debuted...she was a pretty unknown commodity in that world...

NBC has already started airing the second season shows, in its doomed-to-oblivion Friday night schedule. Is this a burn-off prior to cancellation, or what?

NBC decided to launch its new season to take advantage of its ability to promote the launches during the London Summer Games...and also to get its shows away from the crush of Premiere Week.. In theory it's a smart-ish strategy, but, after all these years, there is still something about the American TV-viewing public that their thoughts turn to broadcast TV AFTER the Labor Day holiday...kind of like how their thoughts turn to holiday shopping orgies after Halloween.....

She was also in "That's Life" starring Ellen Burstyn and Paul Sorvino, as their daughter Heather Paige Kent's BFF who was a hair-dresser. I agree that we need more Debi!

Debi's way too old to play the lead in "Made In Jersey."  Alas, time does not stand still for even Hollywood actresses.....

"Are you saying British actresses should not get to play American roles" No way, nobody but Vivian Leigh could've played Scarlett O'Hara. Can't we be grateful that the lawyer on that New Jersey show isn't a Snooki clone? Though that would be rather entertaining to watch.

I know I'm grateful.. And the role has been well cast....

If you don't want to encounter spoilers re your TV shows, don't put Google alerts on shows you plan to watch. And don't lurk on the original network's web site. Pretty simple, actually.

Wait, did I miss something --  was somebody complaining about spoilers?Are you guys having a parallel TV conversation in that big blank right hand side of the screen that I can't see?  I love arguments about spoilers! The only thing I love more than arguments about spoilers is actually fightfights about spoilers...

I wasn't available to watch Copper on Sunday night but intended to catch up before this upcoming Sunday. Unfortunately, BBC pulled the first episode off of On Demand after three days and I have no interest in watching the second episode if I can't see the first. This seemed like an awfully bad idea, especially if they care about the ratings. Why do channel executives make decisions like this?

I don't know the particulars here,  but sometimes it's not their choice -- it may have to do with the deal with  the production house, etc....that may be per terms of their contract... So the GM of  BBCA -- Perry Simon, who used to be a bigwig programming exec at NBC -- may not be to blame. And, FYI, the premiere of "Copper," which is BBCA's first original scripted series, clocked 1.1 million viewers, which is a record for that network.

If you click one of the "Font Size" options at the top of the page, that fixes the display somewhat... but if you refresh, it goes back to the way it was, so you have to do it again.

Help has arrived -- sort of....thanks!

..but in Google Chrome, the formating is fine, the text undulates.. its like watching waves..

that sounds marvelous....I'll suggest to our tech folks that they make that standard for my chat from here on out....

Even then the show is pretty bad, do you think FX will make that 90 episode order?

it's not what I think, or even what they want. It's clearly spelled out in the contract FX signed and it's all about the  numbers... Even if the show is pretty bad...

How is NBC's early, post-Olympic start on series working out? From the numbers, it doesn't look like it's going too well. But then, it is NBC.

You just answered your own question...

How is NBC's early, post-Olympic start on series working out? From the numbers, it doesn't look like it's going too well. But then, it is NBC.

Did I just answer this already?.. I think my question queue is undulating as well....

Have you seen the article by Archie Bland in the British newpaper The Independent where he responds to Benedict Cumberbatch's latest snitfest (something about being called "posh" because of his name, apparently)? Archie addresses Benedict as Snozzlebert Mugglewump, Fiddly-Dee Ponky-Tonk, Rinkydink Curdlesnoot and Blimpleswitch Wafflechops. Rinkydink Curdlesnoot for the win, IMO.

I'm trying to figure out which name I love the most.. I think  it's Snozzlebert Mugglewump...though I am strangely drawn to Fiddly-Dee Ponky-Tonk...let's all vote, shall we? How I wish I had my former chat producer Paul Williams, who would have by now created a poll for us to use for voting purposes.. But, sadly, they decided polls were "out"....

Please spoil something for us, so that we won't then actually have to see it. Heck, spoil the whole NBC line-up, as a good start.

Well, let's see, how about:

On new 'Beauty and the Beast', the actor playing the Beast is so much prettier than the actress playing the Beauty, they had to fix it by putting a scar on his right cheek... Does that count?

Turnabout's fair play, since Renee Zellweger has portrayed Bridget Jones.

Yeah -- that too!

I was wondering if this is wishful thinking on your part or if (as I hope) this is something you've actually been told. If it's true, I may be able to bring myself to watch Season 2.

Sadly, just wishful thinking. And, if we're lucky, the same feedback they're getting from focus-group testing. One of the most wonderful things I learned when I started covering TV is how utterly "typical" my TV taste is....

Hey, Pookie: Regarding the funkiness of the type font and size for today's chat, your chatterbox loyals can do what I did to improve it by clicking on the link for font size to change from medium to small. Then, if you are on a PC or laptop, you can click on your View drop down and zoom in on the size. It makes it a little easier on the eyes.

Thanks! And it sounds like I should be thanking everyone who has stuck with this chat today for putting up with the aggravation....

The Downton Abbey poster was predicting that no one would watch in February because they would already have read everything about the BBC broadcast. But that's only true if they try. Eastenders is now 8 years (I think) behind their original run date, but I know very little about what's going to happen next because I've been avoiding reading about current plot lines since 1992.

Yeah, like I said, it does not seem to matter...

The last pair of episodes was just crazy, Pookie. Although they jumped in to the abortion debate-debate at the right time, it's looking like everyone working in that newsroom needs some serious therapy. Do you think this was caused by Aaron Sorkin breaking up with Kristen Davis?

good grief no. I always thought everyone on "West Wing" needed serious therapy too, didn't you?

What do you think of the new NBC spin off show from community called " community 10 years later" otherwise known as Go On ?

I think the "spinoff" is far, far better....

Hey, Pookie: I've noticed in recent years that the broadcast networks have really pared down their coverage of the Democratic and Republican national conventions during prime-time hours. Now, it's become more an event to watch on the cable news networks than on the broadcast networks. Why do you think it's become this way?

Once upon a time the candidates got chosen during the conventions. Now the conventions are being touted as basically very long infomercials for the two parties, which is important for the two parties and interesting if you're a political wonk, but not actual "news."... I don't see why, in this era of 24/7 cable and internet news, the broadcast networks should feel a responsibilty to cover the conventions wall-to-wall on their lineups, like they used to on the old days... I assume they all have fairly aggressive Web coverage plans for the confabs...

It has my vote.

 Fiddly Dee Ponky Tonk has a nice ring to it..

That sounds like a fun place to be!

It's fun, if confusing....

Sorry, Pookie, but Snozzlebert Mugglewump sounds like a Muppet. And wasn't Rinkydink Curdlesnoot one of the Teletubbies?

Okay, so you think those two names are already spoken for -- such a shame. Which name gets your vote, then?

Who are "they", and what do "they" know about anything?

Our web experts....

And don't forget that Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna have both affected English accents (ugh!).

Gsyneth Paltrow has an excuse -- years of playing British characters, including Jane Austen's Emma, etc...

I'd go with Snozzlebert Curdlesnoot. I like them both ending in T. And both having SN and LE helps. I'm suer there is a name for that. Where is Petri when you need her?

I tried saying Snozzlebert three times quickly and could not.. so I ruled it out.. but my head is spinning slightly from the undulating queue....I'll try again later...

They are airing the new episodes on Monday nights at 10:00, at least for now. The original Friday timeslot is showing repeats of the Monday night episodes. I assume they are doing that so that the fans can still find it (and until they have something better for one or both of those slots). I like the show, but I think it needs to be careful of succumbing to the X-Files Gigantic Unknown Conspiracy plot fungus that makes an otherwise interesting show tedious. At some point, the writers have to start explaining a few things...

...and I hope the writers are listening to you. And thanks for hte correx....

Do I care enough to watch season 4? Maybe if Pat Field dresses Sarah Jessica Parker again.

Yes! Don't you want to see the gang heading to the Big Apple?

I was going to chime in and say that I don't have any problems seeing the chat -- but after hearing about undulating text, I think I want some! Undulating text? Far out, man!

Yes, it's just like being in haight-Ashbury in the  '60s.....

Hey, Pookie: My PBS affiliate here in San Francisco, KQED, seems like it is in a constant mode of "begging". They've wreaked havoc with our being able to watch "Masterpiece Mystery" this summer. That said, when PBS affiliates have pledge drives, why are we constantly subjected to seeing either Suze Orman or never-ending repeats of the Roy Orbison Black and White Night? Why can't PBS pledge with the shows that are actually part of their regular line-up like "Nova" and "American Experience" and "Frontline" and "Austin City Limits" to name a few?

Because, my dearest pookster, people who love Suze Orman and follow her around the dial love writing's been studied by guess is Roy Orbison fans do's a sorry commentary on the state of check writing in this country, but that's life...

Because no one watches them any more. Why should they? It's not like the party is suddenly going to do something new and unexpected. Nowadays, even when leaders, entertainers, etc. ARE trying to build anticipation by doing something new and unexpected, they release a transcript to the media 2 weeks in advance.

That said, let us not forget what a riveting made-for-TV moment it was when Sarah Palin took the stage at the GOP convention and delivered her speech. It was electrifying...I'm not saying there aren't very interesting and revealing moments in each convention, but actual breaking news does not happen much...

(Yes, I'm shocked to be writing that) ... Both are/were married to Brits and living some or much of the time across the pond. I tend to pick up accents, or at least inflections, when I'm around them a lot -- I can only imagine how odd I'd end up sounding in those circumstances!

I lived for a time in Tokyo and came back crossing my hands to make an X to indicate "no" a lot, which is something I did not realize I had picked up friends pointed it out....if people who lived in the deep south report losing their southern accent over time when they move north -- or west, or whatever -- why shouldn't people minus British accents wind up picking up a slight British tinge if they live in London for years....did I just defend Madonna??!!

RIP Phyllis Diller, a stalwart of TV, on Ed Sullivan and the talk-shows. I've read that in real life she was actually a classy lady. Did you ever meet her?

No, I did not. Met Rodney Dangerfield, but not Diller...

Ok Pookie, you have to admit that there's no one remaining on SNL that anyone in America is remotely familiar with. And since Maya Rudolph and Kristin Wiig departed, there's no one remaining worth watching. If NBC were smart it would fire Loren and higher a younger, hip, producer to help infuse it with some real talent. Someone like, say, Chris Rock. ... What's wrong with the execs over there, anyway? Between the dreck they're running during primetime (sans Grimm, which is decent), and SNL losing its relevance, they've become the NoBody Cares network.

Don't give up yet. It's an election year -- that's when "SNL" is at its best... I'm out of time. Thanks for joining me. I will not be chatting next week....see you in two weeks...

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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