The Latest in TV with Lisa de Moraes

Nov 02, 2012

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

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Pookie, I understand regular programming getting preempted for coverage of Hurricane Sandy, but why was "30 Rock" replaced by "The Voice" last night? Now we won't see Pt II of the "30 Rock" election special until after the election! Also, if you know - How far in advance is the Post's TV Week printed, and/or how often are the online TV listings updated?

First thing you need to understand is that "The Voice" is THE most important franchise NBC has on its schedule, because, unlike football, it's year round. Okay, it's a toss-up whether it's "Voice" or football, but it's a toss-up for sure. "The Voice" has put NBC into first place this season to date, much to the surprise of everyone -- including NBC suits and Comcast ones too... on Monday, "The Voice," like a lot of other programming, experieenced massive pre-emptions in key markets (like New York which is the country's biggest tv market and accounts for a huge percentage of the country's TV audience considering it's just one market, and Boston, and Philly, and Washington, etc). Meanwhile, you and I may be big fans of "30 Rock" but its audience is teensy and it's a terminal show. So NBC is looking for someplace to rerun "The Voice" episode, and Thursday gets elected... Meanwhiel, the Post's TV Week is printed a couple weeks in advance, I'm told, and the online TV listings in the paper are updated by Emily Yahre constantly, but her TV listings are not the listings you see online. The grid you see online is provided by Tribune and I'm told is updated daily. Let me know if they did not have "The Voice" listed for Thursday -- did they still show that it was going to be "30 Rock"? -- because, if so, I will speak to the people here who have the contact with the provider. NBC announced that change well in advance of Thursday, so it's hard to think of an excuse for not having it updated. Please let me know.. thanks.

Hi, I realize this is on the bottom of the priority list when it comes to the devastation caused by Sandy, but any idea if those of us without power (I'm writing this on Thursday afternoon from central NJ still no power restoration in isght) can see shows we missed this week? I do not have a smart phone and cannot access the internet during this power outage. I was hoping for something to look forward to when all around me so bleak.

I'm told networks are trying to work this out as we chat... I don't have answers but the networks are very aware of the issue and, in this age of so much audience fragmentation, does not want to alienate loyal viewers... will keep you posted.

If "Animal Practice" was just that bad, why can't NBC start showing Community in its place? Do they really think "Whitney" is funnier?

I bet someone  "Community" fans would find a way to complain about the show being brought back to Thursday nights -- the biggest night of the week in all of TV -- instead of being shoved on to Friday nights. So, thank you! I know it's hard to wait until February, when NBC has said they're bringing back "Community" on Thursday nights --  but honestly, NBC didn't order enough episodes to get it through a whole season, so if they brought it back now, you'd be complaining about NBC taking it off the schedule in, oh, say early March.... I agree, "Whitney's" not that funny. But, "Whitney" is a new show -- read: the future. "Community" is a show winding its way up to enough episodes to have a full syndication library -- read: not the future....Also -- and this is important: "Community" is from Sony (with a cut going to NBCUniversal). "Whitney" is produced by NBCUniversal, only.  This is a business.

Who chopped off Kelli Picker's hair? She doesn't have cancer, does she?

She said she shaved her head in support of a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer...

It was very gracious of Letterman to visit the idol-worshiping Jimmy Kimmel, but . . . how do CBS suits feel about it? They can't be too psyched about boosting the ratings of a rival. Did they have any power to stop it, and if so, did they simply make the calculated decision not to pick a fight with the cranky old coot?

Letterman has a unique relationship with CBS since he actually owns his show, and Ferguson's... Unlike Jay Leno, for instance, who is a hired gun -- employed by NBC to star in the NBC-owned "Tonight" show... Letterman's Worldwide Pants has control over CBS late night shows, so I don't think CBS is in a position to tell Dave he can't do the other network's show, in the same way, say NBC could tell Leno it would rather he did not show up. That said -- did you notice Jay Leno showed up on CBS's Worldwide Pants-prouced Craig Ferguson late night show? And did you notice that Comedy Central's Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert showed up on Kimmel's show last night.. It's like somebody declared this Crossing Network Lines Week in late night....

Wouldn't the loss of so many tri-state viewers hopelessly skew the results on a show like "Dancing with the Stars"? I was surprised they chose to run a live episode this week knowing it would be pre-empted in a major market.

Ah, but guess what? It wasn't preempted in Washington, for instance, and did the biggest number in the timeslot in this market... Apparently after a day sitting at home watching Sandy coverage, people in Washington were desperate for some good old fashioned TV entertainment and ABC was happy to provide it.. I think it was smart counter programming, though I'm sure there are some who think that heretical...

Who is winning? Who is losing (other than TV Watchers, of course)? WHen will one of these stupid newtork programmers take one off so my DVR can finally catch them?

CBS is winning Thursdays with its comedies and NBC once upon a time ruled Thursday with comedies and would like to do so again... NBC does well enough to keep it up, because they have focused on very nichy shows that have well educated, $125K+ home viewers and advertisers pay a premium for those viewers. That said, NBC is making a fraction of what it used to make on Thursdays in its glory days, relatively speaking.... So, in answer to your question: don't hold your breath...And, I don't know if you consider "Vampire Diaries" and "Beauty and the Beast" to be comedies, like I do, but technically, they're dramas...

I know political ads can't be banned, but can we at least tax them at 400 to 1000 percent if they aren't from the actual candidate? Are the fall shows shorter for all the ads?

I think there are just fewer ads for erectile dysfuction medications, cars, local show promos, etc....I didn't think anything could make me miss Viagra ads featuring old folks nekked in side by side bathtubs planted in their back yard -- is that for Viagra or some other ED drug -- but the political ads have done just that...

Why doesn't NBC replace every show in its lineup with Community? Why don't they air a three-and-a-half-hour block of Community on Sunday nights once football is over? Look, it's a good show and all, but these people are never satisfied. It reminds me of what Louis CK said about our inability to handle slow internet buffering or feeds on our smartphones. "It's going to outer space! You can't wait five seconds for it to get back from space?"

"Community" fans have a persecution complex that rivals Bristol Palin's whenever she's on "Dancing with the Stars."  I can't explain it, since they, you know -- WON, and their show is surviving, despite its ratings, and has been put on the biggest night of TV on the schedule... And, to your point, that Louis CK bit was called "Everything's amazing and nobody's happy." I think that perfectly describes the "Community" story and its fans.

At least she didn't alter her shoes.

thank goodness...

Gotta be soon, right? More than anything, Simon's choice of a Kardashian to host the "X Factor" makes me think he is way behind the cultural curve.

..."The Voice" has the stench of desperation this season, doesn't it? And what's up with Simon and his new double chin?

He's almost enjoyable as a guest... I hate him as the interviewer. Stomps all over the guest's punchline. But he dissed Geoff, paid him no attention. Leno was great as a guest on Letterman's Late Night shows.

Leno is much better as a guest than as a host -- I agree... loved that he dissed Geoff, ignoring him entirely, which is the only way to handle that tiresome gag... love Craig's show, but not the gadget

So I understand that the long-running series, "The 2012 Presidential Election," is having a special multi-hour series finale on Tuesday, as it has finally compiled enough episodes to be syndicated. Any word on whether they'll have an all-star special finale, bringing back cast members from earlier months? If so, will they all get drunk together like at the Cheers finale?

The Cheers finale was so much fun to watch because, covering TV, I knew many of the people sitting at the bar, including former NBC programming chief Brandon Tartikoff and the great Grant Tinker...I remember it fondly... sorry, I got distracted...yes, I think there should be drinking involved... and, not to change the subject, but I have finally figured out the X Factor drinking game.  Britney Spears has been sooo disappointing this season -- no meltdowns, and, in fact, no shred of spontaneity at all. In fact, she's so programmed she's like Geoff....But, one of the things she has been brainwashed to say -- over and over -- is "I was pleasantly surprised." ....New Game is Born

I loved that show, and am still hanging on, but they better make this the last season! They all must have better things to do. And hopefully we'll see the mother in more than just the last 5 minutes of the last show.

Given that CBS is now struggling on Mondays -- getting the air punched out of it by "The Voice" -- my guess is CBS will try to squeeze at least another season out of "HIMYM" because a new show is going to have a very hard time launching on the night, even surrounded by CBS comedies... The good thing about competition reality shows that are so overplayed -- as NBC has done -- and  if your a competing network, is that they tend to collapse from exhaustion fairly quickly, "Idol" being a notable exception because Fox carefully did NOT run it two and three times a year, as NBC has done with "The Voice." ...Nobody's saying it, but "X Factor" in addition to being a gaudy mess, has contributed mightily to the ratings decline of "Idol" and whereas Fox suits once said they had no choice but to take "X" because if they didn't, another network would and that would have really hurt the network and "Idol," I think we can now conclude based on this season's ratings that they actually had nothing to worry about.."X" -- in its first live elimination episode last night, clocked a lousy 6 million viewers....that's terrible.

re "'The Voice' has the stench of desperation this season, doesn't it?" BTW, which contest shows are live vs taped -- I had thought "The Voice" was live ...

yes, I meant "X" -- thanks for clarifying.....

That little girl who cried over the election news coverage should get her own show.

She's either the most adorable little spokesperson for those of us watching swing-state political ads on TV -- or the best little actress in the world. Either way -- give her a show!

Pookie, I am not going to be able to watch election coverage via cable. Do you know whether anyone is going to be streaming live coverage over the interweb? It can even be fake news programming, like Comedy Central or Fox.

I think everyone is.. And, if you can't watch via cable because you're swamped in New York, BOTH ABC and Comedy Central are going to have their live coverage that night on their respective Times Square jumbotrons....

I think they actually aired part 2 of the election episode on Wednesday.

Honestly, even diehard fans of shows -- and network execs --  are confused as to what was slapped where... and some of these changes were made too late, I'm told by network suits, for them to have been picked up by "season passes," etc... It's a total mess...

Any tried & true approaches to election night? I'm thinking key words could be "win column" "undecideds" "Sandy" "too close to call".... Any others ideas? Anything you're expecting to see or would like to see? I'd like to see a straw poll done exclusively with TLC, BRAVO and History reality cast members.

I love both your ideas and think we should come up with other ideas for alternate election night viewing.. If only we could get TLC and Bravo and History to play....

So they brought in Peter Pan and Dr. Frankenstein to Storybookland. How long before Disney makes them take Bob Fett and the Star Wars Trilogy too?

I think you've just laid out next season... especially now that Disney's buying Lucas's operation...

I don't have a TV, so watch all my favorite shows online. Do views on Hulu and the network's websites get counted and incorporated into ratings? I really want to support my favorite shows that I know are on the bubble (ie Community, Parks and Rec). It seems like they should care about online views (since there are commercials), but do they? I do admit to watching all Fox shows on illegal sites because of their 8-day release delay, I just can't wait that long for them to make it to Hulu!

They do care passionately, and the networks continue to be frustrated that they can't monetize you the way they can people watching on TV's the counting of you that lags so far behind...hopefully, the head-counters will catch up sometime soon

I am well aware the previews are about gaining interest in a show so that you will watch and many times are edited in such as way that it misrepresents what the actual plotline will be. The preview for last week's episode though was a particularly egregious example of this. Instead of "Indecent Proposal" we got Femme Fatale. I recommend that this be added to your textbook an televisionology.

NBC's marketing department is notoriously creative/maddening, in re "gotcha" promos that mislead...

I live in Pennsylvania and still have no power, so I stayed in a hotel near my office last night and was looking forward to watching the NBC Thursday comedies. Yes, I know that is something no one says, but, you know, it's a special situation. I had not planned to, and did not want to, watch "The Voice." It's already been kind of a lousy week, and NBC made it worse.

I'm with you -- we need normalcy!

With a newborn I find that my television watching time has been severely curtailed. I admit I'm a bit of a boring procedural type of guy (reality TV does little for me) but older shows like NCIS just aren't cutting it for me. What should I replace my 2 hour NCIS block with on my DVR?

"Elementary" is a procedural, with a Sherlock-ian twist. And JJ Abrams' "Person of Interst" is also a procedural, but with a JJ twist... I'd recommend both, if you're a fan of procedurals... Oh, and, do you like Dick Wolf shows? There's always new "Chicago Fire"....

Is Malibu Country the best show of the new season, or is it the best show of all time? I'm watching either way, but I'd like to print out your response and put it in my Reba McEntire scrapbook.

Or, maybe it's the show that makes me want to stab my eyes with sharp objects whenever the great Lily Tomlin pops up, playing demented-and-yet-somehow-wise Granny. I'm going with the third option...Did Tomlin really need the money that badly? I weep for Tomlin whenever I see her on this show... 

Or are NBC execs secretly thrilled that Hurricane Sandy's destruction gives them a chance to promote Matt Lauer, overpaid host of NBC's down-in-the-ratings "Today" show, by having him host a prime-time telethon for hurricane relief -- thereby getting lots of prime-time exposure that might boost morning viewership? (Is "viewership" a word?) No wonder other networks didn't want to air this. Or am I wrong?

First: there is absolutely no way to ever be too cynical when discussing the TV industry.

Second: you are spot on.

Third: 'viewership' is a word.

Are they purposely pumping up the background graphics, adding more dancers and including background singers so that we won't hear how awful some of the contestants are this year? Other than Emblem3 and Cece (though I prefer old leopard painted bad attitude Cece) nobody is that interesting this year. I thought that Simon said they were going to tone things down this year and focus on the singing?

If Simon said that, there was no follow-up. Wednesday night, I was having trouble actually FINDING the singer on the stage for all the colors, light shows, backup dancers, etc... Interesting that sing for survival night, aka Thursday, was a much more interesting night because there were no light shows, less color and NO DANCERS and you could actually focus on the singing... The Wednesday night "X" show is such a horror and such a mess, it makes "American Idol" look like "Kennedy Center Honors." Oh, and I respectfully disagree in re Emblem3 and Cece.. Britney's group WAS the most interesting because those three 13-year-old chicks are all great singers: Carly Rose, Beatrice and Diamond White.. Sadly, Britney send Diamond home last night so she could hang on to the utterly mediocre Arin, because, as she's said several times, she thinks he's a hottie...

I am smitten with Nashville. I let it build up on my DVR before forcing myself to watch and then couldn't get enough. So this past Wednesday my *bleeping* DVR failed to record it. What did I miss? Oh, I also saw that Mob Doctor is coming back. Is that true or just a funny rumor?

You can watch the "Nashville" episode online -- ABC's site... and yes, "Mob Doctor" is back...

I have 3 kids who make me have a limited attention span. 30-minute shows are all I can watch for the most part. "Ben and Kate" has some very nice writing, but Kate - well, she's awful. She has a voice that sounds like she expired yesterday. (I tried to write that 6 times nicely and that is apparently how nice I get.) She seems bored and tired of everything. I think the writers are feeling mean to her, because this week's episode made her ridiculous and not comedy ridiculous, stupid ridiculous. I feel a bit sad because I think there is hope for this show and these writers need to be writing for a better show. I like the two sidekicks. Her brother is interesting. I just cannot tolerate her. Besides her parentage, how on earth did she get this show? Or is there a besides?

There is no "besides"... She is the next generation's Kate Hudson....

Does this show qualify as a crunchy gravel drama? I've enjoyed watching it very much.

Absolutely! And, for those of you who have not seen the little girl crying over the presidential race -- mentioned earlier, here is the video.

Just saw a comedy is switching from 1-camera to multiple cameras. Could you explain one more time a all the ramifications of this?l

The show is "Up All Night." It was a single-cam show and it's taking a break to turn into a multi-cam... Here's what that means: A single-cam show is one that is shot like a film, without a studio audience. This means you can have lots of exteriors, etc... A multi-camera show is one that's shot in a studio, with an audience and doesnt' go outside much, etc... Think "Two and a Half Men" and how many scenes are shot in that living room/kitchen...."Up All Night" is not doing well, ratings-wise... my guess is that by making it a multi-cam, they're hoping to make itmore "SNL"-ish....NBC has long wanted to get back into the multi-cam game.. CBS is very very successful with multi-cam comedies and ABC has been making a big push to get back into that game with shows like Tim Allen's "Last Man Standing."

BAH HA HA HA That made me choke on my sandwich when I read this. Thank you.

You are welcome!

How long before Princess Leia joins the Disney stable of Princesses?

She's perfect for the Disney stable of Princesses? You're hot holding her up as some beacon of feminism or something, are you?

We need a new category, Pookie: Crunchy Cobblestone Drama.

I cant' remember too many categories... crunchy gravel is a state of mind, anyway...

It's always worth remembering the analysis of Fred Allen: You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood, place it in the navel of a fruit fly, and have room for three caraway seeds and a producer's heart.

Thank you for remembering. You made me laugh out loud -- even after watching two consecutive nights of "X Factor" ....

Republican win a state - Drink Red Bull & Vodka. Democrats win a state - Blue Hawaii. If a Swing State is called, do a swing Dance. If it gets called back, sing Paul Simon's "You can me Al" (for Al Gore). New York gets called, drink a Long Island Iced Tea. Missouri gets called, drink a Missouri Mule. Alabama gets called, drink an Alabama Slammer. If Arizona gets called for the democrats, drink a Blue Arizona. Obama gets declared the winner, drink a Blue Martini. Romney gets called, drink a Tequilla Sunrise, since his family came from Mexico. If it's like 2000 where we don't know, drink a big Bloody Mary!

I think I love it though, I confess, I don't even know what's in some of these many interesting new drinks since my cocktail waitress days!

How much in the minority am I that Reba Mcintyre makes me want to poke my eyes out whenever she's on-screen? There's something creepy about her that so unsettling...anyone? Or does she have the best agent in the industry b/c she keeps getting sitcoms.

I'm sure she has a good agent, but she also has a huge fanbase... She's what you call a "pre-sold commodity" and in an age where the TV audience is so split up among networks, a "pre-sold" is a very very big plus....

Idris Elba as Luther. That is all.


How has the second incarnation of "Upstairs, Downstairs" been doing on PBS, ratings-wise? (E.g., compared to "Downton Abbey").

no comparison...

Here are some more terms: Electoral College, swing state, super PAC, on the ground, Twitter. Actually, with this many terms, everyone would be dead by the time Minnesota reports. Make it Bingo instead, and if you complete a row, you drink! Much safer.

Yes, we don't want to overload the local hospital ER's with alcohol poisoning cases....

Not her, get today's Carrie Fisher into the Disney princesses. Much more interesting.

so not going to happen.. but funny and I'd watch that...

I know you cover entertainment TV, but since the Post no longer has media critic, I thought I'd submit this to you. Network news coverage of Sandy's aftermath has been awful! The anchors/reporters seem to be incapable of stepping back and putting themselves in the position of viewers in the rest of the US who have never been to New York city, have no mental image of "the iconic Atlantic City boardwalk" (did it used to be more than planks?), don't know what Breezy Point used to look like or need to check a map to know where Hoboken is and why its significant. I realize this story is very personal to them, but as national anchors it's their job to put it in perspective for the rest of the United States, not lead the tri-state area's collective mourning.

I could not agree more....

I don't think the drinking game chatter wants to live to see the new president in action....

sounds that way, doesn't it?

So CBS didn't make Dave stop tweeting? He just got tired of it?

Did Dave Letterman really tweet with regularity and by that I mean anytime other than then Justin Bieber was on his show?

For TCM, "How Would Tom Joad Have Voted?" This could either be a one-off, with a panel of experts explaining why a slew of classic characters would have voted for either candidate, or a recurring series of short subjects. A similar idea would work for TV Land. Surely Bravo or TLC or the Food Network would welcome a show about how to prepare for an election night party. And for the History Channel, "Hitler Votes!"

No, that's Military Channel programming now.. You'd have to do something about pawning or picking for History Channel..

If it doesn't work as a 4 camera comedy, can they next try doing it like an old BBC show where it's split between crappy video inside and crappy film outside?

You mean like Benny Hill? That would  be wonderful....

How come Martha Plimpton hasn't become the biggest star on TV yet? She should be.

I can't explain it... the woman is brilliant...

Too soapy for me so far. What do you think of it?

Too Dick Wolf...

Gritty fog dramas

yes, but I'm sticking with crunchy gravel... it's such a lovely image...

Maybe they can squeeze some more seasons out of that miserable soup bone by positing that the kids were adopted, so Ted doesn't actually meet their mother until they're over 5 years old.

I'm sure they're tossing around ideas of this nature right now...

I was surprised to see that the concert tonight is only scheduled for an hour. You would think NBC could have spared more than an hour of its Friday night lineup. Do you think a bigger event will be planned for another time on a cable network?

I think we would have heard about it by now... was one announced while we've been chatting?

That one is Cialis. (Yes, I tend to watch a lot of news, even though I'm only 41. TV news is almost exclusively drug-funded.)

 Thanks for clarifying. We do strive for accuracy....

Lydia Callis, the sign-language interpreter for Mayor Bloomberg. The lady's a rock-star!

everyone's obsessed with her... why haven't we seen her on Today show yet?

Will all the haters please shut up already? You want to know why there's so much consternation about the Feb. move? Because it's the third missive that Greenblatt sent about the show and it's ever-moving timeslot. It's really nice that it's back on Thursdays, but I'll believe it when I see it. Kisses, Pooks!

You mean it's like the professor husband who swears this time he's really going to stop shagging the co-eds and be monogamous? You have a hard time believing? I now get it -- thank you for explaining...

Drinking game - Every time a network calls a state for your preferred candidate... take a shot. Or if your preferred candidate is not doing so well, take a shot when the call a state for the other guy. Either way, you won't remember the outcome in the morning.

That does seem to be the goal of many on this chat for their election night viewing...

She's got the type of shoes that go with everything don't you think?

you betcha! I'm so out of time... Thanks for joining me... I'll find out what's up with our online listings and report back next week... have a great weekend!

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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