The Latest in TV with Lisa de Moraes

Dec 07, 2012

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

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Dear Pookie: How is WETA UK doing in the ratings? It's marvelous to have British programming over the airwaves and I hope that WETA plans to stick with the station. Do tell me it will be around for a long time. Thank you!

Hi! Welcome to the Friday TV chat.

Don't have numbers at my fingertips but it's not just about ratings -- it's ratings against cost... Reruns of "Are You Being Served" have to be pretty cheap by now!

All hail the wonderful Lisa de Moraes! So, I'm confused. I know that cable TV in recent years has started these mid-season series breaks where even though it's still counts as one season, viewers have to wait months and months to see the second half of a season. But I've noticed that practice is now showing up on broadcast TV as well (e.g., Next week is being advertised as Nashville's last episode before the mid-season break.) Why are TV shows taking this season break approach? How is it an advantage to producers, actors, crew, advertisers, etc.? I don't get it. Thank you so much ahead of time for imparting your wisdom on this matter, pookie!

It's nothing new -- it's just new packaging... Since time began, the broadcast networks have run originals of new shows through the November sweep, then gone into reruns (or, more recently, took the show off and slapped something else in its timeslot) until the end of January when the February sweep started... And TV critics and Reporters Who Cover Television, and viewers, savaged them for it... Then the broadcast networks noticed that cable networks were doing virtually the same thing -- only with far longer breaks before original episodes returned, and TV critics and TRWCT and viewers weren't complaining, they were in fact lapping it up -- midseason finales, second-half-of-season premieres, etc... And the networks said "Let us do this too" and so that's why you're seeing the broadcast networks talk about fall season finales, and mid season breaks, and spring premieres.....and, it seems to be working!

Do you expect it to be renewed for 2013-14?

Yes.. It's still a very successful show for CBS.... amazing how well it holds up for such an ancient reality series because as we all know, a year in reality TV is like seven years for the rest of us -- like dogs...

When does it return and what current NBC show will it replace? I really liked this program in the beginning and hope it gets its mojo back.

Feb 5 is the return and NBC is doing its best to get the show's mojo back.. New show runner, bunch of cast whacked and new people brought in, and storyline in which a second play is being produced -- which maybe means not so much Kat McPhee screen time, which is all to the good.

In our house, we walways watch "How the Grinch stole Christmas" (Animated version only) Is there a holiday special that you like the best?

I am a sucker for Charlie Brown Xmas special -- and "Remember the Night" -- the best Xmas movie no one has seen. Barbara Stanwyck!

I thought they had a new sitcom "Friend Me" waiting in the wings, but I see they're bringing back "Rules of Engagement" to Monday Nights. What happened?

Back in October, one of the co-creators of "Friend Me" -- a CBS midseason comedy -- died -- apparent suicide... it's unclear whether this show will ever be seen.. CBS has bee mum since his death...

What will they do for the finale now that they've married off Liz and Jenna and laid Jack's irascible mom to rest? How many more eps before they pull the curtain?

Just five episodes left... but it's "30 Rock" on which five episodes is enough time to create an entirely new world order!

Appears to coming back to bite Matt Lauer. And a beautiful thing it is.

If I'm remembering correctly, "Today" may have won last week in 25-54 demo....but I take your point..

2 questions: what show's success has surprised you the most? And likewise- what show's lack of success has been the most surprising?

I was surprised that Demi Lovato and Britbrit did not move the needle at all for "X Factor."... I was not surprised in the least that "Arrow" did a very big number for CW -- I'd seen the workout scene in the pilot episode...

Any insight on whether "How I Met Your Mother" will get renewed for another season? The quality of the show has really gone down the tubes this season with all the cartoonish story lines and acting. As a long-time fan, I really hope they will wrap it up this season while viewers still care who the mother is and Jason Segel and NHP still have some dignity left.

With CBS's one new sitcom this season having already been cancelled, and its second new sitcom -- CBS only ordered two -- in question due to a tragic death of one of the creators -- and with CBS intent on keeping its traction going with comedy on Thursday, while needing to shore up its Monday which got hit with harder competition that its used to what with NBC actually having a pulse on the night (thank you "The Voice"!), I think CBS may need another season out of "HIMYM." Phew, that was a long-winded answer!

Any word yet on Brooke Burke-Charvet's thyroidectomy? I assume she'll be well enough to return for the Spring season of "Dancing with the Stars," won't she?

She was well enough to tweet immediately after surgery about how hard it was...there's irony for you....

When did the November sweeps run? I thought something seemed odd where i was getting repeats of shows. Also why did they move summer sweeps from August to July?

July is the traditional summer sweep month. Who told you it was August? And the November sweep ended Nov. 21...

Hooray!!! "Call the Midwife" is returning for a second season this spring, and with a Christmas special this holiday season. Any word on whether the sequel's as good as the original?

Viewers in the UK seemed to love it....the second season will be longer -- eight episodes, I think.

They're not showing a new episode next week. When is Mob Doctor coming back, Pookie?

"Mob Doctor" is taking a break for the American Country Awards next week, after which it will be burned off on Saturdays and Mondays....and then it'll be gone

Hey Pookie, did you see Yakult made a brief appearance on Wednesdays episode! Hopefully, we'll see a more active return to her acting duties during the second half of the season.

I haven't watched yet, but am delighted to hear it...thanks! Did Yakult finally get some lines?

Now I really want to know what the fix's answers to their tv questions were! Also, that question about mayors most likely to run for prez could just have easily been who's most likely to have a reality tv show by 2016...

I should check with them to see how they did with their TV questions? (For those of you who were not with us last week, some political questions accidentally got dropped into our chat queue....I did my best to uphold the Post standards of thoughtful political debate. I think it went well. Anyway, I wasn't sacked.

I just watched a DVR'd CSI episode with scenes set in Seattle. At first I was puzzled by a road in the middle of a bay, then saw a line of tall palm trees in the distance. I know you've mentioned this is a common practice, but it's the first time I've seen them do it to my city. The shots were brief, so surely they could have used a backdrop of CA evergreens which would resemble the Northwest. We can grow palm trees here, but they're short and rare. I felt mildly offended, but poured another glass of wine in solidarity.

Palm Tree Drinking Game is a time honored TV tradition. I sometimes wonder if the producers of shows deliberately leave them in, just so we can have a couple snorts... if so, we thank them...

Last night, such a train wreck. What was with the strange tattoo on Demi's face? And why was KKO dressed like a 9 year old girl? I'm hoping for Christmas Santa will bring a mirror to the set of that show.

Demi was wearing a temporary leopard spot tattoo in solidarity with the trainwreck known as CeCe who was her last surviving X-testant -- but who got the boot last night, so, don't worry, you will not see the strange tattoo on Demi's face again -- ever... And yes, Khloe Kardashian' Odom's outfit was very buttoned-up and non-Kardashian...

Is it weird that I like Deb hating on Dexter now that she knows what he has done because in real life they are divorced and I am sure a little of that anger must be real? Or, maybe I spend too much time thinking about these things. Do you know if Claire Danes and that British guy ever dated? Or, maybe Katey Sagal and that British guy with the motorcycle? My mind is mush. Time for the weekend.

I think Clare Danes is married and has not dated "that British guy" by whom I am guessing you mean her "Homeland" co-star Damian Lewis. And, if Katey Sagal is smart, she's not "dating" that "British guy with the motorcycle" from "Sons of Anarchy" since her husband is the show's creator, Kurt Sutter who, I'm just guessing, would frown on it...

How does "Big Bang" continue to create quality shows? So many other shows, like "Modern Family" have really lost their edge. Do you know why "Big Bang" continues to be good?

Chuck Lorre -- is that you? This just HAS to be someone from the show, or from CBS... this is the first time I have ever heard anyone suggest "BBT" has gotten better since it moved to Thursday -- and while simultaneously nicking  "Modern Family"...I admire your chutzpah! I hope you join us every week on the chat. Seriously!

I didn't think "Partners" was that bad. Does CBS have so many good comedies that they can chuck it aside?

No. They don't. But the numbers were not good...

Will it ever return? And if it does, will it still be as lame as it was by the time it got cancelled?

"Cougar Town" debuts on TBS on Tuesday, Jan. 8. And, as for changes: cursing! New show runner!

I have two! Bachelor Mother (with David Niven and (a non-dancing) Ginger Rogers and Holiday with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. I will now look up Remember the Night

Also great....

I thought I learned that from you...

Really, or was that my evil twin....Sweep months are: November, February, May, July

What about The Good Wife--do you know when will new episodes be aired?

It'll be back with new episodes on Jan 6

Has Angus Jones been fired yet? Will they replace him with a new, younger kid? They needed to do that anyway, to keep the original premise of the show even slightly relevant to its current content.

Chuck Lorre reportedly contacted Angus and said he wanted him on the show. Meanwhile, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, at the UBS conference, made a passing joke about the kid making $350,000/ episode while trash talking his network. And, Angus has been reported saying he did not think his comments would be seen by anyone outside that church --  which suggests he is a) pretty slow-witted and  b)willing to bite the hand that fed him  in order to be a big deal in the church because he didn't think he'd suffer any consequences -- which brings us back to 'a)'....anyway, it seems like everyone has moved on...

Is GMA getting any criticism for using Robin Roberts' illness to promote the show?

I know I'm kinda creeped out by it, but I haven't heard much criticism...

Hax is having her annual Hootenany of Holiday Horrors chat today. Do you have any holiday-related TV horrors that you'd like to share with your adoring chatters?

None I can think of now, unless Justin Bieber's latest Hammer-pant outfit on the Victoria's Secret Xmas-merchandising fashion show counts....someone please send him to "What Not To Wear"....

I still don't get it. What does sweep week mean? Why are we stuck by some methodology from 40 years ago in TV?

Because, pookie, we're dealing with Nielsen....which is very slowly converting markets to technology that does not require sweeps months... but, right now,  the country's smaller markets still count on it to set their ad rates.. By the time we're old and grey, our grandchildren will marvel there ever was such a thing as sweeps which, yes, is a very very silly thing in 2012...

Has changed, but also has new things to talk about with having three full time female characters instead of one.

The women bore me... I liked it better when it was about the guy geeks....

Any word on how his adding Richie Sambora this week has affected his ratings?

I have not seen any numbers but we already know it was a great add, right?

No way is it better. It went from being an awesome niche comedy that you could truly laugh at (if you got the humor) to the another run of the mill comedy aimed at everybody because people are too dumb. That's just dumb.

When they moved it to Thursday they made an affort to "broaden" out the show...I too liked it when it was a running  Cal Poly gag

Hey, now that Kathie Lee Gifford's Broadway musical is closing, maybe she'll have time to do another Christmas special...

golly I hope so... I miss Kathie Lee's Xmas specials....maybe that's my Xmas TV horror story?

OK, not TV, but with Martin Freeman and Bandersnatch in the thing, I hope it counts. I am actually very interested in this movie. The complaints about it take a while to "get going" make me want to see it more because I like the character development part of movies with good books behind them. So I actually took a few minutes and read some stuff on The Hollywood Reporter about the movie. I think I've lost 5 to 10 IQ points. Someone wrote an article in which the only "revelations" were that Peter Jackson really wanted Martin Freeman to play Bilbo and that Martin Freeman thought he was a good fit for the part (but wanted to be sure to say that others could have done it too)? That is an article? In further news, some idiot at the New York Times said in a review that Les Mis is from Victor Hugo's book about the French Revolution - which is not only wrong, it isn't even in the right century. How have you remained so clever while spending your time surrounded by this stuff?

Thank you very much. But, in the interest of full disclosure, you're chatting with the chick who once confused Mickey Rooney and Andy Rooney in a column ... Making it even worse, the column was about Mickey Rooney's bare backside being seen in a TV commercial. In my defense, Mickey Rooney is "Andy"  to millions, for having played a character of that name in those iconic Hardy flicks -- which really isn't fair..

Is there any chance that "Boss" will be picked up by another network? Your column indicated that "Magic City" is the Starz show the network is building around. Why was that the direction it's former HBO execs went with? I like MC okay, but it's light fare in most aspects to Boss.

The numbers weren't terrific in the first season, went down in the second season and Starz did not own the show, which meant they did not get revenue from overseas sales, etc...."Magic City" is a different story...

In case the Fix cancels again, what do you think of Senator Jim DeMint's announced resignation and its meaning for movement conservatives?

This one's easy: it means he will be the next politician to appear in an episode of "Parks and Rec" .....

Hey, Pookie: I read with interest last week that Jeff Zucker has been hired to rescue CNN. I'm not sure he's the right person for the job, but doesn't it seem that a lot of the big names in TV keep shuffling from one enterprise to another? What I would suggest to Mr. Zucker is this: Forget about prime time ratings and do what CNN does best -- report the news. Honestly, the international version of CNN (CNN International), with a heavy emphasis on news from around the world, is a better product than domestic CNN and it has several presenters -- Richard Quest and Becky Anderson, both based in London, come to mind -- whose programs are interesting to watch and learn from. And, while we get all claustrophobic with with Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room" here in the U.S., Europe gets to watch Chrstiane Amanpour's program during their prime time. Doesn't seem fair, does it?

Not sure they can have heavy rotation of Amanpour domestically until her ABC deal times out... Meanwhile, Jeff Zucker is a good news guy and a showman, which is what CNN needs domestically... So, fasten your seatbelts because it's going to be a bumpy ride....

Ugh, I agree. The only thing keeping me "watching" is I want to know who the mother is.

Afraid you may have to wait another season to find out....

Made the mistake of watching the rat episode and bailed halfway through. I bet you're going to tell me it's doing fabulously in the ratings and they're planning an episode that takes place in the sewer so they can combine bad acting, vulgar sex jokes, human waste, AND rats into a Very Special Episode.

It is doing well in the ratings and I think you've just described a May episode.....I have to constantly remind myself this show is from the guy who did Sex and the City all those years. apparently he's making up for lost time

So the new CBS cop show will be about NYC's new police commissioner... I thought Tom Selleck already had that job, and his show will be on right after the new one. Won't that be confusing to the CBS audience?

You betcha! and we can compare and contrast every week. Who is the better NYD police commissioner and why....can't wait!

I LOVE this show. HYSTERICAL. Am I the only one? I hope not! Any hope it will be renewed?

The numbers aren't great overall, but demographically it's okay.. jury's still out on this one, I'd say

Presumably, Angus's contract includes some penalty (beyond simply not paying him anymore) if he walks off the show -- otherwise, what contract? Also, the Bible does discourage converts from walking away from their obligations unnecessarily. I'm willing to wait until we see if he renews his contract before I get cynical about his motives.

I don't think you need to be cynical.. He's just a kid. Kids do dumb things. That's why they're kids...

Seeing previews for this. Surely it can't be as bad as it appears at first glance?


I saw big mountains in the background of Falling Skies when they were supposed to be walking through Richmond, Virginia.

What's next -- beachfront in "Chicago Fire"?

I don't miss the specials; I miss Tom Shaels' reviews of them.

me too... they were brilliant...

You don't actually need to keep watching just to find out who the mother was. As soon as it's been broadcast (if not before), you'll be able to read all about it (maybe even here). I'd rather do something else with my time, in the interim.

I did think that was a pretty weak excuse for tuning in every week... I promise I'll write about who the mother turns out to be when the show does its reveal...

I recently quit smoking something illegal and the main result is that I no longer have any interest in tv. Which sucks because another result from quitting is insomnia. Sitcoms have become unbearable. Should I start up again just so I can enjoy your chats? Just kidding, I'm going to be good.

You simply need to move to Colorado, or Washington... you're welcome!

Pookie, in your defense, for all we know, Andy Rooney could have been sitting at his desk without pants for all those years.

He did not indicate such, when we spoke the next morning....

Who's going to Rock the New Year's Eve now? Is is totally Seabiscuit's baby now?

Yes, though I think he's having some celebs stop by: Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen in Times Square....Fergie hosting from west coast, with performances by Brandy, FLo Rida, Pitbull, etc.

Were you -- having formerly been with "The Hollywood Reporter" -- as shocked as I was to read of the apology that THR issued in which it took blame (credit?) for the Hollywood Blacklist, which it claims the owner started in retaliation for not being allowed to buy a movie studio?

If you're asking was I surprised to learn of THR's role in the McCarthy Era, no, I was well aware of it...

I may have mentioned it before, but I always enjoy watching sci-fi show to see whether an alien landscape contains the geological formation known as "Kirk's Rock", because so many episodes of Star Trek were filmed there. It shows up in a lot of Westerns and even shows like "CSI, too! See it here:

Thanks so much -- this is wonderful!

I love this show! Very entertaining when you want to escape for an hour. Is is due to be renewed?

Not yet, but it will of CBS's more successful launches this season... not that his has been one of CBS's best seasons....

The AP is announcing that Stephen Colbert is NOT going to be appointed Senator from South Carolina.

Such a shame!

Lisa - Any chance Pan Am will ever return? Am I the only one who liked it? Okay, the plot lines were terrible but loved the fashion and hte exotic locales...

Not coming back. sorry. On the bright side, NBC is doing a Blackbeard the pirate drama, and reviving the Sound of Music, and doing a Dracula drama... so plenty of exotic locales and old fashion coming up...

Jake could find God and develop as a responsible military man. The character always functioned as a foil to Alan and Charlie; now instead of ignorance, the contrast could be virtue and Angus at least wouldn't have to act out scenarios that offend his conscience.

Or, he should just not renew his contract....

What do you think will happen to those Australian DJs who punked Kate MIddleton's hospital, now that the nurse they spoke to on the phone has apparently committed suicide? Be fired? Sued by the nurse's family? What are the legal liabilities for broadcasters (radio or TV) under such circumstances?

The station has apologized -- though not for the nurse having died.... but for having embarrassed the royal family or some such thing...this story is unspooling quickly...

But were you SURPRISED by the publication of the apology? Do you think it's sincere, or just a publicity ploy (on the theory that there's no such thing as bad publicity)?

When I worked there, under different ownership, there was some talk about addressing the subject but it came to nothing. The reporter who covered the guilds, etc. however, was very involved in efforts to give credits where they were due to industry writers, etc. who'd had to work under assumed names, or for no credit whatsoever, during the blacklist...

Is it true that this show is in trouble?? I absolutely love it - one of the only sitcoms I watch regularly.

Happy Endings is coming off ABC's schedule in march. ABC has decided to throw in the towel on a Tuesday comedy block and new comedies are going to get tryouts on Wednesday, so no room at the inn....

"Donovan's Reef," a great and touching comedy with John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Cesar Romero, Jack Warden, Dorothy Lamour, and others.

You lost me at "John Wayne." .....

Would be fun to do a game to see how many movies Ryan Murphy is referencing (or poaching -- take your pick) in this season of AHS: Asylum -- off the top of my head, I count -- the Exorcist, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Alien, Saw, and Silence of the Lambs. I'm sure there are more. It's such gory fun though and Lily Rabe as Sister Mary Satan is fantastic.

It's been a pretty wild season... I wonder how he's going to top this next season?

Wait...that's real? I thought it was one of those joke shows on 30 Rock.

Nope. It's a real comedy, on NBC. Starring Bill Pullman as the POTUS, Jenna Elfman -- gak!) as First Lady,  Josh Gad as the idiot son,  and Martha MacIsaac as the knocked-up daughter. Oh, and hilarity ensues... I'll leave you with that. Thanks for joining me!

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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