The Latest in TV with Lisa de Moraes

Jan 04, 2013

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

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Ms. de M--I consider myself a Serious Student of Television and have attended your discussions for years. But I must have missed a class somewhere. What's a showrunner?

Hi. A show runner is the executive producer who actually "runs the show"... the top dog, if you will.. the day to day guy

There's a program on TLC (which I have come to believe stands for Total Losers Channel) called "Cheer Perfection." There is a mother on there who is beyond obnoxious to the point of being unspeakable. I know a lot of people feel that way about the "Dance Moms" (except maybe Holly) and a lot of the moms on "Toddlers & Tiaras." Why in heaven's name do these people allow all of America to see how horribly they behave? Have they no shame?

No.  No percentage in having shame in this Reality TV era...

Will Season Three of "Downton Abbey" also being editting out bits of scenes like PBS did in Seasons One and Two?

I hear yes, which may in part be due to the format in which PBS broadcasts, with those non-ads at the open and close, etc....

In case you missed it, Nancy Pelosi will be guest starring on the series finale of '30 Rock.'

Oh, forgot to post -- here is this week's reading material -- all one column's worth

I was watching a few episodes of The Tudors on New Year's Day and wondered if it counted as a crunchy gravel drama when the roads didn't have any gravel on them. What are the real defining aspects of a crunchy gravel dram?. Do you need crunchy gravel which implies a particular era between dirt paths and pavement? Or do you just need a plot based at least in part on a hereditary upper class where who marries (and/or sleeps) with whom is of significant importance?

I remember when Variety moved its offices out of Hollywood and, when some people nicked them for it, responded that Hollywood is a state of mind. Similarly, "crunchy gravel" is a state of mind, though of course it helps of the roads are crunchy...

Lisa, following your sage advice, I've never watched Two and a Half Men. Unfortunately, my father in law recently moved in with us and he LOVES the show. Watches it constantly. I can't find a single redeeming value. Life is hardly worth living if it means having to suffer through that dreck. And what is up with that strange barbershop quartet that sings "MEEEEEEEEEEN!" every 2 minutes? As if the show wasn't annoying enough, that really puts in over the top. Other than smashing my TV into little bits, is there any hope that the show will mysteriously cease to air starting, say, today? Please? At the very least, please lie to e and tell me it's not being renewed for next season and will no longer appear in syndication.

Life is hard and life is stern and for you that means living with "Men" returning next season -- presumably, since CBS's first new sitcom failed and second one may not ever see the light of day --  and living on for years and years in syndication. My advice to you: move into a smaller place where there's no room for dad-in-law...

May I just say that you look marvelous today. Thanks so much for continuing these chats!

You are welcome and thank you for putting up with this very slow chat.. Wifi at Winter TV Press Tour 2013 hotel is wonky...

I thought Executive Producer was more of a courtesy title-one that you bought either with actual money (financing) or given to an actor important to the show, along the lines of making someone a knight. Am I wrong? But it does give me the chance to revisit that old joke, "What does an associate producer do? An associate producer is the person who is paid to associate with the producer."

Oh, THAT old gag... you have just demonstrated why we need the title "show runner" because "exec producer" title has come to mean so many things -- like "actor on the show who now gets to double dip, salary-wise....

Now that "How I Met Your Mother" has been picked up for a ninth season, do the producers really expect viewers to stay interested as they drag out the Barney/Robin wedding and Ted meeting the mother until the series finale in May 2014? I'd love it if they introduced the mother at the end of this season but they won't.

Here's the bottom line: CBS is very committed to comedy blocks on Monday and Thursday. CBS's first new comedy failed. Its second new comedy may not happen, after one of the creators died suddenly (apparent suicide)...CBS needs to bring back existing comedies...

Pookster, being the good son that I am, spent a week with the 'rents over the holidays. That meant some parental/child bonding time in the evening over the tube of boob. I came to realize that there is not a single show on CBS that I watch. And haven't for years. Surely someone is noticing that somewhere?

Yes -- advertisers notice... CBS is an older skewing network and advertisers want to reach younger ones.. NBC is winning the season to date in young viewers, thanks to Sunday football and The Voice.....

Hi, LIsa. I caught the premeire of Buckwild last night. I felt I needed to supervise, given that i grew up about 45 minutes away. I found myself cringing throughout the entire episode. Not because of the supposedly "redneck" ways of the teens (I feel sorry for anyone who didn't have swimmin' hole) but because of how obviously contrived the whole thing was. Really? The just happened to find a random unused dump truck to turn into a redneck pool? Between that and the obviously canned lines, I found myself standing in front of the screen, fists clenched, shouting "oh yeah RIGHT!" every fifteen minutes. Just how scripted can a reality show be before they have to call it "staged performance by untrained actors?"

I wish I had a buck for every time a viewer who lives in an area that has become the focus of the lastest docu-soap reality series says something similar..."reality" TV is a constant reminder that the TV industry has a sense of humor

Pookie, is there any chance that PBS will air season 4 of Downton Abbey closer to the air date in the UK?

PBS suits have said they'd like that...It makes so much sense.. this idea of airing something here so many months after its broadcast in another market is so old fashioned...

In thinking about the comment about how badly all the moms on TLC shows behave, I got an idea for a new show. How about "OMG: I'm a Jerk!", in which various over-the-top moms confess that seeing themselves on TV opened their eyes to how awful they are. The show can document their wacky attempts at becoming better people even as they cluelessly continue to exhibit horrifying behavior.

And they can include sports-dads too!. Sanjay Gupta nad David Kelley are here now to talk about their new medical drama.. I've got to pay attention... Thanks for joining me on this way too slow and too short chat....Hope we can do better next Friday!

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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