The Latest in TV with Lisa de Moraes

Mar 01, 2013

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

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Love that last week's chat featured a Jane Eyre discussion in addition to "Downton." British heavan! Just wanted to say that the best Jane Eyre version, though, is definitely the under appreciated broadway musical from 2000. It's what turned me onto the novel. Last year's film version is a close second.

I think you and I were the only people who bought the tickets and saw that!

"Modern Family" is suffering from the popular show disease where everybody is likable. They need a mean character. And more Nathan Lane.

Maybe Ed O'Neill's new baby can turn out to be satan's offspring...but I have to respectfully disagree. America clearly likes an ensemble show where everyone is likable. ..and yes, more Nathan Lane....Meanwhile, can we talk about "Duck Dynasty" pulling in a bigger audience than anything on NBC? What's wrong with the development execs at NBC that they get whomped by a show about guys who make duck calls?

Thoughts on him as Oscar host? Also, how did they do that thing with the Ted doll?

When I've attended Oscars and they've pulled stunts like that, we saw it on the screens....I thought he was terrific as Oscar host, though others disagree strongly -- like some women's groups, some Jewish groups, some Bway musical groups, some.......

Any chance that Tina Fey and Amy Pohler can host next year?

Fey has already pre-emptively said "no way" but based on nothing. My guess is she just wants to be begged... They were great at the Globes and there's a chance neither of them will have a primetime show on NBC next season so why would ABC object to having them host the Oscars? I think it's a terrific idea.

"'It's not easy to be a taste-master in programming at a network,' he revealed, as if it were rocket science." What did you mean: that tastemastering is easy, or that everyone knows tastemastering is NOT easy? I think the second is true -- programming isn't as easy as it looks -- but there are still an astonishing number of people who think it is. These are the same people who think Fred Astaire didn't have to rehearse his dancing, and the same people who think you can report and write as well as you without doing any actual reporting or rewriting. (Hmm... this is gloomier than I meant to be. How do I get out of this? If I were Seth McFarlane, I'd say "boobs.")

What I meant was that if that Disney suit trying to convince investors at that confab that it was too hard for the ABC programming suits to have realized in advance that viewers would not take to an all-star edition of "Dancing" was full of hooey, and that if any of them had just  walked out to any street corner and polled people as to whether they'd like to watch an edition of "Dancing" in which the best celeb dancers all came back and did it again, 9 out of 10 would have responded, "NO way! The fun of "Dancing" is watching celebs who don't know their right foot from their left being taught how to dance by tempermental pros!" Aka -- not rocket science.

Lisa, you look marvelous, as always. But where's your column detailing the effects of the sequester on our Nation's greatest resource, television?

Fewer military recruiting ads, more "buy gold now" ads, more reverse-mortgage ads, fewer reality TV series partially funded/advised/etc. by govmt agencies, etc....

Yes, but to be fair, anything performs better than NBC now. A Matlock rerun also pulled in more than a first-run episode of one of the new sitcoms last night. Yes, it was 1600 Penn and yes, only showed the Matlock in Cleveland, but still - MAAAAATTTLOCK!

Thank goodness there's CW. Otherwise the NBC execs wouldn't have jobs...

He is edgy. Television is currently edgier and better than film. The Oscars reward 'safe' and punish edgy. Therefore, the Academy couldn't handle Seth. If they want someone safe and tapioca-like, they need to exhume Bob Hope.

You are wrong pookster.... The academy could handle Seth. The academy has given a statement in support of Seth. The academy is firmly pro-Seth. It's all those other groups, and TV critics, that have their undies in a bunch...

Who thinks pointless dance "themes" add anything (besides time) to the telecast? And besides Jennifer Hudson they were pretty lame anyway. Liked the dance teams in the opening but they should've realized a little William Shatner goes a long, long way. Daniel Day-Lewis was surprisingly charming, though.

Shatner gag was good but went on too long. I hated the two opening dance numbers because none of those movie stars up on stage could, you know -- DANCE... If they're going to put dancing on the Oscars, make sure it's good dancing, not "ooh it's Joseph Gordon-Levitt" dancing....Jennifer Hudson was great. Shirley Bassey was dancing, especially when the show host can't dance either.  Babs Streisand would not have been missed had her tune been cut. Anybody else out there want to weigh in? All critiques welcome!

What are the ratings for Zero Hour? The show is laughably awful. Rosicrucians, incompetent FBI agents, Meryl Streep's kid as a math genius, Einstein is one of the twelve apostles, a kid being raised to be the next Hitler, Jesus stored underwater being raised from the dead? Or maybe they stole the Ark of the Covenant from Spielberg's warehouse? They've thrown everything at the wall & it stuck! All that's missing is the kitchen sink, the Rambaldi Device & a secret hatch!

Don't forget the clocks!

The Von Trapp Family Singers.....They're gone! I love any and all Sound of Music references and that one kicked serious ass.

A hilarious bit, though you could see it coming a mile away. Are you as surprised as I am that so many people who cover TV don't realize that MacFarlane always does a Hitler joke -- kind of like how Alfred Hitchcock always walked through some scene in his movies? The press got so upset about his Hitler gag at the unveiling of the Oscar nomineees -- not because it was a bad joke (it was very bad) but because it was a Hitler joke, period. The Trapp family gag, by way of introducing Christopher Plummer, made me giggle. Very Mel Brooksian. 

Is he always such a big baby? People are different than him. Why should everyone cater to his whims?

Nobody needs to cater -- they just need to respect his decision to cancel. Kimmel's show should not have booked him that night in the first place. Unless they wanted to create the controversy -- clever, clever Kimmel show bookers!

Seems like Lily has become the mean character. And not in a good way.

Yes, I'd noticed she's pretty stern with her two dads. Which is very funny.

Only 69. Very sad.

Death by pancreatic cancer is sad at any age.

I thought the We Saw Your Boobs song was pretty funny-- juvenile, but funny. The pre-recorded reaction shots were funny, too. I was only disappointed that he didn't follow up with one for the guys called We Saw Your Junk. Of course, it would have been a much shorter song...

Which I think was the point of the "We Saw Your Boobs" number....

I didn't care for some things in this year's Oscars, but the worst was one no one else seemed to have noticed. In the "To the Losers" duet, MacFarlane began to rhyme Helen Hunt's name with a -- uh, very bad name used by men who hate women-- but I think everyone missed it because they were running the credits over it. Songwriter Seth was pleased to put one over on us, I think. Did you -- or anyone else-- notice this?

Except he did not use the word, so no uproar is the appropriate reaction...It's like when, in the wonderful old Preston Sturgess film "Lady Eve,"  everyone on the boat wants to order Pikes Pale, the Ale that Won for Yale, because the Pikes heir is on board and all the eligible women have their sights set on him,  and the exasperated bartender tells the waiter demanding more Pikes Pale that he should tell the customers to go to -- Harvard.

I really enjoyed Seth McFarlane as the host of the Oscars. And I'm in the wrong demographic--a female in her mid fifties!

Apparently you're a young guy at heart....

Are we talking about Mamie G? Did her Emily Owens show get canceled, or is it resting comfortably somewhere for a while?

Gone, and forgotten...

Odds of another season without Larry Hagman?

slim if these numbers keep up...

Isn't he busy on The Good Wife? or do I have him mixed up with someone else?

nope -- Nathan Lane really gets around...

Why didn't he tell the booker that he wouldn't appear on a show that featured guests promoting hunting, or cooking meat, or whatever? If those are his conditions for performing, it's his responsibility to make them know, not the show's responsibility to ask him. It's quite possible the booker knew very little about Morrissey, other than that he's a singer who has been on some other shows before his one.

It's a booker's job to know these things. For instance it's a booker's job to know not to book Chris Brown the same night as Frank Ocean. Why should Morrissey have to educate the booker? It's not like he's kept his animal activism a deep dark secret. How about introducing the booker to a thing we call "google"...or is that too hard?

She's perfectly competent but I don't see the spark that fueled her mom's career.

she's just fine for TV

All the pointless dance numbers ("show your boobs") and way too long skits (the Shatner segment) do is make viewers mad when the show invariably runs long. Please eliminate these stupid things and maybe the show won't run til midnight!

If you eliminate all if it, you'd be left with nothing but Anne Hathaway acceptance speeches -- and nobody wants that ...

Yup. I could see it coming a mile away, but I love The Sound of Music (to the point that I have a dress from the Goodwill which I think is made out curtains which I only wear on Halloween, I swear). But how many people didn't get it? And what does that say about society?

That they can learn something from Seth MacFarlane? I give up, what?

That child does an amazing deadpan delivery. Her exchange with Elizabeth Banks at the end of this week's episode was classic.

I too love Lily...

I'm a feminist Jewish woman and I didn't mind Seth's routine - in fact, I thought "We Saw Your Boobs" was funny. My biggest criticism of Seth is that he's not good delivering a punch line - he either giggles at it or swallows it. The man needs stand-up coaching!

He's not a pro, that's for sure... hopefully, when he hosts the show for a third time he'll have his delivery down...

Is singing a song about boobs edgy or sophomoric?

Is there a difference?

I know this may be blashphemy, but I always mix up Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon.

Me too....

So Seth Macfarlane has already announced he'll never host the oscars again. Do you think he's just tryng to get more money, get the producers to beg him, drum up more interest, or is it legitimate he won't host. A bit surprising they wouldn't ask him again given the great ratings this year.

Given how busy he is -- three TV series, or is it four, and another in development, and a sequel to "Ted" in the works, etc., why would he do it again? It's and honor to do it once. It's a chore to do it twice...

Why would anyone want to do the Super Bowl Halftime show or host the Oscars anymore? Yes the audiences are huge (110 & 40 million), but the audience ranges from 3 to 103, every race, every religion, etc. No matter what you do, you will annoy somone who will take to social media to say that you're absolutely terrible.

So long as they spell your name right -- it's all good.

If they want to get young men to watch, they should add a "best video game" category. Also: Xtreme Sports! Also: No Gurls Allowd!

Or, they could just ask Seth MacFarlane back! He hit a ratings home run among young guys...Sean Combs and MacFarlane's "Ted" star Mark Wahlberg are among those who gave him rave reviews, though I see his  "We Saw Your Boobs" production number got some female politicians in California pretty knicker knotted. And some Jewish organizations didn't like his Ted gag about Hollywood, etc...People sure do take the Oscars seriously. 

I do like the show (with the exception of the two young magazine staff characters who cannot act), but will it survive?

Nobody loves a good conspiracy drama more than moi but the prospects for this one are not great. After opening with the smallest in-season debut ratings ever for a scripted ABC  show, it fell another 20 percent from there. 

No Sylvia Kristel in the "In Memoriam" portion. I'm bummed. (If Seth McFarlane can host, you can put Sylvia Kristel in the "In Memoriam").

I'm in total agreement in re Kristel.  That In Memoriam got cut short this year, it appeared, to make room for Babs Streisand to sing "The Way We Were."

I had this idea that TV ads are paid for up front (so the network will have some money with which to make a show), based on past ratings. But for a show like the Oscars, the ratings don't really matter, since next year's show could be completely different (new host, new nominees). So will this year's advertisers get a bill after the fact due to the ratings being better than expected in the most-desired demographics?

There’s no set rule, in re trophy show ads and guarantees. That said, here's how it generally works: For the bigger trophy shows – Oscars included – an advertiser that’s taken a big position on the show – is, for instance, the sole auto advertiser, or some such thing – a number usually is guaranteed. If you’re buying one ad in the show --  no guarantee.

Last night after Colbert, I turned on David Letterman and drifted off, but I thought I heard him interviewing Charlie Sheen, who seemed to be on a "redemption" tour. Was that new or a rerun, and are we ready for more Charlie?

It was a repeat...

I thought it was worth sitting through the entire Oscar telecast to see the brief moment when Meryl Streep adjusted her wedgie on the way to the podium. The stars--they're just like us!!

How did I miss that?

Because he's the one who's imposing a condition on his appearing. He should make that condition known up front, whatever it is, before agreeing to appear.

Not going to get me on board...

No Andy Griffith or Phyllis Diller either.

...but minutes of Babs singing that trite old tune.

So Idol lost do Duck Dynasty Wednesday. Does this mean that finally, it will be put to rest after this season? Or is it just so cheap to produce that they'll keep it up?

It lost to Duck Dynasty in social blather -- not in TV ratings. Idol is still a potent force ratingswise -- just a lot less so than it was a few years ago...

Maybe the booker thought he was offering the ducks equal time.

Now that's a position I can respect... at least that's an educated decision on the booker's part...

"The most-watched Oscar show on record remains the 1998 ceremony, when “Titanic” was in the running for best picture and more than 55 million fans tuned in to see it win." Given that most people didn't have home computers in 1998, and the Web was nothing like it is now, wouldn't that account for a number that size? Can you envision another Oscar ceremony, regardless of the nominated pictures, getting that big an audience now that we all have many more entertainment outlets?

Only if they do away with the Globes, the SAGs, etc... the biggest problem with the Oscars -- besides the mind numbing acceptance speeches -- is that by the time the Oscars airs, viewers have trophy show fatigue... and the acceptance speeches are mind numbingly boring... I loved, loved, loved that the producers had the orchestra play the "Jaws" tune to drown out the speeches that droned on...

Talk about damning with faint praise!


When does my favorite (and only) cable news program come back and am I really supposed to believe that Olivia Munn is attracted to that loser?

Which loser? there are several on the show... HBO hasn't given a return date...

What's up with Grimm? Is it returning next week? Why the long hiatus? It is my Friday night guilty pleasure.

Returning March 8. Long hiatus because it's heavily serialized and does not repeat well.

I'm with you Pookie. I could have done less with La Streisand and her "I'm a 70 year old woman in a dress designed for a 40 year old." Less skin next time, please and thank you.

I don't mind listening to Babs. I do mind listening to Babs sing that treacle-tune...

What I like about the "Flight" acted with sock-puppets gag was that it was about the actual picture nominated. Maybe it's just because there are 9 or 10 nominees instead of 5 (I personally prefer just 5), but the intro to the ceremony usually focused on the movies that were actually nominated that year rather then a vague "music in film back in the Great Depression" or whatever.

I loved the "Flight" as sock puppet theater bit. And yes, I realize that every time I say I loved one of Seth's bits, I am losing stature as a TV columnist... It can't be helped.

"What? Too soon?" to a flat joke about John Wilkes Booth.

Okay, that one made me cringe... and yet, I defend Seth's right to make me cringe...

I don't really care about the Oscars, so I don't want watch and I don't want to read a whole Liveblog transcript or wait for a photo array that may or may not load properly so I can flip and flip and flip through a bunch of photos of an event I deliberately didn't watch. But for purposes of understanding popular culture, it would be handy to know who won the major awards. As of Monday evening, I've gleaned from the Post's reviews of the show that Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor for Lincoln, whatsername from Hunger Games won best actress for something after tripping on the stairs, and George Clooney roots for the Bengals (not exactly a surprise). I've followed a misleading link to Jennifer Rubin's unpleasant column about Michelle Obama (I guess that counts as political coverage, so I've fulfilled my duty to the bean-counters), and I've gleaned from the comments that Zero Dark Thirty did not win Best Picture (but I still don't know which picture did). Otherwise--nada. Is it really too much to expect my local newspaper to publish a simple list that I could take in at a glance, rather than being forced to find the information from another source?

I'll pass along your comment, adding that I had nothing to do with our Oscar coverage....

Could the writers maybe pull a switch-a-roo here and have the last episode be Ted waking up from a coma in the hospital only to find out these were all people he only briefly met? Kind of like when Rossanne really didn't win the lotto. OR that show with the kid and the snowglobe

I'd love that... I'm so past caring who is the mother...

See his name a lot for an Oscar host, but doesn't this year's broadcast kind of show that there is a difference between the Oscars (celebrating movie with special effects, editing, etc...) rather then the Tonys.

Not based on the ratings, which were very good...

See, I think Seth McFarland wasn't edgy enough. I was prepared to not like him and have my eyes roll out of my head at all of the juvenile, crass jokes he made, but I came away from it all It was fine. He had some stupid moments, but overall he was just the same as everyone else. He should have taken the opportunity to really go nuts, especially since he clearly won't be hosting again.

I'm with you....I wish he'd shaken (ABC-owner) Disney to its magic castle....

I love Barbara Stanwyck and that movie. Now I am in love with you forever!

You are welcome....

I cringed my way through it. Two of the scenes mentioned were harrowing rape scenes, for crying out loud. However, what I find interesting isn't that people were upset or critical of the broadcast. It's that if you voice a dissenting opinion, even a calmly worded, "It wasn't my cup of tea and I found Macfarlane's material pretty sexist," you are instantly greeted with a chorus of shrieks about "political correctness," "panties in a bunch," "nation of whiners," "butthurt," or what have you. Good heavens, people. Differing tastes are not moral failings. Is declaring everything "politically correct" and therefore stupid the new version of being "political correct"?

I love "It wasn't my cup of tea and I found Macfarlane's material pretty sexist"!

We have the rest of this season, and all next season. Ted just said the woman he met after crazy woman was their mother. He just broke up with crazy woman. So... really... we have a year and a half of nothing? Or will he meet the mother- and talk about how he woos her? Ugh. I love the show (esp seasons 1-4) but it's just... time.

Yes, it's time -- but with another season to slog through -- ugh.

I think in order to get Babs to sing live on the Oscars for the first time in several decades, you agree not to have her singing over a montage of dead people, many of whom would ellicit reactions from the audience.

I just think that, because the show was too long, hers was the song that should have been cut...

Have they considered a worst of the worst show where nobody who lasted past round 3 or so would be eligible? That might be fun to watch to who was really really bad vs just up against a strong group. OK probably not but that might actually get me to watch as long as they didn't totally embarrass anybody

Now that would be fun!

"Today, ladies?"

Laughed out loud when she said that...

I think it says we've too Honey Boo-booed and not enough Yo-de-lay-he-hooed.

I'm not sure what this is in reference too, but why not....

What do you think of all the talk (mostly from the NY Post) that he's on his way out? Who would replace him? Willie Giest?

Seth MacFarlane! Let's start a write-in campaign...

NCIS shuts down one of Abby's computers, Tony has to go to work as a store security guard, the other guy gets hit with a high tax rate because of his best-selling novels...

Your ideas are much better than mine!

DWTS--Remedial Edition would do better. Watch them try to get Mark Cuban, David Hasselhoff, Steve Wozniak, Kate +8, etc. through an entire season.

And don't forget Tucker Carlson -- maybe the worst ever...

Thank you, previous chatter, for that awesome summary (assuming it was real?). The promos looked kind of intriguing, but I figured it might go wildly off the rails and I have never gotten over the "Lost" fiasco and the "Fast Forward" cancellation, so I didn't bite. To paraphrase Pookie, you watched so I didn't have to!

Yes, thank you previous chatter.

Hi Lisa! Long time listener, first time caller. I love anytime you wake up to join Mr. Tony on the radio. I'm curious about three shows - Raising Hope, Archer and Justified. Two of the three have gotten Emmy nods and people seems to like them like me, but I'm always scared of another Firefly. How are the ratings for those shows? I'll hang up and listen.

Archer and Justified returning. Raising Hope we'll know later....

Oh, Pookie, you're wrong about Babs. I cry every time I hear her sing that song. And Sunday was no different. Jhud and Bassey, were great too (Who DOESN't know Goldfinger? I never knew who sang the song, but I was familiar with the song ... And while I love Adele and her music, Skyfall is an unbearable, unmemorable song. Had to turn the channel until it was over

In the pantheon of terrible 007 tunes, "Skyfall" isn't the worst -- Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" tune wins that one hands down...

Tell me it's going to be renewed -- it's wonderful! It is almost as good as Parenthood. Please!

No announcement yet. sorry!

Would it be too cruel if there was a trap-door at the podium and after so much time the door would open and the person would be gone?

That would be brilliant. But they'd be given a six second "Jaws" tune's only fair.

I like her so much better when she's being a tiny terror, a la the "Here's to the Losers" closing song, than I did with her doing the "who are you wearing" junk on the Red Carpet.

Golly she was bad on the red carpet... who knew that was hard to pull off? I have new found respect for Ryan Seacrest..

Pookie, I was curious is "treacle" an actual word or can we attribute its derivation to the brilliant De Moraes thesaurus

Well, it really is a word, but please give me credit....

Did that show get cancelled. It wasn't a world beater by any means, but I kind of liked it. Funny show, with a nice tone to it; but it appears to be missing lately. Has it left us for something dumb? I know it's a different network, but what could possibly have been worse than that David Spade show? Do all of those actors have to pass on other work just in case CBS' shows suck so bad they have to go back to work?

Gone.. sorry.

I thought the Jaws theme was inspired. But I was disappointed when it didn't cut off Babs or any of the big names.

I'd have loved to have witnessed Babs being cut off by "Jaws"... epic TV

Or it could be like Bob Newhart, where it was all just a bad dream due to indigestion? Maybe the wife could turn out to have been Ted's childhood sweetheart?

Maybe those aren't even his kids...

I believe that honor belongs to Kenny Mayne, or some rapper or other.

Tucker tops the Worst List in my house...

I remember "My Name is Earl" did a "The Accused" joke where Joy talked about that porno Jodie Foster did on a pinball machine.

yes it's not new to Seth...

Is "Smash" doing OK in the ratings now that it's on a one-hour-a-week basis? I actually kind of like it, at least enough to watch.

It's doing very badly... I'm wondering when it gets pulled... on the other hand, everything at NBC is doing badly...

Ok, we know you like Arrow for the beefcake. But the story is getting pretty wild too. It's very melo-dramatic and implausible of course, but it is a "superhero" show, so it works. It's really two shows, with the flashbacks to what happened on the "mysterious island". Will there be another season of Arrow? They are going to need another season to wrap up the 10 or 11 major plot lines they have going.

It's doing quite well for CW so, if you're a fan, no need to worry.

Seth McFarlene hosts a Dancing With the Stars pledge drive on PBS to fill the budget gaps caused by the sequester; the casts of NCIS, Hawaii Five-O and other government-related shows compete; Barbra sings. It's a win-win for the American People!

Love it!

Have an idea for NBC. A new reality series where average people pitch TV ideas to execs and then if chosen are given a set budget and period of time to make a pilot episode (No longer than 20 minutes). Each week pilot episodes are shown and the viewing audience decides which group gets to continue the show. At the end of the series NBC picks it up for 1/2 a season.

Or, they could just do a series about a family in Louisiana who make duck calls, played by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, and whoever else is part of the Lorne Michaels Rep Theatre... I'm out of time.. 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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