The Latest in TV with Lisa de Moraes

Apr 05, 2013

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

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Why did they put this on Thursdays? It belongs on Fridays after "Grimm".

I can only guess NBC is trying to own Thursdays again.

How did Mr. Selfridge do for PBS? The first episode didn't seem to generate too much buzz (or should I not compare it to Downton?)

That's setting the bar too high... it's an interesting story and I encourage you to watch....

I have been watching this season of Smash hoping that it would be better with the new showrunner since I liked Ivy. Instead, it has become ridiculous almost to the point of being painful to watch. I pray someone puts it out of its misery soon.

Your prayers are being answered. It's been shipped off to NBC Burn-off Theatre and is not expected to be re-upped.

American Idol's ratings have been tanking this year. Is it just Niki, or the bad stable of contestants to choose from?

Golly I thought Minaj was one of the best partf of this seasoan. Yes it's numbers are down but it still remains one of few shows on all of television that can amass a large audience....

We are all at loss with his passing. When did you first see him and Gene Siskel previewing movies on TV?

I met Roger Ebert when I was at the University of Colorado and he was conducting his week-long dissection of a movie for the school's World Affairs Conference. The first year we watched "Citizen Kane" -- frame by frame. The next year, I think, it was "Notorious."  It remains one of my most fond higher-education memories.

Is this the longest name for a netowrk TV show ever? I found it to be OK, but I think the premise is going to get tired soon.

With that cast I am more optimistic -- loved the pilot

K McFee's acting is getting worse. A lot worse. Did she know that they were getting shunted to Saturday and give up? Do they even tell actors stuff like that? Though I have to admit, when you get stuck actually asking some guy if he likes you (as if you were passing notes in 7th grade), there is a limit to what anyone could do with the material.

Writing: awful. Acting: awful. Singing: great....

What is the spread in Vegas that Jay actually leaves?

I don't know but we should check -- anybody bookies with us today?

I don't understand why NBC is doing this again. Love him or hate him, Leno is #1 in that time slot and even #1 among the 18-35 set which NBC claims they want. So why kick him out -- again? Why not enjoy the ride with Leno at #1? If he falls to #2, then give him the boot.

Because they don't want to lose Fallon, because Lorne Michaels is a very big deal at NBCU, because Leno's numbers aren't what they used to be, because Leno's contract was coming up, because Leno was expensive, because Leno's old and not their future, because Fallon is much better suited to replace him than was Conan, because Fallon's humor is much less edgy and he does a better job of attracting not just younger viewers but older ones who are a big part of the show's audience, of Leno's fanbase and NBC needs them to not tune out, like they did when Conan took over, and because NBC can't help messing things up.....

A TV critic for another paper keeps stating simply that Leno returned to his "Tonight Show" spot after Conan O'Brien lost viewers. My recollection was that Leno was given a five times a week prime time show and when it bombed he returned to "Tonight" and pushed Conan out. Do I remember incorrectly? I am surprised how often Leno is criticized for repeating supposedly liberal jokes, since he pushed a Republican for governor so strongly and openly.

Conan did not seem to make anyone very happy -- he lost a lot of his edge when he went to Tonight, but he didn't appeal to older viewers who'd watched Leno. Tonight Show needs a complete overhaul -- it's very very tired. I'm hoping that with Lorne Michaels exec producing, he'll be able to nuke the show and play to Fallon's strength, which is MOST CERTAINLY not opening monologue -- he may actually be the worst of the bunch at that -- and interviewing celebs. I watched every one of the late night talk shows the night of the day NBC announced Fallon was taking over and he's very very weak on those fronts. Jimmy Kimmel, ironically, is becoming a good interviewer; Ferguson is too, and Dave is when he's not exuding boredom. Conan quit when NBC tried to move Jay back into late night and push "Tonight" to a later start time. Conan refused and walked. NBC never would have considered that plan, were Conan's numbers good.

So I watched it for the first time last weekend w/ my COX free HBO weekend. Meh, kind of silly, plot full of holes. What's the attraction?



I realize how pervasive the cellphone is in our society and that to a degree TV mirrors that, but it drives me crazy knowing that nearly all transitions in a scene are going to be precipitated by a ringing cellphone. I don't think today's script writers any longer know how to transition from one scene to the next w/o the aid of an electronic device. Second lament/question is why do the writers perpetuate the stereotype that it is okay for a woman to slap the face of a man she's unhappy with? Any suggestions as to where I might write and let the TV Writers of the world that they need to quit being lazy and learn to write scene transitions?

I agree that a lot of TV writing is very lazy these days. But have you seen episodes of the old "Dragnet"? It's like paint-by-numbers television.....and I had noticed the cellphone thing -- I'll have to watch for it now.. thanks!

When I turn on the 6 p.m. news...I want the news. Who, what, where, when. Not someone's opinion of what happened, because they are probably wrong like the woman on CNN when the planes crashed into the WTC who commented "do you think there was a beacon that caused the planes to fly into the towers?" It was a clear day, so where does she get this beacon stuff from except from a producer waving a finger in the air meaning "eat more air time before the commercial break."

Yes, somebody moved the beacon to the middle of the tower.....let's face it, that day, until it became clear what was happening, lots of on-air talent was vamping....that's the problem with unfolding situations but, yes, it would be better if newscasters would just stick to the facts and not speculate...

This TV Guide article had an interesting question that I thought you and the chatterers might like to answer: What's your dream three-hour night of TV?

Hmmmm…this one’s a tough question.

First thing I’d do is make every night Sunday so I’d get four hours.

Off the top of my head, I’m thinking my lineup would include, in no particular order:

1)Crunchy Gravel Hour

2)Worst TV Ever Theatre. Every week it would feature an epically bad television show, kicking off with Jackie Gleason’s CBS game show “You’re in the Picture” which was so bad he apologized for it for half an hour on the air in the timeslot the following week -- “Last week we did  a show that laid the biggest bomb it would make the H-bomb look like a two-inch salute” – his half-hour apology getting better reviews than the 1-episode show itself. It could also include more recent examples, like ABC’s recent “Work It” --  and, of course, NBC’s “Manimal.”   

3). “The Daily Show.”  For news. I figure it’s got as much solid news in it is “Good Morning America” and “Today Show.” Anyway it’s my schedule --  so no arguing. Okay, we’ve taken care of news programming.

3)Turner Classic Movies – expunged of all Westerns, and  Drew Barrymore, who would have to be digitally wiped from its “The Essentials” program, and replaced with someone who actually knows something about classic movies – unless parent company Time Warner is willing to hand out cash prizes to viewers every time Barrymore says  “This is such an important film to me,” and “I think it’s a perfect film.”

4)Jerry Seinfeld half-hour. Okay, yes, my primetime is running 30 minutes long – just like CBS on football nights! A half hour of anything Seinfeld wants – “Seinfeld” reruns, new or old episodes of “Comedians in a Car Getting Coffee” – I’d even watch new epiosdes of “Marriage Ref” if Seinfeld would host instead of jester Tom Papa. When he’s on hiatus: “Modern Family.”




is scandal becoming soap opera

long ago, Pookie -- long ago...

I read somewhere that each episode is 45 minutes here, but a full hour in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. True? And if so, why?

Sounds like it has to do with ad breaks... Similarly, PBS reformats episodes of "Downton Abbey" and you can bet some content gets removed, to make way for all those "non ads" PBS runs at the start and end of shows....

Ah, Berkeley of the Rockies. I'm guessing you were there a good 15 years after me (1979-85, two degrees). Pre-internet and mostly-pre VCR, the Program Council kids always had great movies each semester. I'm surprised the alum magazine hasn't highlighted the fact you went there. Anybody even remotely visible gets mentioned. And they wonder why I never give em any money.

I was part of the movie-picking gang a couple of years. Well, to be perfectly accurate, the guy I was dating was part of Program Council.. Great memories being in the projector room -- watching the movie, I swear....

I have never watched nighttime TV as I teach most evenings and rarely get to watch any prime time shows. was spring break this past week and found a fun new show to watch; The Voice. I have always liked Shakira and Usher, but am really liking the chemestry in this show. Not to sound like an out of it loser but is this a new show and will it be around awhile?

I'm sorry to report it has been around for a while but Shakira and Usher are only filling in for Cee Lo and Aguilera for this edition -- what a coincidence those are the two you like don't work at NBC, do you?

Sounds like bad Masterpiece Theater. Perhaps Alistair Cook should introduce each episode. The programs there are as dead as him.

Ouch... My vote is to have Tom Papa host -- like community service for what he did on "Marriage Ref."

It may be less a matter of Jay actually leaving than Jay being willing to come back if things don't go well and the affiliates getting restless. But Jimmy seems more palatable to an audience that's neither sleep-deprived nor high than Conan's schtick every was, evidenced by the willingness of mainstream companies use him as an endorser. (I also think Craig Ferguson could do well in an earlier time slot. The folks who think he couldn't "control himself" sell him very short, and probably don't stick around after the monologue.)

Ferguson is a terrific celebrity interviewer -- one of the best if not the best. Yes, Fallon is far more mainstream than was Conan...

Though it's writing is slowly diminishing, I would enjoy a few more episodes before its demise. Is that "Going to USA Network" a real possibility?

I hope so....

A little off topic but still very close are we to your unfortunate departure...I am SO going to miss our discussions about shoes!

I am working for the Post through the end of the TV season -- end of May.

Why don't the networks run their prime time shows again in the late night as the cable networks (TNT, USA, TLC, LIfetime, etc) do. If you can't watch White Collar at 10, it's on again at 1. It would be easier for people like me who have more than one show at the same time or who want to watch the Nationals play at night.

Because they'd do cable numbers....on the bright side, it sure would be cheap programming!

Hey Pookie: I'm excited that Jimmy Fallon is the heir to "The Tonight Show" throne. He's a bright, funny, likable and talented late-night host. However, I'm worried that NBC is somehow going to muck things up. Or, worse, Jay Leno will forever loom on the sidelines waiting for another recall. While I'm glad that the "Tonight Show" will, again, originate from New York, I'm worried that the network brass won't allow Fallon to maintain his originality now that he will be on an hour earlier. Honestly, since so many of us Tivo late-night entertainment shows for more-convenient viewing, what difference should it make? I just hope we continue to get to enjoy The Roots as Fallon's house band and that Fallon and Brian Williams continue to "slow jam the news." Thoughts?

You and I think alike... The good news is that Lorne Michaels is going to exec produce the show and I think he's smart enough to understand Fallon's weaknesses -- which are, unfortunately, things that gobble up a lot of time on "Tonight Show" -- like opening monologue and interviews with celebrities plugging some new movie or TV show....Alsl hoping they keep Roots, and the things Fallon's best at which does NOT include interviews and monologue

Pookie, don't want to think too much about what will happen to Fridays when you're gone. But what will happen to Fridays after you're gone? Will someone else be picking up the TV slack? Will you come back as a consultant to chat every Friday? Will we have to try to ask Hax? I assume Washington Post has its contingency/knowledge management plans up to date.

I do not know....

Pookie, Can you help me pitch my idea for a can't miss pilot? It stars Jenny Garth, Jenny Wade and Jenny Mollen and we will call it 'The Three Jenny's'. Now I just need a plot. And once this takes off we can franchise it like CSI: 'The three Sarah's' with Sarah Chalke, Sarah Lancaster and Sarah Michelle Geller.

shoot me now.....

Happy Friday everyone! May I suggest this hilarious site, which recaps miniseries, incl. crunchy gravel sagas like "Downton Abbey"? I used it recently to get a grip on HBO's "Parade's End." Not limited to Brit drama, includes "Boardwalk Empire," "Game of Thrones."

Just gave it a quick look. I'm in -- they had me at "hot cross buns"....

Thursday 10 p.m. seemed even then a bit early for so much carnage and horror -- will this series have a better home on Pay-per-view or Subscription Cable? Curious if the series has more than a few episodes bought and paid for by the Peacock Network. . .

NBC want to be Showtime....and they're part way there, getting Showtime numbers....

Hi, Lisa. What are your thoughts on the televised replay of the horrible basketball injury that a player sustained last week? I happened to be watching the game, saw the injury in real time, and then (unfortunately) watched the one (sickening) replay they aired immediately afterward. My hunch is that they didn't know how traumatic the injury was until they replayed it in slow motion, and that then, when they realized it, they (rightly) decided not to show it again. But it's the kind of footage that leads to nightmares and chills, and I wish I hadn't seen it. I guess I shouldn't watch live sports. (I try not to.)

My colleague Emily feels the same way. she very much wishes she could "un-see" it... it was pretty awful and I noticed that in future showings, you could not see his injury -- just the horrified looks on the faces of his teammates....

I was home sick this week with the lurgy (look it up), and decided to catch up with the "Call the Midwife" episodes I had DVR'd. An excellent, engaging program. A friend of mine used to say "what's so bad about spending an hour with likable people who lead interesting lives, without explosions or people randomly dying?" That's what this is. I'm looking forward to the new season. And for the record, I'm the 54-year old straight guy who liked "Girls" from last week.

Hi! So what do you think of The Show's Only Cute Guy quitting suddenly because he couldn't take any more of Lena's plans for his character... the good news is she will have his character die some horrible, humiliating death, for sure, don't you think?

So I am really enjoying Bates Motel. The acting is superb and the writing has just enough humor in it to keep it from being too heavy. I seem to recall reading that it will be a fairly short series (something like 10 eps total). Is that correct?

Yes, 10 episodes were ordered....

Elisabeth Shue, Elisabeth Harnois, Elisabeth Moss

Am I supposed to watch this show?

seems to be getting dumber and dumber. This is quite an acomplishment for a show that started out as dumb fun in the first place. A roller derby story line? Really? And they didn't even use their main female character to do it. So, is it going to get cancelled soon? Are they trying to eke out enough episodes for syndication? Because it looks to me that they are not using what assets they have (Steve's abs) and the few loose ends that could lead to some sort of story (Steve's mom, newish governor, and the last really horrible bad guy they haven't caught) aren't being used either.

Ridiculous to do a roller derby storylie nad not use the chicks -- what are they thinking over there? Yes, it is getting dumber and dumber. But, there's that theme song. I can't stop tuning in.. help....

Is "Major Crimes" coming back? Thanks.

June 10.

Lisa: Because ..., because ..., because ..., etc. Pookie, This response is a perfect example of why I spend Friday afternoon here. Thanks.

You are welcome!

Pookie, Let me say that's a lovely frock you're wearing today! I LOVE Suburgatory, which is cleverly written and well-acted with a really solid ensemble cast -- much like Modern Family. And I particularly LOVE Jane Levey (Tessa) and any scene with Carly Chalkin (the dry, acerbic Dalia). Do you think it will be renewed for a third season? And is this a fave of yours?

I love this show for all the reasons you have named. Terrific casting, funny -- and non-lazy -- writing (I'm guessing not a cell-phone segue in any episode?) etc.

No, I don't work for NBC but I mentioned Shakira and Usher because I was embarassed I honestly don't know who the other two judges are.

How refreshingtly honest -- Thank you! The other judges are Adam Levine, of Maroon 5, and country singer Blake Shelton who, I confess I did not know either until he was cast in the show -- to the disgust of my colleague Emily Yahr who is a big country music fan. Blake is the breakout star among the judges and you will come to love him...

Tom Bergeron hosts a show where Tom Selleck and Tom Arnold dance with each other. I would watch.

Ick! Can't we just have a show hosted by Tom Bergeron in which Tom Selleck and Tom Arnold are sitting near him with their mouths covered with duct tape and Bergerson gets to do all the talking?

Who will Kimmel and Letterman snipe at when Leno disappears? Taking potshots at young Jimmy would be like taunting a particularly adorable and exuberant Golden retriever pup?

Yeah -- that fun is ending in spring of 2014... sigh.

Here's another thing you'll see. Two characters are talking and even if just one is one a cell, the person not on a cell will hang up, and the person on the cell with "hear a dial tone" on his cell.

holy cow.. this is like the worst case of product placement ever and it was totally not on my radar....

Pookie, I can barely contain my excitement for this Sunday! 2 hours! Taking suggestions now for drinking game word.

How about any time someone says "and"?

What is NBC thinking? Who watches the late night network shows?

It's not just about who watches -- it's about who NBC would like to get to watch....and young guys are the unicorns of late night talk TV...

How do you explain the ratings success of "The Voice" when you consider not a single one of the contestants, including the winners, has ever been heard from once the season ended? Is it strictly the appeal of the stars in the revolving chairs?

Because the judges are amusing and people enjoy listening to and watching the singing performances for a couple hours a night -- though not enough to actually make a star out of any of the winners.. that's my guess, anyway.

You'd think that those in charge of this network that struggles in primetime would be celebrating having their morning and late night programs #1. Instead they sabotage both the Today Show and the Tonight Show. What part of success do TPTB not like?

NBC got stuck with Curry because she'd been passed over before. They knew she wasn't right for the gig but they just closed their eyes and punted. The results were bad. Now they're dealing with the mess. In late night, the new people in charge of NBC were not involved in the late night mess with Conan -- most of them are gone -- and they're trying to move in Leno's successor which is only what happened to Carson too -- only he was smart enough to pre-empt them and announce he was quitting and control the storyline because he was a much savvier guy than Leno, apparently.

I'm looking forward to seeing Peggy again on Mad Men. What's this thing with Jane Campion she's doing?

on the side. don't worry...

Bandersnatch Cummberbund at least once each week you are still chatting, so here it is, though I don't really have much to ask. I did find a trailer for the new Star Trek movie in which he does most of the talking. Do people who get to play the major villain in Star Trek movies still do TV? Or is it different if you only have to do three episodes a year so it doesn't mess too much with movie schedules?

Yes, the fact that Bandersnatch's TV series produces only three episodes each season -- and three high-class episodes -- is the reason he's still doing TV now that he's a film star. And, let's face it, the TV exposure is very good for his film career...

If it's being sent to Burnoffville, was there enough time to give it a "Satisfying" finale? I know i'm not seeing Katherine McPhee being crushed by the falling piano she definitely deserves, but maybe at least see all the cast thrown to destitution because the show died.

I'm hoping in the finale we discover the whole show "Smash" was just a  dream/nightmare that NBC west coast chief Bob Greenblatt had when he fell asleep during a meeting about the network's series "Fashion Star."

Pookie, you wrote: Writing: awful. Acting: awful. Singing: great.... And that's it exactly! I love the music so I'm able to overlook the bad acting/writing. Even with people like Jesse L. Martin and B. Peters coming in. If only I could program my TV to unmute when the singing started!!!

Yeah, you have to do that manually...

Has he changed his mind yet?

Not as of this chat.. I'll keep you posted...

Is it too late to bring back Ted Koppel?


Congrats, Pookster. That has to be the LONGEST sentence ever written in this chat. You must be exhausted. :-)

Thanks but that was practically a tweet compared to some of the sentences I used to turn in on the column when my editor was the fabulous and brilliant Rose Jacobius.. She was sure I was going for Balzac's record....

I gotta say I much prefer shows that aim for 10 - 13 good episodes over those that film 22- 24 meh episodes.

I'm with you.. Hopefully the broadcast networks will continue to evolve in this direction. .... I'm out of time -- sorry this is one of our shorter chats. I'll make it up to you next week. Have a great weekend and 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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