What to Watch: TV chat with Hank Stuever

Oct 23, 2014

Post TV critic Hank Stuever talked about what's bad, good and so bad it's good on TV.

Here's what Hank would watch if he wasn't paid to watch TV: "Game of Thrones," "House Hunters," "The Amazing Race," "The Suze Orman Show." And he once gave "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" a good review. Lately he's been digging "Masters of Sex," "The Strain" and "American Ninja Warrior."

Annnnd we're back.

I don't have a lot of preamble today, so we'll go right to your questions/comments/snarkelocity ...

Is that Cindy from OITNB in that "Cheers" rip-off Chevy Cruze commercial? I thought I saw her working the counter of a convenience store. Does Netflix not pay well?

I've seen the commercial (and I think it's a very smart joke) but hadn't looked at it close enough to realize if it's her or not. Interwebs says it is Adrienne C. Moore, the actress who plays Cindy (Cindi?) on Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black."

When asked, actors have pretty much said that the jobs they're getting on emerging streaming networks (Netflix and Amazon, specifically) pay as good or better than the premium cable and broadcast gigs, but keep in mind, she's part of a large ensemble cast and not working every day/every episode. Plenty of time to get some of that easy Madison Avenue money. I can't think of many actors in supporting roles who can subsist on just one gig -- or would even want to. An actor wants to work as much as possible, in various roles. If it was only about whether or not your main show paid well, then we wouldn't be hearing Jon Hamm's voice in car ads.

I really wasn't expecting the Terminus Folks to re-appear, let alone make a Bob-be-que! And the Preacher has to be EVIL! How are the ratings?

The ratings are, by today's standards for same-day broadcast, interstellar.

Ugh. My in-laws have crappy taste. Last night I had to sit through Mysteries of Laura with them. Now I see why it's going to be cancelled.

I'll bet they had no idea how much you didn't like it. (Haha.)

I love Anna Gunn, but she needs to go all Skyler on David Tennant's Detective! How are the Broadchurch watchers liking it?

I can't speak for the "Broadchurch" camp (although I keep a campsite there), but the ratings for "Gracepoint" are pretty awful. People who happen to be hooked on it can expect Fox to air all 10 episodes (they're done and paid for), but hardly anyone's watching.

They're dragging this "Frozen" storyline too long. Let It Go!

Great Season! I loved the twist at the end. When is it coming back?

Cinemax renewed it for Season 2 even before the first episode aired, I seem to recall. I would expect to come back around at the same time next year -- late summer, August-ish?

I'm not interested unless there's rampant nudity!

It's cable nudity, but it's rampant, all right.

Am delighted to see Leslie Jones added to the cast of "Saturday Night Live," as she brings real energy to her performances. But what, for the love of kittens, do you think can be done to fix "Weekend Update," which is at best dismal now that Seth Myers has left and Cicely Strong has been reassigned?

Just keep on keepin' on. It takes a while for viewers to accept a "Weekend Update" makeover. If it's still not clicking by February or so, maybe they find new anchors.

Caught a glimpse of you in the WP app video where Ben Bradlee stole the show, err, video that was re-posted yesterday. Sending condolences to all of you at the Post who were fortunate enough to work for one of the true giants of American journalism. RIP, Mr. Bradlee.

We thank you for that. There have been plenty of kind words and tributes from readers. There have also been many declarations that journalism, newspapering and the potential for greatness are all TOTALLY FINISHED, and on that point, I respectfully disagree, as I think Bradlee would too.

On this subject, I put a feeler out to C-SPAN this morning to see if Bradlee's funeral at the National Cathedral (Oct. 29) will get a live broadcast on the network. The details are still being worked out. They aired Katharine Graham's funeral in 2001. Here's a link.

Batman's turning into one weird kid. Please tell the showrunners that I'm fine without him.

That's kind of what I was thinking this week.

...hasn't been cancelled yet. I'm enjoying it all right. I'm a big fan of a supernatural crime drama, my all-time favorite being Medium (totally underrated). I'd be happy to see it stick around and I think it could get better. Have you changed your thinking at all?

It's driving some of the TV ratings prognosticators and cancellation sadists CRAZY that nothing much has been officially canceled yet.

I liked "Forever" okay from the first two episodes and gave it a B- in the fall guide. I see no reason to inflate that grade at this point, but I think there's a whole lot worse stuff on right now that could use a swift slap from the screen door.

How did this hot mess make it to Television? Why isn't it cancelled yet?

See above -- the cancellations have been slow this season.

Viewers have long complained that networks don't give shows a chance, so maybe this is that chance. Just let them shrivel up and burn out there on the open plain.

They needed to trim the cast back a bit. Get rid of the Zach Galifinakis wanna-be!

No, not the Bearded Best Friend!

(I agree -- I thought the pilot introduced a lot of characters at once, mostly to create the surprise party engagement scene.)

I like the show but I still find it weird to see Joshua Jackson (Dawson's Creek) in such an adult role. Maybe it was the sex scene.

He, uh, turned out all right, though, didn't he? ("Fringe" fans overcame the Pacey Problem long ago.)

I read that Mulaney has provided Fox with 13 out of 16 contracted episodes and were told "Yeah, don't bother" on the final three. Does that mean Fox will likely show the first 13? Is there hope for the next three, or is this the death throes?

You know that scene in "Aliens" in the heat of an alien attack where Cpl. Hicks grabs another of the Marines by the vest and says: FORGET HIM, HE'S GONE!

Well, forget him, he's gone. ("Mulaney," that is.)

Will the Character die an actual death at the end?

Oh, that's an interesting idea. I like it.

Hey Hanky! I feel like I'm the only person on Earth that watches About A Boy and I've never seen you mention it. I love it. Do you?

I do not, but part of that has to do with all those sitcoms in which we were force-fed the idea that David Walton was funny and belonged in a sitcom. I got so used to not liking him that it's very hard to change my mind. Here's my review from last February.  I need to go back and take another look at the show, I suppose.

He's been Diane Kruger's significant other for years. How can he NOT be grown up?

Now that it doesn't have Jenna Elfman following it, I realize just how bad this show is!

I watch hockey and the Olympics, major news events, that's about it. I don't like TV, except maybe for reruns of "Emergency!" What am I missing? (I have only the Obama Box, no cable.)

Sounds like you're busy enough being an old crank. ("Obama box?" Really?)

I really loved last night's premiere, especially that the show didn't feel like it needed to be overly obvious how sketchy the Mount Weather folks were. The attitude of "Remember District 13 from Hunger Games? Great!" makes me hopeful that there's not going to be a lot of table-setting in getting the plot going this season. (I loved last season, but a lot of episodes felt like they were stalling.)

Haven't watched it yet! Don't spoil!

Exactly why did the wizards at Fox [that's satire] put Mulaney on? I'm being serious here, as he's just not funny. If Ellen Degeneres is Seinfeld Light, then Mulaney is Seinfeld Extra, Extra Light. And I do record it every week, but never watch it. I only do that so I get the entire slate of animation on Sundays, due to football runover.

You're wrong. The show's not great and is trying to put forth a tone of authenticity ("old-fashioned sitcoms are great") and irony ("old-fashioned sitcoms are great?") all at once and it's not working for most viewers, including me.

But John Mulaney is a terrific talent, a very funny man and I hope he finds the right thing to do on TV, on screen or off it (he was a key writer on "Saturday Night Live" for many recent seasons). You need to go to YouTube and watch some more of his stand-up.

In all fairness, Batman has some serious emotional issues. It makes sense that he was that messed up even as a boy. Personally, I'm enjoying watching the characters develop. Fish (Jada Smith) reminds me of Eartha Kitt's Catwoman; will young Selina Kyle be taking notes? And then there is the increditibly sleazy Oswald Cobblepot.

I watched for the first time last night. Predicatable, but that Annaleigh Tipton is so cute. What I can't believe is the article I read in Rolling Stone which called Selfie one the better new sitcoms of the year. That piece is tripe is so bad I didn't even stay tuned in past the first commercial break. Same old self involved bs. Reminds me - I hate Cougar Town too and many seem to like that.

You got a lot off your chest there in a very short paragraph. Feel better?

Professional demon hunter with snark (allegedly). Worth viewing or destined for the dustbin?

I'm reviewing it tomorrow. They sharpened up the pilot (which I gave my first ever "incomplete" grade in the Sept. 21 fall tv preview), and it's somewhat interesting. It's aimed at very specific kind of TV viewer; it's obviously well paired with "Grimm," which I'm also revisiting in tomorrow's paper. Any "Grimm" fans out there who watch religiously every Friday night? Care to share your reasons for that?

Fresh stuff, by the way -- just posted: My "Critic's Notebook" for this Sunday's Arts & Style section on how "Boardwalk Empire" has really brung it for its shorter, final season. The last episode airs Sunday. Any "Boardwalk" fans in here? Got anything to say before we send it off into the yonder?

I will say that I fully expect two or three years from now for HBO-less binge watchers to start coming out of the woodwork and "informing" the rest of us about this great new show they've found called "Boardwalk Empire."

Why are there ads for Joni Ernst, Iowa Senate candidate, running in your chat? Bad enough I have to keep shifting channels to get away from her ads on my tv. (I've already voted for her opponent.)

I'm guessing it's because the online ads you're seeing are tailored to you specifically. How's that for creepy? (The call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE, etc.)

Last night's episode of "Modern Family" proved that this show has gone well past its prime and should be put out to pasture after this season before it's too late. The writing is weak if not downright lazy, the characters have become pure caricature, the entire show is now one big ham-fisted, all-primary-colors cartoon, and the introduction last night of new, over-the-top-ridiculous neighbors to the Dunphys was pure "cousin Oliver." Watching episodes from earlier seasons in syndication shows just how far this show has fallen. So sad.

Oh, I disagree. The show is doing what it always did and I don't think we'll see a whole lot of those neighbors, unless it suits another episode's storyline. I laughed out loud a few times last night -- like when Lily's strict teacher said she had to special order her "frowny face" stamp from Germany. That's funny. I've always liked "Modern Family" for its throwaway zingers.


I have fallen off but I do plan on watching it again on Netflix whenever it's on there. The first two seasons were awesome but aired on Fridays is terrible. If it were aired on a Tuesday, I would be caught up right now!

Because what happens on Friday? Do you, like, "go out" and stuff? I seem to remember a time in my life when that happened, but now I'm desperate for something to watch on Fridays. That's how I wind up watching so many shows about finding gold in Alaska.

Remember when that used to be a Big Thing? Lifetime has really killed it.

Nothing can be a big thing forever. I agree somewhat with you, though -- I never followed "Project Runway" much after it left Bravo.

I don't even get what that's supposed to mean, though it sounds cranky and offensive. Maybe the poster should start watching "Too Cute!" to feel better about the world.

For some reason, Party of Five just popped in my head. It was one of my faves. Hank/posters what were your fave 90's shows. (Also, Dawson's Creek and 7th Heaven)

The '90s are a blur to me, most of it not having much to do with TV, but if the chat wants to go there, feel free.

Would it have gotten better ratings if they showed the rampant nudity on cable?

When they unveiled "Utopia" at the summer press tour in July, I remember thinking to myself (and maybe tweeting to the world?) that the show had made a crucial error by not being naked.

When does it begin this year? I want to record the "High School Hooker" stories on the local news.

I haven't even heard the word "sweeps" in forever, but you're right, it's still very important to the local affiliate stations. Chatters? When are November sweeps? (The obvious answer -- "Nov. 1-30" -- is assuredly not correct.)

Kudos to Shonda Rimes for standing up for gay romance onscreen. That's all.

Please tell Disney DXD not to label every repeat as "New". My DVR keeps recording them and I wind up disappointed.

Hmm, mine seems to just be recording the "new" episodes on Monday nights. Try deleting the series order and then resetting it?

As a huge fan of Modern Family, I agree that this season is tragic. I thought last night's episode was horrible. Julie Bowen is mugging so hard it's hard to watch. And the "joke" where Claire asks Luke to "grab the small hoe" and he puts his arms around his sister? Stupid, not grounded in reality, and cheap. This show is in free-fall.

The commentary tide from viewers has certainly started to turn against it. I guess it's just the natural life cycle of things.

I predict you'll miss it when it's gone -- begging for "reunion" shows, etc.

Only problem -why are there more gay sex scenes than regular sex on How to Get Away With Murder? Also, why is the hottest character on the show gay?

It's like I've landed in Bizarro World, where everything is the opposite of how it always was.

November 2014: October 30 - November 26, 2014

Thank you, TV friend.

I used to like this show, but stopped watching about mid-way through last season. I've tried watching again this season, but it doesn't hold my attention. I feel like it was always soapy, but I've gotten bored with the plotlines. Do you watch?

I do not.

It's interesting that you mention Modern Family's throwaway zingers -- it's one of my favorite parts of the show as well. But it's also just about the ONLY thing I like about Mulaney. They have some great throwaway zingers, but they don't have the meat around it to make it more interesting, IMHO.


I watch Grimm! (Not "live", mind you, but via iTunes). First started because my daughter lives in Portland, but, as an original "Nightstalker" fan, I love the no one can see but one guy trope. Plus, I think the supporting actors are marvelous.

I think it's a very ship-shape show and it sort of fascinates me, because I don't really watch it, but I totally get why people would.

(a) David Giuntoli is very handsome. (b) Sasha Roiz is very sexy. © Sergeant Wu is funny. (d) Alexis Denisof is recurring; James Frain had been recurring. (e) I like Bree Turner and Claire Coffee very much. (f) The biggest reason of all is Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe, the reformed werewolf. He is a stitch and deserves a best supporting actor nomination. (g) Amy Acker guest starred as a black widow spider and Currie Graham was a semi-reformed werewolf.

I watch Grimm EVERY Friday. I like the lead characters, and I love a twist on fairy-tales. I binge watched the first season on Amazon and was instantly hooked.

Isn't there some way to limit the number of them aired each day? Most are really disgusting and probably turn off more people than they persuade. But I'm sure the TV stations love love love all that money. I keep the remote handy to turn off the sound on most of them.

I'm not a constitutional law expert, but I'm going to guess that no, there isn't a way to limit the number of them. It's just part of the messy magic of democracy. And yes, it's very good for TV stations' bottom line, which most of us probably don't give a hoot about, but I have to think that some of that profit gets reinvested in local news. Example: If there's a new kind of radar that's even better at detecting a tornado, and I was living in Oklahoma, I'd be glad that my local news station could afford to buy one, thanks to all the endless political TV ads. (Work with me here -- I'm looking for silver linings.)

Meanwhile, you're so close to the ultimate solution by keeping your remote control handy so you can mute the political ads. There's a (usually red) button a little to the north of that. It will turn the TV off and solve your problem entirely until election day has passed.

What am I missing? I was prepared to really like this show, and I'm just.....eh. I'm not really impressed with any of the actors portraying the law students and the jumping time line is confusing--they jump around within the flashforward, for pete's sake. Am I just not cool?

Great Season Premiere! The teenagers are still making stupid choices and humanity might be lost because of them. Also like Henry Ian Cusak (Desmond from Lost) taking charge on the ground. My only problem is that if its supposed to be taking place near Mt. Weather in Viginia, why do the mountains look like the Rockies? How are the Ratings?

I must have missed the part where they said it was in Virginia. Is that true?

The ratings last night weren't so hot, but don't worry yet.

I've been DVRing the eps, but holding up until someone tells me they're getting to a plot point. Are they?

I have no idea. They lost me a long time ago.

Hi Hank. Love love love your chat! Did I mention love? I'm sure you've read the "controversy" over Shonda Rhimes and all the "gay sex" on How To Get Away With Murder. As a follower of HTGAWM, I have noticed that the gay student has a lot more sex than anyone else on the show. What's your take on this? Does it add/detract anything?

It's kind of the next step in seeing whether or not our culture is really ready to give gays equal acceptance. What's going on with marriage rights (in the real world) is sort of immaterial when it comes to popular culture and social attitudes. The real measure is: Are you really okay with gay relationships (of all kinds, not just the sweet, monogamous, two-grooms-on-a-cake kind) and ready to see them on TV as much -- or sometimes more, depending on the storylines -- than you see straight relationships?

Often the answer is no. Many people got to the point of accepting gay rights by employing the following caveat: What you do in your own bedroom is your business. (Translation, a la Valerie Cherish: "I don't want to see that!")

But that's not really acceptance is it -- telling someone you support their equal rights but to not kiss and have sex "so much" on your TV shows.

Isn't the main problem that none of the characters is at all likable? Oh - and totally agree re: the jumping around. Very distracting.

Why can't the hottest character be gay? What's wrong with that. Hot is hot; gay or straight. I mean it's not like you're going to be "getting with" him/her either way, no matter who is the hottest character

Boardwalk Empire ending - as good as Six Feet Under (aka best series ending ever)?

I don't know. Like everyone else who still enjoys the show, I'm eagerly awaiting Sunday's finale.

They were all "We have to get to Mount Weather!" in the first few episodes of the season but never mentioned it again. And then there are some things in last night's episode that suggest DC ruins.

The next menu item McDonalds will try!!

I, like you, think it is just the same as it always has been, and still enjoy it immensely. Plus, I like Steve Zahn. Gloria whipping out the knives and sticking them into the table is the type of thing she has been doing occasionally from the beginning. The scene where Phil and Claire are "wooing" the couple they want to buy the house was great! Keep it up, Modern Family!

Whaaaat!! Nashville is one of the BEST shows on tv to me! I just said last night's episode was a jaw dropper almost every segment! Seriously! I said OMG at least 5 times last night!

Any chance they'll have a marathon the day after Thanksgiving?

Oh, you.

Guys, I'm out of touch, you're out of time. (But I'm out of my head when you're not around.)

See you next Thursday, Oct. 30, at noon!

Even though we don't talk, I feel like this is a talk show. So happy NTSHD!!!

In This Chat
Hank Stuever
Hank Stuever, The Washington Post's TV critic since 2009, joined the paper in 1999 as a writer for the Style section, where he has covered an array of popular (and unpopular) culture across the nation. Stuever was born and raised in Oklahoma and previously worked at newspapers in Albuquerque and Austin. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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