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Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 9, 2008; 1:00 PM

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes was online Friday, May 9 at 1 p.m. ET to say a tearful goodbye to Syesha ... wait, no, Nanny Brooke. Sorry, the notes are a little mixed up. (Nothing to see here, move along.) So ... are you back to watching all your pre-strike shows?

The transcript follows.

Lisa Watches So You Don't Have To: "American Idol" | TV columns | On TV discussion transcripts.

De Moraes has written "The TV Column" for The Post since 1998. She served as the TV editor for the entertainment industry trade publication the "Hollywood Reporter" for almost a decade.

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"How I Met Your Mother": What are the chances they ditch the premise and stop focusing on Ted, by far the most boring character on the show? More Barney and Lily, please.

Lisa de Moraes: Hi. I agree, and it's a shame they haven't. There's that famous story -- and, who knows, it may even be true -- that the focus of "Family Ties" originally was supposed to be very much on the former-hippie Keaton parents and how they coped with having a conservative son and idiot daughter ... only Michael J. Fox so clearly stole every scene, it quickly became his show and the parents became more supporting roles -- kind of his straight men. That might be harder to do with this show because, sadly, it's not called "Friends," it's called "How I Met Your Mother," and the gimmick is that the show starts every week with the guy -- supposed to be Ted -- talking to his bored children about how he met their mother. Of course, they always could employ the cable network school of name changing and start calling the show "HIMYM" only, like the Discovery company does with TLC. I mean, does anyone still think that's The Learning Channel? Ditto A&E -- surely no one there still pretends it's about Arts & Entertainment.

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She Already Called Me Pookie: Sorry in advance for a comment about something other than "American Idol." The reality host Emmy -- I know you talent show devotees are in love in with the likes of Seacrest and the dance show guy, but don't overlook Jeff Probst of "Survivor." Last night was a prime example of him at the height of his powers, delicately humiliating Erik without alerting him as to what an idiot he is. This has been going on all season. Does he have a credible shot?

Lisa de Moraes: No. "Delicately humiliating Erik" doesn't hold a candle -- what does that mean, anyway?-- to "making sense of Paula Abdul" for seven seasons. There's simply no comparison.

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Arlington, Va.: Lisa, I forgot to mention something in the "Idol" chat! I figured out how Syesha lasted so long. This year, for the first time in a few seasons at least, there wasn't a group of three or four power divas in the final 12 to split the vote! I predict David Cook is gone next week. He's the best one left, so it wouldn't be fair to end his career by making the Top Two.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm surprised he didn't screw up worse this week to make sure he got cut. I mean, he messed up pretty badly, but couldn't compete with Jason Castro, the Maestro of Messing Up. Really, no rocker worth his salt -- and what does that mean, anyway? -- wants to actually win "American Idol." It's too corny. Not in keeping with bad-boy rocker image. I gag every time I see him up there on stage at the start of results night, singing the Idol Medley and doing a soft-shoe. He looks ridiculous, and he ought to be blushing with shame..

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Cheltenham, U.K.: Hey Lisa. I never believe anything about TV unless I see it from you, so I'm hoping you can help with this rumor: I heard "Top Model" is getting rid of Tyra. Is that true? If so, who would replace her?

Lisa de Moraes: Not so...

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Philadelphia: Is the problem with this season of "American Idol" that they're all too risk-averse and professional (except for Jason Castro), leading to a lack of star-making performances, or can we just trace it all to Young David Archuleta and his dead, dead eyes?

Lisa de Moraes: Hey, Roboleta is a remarkable facsimile of a teenager. It's amazing what they can do with technology today.

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Seacrest: I agree with your view about Ryan Seacrest. Can you imagine what the show would be like if that second guy (Burgerbinder or something) still were hosting with him?

Lisa de Moraes: In my dream, Seacrest, the presumed Larry King replacement on CNN, and Larry King, switch jobs for one week. I think Tom Bergeron is the only other competition series host capable of wrangling Paula...

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Fairfax, Va.: So Ted is more the straight man. Who cares? So was Seinfeld. Also, when shows like that begin to concentrate on the supporting characters, it becomes too much. "Will & Grace" started out as a decent show, but then it became Jack and Karen and was unwatchable. The zany characters need to be given to viewers in small doses, or they lose that spark that makes them funny in the first place.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, that's one school of thought -- but Seinfeld, the guy, was more fun to watch on screen than Josh Radnor, who plays Ted. And I loved Jack and Karen.

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"American Idol": I have an increasingly strong suspicion that David Archuleta is stupid. Not naive (although he's that, too), stupid.

Lisa de Moraes: I would not have agreed, until this week's Phone Company Presents Actual Phone Calls from Viewers segment on results night and he said he could not answer the question regarding what was the most challenging thing about being an Idolette. I mean, golly, couldn't he have just winged it with "lack of sleep" or "picking new songs" or "not fainting when I met Dolly Parton" or something?

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Herndon, Va.: What is happening with "Men In Trees"? I love that show. Thanks.

Lisa de Moraes: Cancelled. Sorry for your loss, but frankly the show was going nowhere.

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San Diego: Are new episodes of "Army Wives" coming back to Lifetime this summer?

Lisa de Moraes: Season 2: June 8 at 10 p.m.

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Washington: Any somewhat interesting TV programming for the summer, or are we going to be subjected to "Deal or No Deal" and its kind five nights a week?

Lisa de Moraes: I'm guessing Olympics could be fun if they keep cameras trained on the French and British fan sections of the bleachers...

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"Idol" idea: I would like to see "Idol" do a "comeback" season. Same format, same judges, but the contestants all would be former "stars" like Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer and Tiffany (and maybe Paula could both judge and compete). The only problem I see is that TVs might become drenched in desperation and short out.

Lisa de Moraes: What a frightening thought. Please tell me you are not Mike Darnell...

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"Top Model": Tyra makes the show with her crazy antics (see "The Soup," which always has a clip of her!). And why does she call herself "mama" to the girls? Kind of strange!

Lisa de Moraes: Doesn't she kind of think of herself as Den Mother from Hell?

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Washington:"Now, Voyager" will be on "The Essentials" on Turner Classic Movies tomorrow. Will you be watching?

Lisa de Moraes: Duh! Even though I saw it a couple weeks ago on a big screen at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica as part of its Bette Davis festival. Imagine: a double feature, "Now, Voyager" and "Dark Victory." I wept buckets for two hours. It was brilliant. Nobody did melodrama like Bette Davis. Two nights later I went back for "All About Eve," which I'd never seen on a big screen. Everyone in the audience knew all the lines by heart. When she delivered the "Fasten your seatbelts" line the place erupted...

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TLC memories: I once stumbled across airings of Kenneth Clarke's BBC series "Civilization" on The Learning Channel. I'm surprised I can remember back that far. Bravo is very different too, but I like some "Project Runway," so maybe it is hypocritical to complain, but I would like to see Sir Derek Jacobi's "Cyrano de Bergerac" again.

Lisa de Moraes: Oh yeah, like that's gonna happen. No room for "Cyrano" when you're chasing 18- to 34-year-olds...

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Tyra...: I stopped watching her shows because her eyes gave me nightmares. I tend to watch TV in bed ... maybe that's the problem.

Lisa de Moraes: Definitely the problem. I used to watch doctor dramas like "ER" and the "CSIs" at 10 p.m., but I couldn't sleep afterwards. That's why god gave us DVR. I now watch during the day, and have hours to try to forget the gore...

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Re" "Idol Comeback Season": They already had that show in 2005, and it was called "Hit Me Baby One More Time." They brought back Vanilla Ice, Cameo, Glass Tiger and Wang Chung, and it was awesome.

washingtonpost.com: "Hit Me Baby One More Time" (Wikipedia)

Lisa de Moraes: Sadly, you were in the minority...

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Falls Church, Va.: I was channel surfing and ran across an infomercial for colon cleansing. People were sitting there discussing how to make their (fecal matter) not stink. My jaw just dropped. Have you ever seen this? How could TV get any worse (or better, depending on your point of view)?

Lisa de Moraes: How did I miss this?! When and where -- I need details...

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Washington: What happened with "Frasier"? Your "Family Ties" story made me recall that "Frasier" was meant to be about the conflict between a prissy shrink/talk show host and his retired, tough-guy dad ... but David Hyde Pierce made such a strong impression that the arc of the show shifted to focus in large part on Frasier and Niles. John Mahoney's Martin Crane was still a vital part of the show, but not as much of a one as was planned.

Lisa de Moraes: Another good example.

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McLean, Va.: Pookie, are you old enough to remember Troll Dolls? If so, you must agree that Roboleta looks exactly like one. That smile, those blank eyes ... makes me throw up in my mouth a lil' bit.

Lisa de Moraes: He reminds me more of Baby Elmo and Eddie Munster...

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Olney, Md.: My wife thinks David Archuleta is of the Jim Nabors school of singing: no obvious connection between the speaking and the singing voices.

Lisa de Moraes: Great observation!

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Herndon, Va.: This was too late for Tuesday's discussion, but doesn't anyone on "Idol" know that "Proud Mary" is not Tina Turner's song? John Fogerty wrote it, and Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded the original version.

Lisa de Moraes: All true, but Syesha was clearly doing the Tina Turner take on the tune.

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I'm back: Just when I was going to leave you after the "I loved Jack and Karen" comment, you come back with "Dark Victory." I'll stick around a little longer.

Lisa de Moraes: Welcome back.

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Boulder, Colo.: I just read that Comedy Central is bringing back "The Gong Show." I'm sorry, but nothing can top the original. Why do they even bother?

Lisa de Moraes: I'm guessing they believe 18- to 34-year-old guys do not realize "The Gong Show" is not a new concept. They may well be right.

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Hey!: Why did they give "Family Guy" guy so much money?

Lisa de Moraes: I'm guessing it's because he will be producing three shows for the network -- "Family Guy," "American Dad!," and the new "Family Guy" spin-off "The Cleveland Show," and he's also the lead vocal talent on all three. And who knows, maybe Fox is hoping MacFarlane will bow out of that suit filed by 16 "Family Guy" writers against the studio regarding the DVD "Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story" -- just guessing.

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Washington: The ad where Tyra dances with lizards would be less creepy if she and the lizards were the same size.

Lisa de Moraes: I just took the time to watch it again and, as I thought, it's not Tyra, it's Naomi Campbell. That said, I wouldn't want the ad to be less creepy or the lizards to be the same size. It's brilliant, just the way it is...

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Herndon, Va.: It would be nice if a contestant did it like Creedence. At least it would be something different.

Lisa de Moraes: Are you being neo-ironic? Because if an Idolette did it, um, like Creedence Clearwater, then it would not be different. It would be like Creedence...

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Severna Park, Md.: TV used to be square, and now it's more rectangular. This is really messing with my head.

Lisa de Moraes: But better for watching flicks...

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Bethesda, Md.: No Chuck Barris, no "Gong Show"!

Lisa de Moraes: Amen...

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Idol Chat?: There was an "Idol" discussion? Oh no! How'd I miss that?!

washingtonpost.com: Discussion Transcript: de Moraes on "Idol" (washingtonpost.com, May 7). The next "Idol"-specific discussion will be Wednesday, May 21.

Lisa de Moraes: Sorry about that, but you still have one more chance...

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"How I Met Your Mother": Meanies ... I like Ted. And I don't think the show focuses at all on the gimmick -- pretty much every episode is enjoyable whether the story features the yellow umbrella or Barney and Robyn (woo-hoo!).

Lisa de Moraes: Ted is very bland ... like cauliflower

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Anonymous: Pookie, when is "Damages" coming back to FX? Thanks.

Lisa de Moraes: In theory, "Damages" is scheduled to go into production next month, with the next season scheduled to start in January '09 -- though a Screen Actors Guild strike (SAG's current contract with Hollywood studios expires June 30) could maybe change things...

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What the Scarnato?: Syesha is the last woman standing?! Who'da thunk it?

Lisa de Moraes: Not me, certainly. If only Carly Smithson had discovered three-quarter-length sleeves earlier than Andrew Lloyd Webber week, and had convinced her husband to stay home, she'd be with us now. Heck, Alexandrea Lushington is a better singer than Syesha, and she didn't even make it to the top 12.

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"The Mole": So, I was watching "Lost" last night and saw and ad for the "Series Premier" of "The Mole." Does ABC think we're idiots with no memory? Even though it has been a few years since Anderson Cooper hosted a show of the same name with the same premise, I don't think the network is allowed to rewrite history, regardless of how low the ratings were for that history.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, it appears they think we're idiots. I think we should begin mailing them thousands of moles with notes attached to collars around their little necks, saying "Remember Anderson Cooper!"

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Summer TV: I know they killed "Side Order of Life" (grrrr), but what about "My Boys"? And the series version of "The Starter Wife"? I love fluffy girly scripted summer TV!

Lisa de Moraes: "Starter Wife" is not back until October and "My Boys" is back June 12.

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Dexter: So, how did "Dexter" do for CBS overall, and in particular for the finale? Does CBS plan to show Season 2 as well? (I have Showtime and am looking forward to a fresh Season 3, but I enjoyed watching Season 1 again, and thought it made the leap to network pretty well, without too much chopping -- no pun intended.)

Lisa de Moraes: Compared to how "Monk" and "Psych" are doing on Sundays on NBC, the "Dexter" run on CBS on Sundays was a brilliant success. Yes, CBS has done better in the time slot, but this was about filling a time slot when a strike had shut down production of CBS programming. It was this or reruns or another night of "Big Brother."

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Re: "Gong Show": You are (or claim to be) a Serious Student of Television. My question to you is, which of the 786 shows produced by Chuck Barris was the most horrible, no-good, un-edifying, sure-to-destroy-society show? I ask this as a fan.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm thinking probably "The Game Game," though it's a very hard call. The shrink panel has to be the lamest game show concept ever.

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Am I the only person who doesn't think "Family Guy" is so great?: Hi, Lisa. Am I in the minority because I don't think that "Family Guy" is as great as some people think it is? Yes, they weave in several pop culture references every episode, but I liked "Futurama" better. More original and wittier than "The Simpsons." Why didn't FOX bring it back?

Lisa de Moraes: Because young men -- the target audience here -- disagreed with you.

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Silver Spring, Md.: What, "The Gong Show" is not a new idea? Are you going to tell me that talent shows and primetime game shows aren't new either? You know what TV needs? I don't have time to watch cable news around the clock, why doesn't somebody have a 30-minute summary of national and world news before primetime starts? I guess I've got a lot of questions for somebody from Silver Spring.

Lisa de Moraes: Pookie, you don't need to watch cable news around the clock, given that the networks are repeating themselves all day long. You can get your 30-minute summary of national and (a little) world news any time of day before primetime, when they turn into talk radio models. ... But heck, if you want to sit down at 6 or 6:30 p.m. to watch about 15 minutes of actual news, you go ahead and watch one of the broadcast networks. All I ask is that you watch CBS -- that poor Katie Couric needs all the viewers she can get...

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Of course Chuck Barris's shows were awful: He was busy being a CIA covert operative. Where have you people been?

Lisa de Moraes: I'm hoping he was better at his day job than he was at his side job...

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Lisa. What long-running reality TV series will be the next one to get the axe? I'm thinking "The Bachelor," but is there another that is even more out of steam? Yes, MTV's "Real World" comes to mind, but given that it's on MTV, it will keep going -- nearly as many seasons as "M*A*S*H" already! How did that happen?

Lisa de Moraes: That's easy. "ER" is finally, finally, finally, throwing in the towel next season, ending my long nightmare...

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Washington: Surprised no one has said anything about the biggest blunder in "Survivor" history last night -- that Erik gave up the immunity necklace only seconds before he got voted out. He calls himself a fan!

Lisa de Moraes: Erik is a moron. Sorry I missed it. I had to watch NBC last night to see the "30 Rock" season finale and the "Scrubs" NBC finale ... will watch Survivor tonight for sure, to catch up...

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Bremerton, Wash.: How whacked out was last night's "30 Rock" with Matthew Broderick as a Bush administration flunkee? "We've studied that there is no leak." I've heard the Gay Bomb actually was developed at some point. Could we set one off between Simon and Randy and see what happens? Or maybe Tyra Banks and her models? Or the girls of "The View"?

Lisa de Moraes: Matthew Broderick and Alec Baldwin are the perfect comedy duo -- who knew? They need to make Broderick a regular on this show. Surely they can make him the network's chief legal counsel or something. Head of marketing?

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Boulder, Colo.: Best Chuck Barris show ever: "The $1.98 Beauty Pageant." I loved that show as a kid. The winner got a bunch of carrots to hold while walking down the aisle ... that's pretty much all I remember. It was the '70s, after all.

Lisa de Moraes: It's true, Barris's shows seem so much more interesting when medicated -- the viewer that is, not Barris...

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"Family Guy" and "Futurama": Thanks for the put-down, Lisa. I happen to be a mid-30s male. Guess that means that I'm too old to "get" "Family Guy," huh?

Lisa de Moraes: Pookie, Pookie, Pookie. You are too sensitive -- which I like in an 18- to 34-year-old guy. Fox targets 18- to 34-year-old guys on Sunday night. The shows that get brought back are the ones that more 18- to 34-year-old guys are watching. "Futurama" was cancelled because the audience for the show was too small; 18- to 34-year-old guys preferred other shows Fox has offered on the night. I love 18- to 34-year-old guys ... except when they're watching "Jackass." Then they're pretty useless...

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Washington: What do you think of "Gossip Girl"? I am totally addicted to that show -- I can't wait for next week!

Lisa de Moraes: Craptastic.

I'm out of time. Bye.

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