Friday, October 24, 2008; 1:00 PM
Is this the most laughable election election ever? Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes was online Friday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. ET to consider CBS's theft of three veterans of "The Daily Show," CNN's decisions to ride D.L. Hughley's questionable track record into the topical comedy market, and Sarah Palin's killer Tina Fey impression. Also: The CW thinks it has the perfect Election Night counterprogramming. What do you recommend?
Poll Time! Exercise your Constitutional duty to vote on terminally ill television.
The transcript follows.
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.
Baltimore: Re: British actors in American series, I guess Hugh Laurie started it with "House" and so a pattern was set, but why do British actors have to don an American accent to do a network series? Simon Baker did it, and now Rufus Sewell has done it. What would be so all-fired weird about Rufus Sewell having a British accent in "11th Hour"? Frankly, I would like to see Laurie, Baker and Sewell all do guest spots on "CSI: Miami" and see which one can outdo the other talkin' Amurican, gosh darn it!
Lisa de Moraes: Ha! I wrote a treatise on this last fall -- you may have read that. First, to clarify, Simon Baker is Australian, but your point is still valid -- why aren't actors with hot accents (and listen up NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, etc: American women find British-ish accents very very hot) allowed to use said hot accents in starring roles, assuming of course that the network actually wants the show to attract viewers? They'll tell the chicks on the show they have to starve themselves to within an inch of their lives, because that will be more attractive to look at, but they won't allow men with hot accents to use this god-given talent to attract viewers. I say it's because the industry is run by a bunch of men who seem to know precious little about women. Network suits say it's because they have reams of research indicating Americans won't watch people with foreign accents on TV shows. I think Sarah Palin has debunked that theory pretty well -- 73 million watched her debate.
Battleground State: Now that Obama ads are on every two minutes, or so it seems, I have a question about advertising and TV. I once was involved tangentially with media buyers, so I know in politics that it's about strategy and placing ads where the targeted prospective voters will be most likely to see them. But does it create any competition? Is Macy's peeved that the Obama campaign bought all the best ad real estate just as they are trying to launch their new minor celebrity clothing line? Or is media-buying just not that cutthroat?
Lisa de Moraes: I'm guessing the Big Cheese at Macy's didn't just wake up last week and say: "Golly, let's launch us a minor celebrity clothing line! Get me NBC's ad sales department -- stat!" Surely they were planning this campaign long before Obama's campaign was making all these scatter buys. Anyway, no one in this country has any money right now to fritter away on Macy's minor celebrity clothing line, so Obama's camp had done Macy's a great service by scooping up the ad time Macy's might have tossed away millions buying up. I'm sure you agree.
Arlington, Va.: How is "The Ex List" doing? I'm loving it, and would be crushed if it didn't manage to stay on the air.
Lisa de Moraes: Not great in overall tonnage -- hope you don't mind my referring to you as a part of "tonnage." It clocked about 6.3 million viewers last week -- creating a deep "V" in CBS's night, sitting as it did between "Ghost Whisperer" with its nearly 9 million viewers, and "Numb3rs" with its nearly 9 million viewers. But "Ex-List" did manage to rank No. 1 in its time slot among the 18-49 year olds, who are the Nubile Blondes of Madison Avenue. Granted, that's damning with faint praise -- given that it's on against "Supernanny," "Crusoe," a rerun of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader" and a rerun of "America's Next Top Model" -- but a win's a win. We all know this show would be doing better if it were on a chick network -- spelled A-B-C. It does, after all, star Elizabeth Reaser -- aka "Grey's Anatomy's" Ava the Faceless. Don't you see it paired with "Samantha Who?" Or is it just me?
Lisa de Moraes: Forgot to mention, hope you will participate in today's Team TV Poll: Terminal TV. ... It's at the top of the chat. So far, the voting is skewing heavily toward "what the heck is CBS thinking?!" Exercise your right to vote now...
Lisa de Moraes: And, because a lot of you are asking about the status of your favorite show, here is Washington Post Team TV's Television Status Watch:
"Mad Men" (AMC), for Season 3
"Gossip Girl" (CW), 2 additional episodes
"Eli Stone" (ABC), 4 ordered
"Medium" (NBC), 3 ordered
"Opportunity Knocks" (ABC), lasted 3 episodes
"Chelsea Lately" (E!), at least through 2009
"Knight Rider" (NBC), currently Season 1
"The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (FOX), currently Season 2
"Private Practice" (ABC), currently Season 2
Dexter (Showtime), currently Season 3
"Privileged" (CW), 2 ordered
"Worst Week" (CBS), 2 ordered
No one is watching "Mad Men": Does this show suffer from "Arrested Development" syndrome -- i.e. too many critics adore it, no one watches it, and the non-viewer looks at it skeptically as if it were the TV equivalent of Brussels sprouts?
Lisa de Moraes: Yes, yes and yes, though I adore Brussels sprouts. That said, I urge everyone to watch, even though it moves at a snails pace, if only for the clothing -- to die for -- and the smoking -- also to die for.
"Mad Men": So is Jon Hamm really going to ruin this show by refusing to sign another contract? AMC better smarten up and sign these actors to a multiyear deal -- it's too good to let it fade away after only two seasons.
Lisa de Moraes: Yeah, right, because he'd prefer to return to the Land of Obscurity from whence he came. It's contract antics, Pookie -- don't lose any sleep over this stuff.
Washington: Is Jay Mohr on some sort of medication that is making him bloated, or has he just gained a lot of weight? All I could think of when I watched his show was "I wonder if he's sick." He's almost unrecognizable.
Lisa de Moraes: Apparently he caught whatever Ben Stiller's got -- Hulk-itis, I think it's called. Personally, I preferred watching Mohr when he looked like he could fit into a suit. On the other hand, I applaud the notion that Hollywood pressures guys to turn their bodies into something unnatural -- seems only fair, given what the industry expects of its chicks.
A year renewal for Knight Rider?!: No justice/no peace! Brandon Tartikoff must be rolling in his grave like a rotisserie chicken.
Lisa de Moraes: Isn't NBC wonderful? Really, it's in an alternate universe -- the Land of Product Placement and Margins...
New England: What is up with the new "Grey's Anatomy" obsession with a certain sexual practice? It wouldn't bother me so much if they just published "The Sloane Method" somewhere.
Lisa de Moraes: Okay, now I'm truly sorry I have not yet watched last night's episode ... what did I miss?
Rockville, Md.: Hi Lisa. I was excited to see that FOX has extended "Sarah Connor" for a full season, but I was under the impression that my wife and I were the only ones watching. Not that I'm complaining, but I'm wondering what prompted FOX to soldier on with the series. Thanks.
Lisa de Moraes: You are the only ones watching, but you are apparently between the ages of 18 and 34 and affluent.. Right? I'm guessing DVD sales, overseas sales -- all the ancillary stuff helped Fox make its decision -- because no, it's not a ratings barn-burner...
"Life on Mars": Though I can't figure out what's going on with the time switches (1973 or 2008, whenever the mood hits?), I really enjoyed the show and seeing Harvey Keitel on the little screen. Michael Imperioli is right out his "Sopranos" role and funny. I liked the story, writing, the production look ... the entire show. I just realized that they changed the name from last year's aborted start from "Life" to "Life on Mars." I think the new title is off-putting. Please smack me down like a critic.
Lisa de Moraes: I got lost about halfway through this question, but the name "Life" already was taken by NBC. I too wish they'd stop trying to have him see the present in the door window, blah, blah, blah, and just focus on him being Alice in Wonderland, because Harvey Keitel and Michael Imperioli are wonderful in their '70s roles and should have more screen time.
Cable Competition Woes: Why are we confined to one cable provider per area? (I thought the telecom act of 1996 was supposed to open up competition of the industry?) I live in Connecticut and can't use a satellite provider because of the woods surrounding my house, so I am stuck with Cablevision, which refuses to carry BBC America. Ugh.
Lisa de Moraes: You have my deepest sympathy. My advice to you is move, cut down your trees, or build a very high tower for a satellite dish (call it a flagpole if there are zoning issues), because that's honestly your best bet to solve your problem...
Fairfax, Va.: I just do not understand the popularity of "Two and a Half Men." This sitcom has been on for several years now and the young man playing the son has grown considerably. Should it still be called that? Oops, I forgot -- John Cryer is still on the show.
Lisa de Moraes: Come on, don't tell me you don't secretly laugh at all the naughty bits on this show, though I do prefer "Big Bang Theory."
Atlanta: Maybe people would like "Mad Men" better if the cars talked.
Lisa de Moraes: Brilliant suggestion. Also if they smoked...
Fairfax, Va.: The presence of Australian actors on TV making their voices flat is pretty rampant. Anthony LaPaglia, Poppy Montgomery ("Without a Trace") and Yvonne Strahovski ("Chuck") come to mind immediately.
Lisa de Moraes: I know -- all that latent hotness, wasted. It's a crime and a sin...
"House" cleaning: Why are they keeping the old team members from "House" around the hospital for 30-second scenes? It only reinforces how lame and boring the new team they replaced them with is.
Lisa de Moraes: Really? I had those thoughts about the old team. Frankly, I'm sick of teams. I want to see "House" and his bromance ... and sick people.
Just wondering: Two quick questions: Does anyone believe that Juanita is 4 years old (or 4 1/2)? She doesn't look or talk like a 4-year-old. Also, is "Reaper" coming back?
Lisa de Moraes: "Reaper" is coming back "midseason," which means any time between now and the end of the TV season in May. Meanwhile, no, no one believes Juanita is 4 years old. But then, nobody believes any of the "Desperate Housewives" are as young as they are playing -- so it all evens itself out. Juanita (Madison Lovato) strangely, is the sister, or half-sister, or somehow related to Demi Lovato, aka The New Miley Cyrus at Disney.
Aussie can you see: What about Blond Doctor on "House"? He still uses his Aussie accent.
Lisa de Moraes: Yes, and he's all the hotter for it. In fact, I'd say his accent is about all he has going for him -- otherwise he's utterly forgettable.
The Sloane Method: Last night, Callie and Erica's date night took a turn for the worst when Callie had trouble vacationing South of the Border. She prevails upon Mark Sloane to show her the ropes and then happily marches back to Erica with the loving command "drop your pants."
Lisa de Moraes: Gosh -- and it's not even the November sweep yet. I feel so cheated -- I DVRed it, thinking it would be nothing special.
Cincinnati: I think your poll is missing a couple options re: "yes -- it's ghoulish" or "no -- it's uplifting." The concept wouldn't be treated in the right way for me to watch, because they'd have to go the "isn't this person so heroic and strong," and there wouldn't be enough dark humor in it for me. I'd have picked "no -- it's uplifting" for that reason.
Lisa de Moraes: Excellent criticism, and we will try to be more all-inclusive next time. Meanwhile, you're stuck with the two candidates -- sorry...
Secretly British: A catalog of some of the best and worst faux American accents.
Lisa de Moraes: Brilliant!
Severna Park, Md.: You can watch the new "30 Rock" on your computer.
Lisa de Moraes: I know -- who needs their expensive flat screen TV when they can enjoy it on their crappy laptop screen? I love new media...
Chattanooga, Tenn.: I just got off the phone with all the foreign actors using American accents. They said they'd stop if you could get Madonna talking American again.
Lisa de Moraes: I think we can arrange that. I'm guessing she won't be spending too much time in the U.K. anymore. and gradually will lose the faux-Brit thing. Poor woman.
Buyers Remorse for a Lead Actor of a New Show: I am having a flashback to last year's "Bionic Woman" when I watch this year's "Fringe." The forgettable brunette in "Bionic Woman" started off okay and got progressively horrible. Anna Torv -- the lead in "Fringe" seems to get more wooden by the week. I wonder if Fox is wishing they had gone a different casting route...
Lisa de Moraes: I think when you buy a J.J. Abrams show, you're stuck with his casting. J.J. prides himself on being able to "discover" hot women, like the Felicity chick and Jennifer Garner. He has the touch, so to speak...
Poppy Montgomery's accent: She's slipping lately with her accent -- she used to do a much better job. Have you seen HBO's version of "Little Britain"? It's so hilarious, and those guys do fabulous American accents. They can even do regional accents, depending on the character they are portraying. I watched the first episode with my mom and was so embarrassed -- I should have realized it would be much dirtier because it moved from BBC to HBO.
Lisa de Moraes: Never, ever ever watch an HBO comedy with your mother -- that's like the first rule of television viewing.
McLean, Va.: Pookie, is "Pushing Daisies" dead in the water? I love that show (particularly the ladies' wardrobes), so I would be very sad if it was, but based on your recent column it seems that I shouldn't be too attached. Any hope for me?
Lisa de Moraes: ABC is making a bold effort to get this show some more sampling -- declining a request by Barack Obama's campaign to buy the 8 p.m. half-hour on Wednesday, Oct. 29 so the network can air "Pushing Daisies" against virtually no scripted competition in hopes it will get some sampling. NBC and CBS and Fox all have agreed to air The Barack Obama Show, and CW airs "Top Model" at 8 p.m. I'm guessing it won't make a difference, but hoping I'm wrong.
Herndon, Va.: Hi Lisa. How is "Privileged" doing, ratings-wise? Also, any word on whether the MTV series "The Paper" will return for a second season?
Lisa de Moraes: "The Paper" is returning for another season, set at a high school in Texas. "Privileged" is doing okay for CW, which is setting the bar pretty low...
Baltimore: I believe in the past you have agreed that "Freaks and Geeks" was one of those canceled-too-soon programs, but I'm wondering if you feel the same way about Judd Apatow's college series "Undeclared"? For me, it lacked the same magic that made "Freaks and Geeks" so great.
Lisa de Moraes: Can't touch "Freaks and Geeks."
Stuck in an airport!: Pookie, thought I was going to miss your chat -- I'm stuck in this darn airport. Ran all around looking for an electrical outlet so I could plug in my laptop because my battery is just about dead. Crap, forgot what my question was...
Lisa de Moraes: Wow -- you're some kind of fan. What airport are you stuck in? Let us know if you remember your question. I think the least we can do is try to get you your answer.
Sun Valley, Idaho: Was the Janice Dickinson model reunion show the lowest point in television history or what? I mean, making model Kehoe take a lie detector test to determine if he is gay has to rank as more than distasteful.
Lisa de Moraes: So few people are watching this show -- I'd suggest you too stop watching and this one will go away. Hopefully the press stops giving it space in their papers, Web sites. I'm a big fan of reality TV, but this one's despicable.
More "Mad Man": Not just the smoking -- they drink more than any of my fraternity brothers. And I had to explain to my son why there was a man in the elevator pushing the buttons.
Lisa de Moraes: See -- it's even educational for the young ones. I hope you also explained that secretaries no longer are allowed to sit on their bosses laps in the office where other employees can see them...
D.L. Hughley -- why?: Didn't he already get his shot at highbrow topical "comedy" with "Studio 60" last year? CNN is a news channel (or at least it is supposed to be). If they have to do anything of this nature they'd be better off trying a news-based version of "The Soup," not redoing "The Daily Show." Lame, CNN, very lame.
Lisa de Moraes: Let's watch the first show this weekend and give it a chance. I'm trying to forget "Weekends at the DL" and give this show a chance.
Re: "Pushing Daisies" vs. Obama: I hear that Obama will be bringing some people back to life by touching them, so ABC's going to split that audience at best.
Lisa de Moraes: Ah, but "The Barack Obama Show" does not have a perky, blonde, singing, pie-making assistant -- nor will his audience be wearing fabulous Prada dresses...
Bumping Charlie Brown?: Please don't tell me that "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" annual airing was bumped for the Barack and Friends hour as well?
Lisa de Moraes: I think ABC shoved "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" into one of "Opportunity Knocks" time slots after they -- mercifully -- killed that show.
Chicago: I am excited for "Celebrity Rehab Club."
Lisa de Moraes: Anyone in particular you're hoping to see?
Comedy on CNN: Wait, you mean "Larry King Live" isn't a comedy show?
Lisa de Moraes: And Lou Dobbs. Really, CNN is already supersaturated with comedy. Though to be fair, they're having a hard time keeping up with Fox News Channel and MSNBC. ... I'm guessing that's what the addition of the Hughley-hosted show is all about...
Rockville, Md.: "Sarah Connor" is sort of like "Lost" -- there is no unifying idea that ties it all together. They have changed the "future" so much that it does not exist. Something different is sending things back, and if the new film does not fix the plot, perhaps nothing will. What am I missing?
Lisa de Moraes: Nothing. I'd say you're spot-on in your assessment..
Commercial TV?: Please explain how anyone would fall for those commercials that tell you to put all your used gold (rings, teeth, etc.) in an envelope and send it to some address to receive an immediate check. That sounds so much like a rip-off that I just can't understand who would believe such a thing.
Lisa de Moraes: Right. You send them your gold first, and then they send you what they determine is the dollar value of the gold. It's an ad for people who still count with their fingers -- and toes...
Silver Spring, Md.: I think it's a good idea for ABC to air actual programming opposite his TV special. People watch presidential speeches/debates on various channels to hear the commentary, but this show will be the same on all networks. I think some people will want to watch something entertaining, as opposed to a 30-minute commercial (after hearing radio ads the whole way home in the car, and then seeing Obama ads all evening while watching the news).
Lisa de Moraes: Of course it's a good idea for ABC, particularly because "Daisies" has not relaunched well. Meanwhile, voting is heavy for "What the Heck is CBS Thinking" in our Terminal TV Poll. So if you are very much in favor of CBS's new reality series casting terminally ill people getting to audition for a TV series one last time, I urge you to cast your vote and be heard...
Bethesda, Md.: Three questions: What are you dressing up as for Halloween? What's with "Two and a Half Men"? I know of no one who likes this show including myself. Could the Nielsen boxes be rigged?
Lisa de Moraes: I am a fan of "Two and a Half Men." There, I said it, and I feel better for having come out of the closet. Yes it's raunchy and the jokes are lame and very old-school, but it makes me chuckle at least once an episode -- and goodness knows we all need a good laugh these days.
I confess I've given no thought to my Halloween costume this year. Last year I dressed my Yorkie, Vanderbilt, as a hot-dog. I was the vendor.
San Diego: Kudos, young lady. This is still my favorite TV info source -- I look forward to this session more than most shows. Item 1: On "House," have docs Foreman, Cameron and Chase been replaced on the marquee by docs "13," Taub and Kutner? Is it time to start an office pool on which new doc dies next ("13" could benefit from a last-minute, House "eureka" cure)? Item 2: Did "Criminal Minds" get new writers? The switch to action plots -- similar in intensity to Tommy Lee Jones's "The Fugitive" -- contrasts with the gore-intense plots of previous seasons.
Lisa de Moraes: Whatever "Criminal Minds" has changed, it's working. The ratings are strong. I got lost in your "House" question, but I do wish all the junior docs would get a different terminal disease and House would have to figure them all out by the end of the November sweeps, or they'd go toes-up. I'm pretty sick of the whole "teaching" thing...
How many episodes does "The Shield" have left?: I'm trying to figure out how/if Vic will wriggle out of consequences of his actions...
Lisa de Moraes: I am hoping he's squashed like a beetle in the end, if only because Michael Chiklis was insufferable at the last press tour.
Alexandria, Va.: Pookie, who do you think has more charisma on TV -- Palin or Obama?
Lisa de Moraes: I'm going to put this to a vote.. What do you guys think? If "charisma" is the ability to attract people to you, the ratings on Palin's debate and on her acceptance speech certainly eclipsed Obama's. On the other hand, I think some people flocking to Palin on TV are watching because they adore her, but others because they love a good train wreck..
Woodbridge, Va.: Is there any difference between "Fringe" and "Eleventh Hour"? Aren't they both shows about FBI agents investigating mysterious conspiracies?
Lisa de Moraes: So many differences -- one stars a hot blonde chick whose job seems to require stripping to her undies with alarming regularity, the the other stars a tall brunette Brit speaking Jerry Bruckheimer-ish lines.
I'm out of time, but we will keep the voting open on the poll for a while longer. At press time, those of you looking forward to CBS's Terminal TV series are getting pounded by opponents of the proposition. ... Vote now! Bye.
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