Reality, Non-Reality and Everything In-Between

Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 6, 2009 1:00 PM

Columnist Lisa de Moraes was online Friday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. ET to take your questions about the drama, comedy and heartbreak of the world of television -- both onscreen and behind-the-scenes.

This week, Lisa's topics include the Super Bowl's real winners and losers and a misty farewell to "American Idol's" Bikini Girl.

The transcript follows.

TV columns | On TV discussion transcripts | de Moraes on TV blog.


Baltimore: Can everyone on this chat take a firm, binding pledge never to watch any show that might be developed around the lunatic woman in California who deliberately had octuplets by in vitro fertilization, even while she has 6 other children and no job? Seriously...her publicist (!) says she is fielding offers. I say we not only pledge to not watch any show, but pledge to never watch any network that develops such a show. (Thank God TCM is not likely.)

Lisa de Moraes: Hi. This is a wonderful idea -- I would not be surprised to hear NBCUniversal2.0 has, in addition to offering her an interview with America's Other Sweetheard Ann Curry, maybe dropped a hint or two about an Oxygen reality show. Just guessing here but it seems like a no-brainer...



Lisa de Moraes: And here is where you can vote! Vote now, vote often -- you know the drill.....


Dead Denny, New Show?: Rumor has it that Shonda Rhimes has revived her idea for a show involving journalists. Originally she was going to star Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a.k.a. "Grey's" Dead Denny (ick!! aargh!! yuck!! - not the actor, the part). Will he still be in that new project? If not, what's next after Denny finally and hopefully forever, exits this mortal coil?

Lisa de Moraes: Oh yes. I wrote a column about it -- it's now based in Washington D.C. And, the guy who wrote the script -- a well-respected documentary filmmaker -- sent me an e-mail after my column appeared in the paper to nick me for not having mentioned his Oscar nomination when I listed some of his credits in the piece. He said he planned to name a character in the show after me, who would be a columnist who never got her facts straight....


Trust Me: Shows get canceled so quickly these days, so after two episodes, I have to ask -- how's "Trust Me" doing? Should I keep watching and risk getting attached only to have it canceled in a few weeks?

Lisa de Moraes: It dropped from around 3.4 million viewers in its debut to about 2 million in its second episode. That's not great. But cable TV tends not to yank shows before all the ordered episodes have been telecast, so it will have a far better chance of surviving than it would were it on a broadcast network....


Fox Friday Sci-Fi ghetto: I assume Fox will axe "Dollhouse" and co after getting low ratings on Friday - why do they even bother to program the night at all?

Lisa de Moraes: Because if they gave the night back to local stations they would never ever get it back again. All this talk about networks ceasing to program nights is not as certain a thing as some reporters would have you believe. Fox still makes money on Fridays. It just doesn't get a lot of viewers. Yes, moving "Dollhouse" to Friday night is not exactly a ringing endorsement for the show. But I'm guessing Fox thinks the Joss Whedon groupies will follow him anywhere -- and I suspect they are right. Now we'll see how many Joss Whedon groupies there really are out there. And, to Fox's credit, they have been out promoting the show heavily -- really, really heavily for a Friday show.


name a character in the show after me ...: Unless he calls the character "Pookie" I ain't watching.

Lisa de Moraes: I'll suggest it when he contacts me again....


Pickerington, Ohio: I really, really enjoy your writing.

How are "Damages" and "Leverages" doing ratings-wise? I am really enjoying both shows and hope they each get another season.

Lisa de Moraes: Your "Leverage" question is here in our WaPo TeamTV Show Status Update. Meanwhile, this season of "Damages" premiered with only 1.7 million tuned in which was way short of the nearly 4 million who caught the previous season's unveiling. So much for stuntcasting...

WaPo TeamTV Show Status Update:


Big Love (HBO) for a fourth season

Leverage (TNT) for a second season

Greek (ABC Family) for a third season

Lincoln Heights (ABC Family) for a fourth season

The City (MTV) for a second season

Daddy's Girls (MTV) for a second season

Legend of the Seeker (Syndication) for a second season

DietTribe (Lifetime) for a second season


Kyle XY (ABC Family) after three seasons


Reaper (CW) March 2, second season premiere

Privileged (CW) February 24, first season finale


Dollhouse (Fox) February 13, series premiere

Survivor (CBS) February 12, returns for Season 18

Amazing Race (CBS) February 15, returns for Season 14


Salinas, Calif.: Hi Pookie,

How is the "United States of Tara" doing?

Also, on the topic of "Grey's Anatomy," I am watching Season 1 on Lifetime. And it just reminds me how good the show use to be. Has the show jumped the shark?

Love the chats!

Lisa de Moraes: Based on the number of viewers it's getting, viewers do not believe "Grey's" has jumped the shark, though maybe the Sex with Dead Denny has been testing their patience a tad...Oh and I should have mentioned that, per previous question, "Leverage" is averaging about 3 million people. And, both "Leverage" and "Damages have been renewed for another season -- so these numbers don't really matter -- hooray...


Arlington, Va.: Should I watch "Dollhouse"?

Lisa de Moraes: OMG yes, yes, yes....It is the most craptastic thing I have seen in years and years -- and years. Eliza Dushku is the most insanely bad actress ever, though I do have to give her props for killer hair and gorgeous bod. She plays a chick who has her memory wiped out every "mission" and a new personality implanted in her every week to help her accomplish her "mission" -- she's in the employ of a sort of "Mission Impossible" mercenary fighter kinda Big Brother-ish firm. So in the first episode I saw, the braintrust in charge of coming up with her perfect personality each week decides it's really really important, so that she can do her next kick-ass job -- that she be asthmatic, among other things. Genius! So, naturally, when she's chasing some bad guy, she has an asthma attack. Really, I can't make this stuff up....Do Not Miss It....


Bad week: The Cardinals lose and Bikini Girl gets eliminated. Disastrous.

Lisa de Moraes: I know. The kind of week that makes you want to crawl under the bed and pull the floor up behind you...


Potomac Falls, Va.: Ugh.. can I just say that Kara Dioblahblahblah is a royal (expletive). I too hated Bikini Girl, but there was no need for her to be so snarky and snotty with her. I mean really, "don't forget to bring your pole tomorrow"? Was that necessary? I want her gone -- she adds nothing good to the show!

washingtonpost.com: Bikini Girl, We Barely Knew You

Lisa de Moraes: Wait a minute -- Bikini Girl gave an interview -- I think it was to Ryan Seacrest her makeout partner of choice -- in which she said yes, she does have a pole in her bedroom...Kara's not a shark, she's an extraordinary judge of character. I became a total Kara convert when I make this discovery about the bedroom pole in Bikini Girl's life...


Friday Nights: I went to add "Dollhouse" to my TiVo list and found I was already taping "Friday Night Lights"' and "Flashpoint" at that hour. Which one do I axe because I am a Whedon fan...

Lisa de Moraes: You get another DVR -- like me...


Programming Note: Any chance we can get "Lie to Me" to air right before "Trust Me" on the same network just to see them together on the listings? And if that could be followed by new show, "She's Just a Friend" I'd have a line up I would watch.

Lisa de Moraes: Glad to know I'm not the only person willing to step up and say they like "Trust Me." I don't get why the critics were so hard on this one. It's laps better than most of the new shows on cable. Can't you just see the TNT ad: "Washington Post: Laps better than most of the new shows on cable"


Hate to Admit this: I've watched a few eps of "Bromance" and now I'm having dreams about Brody Jenner and I'm a woman in my 40s. Do I need help?

Lisa de Moraes: OMG yes. seek help immediately....


Washington, D.C.: Why doesn't USA show anymore back-to-back reruns of "Law & Order SVU"?

Lisa de Moraes: I don't know, but it's really hard to find a timeslot in which someone, somewhere, is not airing some iteration of "Law & Order" so I suggest you just troll around and you're sure to stumble on it somewhere...


Survivor: If "Survivor" contestants all only show up with clothes on their backs (more or less) how come the women never get hairy?

Lisa de Moraes: Ah, you apparently don't know about the Survivor Razor Exemption... One season there was a guy who shaved his chest. Or maybe he waxed it and there's actually a Survivor Wax Exemption. Anyway, somebody at CBS -- I'm guessing the President of Research -- presented the network honchos with a spreadsheet proving that if the women's legs and armpits got hairy, they would lost at least 35 percent of their young male audience, and The Waiver was granted. You will be able to read all about it when I write that book about my sordid career covering the TV industry. I think I'll do a whole chapter on it, now that I know people are really interested...


Kara DioGuardi: I'm noticing (like the person above) that a lot of people don't like her, and I don't get it. She's the only other judge besides Simon who actually knows what she's talking about -- it's quite refreshing.

Bikini Girl was an average singer at best who had to resort to exploiting herself to make it as far as she did. Kara's comments about the pole were not just scathing, they were appropriate.

For what it's worth, I'm a straight male who is saying this.

Lisa de Moraes: It really is the Simon and Kara show now. Paula seems very subdued and Randy seems barely there....


Mentalist's bland support cast: Is it that the Aussie dude gleams so brightly the rest of his cast looks dull in comparison, or (more possibly) Robin Tunney aside, they have assembled the blandest supporting cast in recent memory?

Lisa de Moraes: Pookster, whatever it is -- it's working, bigtime. This show is a hit, much to everyone's surprise...


Washington, DC: Hey Lisa, I watched Conan O'Brien's show for the first time in a long while last night, and it was just sad. It was all about wrapping up in New York and moving to LA. There is absolutely no buzz for him taking over what's left of the "Tonight Show," nor was there much funny last night.

Will NBC really get behind him? Or will they give him a year and then put Leno back at 11:30 when that experiment runs its course.

Lisa de Moraes: That's a very interesting question, to which I do not have the answer. I was shocked when I started watching Conan regularly during the writers strike, as how old-school he became when his writers came back. Loved his strike stuff, but post-strike -- yikes. What happened to Conan?


Pittsburgh: Pookie, this was a good week: the Steelers won, there was a new episode of "Ugly Betty" last night, and it's supposed to get up to 50 degrees here tomorrow!

Lisa de Moraes: Just goes to show you that, as my rocket-scientist dad used to tell me, everything's relative.. Me, I'm sitting up to my ankles in rain here in Los Angeles an feeling pretty sorry for myself...


Trust Me: I loved Eric McCormack on "Will and Grace" so I gave this show a try but I was bored by the first episode -- does it get better? I'm thinking maybe I'm having a hard time with him as a straight guy...

Lisa de Moraes: second episode better, for sure... give it another try.


"Dollhouse" - worse than "Tru Calling"?: And if not Eliza D., who would you say is the most craptastically bad actress on TV? (The non-Zen police partner from "Life" who can only squint at Damian Lewis would get my vote.)

Lisa de Moraes: This week I'd say the sidekick on "Lie to Me" -- but, I'm assured by Fox execs who, after all, cast her, that America loves her. Go figure...


Programming Note - Better Listing Idea: "Trust Me", then "Lie to Me", followed by "Psych"!

Lisa de Moraes: Do we need to start a fantasy primetime schedule? I'm game..but you're going to have to put at least one reality series in there, for verisimilitude...


Washington, D.C.: Lisa - I read an article in a major NY paper on Monday that called "Big Love" the new Waltons. Won't you reconsider your dislike of the program please.

Lisa de Moraes: Good grief, no. And may I add I object to a show in which women are treated like pets -- you can never have enough, you know -- being called 'the new Waltons.' What are they smoking over there?


Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: Lisa -

Is "Crusoe" gone forever? Any chance it could get picked up by a cable channel like BBC America, where it would be a much better fit?

Lisa de Moraes: This wasn't really a series. It was more like NBC was buying a Halmi-esque miniseries. Scheduling it the way they did was the giveaway...


Falls Church, Va.: Whatever became of "Rescue Me" - Dennis Leary's show about NYC firefighters?

Lisa de Moraes: Hang in there -- it's coming back in April...


I love spies: I am SO excited to see that "Burn Notice" is back with new episodes! When I watched the first season of this show, I loved it but didn't really expect it to stick around. Think it's safe to say I can start to get attached to it?

Lisa de Moraes: "Burn Notice" was last week's second most watched cable series -- more than 5 million viewers -- so my guess is you're safe...


Hulu: Best. Ad. Ever.


Lisa de Moraes: Not sure why my brilliant producer, Paul, posted this, but since it was my favorite Super Bowl ad, I'm thrilled he did. I watched it again the other day during "American Idol" and, as I said in my Idol blog, I believe Alec Baldwin may be an American Idol...Why only 8 million people are watching "30 Rock" every week is a mystery to me since it's drop-dead hilarious. Oh wait -- it's on NBC!


Survivor: And don't forget the Toothbrush Exemption. They keep their pretty smiles throughout. But, in fairness, they obviously aren't given sunscreen or bugspray (and some of those bites get disgusting), so Mark Burnett at least draws the line somewhere.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, if it's amusing, you don't get the preventative. I'm guessing the research showed young males love watching sunblisters and allergic reactions to bug bites, but chicks with hairy legs -- not so much....


Big Love is Awful!: Keep preaching the truth Pookie! Bill Paxton and Chloe Sevingy alone send me sprinting for the remote.

Lisa de Moraes: I've said it before and I'll say it again: if they gave the women little hatchets, I'd watch...


DVR issues: There are 9 hours of TV on Monday nights that I want to watch. Sigh.

Lisa de Moraes: So now you know what to ask for for Valentines Day -- another DVR....


Emmy Awards: What are your thoughts on the Emmys expanding major categories? Do you think it will actually allow cool shows like "Friday Night Lights" or "How I Met Your Mother" to get more nominations?

Lisa de Moraes: What do I think? This is David Caruso's year, baby!!!


New Emmy Rules: So with the scrapping of the "blue-ribbon panel" does this mean we can look forward to less notice of low-rated shows like "Breaking Bad", "Damages" and "Mad Men"?

Lisa de Moraes: Yeah, sure, whatev....David Caruso's gonna finally get that Emmy nomination he so richly deserves! I'm psyched!


Not a network programming office, honest: Suggestion for a future poll: Would you watch a reality show that featured Rod Blagojevich?

Lisa de Moraes: Listen, if he had a talk show, I would absolutely watch. I'm thinking dump that Hoda Kotb chick and put him on the fourth hour of "Today" with Kathie Lee. Do the networks ever thank me for these brilliant suggestions? No.


The fantasy schedules: Lisa, dear, the rain is sogging up your brain. They're making jokes about the titles, and how they flow so nicely into a narrative. My choice would be: "Lie to Me," "Yes, Dear," "How I Met Your Mother."

Lisa de Moraes: I know, I know....But one night's easy. Let's do a full 22 hours of primetime. Diff lineup each night. Come on gang, we can do this.


Washington, D.C.: Speaking of Alec Baldwin, I loved him as the gay, Mexican Soap Opera star last night on "30 Rock." He was so funny.

Lisa de Moraes: lol funny. It's no wonder that show wins every award every year. I just wish someone would actually watch the showw. NBC should loan it to CBS for Monday nights one week, instead of that lame "Worst Week" or "Rules of Engagement."


Richmond, Va.: By your logic, "The Sopranos" was bad because it was about bad people who treated other people badly. "Big Love" is interesting because of the explorations the polygimist set-up creates. No one's saying poloygamy is good, just watch the dynamics and enjoy.

Lisa de Moraes: Ah, but the men killed each other and that made it great...."Big Love," on the other hand, is my worst nightmare come to the screen. If they were women being treated like dogs but in Manhattan, and wearing Manolas and Prada -- maybe. But chicks as pets, in dirndl skirts and polyester suits -- in suburbia? Count me out!


Alexandria, Va.: Is there anywhere online -- WaPo or otherwise - where a person can look at all of the TV ratings? Okay, "Burn Notice" was the second highest rated cable show -- and WaPo usually shows the Top 10, but what about the rest? How many people are watching Olbermann, King, and the crazy guy on Fox?

Lisa de Moraes: So glad you asked. I've been trying to convince my editors for ages to let me do that online. I'll be sure they see this -- thanks!


"Lie To Me", "Trust Me", "The Bachelor": ...Or just finish with "I Love Money"

Lisa de Moraes: excellent start....


Tinseltown: One of my all time favorite movie marquee bookings was the following: "Up the Creek", "Without a Paddle", "Paulie Shore is Dead".

Lisa de Moraes: lol....


30 Rock: Did I see Jon Hamm from 'Mad Men' on there last night? I've never watched 30 Rock but I would if I could see him more often.

Lisa de Moraes: You're in luck. He's doing a multi-episode arc. Keep watching -- tell your friends.


Okay so how will CBS clone the Mentalist?: If the adventures of Patrick Jane are such a hit, how can the net make a "Mentalist Miami," "Minneapolis," "Portland," etc. Does a lightning strike at a conman convention gives the Mentalist powers to several do-gooders?

Lisa de Moraes: Don't think it's clone-able because, unlike CSI, this one really is about the star. And that smile.. and, of course, the writing, sorry I was forgetting myself for a moment...


Silver Spring, Md.: I love the line from your third item in today's column, "Feds Planning Super Bowl Porn Probe." Who comes up with these great lines?

Lisa de Moraes: I did not come up with that. That was the actual headline from the article the FCC rep was saying got the story all wrong...


Pittsburgh: Lawrence Fishburne on "CSI" -- yay or nay?

Lisa de Moraes: I'm still on the fence. I did not like him at all in his first appearance, but he's growing on me.Anybody else out there?...


Falls Church, Va.: Lisa, you have to start watching VH1's "Tool Academy." Losers forced to work on their relationships with their co-dependent girlfriends -- it doesn't sound appealing, but it's hilariously edited, and the people involved actually turn out to be more sweet and likable than the ordinary reality-show doofuses.

Lisa de Moraes: Based on your recommendation, I will watch. Had not seen that yet...


Chantilly, Va.: How'd the first week back for "Heroes" do? Is it still enough of a hit for NBC to keep around for next year?

Lisa de Moraes: It's return -- which, remember, was highly hyped during the Super Bowl which clocked nearly 99 million viewers -- averaged 8.6 million viewers. That falls short of its season average of 10.2 million. That is not a good sign...


I hate Kara because: she exudes "snotty hooker." I don't think she's that much better of a judge than Randy is, she's just vocal and female. I wanted to like her, but when I listen to her she just grates on my nerves. Seriously, when during these auditions has she made one brilliant call on a contestant?

Lisa de Moraes: I didn't suggest she was brilliant -- just psychic. And, in her defense, she's at least coherent which you can not always accuse Paula or Randy of being.....


Chilly Florida: The guy gets mad at you because you didn't mention he was NOMINATED for an Oscar? Jeez, Pook, I never won an Oscar either, and I'm not mad at you for not mentioning it. Well, maybe a little. But just a little.

Lisa de Moraes: In fairness, he was nicking me, not only for having not mentioned his Oscar nomination (genuflect here) but for having misrepresented the show's crappy, sure-to-be-changed working title. I had been told by sources it was "In the Box." Turns out, the crappy sure-to-be-changed working title is "InSIDE the Box." You can see his point...


New Albany, IN: I agree about the Caruso nomination, as long as it is in the comedy category. He is almost as funny as Baldwin.

Lisa de Moraes: I wish Caruso would be asked to guest star on an episode of "30 Rock." That would be heaven...


Lisa de Moraes: I've run out of time. But before we go, I'd like to report that, in re watching TV series about Octuplet Chick, only 1 percent of you say you would watch that show eagerly; 7 percent say you would watch shamefully; a whopping 85 percent say "no, indignantly" and 4 percent went with "no, regretfully." I'll pass this along to the execs at Oxygen, the suits at TLC, the producers of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" etc. Thanks!


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