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On TV: 'Idol' Mercy for Matt Giraud, Blago-vision, Pirate Program

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Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 17, 2009; 1:00 PM

Columnist Lisa de Moraes was online Friday, April 17 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.

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This week, Lisa ponders Rod Blagojevich's possible reality TV fame, the judges use of the "save" on this week's "Idol," and the coincidental timing of Spike TV's pirate series.

Take this week's polls

  • Randy: His bag o' catch phrases seems sad and irrelevant these days, over in the far left corner.
  • Kara: Supposed "industry insider" and is little more than another fangirl.
  • Paula: Her semi-lucid rants/poetry/fortune cookie advice aren't as funny when they make sense.
  • Simon: His boredom is obvious.

View Results

View Results

  • Yes, morally bankrupt crackpots are what reality TV is all about.
  • No, not even in exchange for a Senate seat.

View Results

View Results

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Baltimore: Hi Lisa. Here's my theory on why they used the Idol Save on someone rather mediocre. Next week is the last week they can use it, right? So if they didn't use it this week, they'd probably feel pressured to use it next week. And then what if it was, say, Anoop? Of course the danger now is that Adam and Danny could bomb next week (though I don't see how Adam could go wrong in disco week), and then their two favorites will go home (though I still cannot understand why they seem to favor Danny over Allison).

Lisa de Moraes: Hi. I'm hoping no one votes for -- oh, say Danny Gokey next week so we can see the judges anguishes cries as they realize they squandered their precious Judges' Save on Karoake Justin Timberlake Lite, Matt Giraud.

This marks the second time the judges have had to save him; he was also one of their Wild Card picks. I'm wondering what's the attraction all about? I have this theory that Kara DioG has a mad crush on him. She always seems to do her most agressive Lean Forward of Sincerity when critiquing his performances... I sense lust in that lean

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Washington, D.C.: What was that train-wreck called the Bravo A-List Awards. I watched the Kathy Griffin show that preceded it and saw the first few minutes. I love me some Bravo "reality" TV, but the "awards" seemed just so pathetic -- and not in a good, fun-to-watch way.

Lisa de Moraes: I too am of the all-trophy-shows-are-so-bad-they're-good school of TV viewing, and am stupified that Bravo has managed to actually create a trophy show that is actually just bad. I frankly did not think it could be done.

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Harper's Island: Does tv get any better than this? Broadly drawn characters including a hapless Englishman, a beheaded priest and a lurking ex-boyfriend paid to disrupt the wedding. Yes, the dead bodies are powerful characters too, especially as we try to track the renascent love affair of the main character and the boy she ditched many years ago.

Seriously, as silly and contrived as this thing is, I'm enjoying it. It reminds me of Melrose Place, and other high camp soap operas. I love how some characters are still bitter that Abby, whose mother was brutally murdered by the local psycho, left her boyfriend behind when she left for less harrowing pastures. As if she just lightly skipped town for no particular reason, and the first thing on her mind should have been her teenaged boyfriend. In the meantime, while the locals are busy evaluating her, no one seems to notice or care that people are disappearing all around them. Classic.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm waiting for the board game...seriously.

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Bethesda, Md.: Is it just me, or does it seem that the producers of "American Idol" are so incompetent they don't even understand the appeal of their own show? How can they eliminate Simon from critiquing half the contestants because they don't have enough time? Don't they realize that's the one person we want to hear?

Lisa de Moraes: Apparently not. At any rate, Simon must be happy, as he negotiates his next contract, to have had that debacle of a show. And, as a serious student of TV, it was interesting to get a glimpse as to what the show might look like without Simon. Not a pretty picture.

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Fairfax Station, Va.: Pookie Monster, did Ryan Seacrest cleverly renegotiate his contract to give him a certain number of minutes of face time on "AI" this year? How else do you explain his blathering and buffoonery? All this talk of the show running over ... cut out the Seabiscuit. Problem solved.

Lisa de Moraes: Guy does seem to be pretty puffed up this season. And yet, I'd still vote for cutting Kara. This week was the first time producers acknowledged four judges is too many, when they tried out the Team Critiquing idea. I hear there's about a 50-50 chance they'll go back to three judges next season.

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Chuck: Please, please, please tell me "Chuck" will be back. NBC can't be THAT stupid. Oh, wait....

Lisa de Moraes: Of course it will be back. Where else is NBC going to put those Subway product placement gags? You don't think "30 Rock" is going to fall for that...

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The Runway: Pookie, where is Tim Gunn going? I'll watch whichever show he's on. I don't really care about Heidi, as far as I'm concerned she's just there to show off how good you can look after having three kids. But Tim Gunn knows his stuff.

Lisa de Moraes: Gunn is staying put on "Runway" except now he'll be on Lifetime, the women-in-peril network.

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Harper's Island?: What is this? I'm intrigued. Sounds craptastic!

washingtonpost.com: Harper's Island - CBS.com. I love the picture of Harry Hamlin in a sombrero they have in the rotation at the top of the page.

Lisa de Moraes: For those of you who missed it, "Harper's Island" is CBS's limited-series Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre, Thursdays at 10. It's mad campy. Wedding party heads to island for the clambake, and the guests get murdered, one by one...

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Tampa, Fla.: Publicity hounds Spencer Pratt and Heidi Whatshername are supposed to be getting married for real tomorrow, with the whole event being filmed to be shown as the season finale of "The Hills"

I have never watched the show, but it's kind of sad that they seem to have defined their "relationship" by what they can do to generate the most publicity for themselves. Pretty sad.

Lisa de Moraes: And yet -- it's working. Brilliantly. Sad like a fox...

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Harrisburg, Pa.: Hello Pookie. It appears to me that "Reno 911!" has jumped the shark. The new season could not be worse. Why did they dump half the cast after the last season?

Lisa de Moraes: Speaking of jumping the shark, did you know jumptheshark.com has, um, jumped the shark? Meanwhile, of the cast members blown up in last season's finale, my guess is the producers saw a way to boost ratings -- pyrotechnic finales always do well -- while cutting costs -- new cast members make less than returning ones....

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Leesburg, Va.: Pooks,

What's the deal with the "Prison Break" thing tonight? Is "Dollhouse" done already?

Also, did you catch Simon mocking Kara and the Lean Forward of Sincerity on Tuesday?

Finally, mark me down for "Likes 'Harper's Island.' "

Lisa de Moraes: Putting you down on the "sold" list for "Harper's Island." And "Dollhouse" is pretty over, unless it suddenly pops a big number with "Prison Break" as a leadin next week. Fox is airing two "Prison Breaks" tonight. I think you're gonna have to buy the DVD set to watch that "final episode" -- which was the idea anyway...

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Anonymous: Does Tim Gunn strike you as the most fashionable person you've seen? He dresses like a banker.

Lisa de Moraes: No, though he does strike me as the person with the best-fitting suits but I find his taste in clothes a little stifling. I find myself desperately wanting to reach into the screen and mess up his hair every time I watch him on TV...

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Woodbridge, Va.: Any doubts that Joss Whedon was pulling out all the stops to save "Dollhouse" were put to rest by Eliza Dushku's S&M outfit on last week's episode.

Lisa de Moraes: You mean her feminist S&M outfit? It's a feminist menifesto, remember. Joss says so...

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Vienna, Va.: What is your take on "Parks and Recreation?" I laugh at it, yet feel like Amy Poehler is channeling Steve Carrell half the time...was this originally going to be a spin-off from "The Office"?

Lisa de Moraes: Oh no! This is the non-spinoff spinoff. Ben Silverman said so. This show is not to be confused with the actual spinoff, which may or may not happen, we've been told.

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"Wedding party heads to island for the clambake, and the guests get murdered, one by one... ": I think I just figured out how to make "The Hills" better.

Lisa de Moraes: Brilliant idea.

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On the Hill, DC: When is Levi Johnston and his family going to have their reality show? It is only a matter of time, isn't it??

Lisa de Moraes: As soon as Bravo thinks of it. Hope they're reading...

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Better Off Ted: I am loving this show, which means it's probably not going to last long. Is there any hope?

Lisa de Moraes: Not much. It's not doing that well in the ratings...ABC's effort to launch so many shows in the first quarter has not been a brilliant success. That's how ABC decided to handle the writers strike fallout. It kept making pilots all summer, bought a bunch and made January the new September.

Unfortunately, January is the new "American Idol" season, which limits other networks' ability to launch new series from Jan through the rest of of the TV season -- it's really hard for a new series to get any traction on Tuesday or Wedneday nights. "Ted" airs Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., before "Idol" but Fox now does well with "Lie to Me" and, this week "Bones" in the timeslot leading into "Idol."

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Kath & Kim: So what's the deal? Is "Kath & Kim" gone for good? I came across a couple of online petitions begging for it not to be cancelled, but it seems like NBC is pushing for the "Parks & Recreation" show instead.

Lisa de Moraes: "Kath & Kim" failed on NBC. The network hopes all the "Office" viewers will take to "Parks & Rec."

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Burlington, Vt.: I'm confused. Is Rod Blagojevich supposed to be on the reality show where they fight pirates?

Lisa de Moraes: Wouldn't that be great? Sadly, he's been cast on the reality series in which a bunch of D-listers are "dumped in the jungle" and fight to survive. Pending approval of the judge because Blago isn't supposed to travel these days. I will be pleasantly surprised if the judge agrees...

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Arlington, Va.: Is the Millionaire Matchmaker truly a messenger of God? Will she be recognized at Mass this Sunday for doing God's work?

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, she is doing gods work -- helping needy millionaires make themselves over so they can find "true" love, on TV. I think she's been canonized....

Sorry for all the delay. For the second Friday in a row, my computer here at the Post is creeping along....

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washingtonpost.com: Lisa's computer is a big Kara fan, and has locked up on her in retaliation. She'll be back up in a few minutes.

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San Diego: Pookmeister,

Do you believe that Susan the Scot was as big a surprise as Simon and the panel made us believe? Don't the vet the participants to some extent? I mean she only had to sing a single bar for anyone to realize her voice was special.

washingtonpost.com: The Scot Heard Round the World

Lisa de Moraes: Computer seems to be back in service, having been fed yet another virgin.

I don't think the judges necessarily know about all of the people who have been vetted -- in much the same way the judges don't know who they're about to see during the auditions phase of "Idol." They like that element of surprise on-screen. And the big surprise wasn't the judge's reaction, it was the audience's reaction. When she comes out on stage, they mock her because she's a dowdy middle-aged women -- nice. Within a few notes, they are treating her like a rock star.

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helping needy millionaires make themselves over so they can find "true" love: No, much better than that. She's showing them as the pathetic, delusional, "I'll take the airhead stripper over the Harvard graduate who danced with the Joffrey ballet" and "no one will think it's icky that I'm dating someone young enough to be my daughter" men they are. I LOVE this show!

Lisa de Moraes: Excellent point. It is a public service to tweener women around the nation as they head into the dating pool...

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Washington, D.C.: You guys are crazy. The A-List Awards on Bravo were super funny!

Lisa de Moraes: You clearly had better drugs than I did. Your secret?

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Reality karma: Can Blago and Octomom be on the same reality show? Surely there is a high concept that will unite these two in perfect harmony? Do they both sing? Dance? Tell jokes (on purpose, not inadvertently)? Yodel?

Lisa de Moraes: I would absoutely love to see Octomom on "I'm a Celeb...Get Me Out of Here" but I think she's pretty much tethered to her brood for the time being. Even she's smart enough to know that...

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Eliza Dushku's S&M outfit on last week's episode: Ummm, a link to a picture of this please for your male readers?

washingtonpost.com: The things I do for you people...Dollhouse : Dominatrix

Lisa de Moraes: ..for educational purposes only, of course..

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Better of Ted: Dissenting Opinion: I can't stand "BOT." Seems like a cumbersome, "Arrested Development" wanna-be. The dry, non-laughtracked, nonlinear comedies have developed their own cliches...and "BOT" uses every one of them. And "Scrubs" -- P-U, talk about running on fumes.

Lisa de Moraes: ABC has just let "Scrubs" run amok since they know they're not picking it up next season. Just wanted to let the creator take it out at ABC, by way of thumbing nose at NBC. A strategy I totally support, by the way..

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Charlotte, NC: "Millionaire Matchmaker."

I Can't Believe This Is on Television

or

This Is So Craptastic I Feel Faint?

Lisa de Moraes: I am of the second camp. Any one else?

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San Diego: Pookie,

Tell me that people are watching "Better Off Ted".

Where will I get my wrapping paper derivative jokes if they do?

Lisa de Moraes: Not enough... contact your friends....contact Ashton Kutcher's Twitter followers....

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Just figured out how to make "The Hills" Better...: "Robot Chicken" had an excellent sketch a while back called "'The Hills' Have Eyes" - It was VERY satisfying to watch.

Lisa de Moraes: ...and where is that, Paul? (Paul, is my genius producer)....

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washingtonpost.com: The video for "The Hills' Have Eyes" isn't up on Adult Swim, sadly. Anyone else have a link?

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Pittsburgh: Since everyone here is praising "Harper's Island," I wonder whether I'm the only one watching "Southland." It helped watching the Saturday rerun of the pilot, in order to get the characters sorted out. What are the show's chances for survival?

Lisa de Moraes: Well, good and bad. First the good news: it did surprisingly well in its debut. Which is to say it actually opened, even though it's on NBC. Last night it was still clocking around 10 million viewers and easily winning the timeslot among 18-49 year old viewers -- the hot blondes of Madison Avenue.

The bad news is that it's doing well at 10 o'clock -- and really is a 10 p.m. show -- but, course, NBC has given away the 10 p.m. timeslot next season, to Jay Leno, so it will have to move to another timeslot, which is a very bad idea for a show when it's as young as "Southland" will still be if it returns in September...

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The secret to loving the A-List Awards:: Come to think of it, I am on painkillers following surgery and let myself have a glass of wine...

Lisa de Moraes: Really some shows should not be watched sober...I can't wait to see myself quoted on some media web site with that line. I make The Post so proud...

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Dollhouse: Yep, you get the Dominatrix, but you also get lines like

"We're pimps and killers, but in a philanthropic way. Can I go now?"

Lisa de Moraes: I love Joss Whedon shows. They're so oblivious.

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Bravo: Why is "Inside the Actor's Studio" still on Bravo? It seems out of place on their schedule. And it's the only show even tangentially related to the word "bravo."

Lisa de Moraes: Because the show can get big name guests -- ooh look, it's Matt Damon! And, because Bravo is owned by NBCUniversal2.0 and it's a great marketing tool for NBC -- ooh look, James Lipton is interviewing "actor" Jay Leno!...

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Washington, D.C.: After watching "State of Play" and realizing it was based on a highly acclaimed BBC series, the movie is INCREDIBLE BTW, why has a TV show about the newspaper business never succeeded on US television, except for that silly "Early Edition" show on CBS a few years back? There have been shows about radio, TV, magazines, but never newspapers. Why is this?

Lisa de Moraes: You're forgetting "Lou Grant" -- fantastic old '70s show and a successful one at that. Yes, I know, that was a lifetime ago.

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I fully understand the meaning of "craptastic" : now that I've watched "Harper's Island"! Have you seen this? Where did they get the cast, they look like rejects from a soap opera and have the acting skills to match, but I can't stop watching. The barbarians are really past the gates now.

Lisa de Moraes: This show absolutely belongs in the Craptastic Hall of Fame...

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Washington, DC: There are virgins at The Post?

Lisa de Moraes: hahahahaha...no. I had to order out.

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bye simon: I like Simon but think he should be the one that goes. Because without Simon, there will be no AI, and therefore I won't have to see Ryan or Randy ever again. I'm not sure Simon can make up for how awful all the other people on that show are.

Lisa de Moraes: Or, they could just lose Kara, and make millions happy nationwide.. Maybe they could make her permanent "mentor" in the pre-taped bits.. I'm guessing they won't get Quentin Tarantino back again.

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wrong save on Idol: The judges should have used it to bring back Alexis, who was a much better singer than they gave her credit for being. I still can't believe they disliked her performance of "Jolene" which was actually subtle and sophisticated (and well-sung).

She's certainly better than most of those remaining (although I do like Adam, the teenage girl, and the guy who sang "Falling Slowly" a beautiful song).

Lisa de Moraes: Who's Alexis... kidding. But I was not a fan, after she actually, stupidly, took Kara's advice to "get dirty and go have sex with her boyfriend". What the heck kind of career advice is that?

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Thinking ahead: Lisa, any suggestions for summer viewing? Other than the return of Mad Men and the possibility of the last Pushing Daisies episodes (I curse you, ABC), I can think of little to look forward to.

Lisa de Moraes: Well, I adore "America's Got Talent"...maybe Susan Boyle will turn up on that show at some point this summer...

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Anonymous: ""actor" Jay Leno!"

Why the quotes? Clearly you've never seen "Collision Course" with Jay Leno and Pat Morita - together at last.

Lisa de Moraes: you are so right -- I stand corrected. Thank you, Mister Lipton...

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"Ted's" Dead, right?: Dang...I'm not proud of this, but that show makes me laugh out loud.

Lisa de Moraes: pretty much, yes

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Harrisburg, Pa.: Now that most of the characters of "Friday Night Lights" have graduated, is the show going to follow the characters as they move on with their lives? I sort of presume they will be having a lot of new character after the (avoiding spoiler alert) way the final episode ended. Yet, as we saw some of the graduated characters on the show last season, I wonder what they're going to do now that practically most of the original student cast have graduated.

Lisa de Moraes: Personally I hope they will put this show out of my misery. My second choice is that the mayor outlaws cheerleading...

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3-9 minutes too long: So last week ran 9 minutes too long and this week 3 minutes too long. And how long did Ryan babble and ramble in introducing and asking inane questions of the judges? At least 6-7 minutes by my count. Like after 8 seasons, the public really needs to be "introduced" to the judges EVERY week. I think they should limit Ryan to 250 words per week and have a huge digital word counter on the wall of the Kodak Theater. When it hits zero, they get to duct-tape Seabiscuit's mouth shut for the rest of the episode. I bet ratings will soar.-

Lisa de Moraes: Let's do that for them. I'll start clocking Seacrest and post The Seacrest Clock on the blog... done and done, my friend...

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RE-24: Who will Tony surprisingly smother next week?

And please be it the First Daughter, she's more annoying than Audrey

Lisa de Moraes: I'm still stuck back in the episode with the underwater route to the White House...but yes, I would vote for smothering the First Daughter.

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Mentors: For mentors, they really need to get David Foster back. By far the most helpful mentor that they've ever had (he turned Eliot Yamin's "A Song For You" from good to one of the best performances ever on AI).

And get Sir Andrew back. He was one of the best mentors...I love his incredulity as he couldn't grasp that Jason Castro had no idea that a song from CATS was about a cat...

Lisa de Moraes: But they simply don't have time for taped mentor bits now that they have -- and I can't stress this enough -- four judges. There simply is no time. Either the taped bits have to go, or the fourth judge. Unless Fox parent NewsCorporation is working on a way to add minutes to an hour.

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Silver Spring, Md.: "and therefore I won't have to see Ryan ... ever again"

Sorry, but Ryan is the future of infotainment in this country. The next Larry King plus Dick Clark plus Mary Hart plus whatever else he thinks of.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, anyone who thinks killing "Idol" means the end of Ryan Seacrest is very naive....he's got his tentacle's too far into too many outlets. Radio, ABC New Year's Rockin Eve, CNN...it's scary..

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Washington, DC: Why doesn't Idol just cut out the singing part of the program? That will leave all four judges time to talk along with all the stupid Seacrest nonsense. This was the one week I was looking forward to the mentor, Quentin Tarantino (I'm guessing "Inglorious Bastards" is a phrase that cannot be said in the 8:00 hour since it was NEVER mentioned by name), interactions, yet with just 30 seconds a pop I felt cheated. Where does all the time go on this show? They shorten the songs to one verse, one chorus, and one bridge, shorten the critiques to one sentence by just 2 of the 4 judges, and they still find a way to bleed over a couple of minutes. Perhaps they should get rid of the studio audience, which slows everything down with their unnecessary cheers and boos.

Lisa de Moraes: It took 7 minutes this week for Seacrest to walk down the American Idol Staircase from Heaven, introduce the judges, blather a while and roll the canned "Quentin Tarantino: Legend -- Seriously" package. Somewhere there is room for improvement.

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State of Play: Was an incredibly entertaining BBC production...Bill Nighey and James McAvoy were amazing...hard to imagine how a movie could be more fun than Bill Nighey eating as much scenery as possible.

Lisa de Moraes: Bill Nighy is brilliant. I would watch him sell used cars. I'm hoping he's cast as a car salesman sometime soon just so I can watch him sell used cars.

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Seriously?: You don't like "Friday Night Lights"?

Lisa de Moraes: One word: cheerleaders

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Nosy Parker: Pookie, do you think that American culture, unlike British, still isn't ready for a Paul Potts or Susan Boyle?

Lisa de Moraes: Seriously? Cause I think Boyle got like a gajillion Youtube views here...and she was all over the morning infotainment shows. I absolutely think we are ready for her. I'm way out of time. Bye...

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