The TV Column Live

Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 25, 2009; 1:00 PM

Columnist Lisa de Moraes was online Friday, Sept. 25 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.


Lisa de Moraes: Hello. Here's our poll this week. And if you pick "The Beautiful Life" you have my sympathy since my money is on it being the first cancellation of the season. This week it fell to under 1 million viewers.


Reston, Va.: On "Project Runway," what became of Michael Kors and Nina Garcia? Did they not want to make the trip to LA?

Lisa de Moraes: In a recent interview with the LAT, Garcia to just being super-busy -- her euphamism for "What were they smoking when they dediced to move this show to Los Angeles?!" Her exact words were: "The reality is that both Michael and myself have other jobs besides "Project Runway"...and in that time period that we filmed [in Los Angeles]...It was impossible to be there for an entire month." Before the show moved to Lifetime -- and to Los Angeles, Garcia and Kors were in almost all episodes of Runway.


switching of networks: "Medium" jumped from NBC to CBS. Other than "JAG," does jumping networks ever work?

Lisa de Moraes: Not often, but sometimes. Move of those WB shows to CW doesn't really count, I guess, since CW was the love child of WB and UPN.....


Woodbridge, VA: I enjoyed the first episode of Eastwick. It was fun and has an attractive cast. Hopefully it won't turn into just another Desperate Housewives.

Lisa de Moraes: "Attractive cast" for sure. TV critics groused in their reviews that Paul Gross, who plays the lead guy Van Horne in this latest remake of the John Updike novel "The Witches of Eastwick," is no Jack Nicholson, who had the role in the flick. I say "Thank god!"


Boston: Should I be worried Community did badly in the ratings this week? I really enjoy the show.

Lisa de Moraes: I loved the pilot. Last night's episode had me cringing too often. On any other network I'd say yes, you should be worried that the show only averaged 5 million viewers and finished third in the age bracket (18-49) off of which NBC says it sells its entire ad inventory. But everything is relative and NBC's lame "Saturday Night Live" Thursday primetime half hour clocked under 5 million viewers and nearly finished fifth in the demo, in its timeslot...which makes "Community" look like the giant in the land of pygmy....


Sunny Arizona: Hi Lisa, what do you think about Community? I like Joel MacHale but was disappointed in the show. Boo.

I also watched The Good Wife. It was ok. For some reason, I found Juliana Marguiles's's's hair very distracting, though.

Lisa de Moraes: I loved her hair on the show and I've always hated her hair. Isn't that wonderful how we cancel each other out? I too have been pleasantly surprised to discover MacHale can do something besides slouch and look smug. And I enjoyed the pilot. Too bad the second episode was not as good. This happens so often in TV, which is why I'm always loathe to say I love a show when I've only seen the first episode. Producers typically get to spend a whole lot more time and money on the the first episode than on subsequent ones. You really have to wait until about episode 4 to know whether a show's going to be any good or not...


Line of the season, so far: Courtesy of Glee: "Take the pre-natal vitamins or your baby will be ugly."

I pee in my pants every time I think of it.

Lisa de Moraes: Terrific line. But the best line so far of the new season I maintain is still from the first episode of "The Beautiful Life: TBL" when Farmer Dad tells hunky farm boy son "We're gonna be paying for this little vacation for the next three harvest." I chuckle every time I read it...


Grey's Anatomy Almost Unwatchable: WTF was that? What a mess of a show. And they want us to continue watching?

Lisa de Moraes: You mean that self-indulgent two-hour hour orgy of button-pushing and gore? And while we're the first to admit gore and button pushing is generally good for ratings, last night's audience was 2 million shy of last year's opening episode. This is surprising to me, given that last season ended with a cliffhanger episode in which which two of the shows regulars appeared to have died. (Sadly, T.R. Knight's character, George, really did die, while Katherine Heigl's character, Izzie, did not -- drat!). "Grey's" should have opened bigger, given the cliffhanger storyline -- and the fact that it's 9 p.m. competition, CBS's "CSI" really took a ratings nose dive. Last year "CSI" started the second week of the TV season -- not the first -- but a drop of 8 million viewers year to year is huge. Laurence Fishburne is just not doing it for "CSI" fans.


Washington, D.C. : Hi Lisa! Did you catch the premiere of "Heroes?" Mohinder wasn't in it at all - do you know if his character has been dropped from the show?

Also, what prestigious school in Arlington, VA is Claire supposed to be attending?

Lisa de Moraes: No, Mohinder Suresh has not been dropped. And Claire is a freshman at the presitgious Arlington University. You know, that big campus where the Iwo Jima Memorial used to be? I do not know what she is majoring in -- will try to find out.


Alexandria, Va.: The season premiere of "House" was the best episode of any series I've ever seen! Extremely well-written and acted! Laurie and Andre Braugher are amazing together! I could watch them all season. I didn't miss the usual supporting cast at all - good riddance! Would love to see Braugher have a recurring role.

Lisa de Moraes: I am so very tired of the whiny supporting cast children. Good riddance indeed. It was a terrific episode and, for sure, they wrote it to be Hugh Laurie's "Emmy" episode. If he doesn't finally get one off that episode, I'll know something's up with the TV academy.


D.C.: Loved Modern Family, The politicians wife and Glee. How are they doing?

Any chance Modern Family won't be up against Glee? I'd love to watch both.

Lisa de Moraes: You need to get a DVR because they are both in their timeslots for the long haul. "Modern Family" opened with 13 million viewers which is an absolute miracle for comedy-challenged ABC. It's also the first comedy ABC has run after an episode of "Dancing with the Stars" that has built on "Dancing's" audience among 18-49 year old viewers....Meanwhile, "Glee" averaged around 7 million viewers which isn't nearly as big an audience, but it built off its leadin, which is a good sign. And, there's that tunes-download revenue stream on the show you don't get on the usual TV comedy...


Cleveland, OH: Pookmeister.... how is Jay Leno doing? Does 3-5 million a night cut it for NBC?

Lisa de Moraes: NBC only sells 18-49 year old viewers, its suits say, and they also insist that so long as the show pulls in a 1.5 rating in the demo -- which means 1.5 percent of the nation's 18-49 year olds are watching -- they can make money on the show. Last night was a particularly bad one for Leno -- which is to be expected, give that it's Premiere Week -- and he appears to have averaged a 1.7 rating in the age bracket...


Best Line: Gay couple on Modern Life discussing having a baby, "We thought about asking one of our lesbian friends, but they're already so angry, can you imagine one pregnant?"

Lisa de Moraes: I wanted to be horrified -- but I was laughing too hard. It's been ages since I've watched a show that makes me laugh out loud...


Glee!: Love love LOVE Glee. Please tell me it's not doomed (although it probably is if I enjoy it). Is there any way to make a grassroots save effort a la Chuck?

Lisa de Moraes: No need -- it's the first new show of the season to get a full-season pickup. You're in the clear on this one...


Eastwick: Ugh...didn't they try a TV series before on that premise? Is Lindsay Price the new Mark Feuerstein?

Lisa de Moraes: If so, then all she needs to do is take a lead role on a USA series and she'll become the darling of The Reporters Who Cover Television...problem solved!


Wash DC Southwest Desert: First time writer-inner here! Love the chats and columns. A few weeks ago you said you were going to look into if and when "So You Think You Can Dance" is coming out on DVD with previous seasons. Any updates? I really need to free up space on my Tivo! Thanks!!

Lisa de Moraes: The bad news: No news on "SYTYCD" DVDs.
The good news: now available on DVD: "So You Think You Can Dance: Get Fit: Cardio Funk" (Okay, maybe that's bad news too...)


Washington DC: Oh, the best line of the season is obviously from Glee,

As she was trying to make herself throw up, Rachel says "I must not have a gag reflex."

The guidance counselor responds, "Someday in the future, that will be an asset."

Lisa de Moraes: I know -- it's just one great one-liner after another. I'm exhausted after each episode. But Ryan Murphy has to stop plowing through stories so fast on "Glee." He's already run as much material as a seasoned show runner would parse out over three episodes. What will be left for season 3?


Downtown: It seems like there are some really decent shows this year. I can't think of any new shows in the last couple of years I was really that interested in. But this week I've enjoyed Good Wife and Modern Family and I'll hopefully get to see Flash Forward (Fast Forward?) tonight-- it wasn't online last night. And I'm really looking forward to V-- I remember all the hype about it when I was in elementary school. Is this a stronger bunch of new shows, or just things that are more appealing to me personally? And the fact that none of these is on NBC, which used to be my standby channel, is not looking good for that network!

Lisa de Moraes: This was a good development season and, one of the best all around new-season launches I've seen in a while.


Fast Forward... to a Life on Mars?: Hi Lisa, I was looking forward to "Fast Forward," but 100% forgot when it was premiering. Turns out, before "Grey's." Whod'a'thunkit?

Did I miss anything? If it goes buh-bye like "Life on Mars" or heads over to "Lost" fanboyville -- should I even bother?

Lisa de Moraes: "FlashForward" opened well -- 12.5 million viewers and won its timeslot in 18-49 year olds -- so little chance it's the next "Life on Mars." But if you think this show, like "Lost" will not wind up in fanboyville, you are sadly mistaken. It's inevitable..


Neil Patrick Harris: Any chance NPH will be asked to host the Oscars? His combination of funny with singing ability should work pretty well there.

Lisa de Moraes: Why not? He's got a much better resume of film roles than Jon Stewart, who's big film role was in "Bride of Chucky". And Stewart got to host the Oscars, which he did not do very well -- Harris did a much better job at the Emmys last weekend.
Here's a list of Harris' movie credits:
* Purple People Eater (1988)
* Clara's Heart (1988) as David Hart
* Stranger in the Family (1991) as Steve Thompson[24]
* The Man in The Attic (1995) Edward
* Not Our Son (1995) as Paul Kenneth Keller
* Animal Room (1995) as Arnold Mosk
* Starship Troopers (1997) as Colonel Carl Jenkins
* The Christmas Wish (1998) as Will Martin
* The Proposition (1998)
* Joan of Arc (1999) As The Dauphin (King Charles VII)
* The Next Best Thing (2000) as David
* Undercover Brother (2002) as Lance
* The Mesmerist (2002) as Benjamin
* Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) as Neil Patrick Harris
* The Golden Blaze (2005) as Comic Shop Owner
* Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008) as Neil Patrick Harris
* The Best and The Brightest (2010) as Jeff
* A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (2010) as Neil Patrick Harris
* Beastly (2010) as Will


Cougar Town: After a year without TV my cable is now up and running. I want to be a Serious Student of Television. Is there a syllabus? Can I sit here in the front row? May I ask a question? Why do all the male critics like "Cougar Town" and all females critics hate it? I'm a female of a certain age and I hated it, really hated it. I think the gender divide on "Cougar Town" is important to explore from a cultural standpoint. Can that be my term paper? I'm looking forward to using "Foucauldian strategy" in the same sentence as "Courtney Cox."

Lisa de Moraes: No, I did not take so long to answer this question because I had to look up "Foucauldian"....And the TV Column and blog which, in one of those strange coincidences The Washington Post also is calling "The TV Column" are (is?) your syllabus. But, in order to truly appreciate why guy critics love "Cougar Town" but chick critics hate it, you'll have to take Arlington University's Advance Sex Educiation class, and study "before" and "after" pictures of Courtney Cox's "Friends" years, focusing on her chest.


Lindsey Price - Show Killer: How did we miss this one? She had "90210.0", "Lipstick Jungle", "Pepper Dennis", "Las Vegas" and who can forget that trainwreck "Coupling"?!!!

Lisa de Moraes: Exactly. And yet, she was the best thing about "Coupling" -- after Colin Ferguson, that is...


Rockville: I have to say I stayed up past my usual TV turn off time to watch the NCIS this week and it was worth the time. I actually had tears in my eyes at the end. Nice melodrama with very good dialog in the form of an interrogation.

The personalities make it for me. Harmon is good and I enjoy McCallum again.

Lisa de Moraes: Did you watch the spinoff that immediately followed, or did you shut off the TV then....


Oakton, VA: Looked to me like "Fast Forward" is trying to be "Lost". Although maybe everyone else had already heard that. I liked the picture of a billboard for "Oceanic," the Lost airline, in the background of one scene. Either a little humor or driving home the point.

Lisa de Moraes: ABC in its promos is saying "FlashForward" is "From the network that brought you 'Lost'" looked correctly -- they are trying as hard as possible to make this the next "Lost" -- including, hopefully the freshman season's audience...


Courtney's... chest?: not sure what you meant about focusing on Courtney Cox's chest. is that some sort of euphemism for "shoes"?

Lisa de Moraes: Of course -- I meant her shoes. How silly of me!


Foggy Bottom: Love your columns and chats, Lisa.

How significant is a strong lead-in program to the success of the one following? I could understand the importance in the olden days when one had to actually get up to change a channel, but with the advent of clickers, is there truely an advantage?

Lisa de Moraes: Believe it or not, it still matters. "NCIS: LA" opened beautifully because it had the perfect leadin, "NCIS" and was delivered exactly the right audience -- and a lot of them. That's why I wondered if the person who wrote in saying how much they loved the season debut of "NCIS" -- which clocked that show's biggest audience ever, and in its seventh season to boot which never happens-- had then stuck around to watch "NCIS:LA"...


MAD MEN: Best line from Joan "One minute you're on top of the world, the next you get your foot cut off by a secretary on a lawnmower."

Lisa de Moraes: Another brilliant line...


Mad Men line: May only resonate with ad/media people, but Roger on Mad Men telling his crew after the lawnmower accident, that ""Somewhere in this business, this has happened before," made me howl.

Lisa de Moraes: lol moment. love the writing on this show. Wish there was more of it. The pace lulls me to sleep sometimes...


Glee.... Ugh!: I cannot believe you and I disagree on this show. You ALWAYS like the "right" shows! I watched 3 full episodes, and I can no longer do it. Except for the cheer lady, who is totally hysterical, the rest of the cast are self-indulged idiots. (Sorry for the strong language.) The lead guy, the teacher, is constantly flaking on his group; he is as narcissistic as his wife is. The lead girl singer may be quite full of herself, but really, are we supposed to believe she is ugly and left out because she's (ever-so-slightly) ethnic? Because that's what the show is saying. Every bit of that show could be written by my 3rd grader, it's so trite. The singing does not make up for having to listen to the dialogue.

Lisa de Moraes: Okay, I'll concede it's a mess and could be much better. Like I said, it's plowing through way too much story, way too fast. And yes, the guy who is supposed to be the Glee Club leader is then not the leader becuase he's got a boy band, and then is the leader again, and the chick is pregnant only she's not, blah, blah, blah. On the other hand, it's a really fun mess -- and no more of a mess than, oh, say, "Lost" about which even some suits at ABC -- and, heck, some of the people writing on the show -- have said they cannot figure out. You just have to embrace the messiness -- like on "Lost" -- oh, and "Heroes." Let us not forget the mess that is "Heroes." But hey, let's agree we both adore the cheerleader coach lady. She's a riot...


Cougar Town/Criminal Minds: I believe what you're referring to is that Courtney Cox now has some wonderful designer shoes that she shows off, right?

Also- great premiere for Criminal Minds. Any idea how it did compared to the other shows in the time slot?

Lisa de Moraes: "Criminal Minds" won its slot but ABC's comedies came in a strong second at 9 on Wednesday and I REALLY never thought I'd write that about any ABC sitcoms....


Alexandria, VA: Wow, NCIS is beyond Rockville's "usual TV turnoff time? It's an 8 o'clock show!

Lisa de Moraes: Maybe Rockville has, you know, children to spend time with in the evening, or a job at which they must arrive by 6 a.m. like some TV columnists when they are working from Los Angeles...Or cows to milk. So many possible explanations....


Washington, DC: Hey Lisa, did you catch Jon Stewart's smug self-congratulations for his shows Emmy win on the Daily Show Tuesday night. I kept waiting for a joke, but, no, he really was that full of it. Can someone please tell him he's not THAT funny and the show is not THAT good and/or important? Thanks!

Lisa de Moraes: I'm sorry to hear that. Somehow you wanted him to remain a hype virgin, you know what I mean?


Rockville: "Did you watch the spinoff that immediately followed, or did you shut off the TV then...."

I knew about it, but I went to bed.

Lisa de Moraes: Ah! Too bad. I would have loved to hear your thoughts on the spinoff. And it appears you are the subject of much speculation on this chat, in re why you turn off the TV at 8. Care to elaborate?


Dollhouse: Premiers tonight, yesssss! Psyched for the new season.

Lisa de Moraes: I forget, is this the week Eliza Dushku plays the "carefree college student" (cough*hooker*cough) or the chick who marries the wealthy, but shady, businessman (cough*hooker*cough)? I really do love this show. Yes, for all the wrong reasons, but I love it nontheless...


Big Bang Theory: Glad to see its ratings go up so much. Couldn't have happened to a nicer show. . . though will this now doom BBT at the Emmys?

Lisa de Moraes: Not a chance. "Big Bang Theory" is already doomed at the Emmys. Because it's on CBS! Meanwhile, my brilliant producer Paul is looking into how he can register at Arlington U -- home of the Fightin' Government Contractors! Go Contractors!...And, in our poll, "Glee" is still winning as the "best" new show of the new TV season, followed by "Modern Family"...meanwhile, with 0 votes: "The Beautiful Life: TBL" -- sorry Ashton -- and "Eastwick," "Mercy" and "Accidentally On Purpose" (thank you so much for that, BTW!),"Vampire Diaries" -- the only surprise on this losers list -- and "Melrose Place." We'll keep the poll going -- send your family and friends to vote. Bye!


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