TV Q&A: 'Downton Abbey,' 'Hell's Kitchen' and 'CBS This Morning'

Friday, 03 February 2012 12:00 AM Written by 

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TV Q&A with Rob Owen

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This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “Downton Abbey,” “Hell’s Kitchen” and “CBS This Morning.” As always, thanks for reading, and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: I have written several emails to NBC complaining about them not showing episodes of "Community." I get some kind of automated thank you email but no good information from them on the status of "Community."
Is there a better email or a specific person's email at NBC that I should be writing to? Thanks for the update!
- Mark, 58, Bloomington Minn.
Broadcast networks don’t really want to hear from viewers and they certainly don’t have the requisite staff to respond. So I’m afraid any emails sent to networks are a waste of time. They might respond on a social media site like Twitter but they are unlikely to respond to e-mail.

As for “Community,” it’s on hiatus but will be back before the end of the TV season in May.


Q: I loved the original “Star Trek,” “Voyager,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Firefly” (greatest show ever) and “Stargate SG1,” “SG Atlantis” and “SGU” (just average...). Now that “SGU” is canceled, there is nothing else out there. I enjoy “Warehouse 13,” “Sanctuary” and “Fringe,” but where is the next great sci-fi series? I mean, come on! “Caprica” was awful. Any thoughts? I know you like “Torchwood” and “Dr. Who,” but I just can't make the connection with those shows. Any thoughts? Did you like “Farscape”?  What about “Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome”?  Have any promise? Love your coverage.

-Tom, 41, Upper St. Clair

Rob: Much as I liked the “Caprica” pilot, I found the series as a whole disappointing and I quit watching before it ended, only to return for the last episode, which had a pretty cool last 10 minutes.

I leave “Dr. Who” coverage to my colleague Sharon Eberson (still too many horrible memories of the 1970s version’s special effects for me to jump on that bandwagon) but I have been fond of “Torchwood” at various points but the most recent “Torchwood” miniseries on Starz was an awful, franchise-ruining slog. I was a huge “Farscape” fan and there’s definitely a void at the moment for a spaceship-based series. I don’t see any on the immediate horizon but TV abhors a vacuum so I’m sure programmers will also pick up on this and we’ll end up with three or four at one time.

As far as “Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome” goes, I’m intrigued by the concept but somewhat worried about what I learned and wrote about last month: The whole show would be done on green screen.


Q: On “RuPaul's Drag Race,” one of the contestants, Sharon Needles, is from Pittsburgh. It appears that he/she has a tattoo on her/his shoulder. What does it depict and what does it say?

- Ruby, 64, North Versailles
Sharon Needles showed off the tattoo of Tammy Faye Baker in Monday’s premiere, saying, “She was huge idol to me as a kid. I didn’t even know she was selling Christianity. I thought she was selling me makeup."


Q: In "Downton Abbey," how did Vera Bates find out about the Turkish diplomat dying in Mary's bedroom?  Who told her?

- Hunter, 65, Bellevue
Rumors. She heard it while working in the house or a Crawley cousin.

Q: Will there be a new season of “Bar Rescue” on Spike?

- Rodger, 56, Avalon
Yes. Spike announced the show’s renewal last year with new episodes slated to air in the summer.


Q: What is the status of legal moves to equalize the sound levels of television programs? If anything, it seems to be getting worse...
- Charlotte, 73, Sewickley

Rob: The Federal Communications Commission’s CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) rules were passed last month but they won’t take effect until December 2012

Q: Do you think there will be another season of “Hell’s Kitchen”?

- Dave, 58, Cranberry

Rob: The show’s 10th season has already been produced and will air this summer.


Q: When "The Early Show" ended last month, I was a little leery at the announced format for the new "CBS This Morning." I've been watching ever since the debut, and I have to say, I REALLY enjoy the new program. I like the "hard news" format and feel as though Erica Hill and Charlie Rose have good chemistry, but Gayle King is a little too "Kathie Lee Gifford"-esque for me. Luckily she's only on for the "fluffier" 8 o'clock hour. One beef I do have with Charlie Rose is that he interrupts Erica, Gayle and their correspondents quite a bit.
Was wondering what the early reviews are from yourself, and others in the TV business for "CBS This Morning"?  Thanks, and LOVE the column by the way!  Read TV Q/A EVERY Friday!

- James, 23, Economy, PA
Great question and one I had been planning to address in a blog post after watching “CBS This Morning” for a few more weeks but James spurred me to review it now.

I’m a morning viewer in search of a morning show. For most of my life, I watched NBC’s “Today” but quit that about three years ago because the fluff factor, even in the show’s first half hour, had gotten out of control. I just want the top news, particularly political news, which “Today” no longer provided in a way that I found satisfactory.

So I switched to “Good Morning America,” which I generally liked, especially the team of Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos. But when they added buttinski Josh Elliott as newsreader last year, I was on the hunt for a new morning show again.

I was somewhat heartened when CBS announced a revamp to its mornings how with PBS’s Charlie Rose at the helm. I’m not someone who ever watches Rose’s PBS show, but it was a sign that CBS might try to move in a more serious, NPR-like direction.
Understanding that I’ve never seen beyond the first half-hour – that’s all I have time for and I’m sure I’m not alone on that score – what I like best about CBS’s show is Charlie Rose. What I like least is the lack of reporting content in that half-hour.

I hate “Your World in 90 Seconds.” Don’t tell me what you’re going to tell me coming up, just get to the full reports.

Also, the broadcast cuts to commercials sooner than the other morning shows at 7:19 a.m. While the other shows continue until they break for local news, CBS breaks for ads, comes back for a worthless segment on local newspaper headlines, and then breaks for commercials again. It’s terrible formatting: I’d much rather have a full 25 minutes of news – not tidbits from newspapers that are nothing more than glancing headlines – before breaking for ads and local news.

“CBS This Morning” has been doing a lot of interviews with Republican presidential contenders and Rose handles those well but I wish there was a greater depth of political news and analysis. I’m sure he’s too busy elsewhere with his Slate duties, but I wish CBS News political director John Dickerson showed up to put the political news in context.

Early reviews of “CBS This Morning” ranged from decent to mixed.


Q: Why is HGTV only showing “House Hunters International”? What has happened to “Designed to Sell”? I am really getting tired of all the “House Hunter” shows.

- Ellen, 50, Greentree

Rob: Wish I could tell you. I’ve tried for several weeks to get a response. An HGTV publicist named Jade Williams referred Ellen’s query to someone named Lynne Davis, who did not respond to that email and did not respond when I sent a follow-up email.

According to this blog post, “Designed to Sell” was canceled.

Q: On Friday's (1/27/12) episode of “Fringe” the last half of the show was cut by over a minute by commercials that seemed to go over their allotted time. As a result, a crucial piece of plot information was missing that I didn't know about until I downloaded the show via bit torrent and watched it in it's entirety from a Canadian network CTV.

Was this section of show cut off by the network or was it locally done?

- Joe, 53, Pittsburgh
Just like last week when there was a locally-generated technical problem during the premiere of “Touch,” this was another local mistake.


Q: I was watching the Channel 4 morning news and there is a segment where Robin Roberts tells the anchors and us what is coming up on “Good Morning America” that day. They seem to know each other well and have some give and take. I was wondering how many more markets that happens in or is it only Pittsburgh?

-John, 51, Imperial
Back in a 2006 TV Q&A, then-WTAE news director Bob Longo explained that networks give local stations this sort of access based on timing, availability, market size and whether a station is owned by the network.

This doesn’t happen for every ABC station in every market but it does happen in some cities besides Pittsburgh.



"I was watching the SAG Awards last night. I was just wondering, why they all had dyed black hair this year? I wonder if you noticed that too."

- Tim, who when I returned his call, wondered aloud if the actors had all gotten together and made a collective decision to use black hair dye.

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