TV Q&A: 'The Killing,' 'Dancing with the Stars' and 'The Mentalist'

Friday, 18 May 2012 10:25 AM Written by 
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TV Q&A with Rob Owen

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “The Killing,” “Dancing with the Stars” and Universal Sports. As always, thanks for reading, and keep the questions coming.
- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer
Q: I am disappointed that “The Mentalist” and “Castle” creative teams didn't produce two-hour season finales wrapping up the Red John and Beckett's mother's murder mysteries, respectively. The storylines are stale and have become annoyingly tedious and tiresome. Will the storylines wrap early next season?
- Bob, Eden Prairie, Minn.
Rob: Bob’s letter arrived earlier this week and the “Mentalist” season finale didn’t air until last night so perhaps Bob’s concern was premature on the “Mentalist” front. (I’m writing this before the season finale airs but I’ll go out on a limb and guess the Red John story will not have wrapped completely.)
Networks love to drag out these stories because they’re terrified that if they resolve the show’s premise, viewers will stray. It’s an understandable concern but TV’s best shows (think: “Breaking Bad”) know they have to take risks and evolve. Neither “Castle” nor “The Mentalist” are risk-taking shows; it’s not in their broadcast network DNA.
Q: After last season’s debacle ending on “The Killing” what do this season’s numbers look like for the show? Has there been a serious drop in viewers?
- Ron, 59, Bethel Park
Rob: Ratings for the premiere of “The Killing” were down from a year ago with 1.8 million viewers turning up for the two-hour season premiere. The most recent ratings from May 8 show viewership has fallen to 1.3 million viewers. I have to admit I’m bored and frustrated by the show’s red herrings and may quit watching until the season finale when we’re supposed to finally learn who killed Rosie Larsen.
Q: Why are all HD TV news studios blue? Why not a nice gray or something else? It seems like the stations would want to make their look distinctive, not interchangeable with another station. Also, why do so many of them have constantly moving lines or graphics in the background? Is that sort of a "we paid for that feature, we better use it" kind of thing?
- Liz, 49, Camp Hill, Pa.
Rob: I guess I’m not paying enough attention to background colors because this isn’t a trend I’ve noticed. Liz doesn’t say if she’s talking local news or cable but blue has always been a fairly dominant color scheme on local news sets. I do recall a period in the 1980s when browns and tans dominated local news sets but that didn’t last very long. As for why no gray, I have no idea. Perhaps it would look washed out or muddy in HD or maybe that’s just not a color of the moment.
Q: It appears the Game Show Network has pulled its rebroadcasting of previous seasons of “Dancing with the Stars” after airing just two seasons. Would the contestants have had a say in allowing this to air in the first place? Do you have any insight?
- Nancy, 59, Baldwin Boro
Rob: GSN is not airing “DWTS” now but plans to air reruns again in the future. As for the stars, they have no say. When actors agree to be on a TV show, they sign away rights for reruns to be shown at a later date. Actors on scripted shows usually get some compensation for these reruns but I’m not sure about “reality” show stars.

Q: I have noticed liquor commercials creeping back onto TV. At first it was mostly late night, but now there are some showing up earlier. There is an Applebees commercial that has huge glasses of beer prominently on display. I hope this trend does not continue. What can individual consumers do to let the networks know these commercials are not welcome? In case you are wondering, I do drink, however, I am against the advertisement of smoking and drinking on TV.
- Joan, location unknown
Rob: There’s really nothing you can do that would have any effect. You can always write a letter but I assure you, your letter will be ignored. Ads for alcohol bring in money; TV is a money-making business. End of story.
Beer commercials have been ever-present on TV, so I’m not sure I can agree with Joan’s assertion that there are more now. However, it does appear there are more hard liquor spots on TV than in the past.
Q: Comcast owns NBC Universal. NBC Universal has a channel named Universal Sports which is showing Olympic trials.
So why doesn't Comcast in Pittsburgh area carry Universal Sports, a station that they own?
- Kurt, 32, Pittsburgh
Rob: Comcast is not the majority owner in Universal Sports, which transitioned to a cable network on Jan. 1.
“Universal Sports decided to switch from being carried over-the-air as a multicast broadcast channel to a cable channel,” said Comcast spokesman Bob Grove. “As a result of their decision, Universal Sports is currently in negotiations with other providers, including Comcast, for possible distribution.”

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