Q: What happened to “Vegas”? I really enjoyed that program. It appears to have been replaced by an over-hyped "Golden Boy." Will “Vegas” be returned later?
-Larry via e-mail
Rob: Until Thursday afternoon, “Vegas” was scheduled to come back on the CBS schedule at 10 p.m. Tuesday next week. This is why “Vegas” is on the TV Week cover in this coming Sunday’s Post-Gazette.
But on Thursday CBS announced “Golden Boy” will remain in the 10 p.m. Tuesday time period and “Vegas” will be shunted off to 9 p.m. Friday beginning April 5.
Q: I recall "Dirty Jobs" was canceled last year. I assumed it was for the usual reason - low ratings. But I read "Patricia Sheridan's Breakfast With ... Mike Rowe" column today and Mike indicated it was his knee and attitude. What is the real story behind "Dirty Jobs" cancelation?
- John, 45, North Huntingdon Township
Rob: It’s hard to know an exact reason. Network executives are loath to be honest if that honesty might damage relations with a star they might want to work with again someday. And stars sometimes don’t want to owe up to the truth if it’s that the show’s popularity is on the wane.
One theory suggests “Dirty Jobs” was out of sync with the current Discovery lineup. But it may have just been the usual reason: Ratings decline in the show’s old age.
Q: I just watched part two of the first episode of the retooled “Body of Proof.” Wow, they ruined a nice little show. The writing is awful and the new actors aren't much better.
Have you seen any upcoming episodes? Is it worth giving it another week or two?
- Gary, New Castle
Rob: I have not seen any episodes this season, actually. I was never a huge fan – the show was fine and entertaining enough but not my cup of tea. The changes the cast discussed at press tour – particularly giving the medical examiner a gun – reeked of desperation.
Q: How are the ratings for “Zero Hour” and “Deception”? I really enjoy “Zero Hour” and think its actually fantastic casting. Please tell me the series has staying power.
- Gannon, 37, Crafton
Rob: Bad news. ABC canceled “Zero Hour” last week but it still airs in Canada if you want to drive up there to watch it NBC is likely to cancel low-rated “Deception,” too.
Q: My wife is an avid fan of "Bones" and she is wondering if this Fox TV series will be continued for another season.
- David, Marine on Saint Croix, Minn.
Rob: It will. Fox renewed “Bones” for the 2013-14 TV season in early January.
Q: Will you please explain the connection between “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Golden Girls.” I love both shows and have come to realize that a great many guest stars have appeared on both shows. So many, it seems, to me more than a coincidence.
- Armando, 36, El Paso, Tex.
Rob: Hmmm, other than both shows being in production in the 1980s and therefore drawing from the same pool of character actors who are often employed as guest stars, I’m not aware of any connection between these two programs.
Q: Previously I have been able to purchase the current season of “White Collar” via iTunes/ Apple TV. But I can't find the current season for purchase anywhere (Apple, HuluPlus, Netflix). Is there anyway to see the new season other than on cable TV station?
- Karen, 60, St. Paul, Minn.
Rob: According to two sources at USA, “White Collar” episodes from the current season are available on iTunes and will be on USANetwork.com and Hulu.com 30 days after the premiere airing of each episode.
Q: Will the TV show “I Survived … Beyond & Back” be back on anytime soon? I think it was on the BIO Network.
-Ed, 56, Minneapolis MN
Rob: “I Survived… Beyond & Back” is no longer on the air but “I Survived…” is airing premiere episodes at 9 p.m. Sunday on Bio Channel.
Q: We enjoyed “Primeval” (BBC America) and understand that there is a spinoff: "Primeval: New World." Will it be shown? If so, what, where - we have DISH.
- Steph, 64, Wexford
Rob: You should have been living in Canada. The spinoff, “Primeval: New World,” was commissioned by Canadian cable network Space.
The Hollywood Reporter said in October that Syfy bought the rights to air the show in the U.S. but so far it has not been scheduled and “Primeval: New World” has since been canceled due to low ratings in Canada and the U.K.
Q: Why isn't the film “Canadian Bacon” available on Netflix in DVD?
Any chance that Netflix will lower the monthly pricing of its DVD-by-mail service once the USPS eliminates Saturday deliveries, since customers will receive fewer DVDs per month?
- Ellen, North Point Breeze
Rob: If a program or movie is not available on a certain platform, and if we know the property has been released elsewhere, then it’s likely the platform simply doesn’t have the rights to distribute the program.
Netflix has not announced plans to lower prices and it seems unlikely that they will since their goal in recent years has been to wean customers off DVD-by-mail in favor of its streaming service.
Q: Will the show, "Who Do You Think You Are" be returning to the TV lineup?
- Marilyn, 67, Butler
Rob: The show was canceled by NBC in May and no other network has revived it.
Q: On last week’s episode of “Project Runway,” the designers made outfits for senior citizens. Some of the results were not good and it was clear that the dresses had mistakes like bad sewing, uneven cutting, poor fit, etc. Some had to be sewn into their outfits and I'm sure when they took them off, the dresses fell apart! Do the senior ladies have to keep these dresses as is, or will the show provide them with decently made outfits after the program is over? Or, are they compensated in some other way?
- Karen, 67, Orange County, Calif.
Rob: According to a Lifetime publicist for the show, “the ladies were compensated and allowed to keep their garments. If they wanted some technical adjustments made to the pieces, the show did offer that but no one did.”
Q: Now that "Necessary Roughness" has completed its five-week winter "season," will it return in the summer? And if so, when? I really like that show!
- Gerda, 83, Annandale, Va.
Rob: “Necessary Roughness” was renewed for a third season in January. A premiere date was not announced but summer seems likely.
Q: Please tell me that I'm not a cynic or the only one who's frustrated by the increasingly obvious "invisible hand" of producers on non-scripted (misnamed "reality") shows. The latest show to drive me bonkers is "Next Great Baker." The "competition" for the last three contestants was to bake and sell a bunch of baked goods. Each "sale" resulted in a ticket in a jar. Tickets in a jar!!! This wasn't about the quality of the baked goods, but who "sold" the most. And, surprise, the young, pretty contestant and the devious, nasty contestant made it through to the final selection. Good vs. evil. Pretty vs. plain/dark. You had to be an idiot to believe that the producers weren't "stuffing the ballot box," in this case, the ticket jars. It's all about drama, not reality. And, surprise, the "good" contestant won while the "villain" lost. OMG. When, in your opinion, will these programs run their course and go away? Are the production costs SO low that they're just too lucrative to abandon? I'd love to hear your opinion.
- Dan, 59, Pittsburgh
Rob: Yes, I’ve written about overproduced reality shows in the past, most notably “Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List,” which became noticeably more produced as it went on. I also pointed out a staged scene in MTV’s “Chelsea Settles.”
So it’s not a stretch to think other programs are also manipulated and staged by producers.
But these programs won’t go away until viewers stop watching them, which doesn’t appear to be happening. On the contrary, A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” is one of the most popular programs currently on TV, drawing more than 8 million viewers, a larger audience than many scripted, broadcast network shows.
Q: Could you tell me when “Copper” will be returning on BBC America? Also, what are the chances for “Zero Hour” and “The Following” being renewed?
- Dan, 43, Lewiston, N.Y.
Rob: “Copper” will be back on BBC America sometime this summer. ABC canceled “Zero Hour” last week. Fox renewed “The Following” for a second season this week.
Q: My wife and I have been enjoying “The Joe Schmo Show” and we can't help but get the feeling that there is extra drama added in to it. For instance in the one challenge they made it so Chase could not get through a door easily and there he was doing it without a problem. I'm sure they know that if they have "problems" with their script people will stay tuned and see what happens. If you've been watching it, what are your thoughts?
-James, 36, Findlay
Rob: Interesting theory, James. As I wrote earlier this week, I just thought the producers were super-sloppy in this third season of “Joe Schmo.” But maybe James is onto something and these seemingly boneheaded moves were pre-planned to juice the show’s drama.
Q: What happened to the Western series "Hell on Wheels"?
-Richard, 60, Brentwood
Rob: Nothing happened to it; “Hell on Wheels” is simply between seasons. No premiere date has been announced but my guess is it will be late 2013 or early 2014.
Q: Is this the long awaited “China Beach” DVD set? Note it is not available from amazon.com. It looks copasetic because it is a link to timelife.com. Do you know anything about this? Do you think Time Warner's plan all along was to release the DVD set on the
show's 25th anniversary?
- Marty via email
Rob: I do. I wrote about the “China Beach” DVD release last month. I do not know if the timing is intended to coincide with the show’s 25th anniversary or if that’s just happenstance.
Q: Will there be a season three of “Doc Martin” on WQED on Saturdays at 9PM? It is a very funny, quirky show from England.
- Elaine, 59, Mt. Lebanon
Rob: WQED spokesman George Hazimanolis said the station has been “thrilled with the response” to “Doc Martin” and the show’s third season will begin airing on March 30.
Q: I've noticed that many of the stations now begin their newscast going straight to the weather, especially WPXI, and was wondering why they are doing this when the weather is, for the most part, just normal and what's expected for this time of year. Having Stephen Cropper come on in the beginning of the news to say that it's 30 degrees or there's snow flurries in the forecast is just crazy.
- Jim, 61, Pittsburgh
Rob: Weather is the primary reason viewers tune into local newscasts. So it’s not surprising – if not necessarily newsworthy as Jim points out – that stations will sometimes start with a weather tease designed to encourage viewers to stay tuned for the full weather forecast deeper in the newscast.
This sort of dumbing down of local TV news (or, playing to viewer fears) may be at least partially responsible for declining ratings for local TV newscasts.
Q: This is a bit outside your purview, but as I have just unilaterally expanded said purview to "all things TV" I figure it's now a legitimate question. Do you have cable TV? Well, you must, to do your job. Notice the channel guide. Is it arranged by channel number or by channel name?
In some 50 years of cable TV, I've only had one cable provider who offered a channel guide sorted by name. So, if you wanted to watch something on an unfamiliar channel, you just looked up the name and there you were. Unfortunately, every other cable provider has only offered channel guides sorted by channel number, which is every bit as useful as a phone book sorted by phone number rather than by name. When I contact them to ask if they can't please offer a by-channel sort, even online as an option to print, they say no, this is the way they do it. So the "channel guide" they provide is useful for about two minutes when you're originally deciding what "package" to buy, and after that it's a waste of paper.
Can you think of any earthly reason for them to be so obdurate about this?
- Steve, Anoka, Minn.
Rob: I can’t say this is something I’ve ever given much thought to or been bothered by. I do know different cable systems have guides of wildly varying quality. I put Steve’s question to representatives of three different cable companies.
“Guides (user interfaces) are a huge issue in the industry and complex,” explained Dave Wittmann of Armstrong Cable. “They historically have been complicated by the fact that the software involved is also part of the proprietary conditional access which operates the set top box. There are also patent issues which have slowed innovation. This is changing on a company-by-company basis moving forward. Armstrong has been working toward an improved user experience for the last several years and is making progress. We expect to offer a significantly improved guide experience in the coming months.
“All of the new user interfaces being tested provide a much more ‘web-like’ experience,” Wittmann continued. “They will allow personalization, a far superior search capability and provide much more information. They will also work on multiple screens (tablets, mobile, PC's) as well as your TV. Many customers, like your reader, will welcome these features, however, many customers hate change. One of the challenges is how to implement service enhancements like this.”
Verizon FiOS TV spokesman Lee Gierczynski suggested online listings: “FiOS TV customers can visit www.verizo.com/fiostv and sort channels by name or number. While the on-screen is organized numerically, FiOS TV customer can use the search function to find channels by name. They also can create their own lists of favorite channels organized by channel name if they wish.”
Comcast’s Bob Grove offered this response: “Using the search function of our current guide, entering the first few letters of the name of any program will enable customers to scroll directly over to and select the channel on which that program is displayed. We will soon be launching our innovative X1 Guide in the Pittsburgh area, which will enable search by channel number, channel name, program name, actor, genre, sports team or other variables and make it easier to discover, access and share entertainment.”
WTAE has been broadcasting This TV on their sub-channel 4.2, offering the region a good alternative to the usual network programs. It's too bad that WTAE has decided to regularly pre-empt the movies for basketball and apparently any other sport that is available. As if there is not enough sports on TV, if people like sports that much, they should get off the couch and play them.
Anyway, that leaves WPXI's ME-TV the only other alternative. WQED used to be really good, but it has degenerated into too many food programs, pledge breaks, and motivational speakers (e.g. you can be rich for life). I wish WQEX had never been sold. It was a class act and one that I really miss.
- Steven Brock, 45, West View