Tuned In Journal http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com Mon, 08 Feb 2016 16:00:55 -0500 en-gb 'The Good Wife' plots its farewell http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39888-the-good-wife-plots-its-farewell http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39888-the-good-wife-plots-its-farewell

good wife pic

"The Good Wife" creators/writer Michelle King and Robert King said they didn't know until recently that this would be the final year of their series even though they planned to leave the show at the end of this seventh season regardless. Only in the past week did CBS decide to announce the show's conclusion during Sunday's "Super Bowl 50" telecast.

"The story won't change from what we were intending," Michelle King said of CBS's decision to conclude the series, "but it allows us to be a little more definitive. We'll be writing in pen instead of pencil."

Note: Episode titles for the series began as one-word titles in season one, then went to two words in season two and so on until after season four when the number of words in each episode title began declining by one word per season until the current seventh season when episode titles are back to one word again. So the Kings had planned to end the show -- or at least their involvement -- since at least season four. In January CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller suggested CBS was considering continuing the show without the Kings but in the current era where cable networks give showrunners a lot of creative license, that would have been seen as poor form.

Robert King said the writers have completed the 18th episode of the final season and have plotted through episode 20 in the 22-episode season.

And while the show will end, some characters may live on. Read more after the jump. ...

Robert King said the show's final nine episodes will explore where Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Peter (Chris Noth) end up marriage-wise, the impact of an empty nest on Alicia and Alicia's connections with the other characters. He said there are no plans for a time jump and former friend Kalinda (Archie Panjani, who left after frayed relations)  and former drug kingpin client Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter, who moved on to Netflix's "Jessica Jones" and "Luke Cage") won't be back but some other characters will.

The husband of Diane (Christine Baranski), played by Gary Cole, will be back and Robert King said he's trying to get MIA investigator Robyn (Jess Weixler) back before the end.

"That is one we're trying as hard as we can to make something work there," Robert King said, "so we'll see what happens."

The Kings did not rule out a spin-off series focusing on some of the recurring characters.

"At this point, nothing's off the table but there's nothing formal," Michelle King said,. "We're not saying no to anything at this point."

"What would be appealing is all the fun characters -- Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), Patty Nyholm (Martha Plympton) -- if you could find a way to spin off an ensemble that wasn't center stage on 'The Good Wife,' all those characters we we wish we'd had more time with. This show has always been geared around the Alicia character. It would be appealing to pursue a different ensemble." 

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 08 Feb 2016 13:44:04 -0500
Rating the Super Bowl 50 commercials http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39886-rating-the-super-bowl-commercials http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39886-rating-the-super-bowl-commercials


In Friday's column, Duquesne University marketing professor Audrey Guskey mentioned how so many Super Bowl ads are released before the game and how this sort of ruins the magic of the ads and has led viewers to say the commercials have not been as good in recent years.

So this year, I made a point of avoiding the ads before the game to see if I still felt -- as I have in recent years -- that the Super Bowl spots are less impressive than in the past.

And guess what? Not watching the ads in advance did nothing to make me fall in love with the spots as they aired during the game Sunday night. Some were funny, some were cute but often my reaction was just "meh."

Read more after the jump. ... 

What most struck me was that so many of the ads felt unexceptional. A few were packed with celebrities and other tell-tale Super Bowl hallmarks, but a decent number just seemed like normal spots, and they were not the local ads either.

But among the ones that felt special and memorable, the Marmot ad (pictured top of page) stuck with me for its use of humor and an animal character. Also, I think it marked the first time Marmot had an ad in the Super Bowl.

The Doritos ultrasound spot was pretty funny and the Mountain Dew puppy-monkey-baby spot was so bizarre as to almost be hypnotic.

Many of the new-tech advertisers continue to fall short in their Super Bowl ads. The SquareSpace spot, in particular, was underwhelming.

Among celebrities (lots of veteran actors, including Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Walken and Harvey Keitel), Pittsburgh native Jeff Goldblum rode a piano up an apartment tower in a "Jeffersons"-themed spot for Apartments.com that was somewhat memorable.

A Shock Top beer tap effectively mocked comic actor T.J. Miller.

Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen starred in a funny but innuendo-filled, election season-themed Bud Light ad that will probably divide viewers along generational lines.

A Skittles spot starring Aerosmith's Steven Tyler was pretty blah. But Steve Harvey got more mileage out of his Miss Universe flub in a T-Mobile spot that initially played against expectations -- it started out looking like an old T-Mobile ad -- and then went exactly where viewers would expect once Harvey showed up with self-deprecating humor in tow.

Last year's Avacadoes from Mexico commercial was more clever than this year's still entertaining spot featuring Scott Baio, whom none of the aliens wants to feed.

Some other ads worth noting:

I DON'T WANT TO SEE THAT: The ad for the guy with constipation may be this year's version of the Nationwide Ad last year about the dead kid; another topic viewers don't want to see covered. It was only outdone by the walking, high-fiving intestine in an ad for a diarrhea drug. Eww. And just when it seemed the gross ads were done, on came a spot for toenail fungus medication.

A TYPO THAT'S FINALLY USEFUL: With constipation and diarrhea ads, my frequent typo "Super Bowel" finally had a use.

BYE, ALICIA: CBS used a promo during the Super Bowl that this is the last season for "The Good Wife," which isn't too surprising given that the creators said they're leaving and star Juliana Margulies suggested she's out of a job after May. The series finale will air May 8.

MARVEL MASHUP: Coke did an ad featuring Marvel characters Ant Man and Hulk that played like a mini-movie. Definitely Super Bowl-worthy.

DECENT PSA-STYLE AD: Budweiser's ad with Helen Mirren calling drunk drivers selfish jerks entertained while making a good point to a viewing audience full of a certain percentage of people who drank too much.

LOCAL CONNECTION: Reader Mary Shea tells me the Advil ad featured her son, 2009 Pittsburgh CAPA grad saxophonist Leonardo Pellegrino of the band Too Many Zooz.  

NOT WHAT CBS INTENDED: During the ad for "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders" as the cast posed for the camera in front of a jumbo jet, my 5-year-old son got very excited, shouting at the TV, "A plane!" Sorry, Gary Sinise, you just can't compete with a thing that goes.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 08 Feb 2016 10:22:01 -0500
TV Q&A: 'Madam Secretary,' 'Call the Midwife' and 'Nightly Sports Call' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39880-tv-q-a-madam-secretary-call-the-midwife-and-nightly-sports-call http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39880-tv-q-a-madam-secretary-call-the-midwife-and-nightly-sports-call

Click here for a link to headlines of recent TV news and views posts.

TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by sending an email to rowen@post-gazette.com (include your first name and location) or submitting online at http://old.post-gazette.com/tv/questions/qaform.asp.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “Call the Midwife,” Hallmark Channel on demand and “The Nightly Sports Call.” As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: This week's “Madam Secretary” was a very Pittsburgh episode, including Yinzer and Mellon references. Is there a writer or someone else involved in production with a Pittsburgh connection?

- Karen, Pittsburgh

Rob: The IMDB.com entry for the writer of that episode, Moira Kirland, does not mention a connection to Pittsburgh. And the show’s production office said they don’t know of any connection between the writer and Pittsburgh, but I’m told “she was meticulous in her research of the area and its culture in writing the episode.”


Q: When does the next season of “Call the Midwife” begin, and what network will it be on?
And, is the character of Chummy returning? We think she got the short end of the stick in the Christmas special.
I'm so looking forward to it, and I hope it's back on soon.
- V. Robinson, Hill District

Rob: “Call the Midwife” returns to PBS at 8 p.m. April 3. Chummy won’t be back because actress Miranda Hart is too busy with other projects. 


Q: I enjoyed watching a recent “Hill Street Blues" marathon on the Decade Channel. It was a favorite program of mine back then. Could you tell me about the actors; where are they now and what they are doing? Also Steven Bochco.

- Florence, Pittsburgh

Rob: Showrunner Steven Bochco executive produces TNT’s “Murder in the First,” entering its third season this summer.

Daniel J. Travanti had a role on Starz’s “Boss” (2011-12); Michael Warren was on ABC Family’s “Lincoln Heights” (2007-09), Bruce Weitz most recently had a role on “General Hospital,” James Sikking and Charles Haid have been doing mostly guest roles; Joe Spano has a recurring role on “NCIS.” Barbara Bosson hasn’t acted on TV/film since 1997, according to IMDB. And Betty Thomas transitioned to working as a director.


Q: Has the actor who played Steve Urkel been appearing in commercials lately? I thought I recognized the actor, but could not place the face, but I think it is him. 

-Tom, Pittsburgh

Rob: Tom is correct that actor Jaleel White did appear in a Scion commercial that debuted late last year

Here’s the spot:



Q: Has KDKA moved or canceled “Lucky Dog” and “Dr. Chris Pet Vet”? They have not been shown this year.
- Kathy, Scott Township

Rob: According to KDKA, the shows have not been canceled but did move to a new time period on Sunday: “Lucky Dog” at 5 a.m. and “Dr. Chris” at 5:30 a.m.


Q: I have Comcast Xfinity. I like the Hallmark movies. I of course receive several Hallmark channels. Why does Hallmark not have an on-demand section so I can watch any of their movies when I choose to?

- Bob, Monroeville

Rob: Networks make deals with cable systems for on-demand content. Hallmark does not yet have a deal with Comcast but a Hallmark Channel publicist said, “We are working closely with Comcast and hope to have our content on their VOD service very soon.”

In the meantime, Hallmark programming can be found via the following platforms: Hallmark Channel Everywhere, iTunes, VUDU, Google Play, Cinema Now, NetflixAmazon Instant Video, Xbox and Sony Playstation.


 Q: It’s clear that WQED is no longer carrying “The This Old House Hour” since it hasn’t aired a single episode this season. It’s Thursdaynight at1 a.m.timeslot has been occupied by infomercials. (Recently it was “Aging Backwards with Miranda,” How to slow down and even reverse the aging process through exercise and other lifestyle choices.) This is what public television has devolved to???  However, this season’s episodes of “This Old House” and “Ask This Old House” can still be found on the WQED Create subchannel where they each broadcast multiple times.  Unfortunately, none of them are marked “new” in Comcast’s online grid, so there’s no way to program my DVR to record them without recordingallof them. Can WQED adjust their program feed to Comcast so the first airing of the episodes are marked “new”?  (This question can apply to a lot of other PBS programs that they pre-empt and then air at a later date, like “Great Performances from the Met.”)

- Mark, Squirrel Hill

Rob: According to WQED spokesman George Hazimanolis, “’This Old House Hour’  was part of the PBS satellite feed that the station no longer uses for overnight, opting instead for fundraising programming between 1 and 5 a.m. to try to generate additional revenue for the station.

He said “This Old House” and “Ask This Old House” can be seen during WQED’s Saturday afternoon home improvement lineup at 3:30 and 4 p.m. on the WQED main channel, and rebroadcasts are available on WQED Create.

“We do not have the ability to label the programs ‘new’ or ‘repeat,’” he said, “as that information is generated through the programming service.”


Q: Really enjoy the TV Q&A that you do. A question that has been on my mind has to do with “The Nightly Sports Call” on WPCW. The show consists of a KDKA sports anchor and a Post-Gazette sports writer discussing the day’s sports stories and taking calls from viewers. While both men are seated at the same desk, they televise the show as if they are in different locations and never show them together. It's obvious that they are seated next to each other as sometimes someone's arm will show up in the shot or they even look over to the other guy when talking. Why the illusion? Why not just show them both together? 

- Jeff, Pittsburgh

Rob: I was unable to get a specific answer on why not just use a two-shot showing both men simultaneously but my guess is it looks better to focus on one person talking rather than a shot of both men where one has to stare at the guy talking or look straight ahead.

KDKA-TV general manager Chris Pike did say “Nightly Sports Call” has been away from its usual home base.

This show has been moved around to accommodate recent set construction in both Studio A and Studio B which has had some impact on production flexibility,” he said. “In the very near future the show will move back into a remodeled Studio B Which will provide greater production flexibility.”



“Hi, Rob, my name is Jim, I’m calling form Lexington, Ky., and the reason I’m calling is about the TV show that aired you wrote about the ‘Outsiders’ and the people of Appalachia in eastern Kentucky. The show ain’t nothing but a damn lie. There’s no Crocket County, Ky.; there’s no Blackburg, Ky. They make it sound like the people from Eastern Kentucky all live like that. There is no people living on the damn mountain like that on the damn mountain. They might be in Pennsylvania and West Virginia but if that’s true they need to put it on the damn TV, that that’s where they live and they’re not from Eastern Kentucky.

- Jim, who maybe doesn’t get that “Outsiders” is fiction, via voice mail



I read this article not too long ago about what it's like behind the scenes at “Masterchef Junior” and I think the spokesperson left out a few details in his response last week:
"[Supervising culinary producer Sandee] Birdsong and her culinary team of as many as 26 people teach the kids cooking classes in between episodes, walking them through the techniques they need to succeed and giving them safety training. The ‘MasterChef’ classroom is identical to the set — same ovens, same food processors — so the contestants can get familiar with the equipment. The culinary team squeezes in as many classes for the kids as they can given the short amount of time children are legally allowed to be on the Paramount lot every day. ‘The kids are here to learn as much as they can the whole time,’ she says.

Birdsong says she doesn’t teach the kids exactly what to do for a challenge, but rather shows them a basic and (most importantly) the fastest way to accomplish things like make a sauce or filet a fish. There are lots of different ways to make a piecrust, for example, but one way is probably best when you’re racing the clock. The kids have the option of writing down and memorizing anything from class.

‘We teach a very basic application that works in our environment and that’s what they tend to stay with, and it’s their choice if they go off that mark [during a challenge],’ she says, adding that the adults who receive the same classes are more likely to revert to their personal cooking methods."

- Marcy via email





rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Fri, 05 Feb 2016 09:44:01 -0500
Tuned In podcast: 'Outsiders,' 'Grease: Live!' and 'Downton Abbey' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39876-tuned-in-podcast-outsiders-grease-live-and-downton-abbey http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39876-tuned-in-podcast-outsiders-grease-live-and-downton-abbey

  tuned in podcast logo

Post-Gazette media writer Maria Sciullo and online features editor Sharon Eberson join me to discuss “Outsiders," "Grease: Live!" and "Downton Abbey."

Find the podcast link after the jump. ...

Access the Tuned In podcast on the PG Soundcloud site  or below: 

Blog coding:



rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Thu, 04 Feb 2016 09:42:01 -0500
'Outsiders' episode two review/recap http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39733-outsiders-episode-two-review-recap http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39733-outsiders-episode-two-review-recap

outsiders atv

If there was as unexepected element in episode one of WGN America's "Outsiders," it was the impact of the Farrells on townies, particularly the impact of Farrell wine that presumably had a role in making a townie boy murder his father (or step-father, the relationship wasn't entirely clear).

Episode two continued a lot of the plots that began in the pilot. Read more about it after the jump. ...

So Asa is shunned at mealtime and Big Foster whines, "My son is dead, my mother's sick, all because you came back."

Of course, Big needs to own that he damaged his mother and his son died because Big was stupid enough to take the boy on a robbing errand.

This episode is the first time I realized the drug dealer's friend/lover is a trans character. I did not pick up on that in episode one.

Asa proves useful to the Farrells becasue he can read the eviction notice.

Hasil stalks townie girl Sally Ann. It's a sort of a sweet/creepy courtship, but mostly sweet.

Asa and Lil Foster had a jousting match on ATVs, which was supposed to be the high point of the episode. It was a pretty cool stunt when the one ATV flipped but I'm still more interested in getting to know the characters than I am in watching a grudge match.

The sweaty deputy sheriff, Wade Houghton, continues to astound me. At the end of episode two he destroyed evdience by dumping the Farrell wine.

What did you think of episode two? Login via Facebook and post your reactions below.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Wed, 03 Feb 2016 09:30:01 -0500
CBS reunites 'Mean' Joe Greene and Coke commercial kid http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39868-cbs-reunites-mean-joe-green-and-coke-commercial-kid http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39868-cbs-reunites-mean-joe-green-and-coke-commercial-kid

mean joe greene

Tonight at 8 CBS airs "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials 2016," a countdown of the Top 50 Super Bowl ads that will also include an interview with the stars of the famous 1980 commercial featuring Pittsburgh Steelers legend "Mean" Joe Greene and Tommy Okon.

Watch the segment after the jump. ...

Here's the segment:


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 02 Feb 2016 13:30:01 -0500
Updated 'Outsiders' ratings set network record http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39871-updated-outsiders-ratings-set-network-record http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39871-updated-outsiders-ratings-set-network-record

WGN America issued a ratings release today for filmed-in-Pittsburgh "Outsiders" that puts the odds of a second season in a favorable light if the show's ratings hold up.

Last week's preliminary numbers improved when digital platform (DVR, VOD) viewing was factored in, bring the show's premiere episdoe total to 3.9 million viewers, making it the network's highest-viewed episode of original programming ever.

Read an update on local impact and the network release after the jump. ...

UPDATED: I tried to get some additional ratings data out of WGN America but they never provided whole numbers on total local viewers but it appears Pittsburgh was a strong market for "Outsiders" in its premiere episode. 

Pittsburgh was the No. 2 metered market for the series premiere in adults 25-54 (a WGN America rep didn't say what was No. 1), performing 123 percent higher than the average across all markets in Live +3 time-shifted viewing. (Live + 3 includes live viewing as the show airs plus DVR and on demand viewing within three days of the premiere.)

Locally, "Outsiders" improved the 9 p.m. Tuesday average on WGN America in Pittsburgh by 1,840 percent in adults 25-54 (a 1.80 rating in homes that get WGN America vs. the .09 average) and increased by 1,396 percent in total viewers (1.08 rating vs. .07) on a Live + 3 basis. Those percentage increases may seem crazy -- and I asked for the whole numbers so I could explain the math but they were not provided -- but when you consider how small the TV viewing pie has been sliced and how WGN America probably wasn't on folks' radar locally that much pre-"Outsiders," the numbers aren't really that crazy.

This week's second episode of "Outsiders," which had commercials (the premiere did not), retained 96 percent of its series premiere audience among viewers ages 25-54, per WGN America, which also says the average retention for new scripted series in their second week among the same demo is 80 percent on a live + same day basis.

Here's the release:





"Outsiders" Draws 5.5 Million Total Viewers Across Premiere Week


Premiere Delivers Significant +66% Lift in Live + 3 Delivery

Los Angeles, February 1, 2016 – The commercial free premiere of WGN America's hotly anticipated series "Outsiders" broke records as the most watched original series in the network's history, delivering 3.9 million Total Viewers in L + 3 viewing on WGN America on Tuesday night and digital platforms to rank as the network’s all-time highest viewed episode of original programming ever.   Including encores during its premiere week, "Outsiders" drew 5.5 million Total Viewers

"We felt that 'Outsiders' was exceptional, but there is no greater validation than this kind of viewer response." said Matt Cherniss, President and General Manager, WGN America and Tribune Studios.  "We’re grateful for the stellar cast and creative team, Peter Mattei, Peter Tolan and Paul Giamatti, and our producing partners at Sony Pictures Television, and we thank the fans, who continue to inspire us to deliver one-of-a-kind storytelling at WGN America."

In Live + 3, the 9 p.m. telecast lifted to 1,748,000 Total Viewers (+66% vs. 1,055,000) and 818,000 among Adults 25-54 (+85% vs. 443,000) over same day viewing.  This represents an impressive +830% increase over the network's Adults 25-54 season-to-date prime average.  On Tuesday night, “Outsiders” delivered 2.8 million Total Viewers. 

"Outsiders," which premiered Tuesday, January 26, is WGN America's third original drama ordered straight-to-series, since the network launched its aggressive strategy to deliver distinctive programming of the highest quality.  The cable network’s growing stable of original content includes the upcoming escape thriller about the Underground Railroad, "Underground," premieringWednesday, March 9 (10 pm ET/PT), along with the hit supernatural series "Salem" which recently began production on its third series, and the Emmy Award-winning drama "Manhattan." 

WGN America recently expanded its distribution by more than 8 million homes with the addition of Cablevision in New York and is now available on every major cable system.   

In an all-new episode of "Outsiders," entitled "Doomsayer," premiering Tuesday, February 2 (9:00 p.m. ET/PT) on WGN America, Asa (Joe Anderson) fights for his right to stay on Shay Mountain in a brutal game of survival.

WGN America’s “Outsiders,” produced by Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, is a tale of struggle for power and control set in the rugged hills of Appalachia.  The 13-episode, one-hour drama, explores an epic battle as the Farrell Clan, a tight-knit family of renegades who have lived atop Shay Mountain for over two hundred years, fight to defend their land and way of life from the town below and anyone who would dare challenge them.  Never ones to back down from a fight, the Farrells will ultimately defend their way of life using any available means.

The ensemble cast for “Outsiders” includes: David Morse (“Treme,” “Hurt Locker”) as Big Foster, Thomas M. Wright (“The Bridge,” “Top of the Lake”) as Sheriff Wade Houghton, Ryan Hurst (“Sons of Anarchy,” “Bates Motel”), as Lil Foster, Joe Anderson (“The Divide,” “Across the Universe”) as Asa, Gillian Alexy (“The Americans,” “Damages”) as G'Winveer, Kyle Gallner(“American Sniper,” “Veronica Mars”) as Hasil, Christina Jackson (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Deception”) as Sally-Ann, Francie Swift (“Hostages,” “House of Cards”) as Haylie and Phyllis Somerville (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Big C”) as Lady Ray.

“Outsiders,” is created and written by award-winning playwright Peter Mattei, who executive produces alongside Fedora Entertainment's Emmy® Award-winner Peter Tolan ("Rescue Me," "Analyze This") and Michael Wimer ("2012," "Rake"), and Touchy Feely Films’ Emmy® Award-winner Paul Giamatti ("John Adams," "Sideways") and Dan Carey ("All Is Bright”).

[Source:  Nielsen Media Research, Live + 3; WGN America digital data]


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 01 Feb 2016 15:01:51 -0500
'The Expanse' ends its first season on Syfy http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39866-the-expanse-ends-its-first-season http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39866-the-expanse-ends-its-first-season

expanse sf1

Back in December I wrote about Syfy's "The Expanse," which I liked but thought it had some work to do before it made a lot of sense.

Tomorrow night the series airs its two-hour season finale (10 p.m. Tuesday) and finally, finally gets to where it seemed destined to go all along.

Read more after the jump. ...

Already renewed for a second season, I liked "The Expanse" but have one primary wish for season two: Greater clarity. The show was needlessly confusing, which kept it from becoming as engrossing and must-see as it should have been. Watching it seemed like a slog through homework, not something to look forward to with joyful anticipation. In the era of #PeakTV, that's something no TV series can afford to be. 

I complained in my original review that after watching the pilot twice it was unclear why Miller threw a guy in an airlock. There were plenty of other moments in the first season where the show would flash to characters we've never seen before and for an hour you'd be scratching your head wondering why. "The Expanse" needs to be more clear overall and then it can afford to go off on flights of fantasy or flashback.

Also, I hope season two will be more surprising. Season one was one long trek to a pretty predictable place as former Ceres station cop Miller (Thomas Jane, top of page at left) finally me up with Holden (Steven Strait, above at right) and his crew. Please don't let season two be one gigantic arc waiting for these two to finally meet with U.N. politico Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), the third leg of the show's tripod of main characters.

expanse sf2

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 01 Feb 2016 09:16:01 -0500
TV Q&A: 'Ripper Street,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' 'Masterchef Junior' and tweet of the week http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39864-tv-q-a-ripper-street-curb-your-enthusiasm-masterchef-junior-and-tweet-of-the-week http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39864-tv-q-a-ripper-street-curb-your-enthusiasm-masterchef-junior-and-tweet-of-the-week

Click here for a link to headlines of recent TV news and views posts.

TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by sending an email to rowen@post-gazette.com (include your first name and location) or submitting online at http://old.post-gazette.com/tv/questions/qaform.asp.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “Ripper Street,” “The Chew” and a Pittsburgh TV meteorologist. As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: I was sorry to read in your column that “FABLife” has been canceled. Is this because Tyra Banks left the show? Why did she leave? Personally, I felt the remaining cast did a good job of carrying on, even though she was no longer with them.

I also have another complaint about television programs. I enjoy the Food Network, but am sick and tired of seeing Guy Fieri on so many of the shows.  Now, he has added another show along with his son. This makes at least five. 

- Fran, Shaler

Rob: We’ve heard the Fieri complaint before but as long as people are watching, his shows will continue to proliferate.

As for “FABLife,” I suspect perhaps Banks could see the writing on the wall. The official reason is she wanted to concentrate on other work and she did say last summer she hadn’t been looking to do another daytime show but other reports suggest some on-set tensions. 


Q: I am a fan of “Masterchef Junior.” I was just watching the show and they had the semifinalists make a soufflé and some of the kids said they never made one before but they did a great job and even won the challenge. What I am wondering is do they tell the kids how to do it? You do not see them with recipe cards or is it some kind of prompting.

- Mary, Penn Hills

Rob: According to the show’s Fox publicist, there are no recipe cards and no practice time given to contestants before a challenge is presented to them: “When appropriate and necessary, the judges are there to offer advice and support, but beyond that, it’s really up to these amazing kids!”


Q: Sunday night, Jan. 24, Comcast’s TV Guide prime-time listings for KDKA were all shifted by 30 minutes — the listings showed programs starting30 minutes laterthan their actual start time, culminating in an “abridged” 30-minute episode of “NCIS” at10:30 p.m.  This is the second time this has happened in the past month.  (ThePost-Gazette’s printed “TV Week” was correct both times.) Why is this happening, and what is being done to prevent it from happening again?

- Mark, Squirrel Hill

Rob: We addressed this a few weeks ago in TV Q&A with regards to the CBS Sunday night lineup, although an abridged “NCIS” is a new variation on a theme.

CBS is making a best guess on when football will finish and they often guess wrong. Luckily for viewers of CBS’s Sunday night shows, football season is done so this won’t happen again until next fall.


Q: I watch the Syfy Channel show “Face Off” and I was wondering if Wally Westmore and Bud Westmore are related to Michael Westmore?

- Jeannine, California, Pa.

Rob: I had no idea but Michael Westmore said they are his uncles and offered this response: “The Westmores have been pioneers in Hollywood makeup for 100 years.  My father Monte Westmore Sr. supervised the makeup on ‘Gone With The Wind.’ Bud and Wally Westmore along with Perc, Ern and Frank are all my uncles. Each one had a very talented and successful makeup career. For a look at their many hundreds of screen credits I suggest you search IMDB.com online. In 2008, The Westmore Family was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I won an Oscar for the movie “Mask” staring Cher and nine Emmys mostly for my work on “Star Trek.” Presently I am appearing and mentoring the artists on ‘Face Off’ with my daughter and host McKenzie Westmore.”


Q: Is Clinton Kelly on “The Chew” on vacation? Have not seen him in a while.

- Deb, Pittsburgh

Rob: He’s still on the show, just taking some time off and is expected back next week. He posted this note on his Facebook page around Jan. 1:


This January I’m taking a break to finish a writing project I’ve been working on for two years. And to limit distractions, I’ve decided to take a little break from social media and ‘The Chew.’ (You might see me on a few episodes that were prerecorded.) Interacting with you on Facebook is one of the great joys of my career, so I hope we can pick up where we left off a month from now. Until then, I wish you only the most wonderful things. Sincerely, Clinton.”


Q: I wonder if you can explain why some movies or series have closed captions and others do not? I called Netflix to see why "House of Cards" does not, and their answer was "I really don't know. But I will suggest it for the new season." Why do some 50-year-old movies have it and current ones do not? I don’t get it!!

Thanks for your help.

- Mary Lou, West Deer

Rob: I looked up “House of Cards” on Netflix and it does have subtitles that can be activated in the lower right corner.


Q: Will HBO produce new episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”?

- Evan, Wexford

Rob: Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. It’s all up to Larry David. If he wants to do it, HBO will make more. If he doesn’t, they won’t. As far as I know, nothing has changed since we addressed this question in the past


Q: Since you are at the TCA Convention, could you please ask the BBC America representatives when the fourth series of “Ripper Street” will be shown here?  It premiered on Amazon.UK beginningJan. 15. Last year they had an "Amazon cut" of each episode, which was about 10 minutes longer than what was shown here. Is there any chance that we might get the whole episode this time around? And, since they are filming the fifth series now, almost immediately after filming the fourth, is that an indication that it will be ending? Maybe keeping the actors/crew/writers together through this period before letting them move on?  

- Linda, Monroeville

Rob: The BBC America folks were not real forthcoming with information. There’s no word on future seasons or a fourth season premiere date. I don’t think you will see “Amazon cut” episodes on BBCA.


Q: Now that they air WTAE Channel 4 Action News on This TV at7 p.m., why do they not do the same with the ABC lineup when the Steelers are on when they have aMondaynight game? The CW puts CBS's lineup on their channel when the Steelers are on KDKA-TV in preseason.

- Josh, Monroeville

Rob: Ah, but KDKA and local CW station WPCW are both owned by CBS. And both are .1 channels. WTAE is not owned by ABC and ThisTV is a .2 channel.

“I cannot comment on our ABC programming agreement,” said WTAE general manager Charles Wolfertz III in response.

That suggests to me that WTAE may not have the right to move ABC programming to a digital subchannel.


Q: I have noticed that WPXI refers to Stephen Cropper as “Pittsburgh's Chief Meteorologist.” I could understand if they called him “WPXI's Chief Meteorologist.” Can you explain this?

- Bob, Wilkins Twp.

Rob: I really can’t because it seems presumptuous.

“Stephen Cropper is Pittsburgh’s Chief Meteorologist because of all the chiefs at Pittsburgh television stations, he’s been preparing and delivering our region’s complicated forecasts the longest,” said WPXI news director Mike Oliveira. “He’s also the chief of the weather team with the most Pittsburgh forecasting experience. ... We feel very strongly about delivering on our weather coverage promise on television, online and on social media.  We also feel very strongly about Stephen’s abilities and commitment to the people who trust Channel 11.  That’s why we call him Pittsburgh’s Chief Meteorologist.”

Cropper arrived in Pittsburgh at WTAE in 1995. Jeff Verszyla joined KDKA-TV in April 1996. So if Cropper is “Pittsburgh’s Chief Meteorologist – and he’s not, it’s just typical made up TV promotion chest-thumping -- he’s chief by a hair.



“Actual viewer email: ‘I just drove by, and the Hulton Bridge fell into the river, you might want to check into that, hope everyone is okay.’

-@realtimwilliams, digital content manager at KDKA






rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Fri, 29 Jan 2016 23:59:01 -0500
Tuned In podcast: 'The X-Files,' 'The Magicians' and 'War & Peace' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39859-tuned-in-podcast-the-x-files-the-magicians-and-war-peace http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/39859-tuned-in-podcast-the-x-files-the-magicians-and-war-peace

 tuned in podcast logo

Post-Gazette media writer Maria Sciullo joins me to discuss “The X-Files," "The Magicians" and "War & Peace."

Find the podcast link after the jump. ...

Access the Tuned In podcast on the PG Soundcloud site  or below: 



rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Thu, 28 Jan 2016 08:46:01 -0500