Post-Gazette TV writer Rob Owen answers reader questions online every Friday in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Here's a selection of recent queries.
Q: Why don't they show them praying on the new episodes of "Blue Bloods"?
-- RITA, PLYMOUTH, MINN.
Rob: I tried for several weeks to get an answer to this question, but the "Blue Bloods" producers have not responded to Rita's query. My guess is it was a matter of time and the writers wanted to devote that time to storytelling rather than the characters saying grace.
Q: I enjoy watching Syfy's "Face Off." When are the contestant interviews filmed -- after or during each episode or the entire season at once?
-- JOHN, 46, NORTH HUNTINGDON
Rob: According to the show's publicist, contestant interviews are shot throughout the season during each episode. Gotta do it when the drama is fresh in the contestants' minds.
Q: Has "Lucky 7" been canceled or is it on a different channel?
-- JULIE, CANONSBURG
Rob: It was the first show of the 2013-14 TV season to be canceled. It won't air again.
Q: My question is about British programming. There are so many British shows I would like to see, but very few make it to the United States. Occasionally BBC America shows something of interest, and the odd show turns up on PBS. Sometimes you can track something down on YouTube. I watch "EastEnders" via Dish. (I don't have Dish myself, but someone tapes it for me.) I just don't understand why they make it so hard! It seems like much of U.S. programming is shown over there. I do understand [Brits] pay some sort of TV tax, and wonder if that has something to do with it. I'd be willing to pay for a premium British channel. I'd just really like to be able to turn on my TV and see some of their programming.
Also I wonder why it's not possible to view programming on their websites. It's so frustrating to see clips and shows on the BBC or ITV websites and know if I try to watch them it will tell me they are unavailable.
Is it just too expensive to make it available in the United States, or do they think there is no interest?
-- CATHY, MAPLE GROVE, MINN.
Rob: It's probably a combination of issues, including expense and demand, but I think the biggest issue is probably one of perceived demand. If networks thought viewers would watch and if the price was right, they'd import more British shows.
And the reality is Americans have access to more British programming now than ever. Not only is PBS importing shows for "Masterpiece," it's also importing British dramas outside of "Masterpiece" ("Last Tango in Halifax" and "Call the Midwife"). Acorn.TV (https://signup.acorn.tv/) bills itself as a home for online streaming of British shows. And last fall DirecTV's Audience Network added British dramas "Black Mirror" and "Secret State" to its lineup.
Q: I was watching "The Good Wife," and the couple Alicia was in court against had the last name Eisenstat. That is my last name and in all my years of watching TV, it is the first character that has used my name. I would like to know how I can find how they went about deciding on the name, since it's not exactly a common name.
-- BOB EISENSTAT, 56, LEVEL GREEN
Rob: Writers often use names of friends but then have to get names vetted through legal clearances (if a show is set in Pittsburgh, someone checks the phone book/other sources to make sure there's no one in Pittsburgh with the same name as a show's villain to make sure the script isn't potentially defamatory).
Thanks to "Good Wife" executive producer Robert King for offering a thoughtful explanation. It's not something all producers are willing to take the time to do (see previous question):
"Dear Mr. Eisenstat,
"I am a collector of unique names. I hate how TV names end up being of the Bob Smith variety. These are the names the legal departments usually find easiest to clear. But unique names are not only fun to say, they often make it easier to distinguish between characters referred to in the third person. Paddy Chayefsky is wonderful at doing this. I usually find names online: in newspaper bylines, in the New Yorker front section, in movie credits. Sometimes you look for names that express a feeling, but often you just try to avoid having names sound too much alike. Not much more to say than that.
"Congratulations, Mr. Eisenstat, for having such a great name.
"Robert (bland name) King"
Q: With your new format, where are the "Movie Highlights"? "Paint Your Wagon" starring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg from 1969 hasn't been aired for a while. Where can I submit a request to TCM, etc.?
-- ROBERT, 63, FRANKLIN PARK
Rob: You can always contact TCM directly. The address and phone number are carried in TV Week on Sunday and online at post-gazette.com.tv.
As for changes to TV Week, those are out of my control. Here's what Virginia Linn, Post-Gazette assistant managing editor/enterprise and features, explained: "As part of a downsizing, the Post-Gazette has reduced TV Week by four pages. Because of the proliferation of channels over the last several years, the two pages of movie highlights included descriptions of only a small portion of the actual movies presented each week. We felt it was most important to preserve the 13 pages of TV channel listings so those have not been trimmed. We post TV listings online at http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/tv-radio that include descriptions of all movies shown each week."
Ask TV questions at post-gazette.com/tv under TV Q&A (scroll down to find link on right side of the page).