Maybe you're tired of the Olympics. Maybe you've seen enough gymnastics, weightlifting and beach volleyball over the past two weeks to last you until 2004. Where television viewing is concerned, however, even the most boring Olympic sport is preferable to much of what's already run in prime time this season, and much of what will run in the weeks and months ahead.
Let's start with "Girlfriends," a UPN sitcom which debuted Sept. 11. It's from Kelsey Grammer's production company, but this piece of junk boasts not one-tenth the wit of "Frasier." For example, after one Girlfriend says, "I haven't had sex in a year," another quips, "Damn, girl, you sure you still open for business? You know what happens when you don't wear earrings." It just doesn't get any better than that.
The WB's "Grosse Pointe" is out, and already grossing out. At one point in the Sept. 22 premiere, a young man muses, "Hey, check out how golden and downy these hairs are getting around my navel ... They're kind of soft like chest hair ... yet sexy like pubic hair." Later, it's said of him, "Johnny's in love. Either that, or he's got a surfboard in his pants." "Grosse Pointe" airs at 8:30 p.m., as the WB's contribution to the family hour.
NBC's family hour is no different. "Titans" (Wednesdays, 8 p.m., beginning Oct. 4) is Aaron Spelling's latest prime time soap. One of its stars, Casper Van Dien, disclosed to Entertainment Weekly that he "was told by (show creator) Chuck Pratt to be prepared to be in bed with a different woman every week. I think he might be joking. Maybe not. In that case, I'd better go to the gym right now."
An executive producer of Fox's "Futurama" has already revealed what he's giving viewers for Christmas. David X. Cohen told EW that in the animated series' holiday episode, "there's a lot of Santa Claus murdering and rampaging. I know it's going to be good because the Fox censors are very unhappy with it."
I'm shocked, but not that Cohen plans a violent Santa Claus. I'm shocked that Fox still has censors. "Futurama," by the way, also airs in the family hour.
EW brought more bad news about a family-hour show that a few months ago sounded quite promising: the WB's "Gilmore Girls," the first series for which the Family Friendly Programming Forum, a group of several dozen corporations, provided funding.
A few weeks back, there was a report of foul language in the upcoming "Gilmore" pilot episode; now this article, in which show co-star Lauren Graham said that the show's connection with the Forum "made me so nervous ... I would be more comfortable if it were called the (ITAL) Dysfunctional (ITAL) Family Friendly Forum." But "Gilmore," to her relief, "does not pander or condescend to families. It's not so soft that your grandmother could watch it with her dentures out."
What Graham apparently meant is that "Gilmore" contains not only coarse language, but also humor many would consider tasteless (EW reports that before a woman and her teenage daughter dine at the home of "stuffy" relatives, the elder remarks, "On the way home, you can pull a Menendez.")
If "Gilmore Girls" disappoints the family audience, it'll be another setback for the Forum, one of whose members, Coca-Cola, made a costly, high-profile commitment this past summer to the raunchy (and now canceled) WB teen drama "Young Americans."
What about ABC? This network all-out ditched its family-friendly TGIF lineup in favor of adult sitcoms. So far, the move has bombed. According to Inside.com, last week ABC wound up with "what's apparently (its) worst Friday average ever in adults 18-49." Meanwhile, former TGIF staple "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," which found a new home on the WB at 8 p.m. Fridays, "set ... time-period (ratings) records among teens and viewers 12-34" for its new network.
There's an illuminating contrast between "Sabrina" and ABC's 8 o'clock Friday offering, "Two Guys and a Girl." "Sabrina" executive producer Paula Hart, mother of series star Melissa Joan Hart, commented in Entertainment Weekly that "Sabrina's never going to talk about sex, and she's not going to have a drug problem." On the other hand, EW says that in "Two Guys"' Halloween episode, Sharon -- the "Girl" -- "will fall under a curse and sprout a penis."
That, dear reader, is more realistic than the prospect of Hollywood sprouting a conscience.