Brent Bozell

The low point of the plot arrives when ABC shows Jim hurrying to the bathroom because he has to pass the wedding ring he swallowed. He is shown taking off his pants and sitting down on the toilet, and then the viewer hears a "clank" sound. It is implied that Jim has just excreted his ring in his waste. Family members are hiding in the bathtub. We see them open the curtain, and Jim's wife yells, "Don't you dare flush that toilet." His brother-in-law adds the joke, "And feel free to light a match."

Why must a viewer be subjected to a plot like this? The ratings system has no "S" for scatological content." The "S" is for sexual situations. The Federal Communications Commission defined broadcast indecency in 1987 as "language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities."

This is certainly a plot based on (implied) excretory activities, but it's certainly not what the regulators had in mind. I suspect that when these rules were written there wasn't a soul at the FCC who believed "humor" would ever come to this.

Is this the comedy your family pines for when you gather around the TV for an evening of entertainment? Do you know of any family that relishes plot lines about bowel movements? This isn't a "family comedy," earthy or otherwise. This is cultural waste for the culturally wasted.

A few years ago, Belushi won a Best Actor honor from the Family-Friendly Programming Forum -- after the delightful episode about his character's low sperm count. That "earthy family comedy" plot featured Jim's brother-in-law switching a "sample" of his own sperm instead of Jim's for testing, and Jim's wife convincing the two that she'd been impregnated with her brother's sperm.

Programming like this demonstrates that networks like ABC don't seem to have any standards-and-practices cops -- never mind standards -- and this over-the-top (or under-the-seat) episode wasn't even a stunt for the May sweeps period. Parents beware: There are no boundaries or guardrails of taste in the world of "family comedies" any more.

Brent Bozell

Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America.
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