Exactly When Has TV Gone Too Far?

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Who watched Sunday’s Tony Awards? I was delighted to discover that Daniel Radcliffe is indeed a fantastic triple threat (Broadway-speak for an actor/singer/dancer). Who knew? Obviously someone did, but so often we find TV/film stars hitting the theater and after they receive the obligatory applause upon their entrance onstage, it’s often downhill from there. Seems Harry P. has what it takes. Now let’s examine the following headline:

NBC Affiliate Refuses to Air ‘The Playboy Club’. Evidently the Utah station is not showing the new drama because “it conflicts with the moral standards of the station.”

Really. Really??

For those who don’t know, The Playboy Club is one of the fall’s most hotly-anticipated TV shows; it’s all about the famous Chicago nightclub where “Bunnies” brought gentlemen cocktails, among other things.

Did I mention that it’s set in 1963?

According to the preview clips the show focuses on several specific Bunnies, one of whom is involved in a murder and it takes the show’s star – Eddie Cibrian –  to straighten everything out. He’s sort of a “fixer” who needs to extricate her from trouble with a) the law and b) the mob. There are high hopes for the show, and Cibrian is doing his damndest to look like Don Draper a suave 1960s charmer with slick hair and great suits. Now, The Playboy Club is not the only new TV show hoping to cash in on the Mad Men period-piece appeal. There’s also Pan Am – about a group of very cute stewardesses working for Pan-American Airlines long before anyone had to call them flight attendants. Now if the headline I saw had read  NBC Affiliate Nervous About the Playboy Club Because It Doesn’t Look Very Good, or even NBC Affiliate Iffy on New Playboy Show Because of Its Star’s Messy Personal Life, that might have made more sense. I have to assume that only one of the 1960’s-themed shows will work (see under:  VCR vs. BetamaxER vs. Chicago Hope). I suspect it might be Pan Am, but really this boycott seems inane. Not because the Playboy brand isn’t associated with some clearly dicey stuff, but because there is so much out there that these people in charge don’t mind so much.  Now’s when you’re going to play the morality card? Howcome no one has a problem with  ________,  _______ or _________??

For example, a recent check to this station’s scheduling page reveals they have no trouble airing the Law & Order shows. Law & Order, award-winning, respected, beautifully-written and acted but nevertheless featuring some really violent stuff as perpetrated by some truly less-than-savory types. In fact, I have lots of friends who’ve appeared on that show over the years (it films in NYC and is essentially a rite-of-passage for up-and-coming NY actors) and I’ve long been bothered by how violent the crimes depicted have become. Unsettling, can’t-get-to-sleep-that-night types of things. But does this seem to bother the NBC affiliate who thinks a TV show set 40 years ago is verboten? Apparently not. Even the best of these dramas are finding that their storylines have to grow more shocking in order to compete. That’s just an unfortunate fact of the business. And the movies? The level of stuff nowadays that conflicts with even moderate people’s moral standards is kind of ridiculous.

I’m a super wimpy, low-tolerance TV & film viewer. I was even nervous about Super 8 and had to check the Parental Guidance advisory to see that it wasn’t too violent and scary (BTW: not too violent, absolutely suspenseful scary). I think those Saw and Hostel movies are absolutely abominable and they do glorify violence which, for little kids, is akin to promoting it. Plus, the fact is, when little kids want to see a movie they will – even if ratings try and prevent them. And while I have no wish to get all soapboxy about The Playboy Club, I just think it’s a little bizarre that this is where the people in charge want to draw the line.  What do you think?  Should it be banned? Will you watch the show?

Today’s poll:

Voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of these ladies – who star in some of summer’s biggest films – is your favorite:

1) January Jones (X-Men)

2) Penelope Cruz (Pirates)

3) Blake Lively (Green Lantern)

4) Cameron Diaz (Bad Teacher)

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