Public Morals

By Marin, Cheech | Newsweek, September 16, 1996 | Go to article overview
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Public Morals


Marin, Cheech, Newsweek


PUSHING THE envelope" has become a cliche in television. It's what TV auteurs say they're doing when they want to get away with more sex and/or violence. And it's how network suits justify those shows to nervous advertisers and conservative viewers. Every season, some new series gets a lot of heat for taking new liberties. "Twin Peaks." "NYPD Blue." Last year's short-lived "American Gothic." Now it's CBS's raunchy sitcom "Public Morals" and Fox's grisly crime drama "Millennium." Somebody break out the V-chips before Bob Dole sees these things.

"Morals," about a New York City vice squad's wacky adventures in the skin trade, originally included such colorful phrases as "pussy posse" and frequent uses of the words "whore" and "penis." Critics who saw the pilot were appalled and CBS persuaded producers Stephen Bochco and Jay Tarses to compromise their art and dial back the bachelor-party language. "It's not gonna be confused with 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'," says CBS Entertainment president Leslie Moonves. "But people will be notified about what kind of show this is." They should also be notified that the most offensive thing about the show is that it isn't funny.

"Millennium" makes "Public Morals" look like "Sesame Street." Viewers definitely should be prepped for this one. Something like, Warning! Program contains severed heads, strippers and live burials. Created by Chris Carter ("The X-Files"), the series is built around a murky, conspiratorial concept with paranormal overtones.

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