Sunday, May 25, 2003


New Nielsen family laments decline in violence, sex on TV


The A.C. Nielsen Co. sent us a TV Viewing Diary a few weeks ago. Until then, our family had been living the American dream. Not to be confused with American Dreams, a terrific concept for a TV show that was ruined by smart writing, believable story lines and not enough women in tank tops.

Now, with our inclusion in the TV ratings - "Your home was scientifically selected,'' the ratings people said - we felt our ship had come in. And we don't mean the Love Boat. We were a Nielsen Family.

We felt blessed.

The diary was the size of TV Guide magazine. "For the week starting Thursday, May 1,'' it said. Each day was broken down into a grid of 15-minute segments. We were supposed to note the shows we watched, when we watched them, who watched and what channel they were on.

We don't watch much TV at our house. We don't let TV run our lives.

We feel lots of family time is very important. Sharing and caring and just being together is what it's all about. Lately, the kids have been acting up, setting fires in the den, conducting scientific research on the dog, so we've had to limit their viewing to 12 hours a day, 15 on weekends.

We filled out the diary just like it said. In the back there was a space left to comment "about TV in general.'' It wasn't big enough to accommodate all our thoughts, so I thought I'd share them with you here:

Dear Mr. And Mrs. Nielsen Ratings:

The problem with TV is it doesn't have enough mindless dialogue, casual sex and gratuitous violence. Until they tone down the thoughtful shows that deal with actual living - garbage like Judging Amy and American Dreams - we will continue to tune out and watch our collection of American Gladiator videos.

Thank god for F/X, which gave us The Shield, where in one episode a cop slams a perp's face onto the heating element of an electric stove. Now, that's entertainment.

Could we cool it with Ray Romano's gentle family humor? Everybody Doesn't Love Raymond, OK? Guy's a dork. He's a sportswriter, for goodness sake. Who on earth finds the life of a sportswriter even remotely interesting?

And, please, no more King of Queens. There's a name for you. How many dresses do you figure that guy's got in his closet?

Doug Heffernan, aka The King, drives a truck. That'd only be good if every week he drove the truck into things. Ammunition dumps, maybe. Frederick's of Hollywood. We'd watch that.

We'd like to see more shows where stuff blows up. TV hasn't been the same since The A Team. We used to like COPS. But after awhile, it was the same old thing: Car chase, car wreck, loser staggers out of his upside-down pickup.

That show would be a whole lot better if they re-tooled it. COPS WITH FLAMETHROWERS. COPS WITH NUNCHUKS. FEMALE COPS IN THONG BIKINIS. As it is, we've seen more action at 3 a.m. in the Mercantile Library.

We only have one question about The West Wing: Is anybody ever going to have sex on that show? Jed Bartlett is a Democrat, right? He does have interns, doesn't he? So what's the problem?

As a family, we'd like to see more animals eating other animals. There is nothing better than watching a leopard chow on a gazelle. We think you should move CSI to the dinner hour and the 6:30 news to 4 in the morning. Nothing goes with spaghetti and meatballs like seeing a dead man's pancreas.

As for Law and Order: Don't these people sleep? What's it on, 19 hours a day? No wonder everyone mumbles on that show. They've been up since September.

While we do watch all the wonderful reality dramas, we feel it's long past time for Hannibal Lecter to have his own show. We feel strongly ratings for The Bachelor would improve if all the losers were summarily executed on camera and the winners traded places with the gazelles in the leopard patch.

Either that, or send them to American Dreams.


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