People who complain about bad language and innuendo on television often are dismissed as prudes or right-wing moralists. But it is not always so, as illustrated by early responses to Media Monitor's recent notice of an apparently more liberal use of language in early-evening shows this season.
Reacting to particularly suggestive episodes of two CBS shows, "Lenny" (now suspended pending rescheduling) and "Doctor, Doctor," we asked readers for other examples.
Surprisingly, Paula Miller of Denton objected in a thoughtful letter to an ABC series which has received widespread praise, Wednesday night's "The Wonder Years." In one late summer rerun, she writes, older brother Wayne (Jason Harvey) called brother Kevin (Fred Savage) a crude, anatomically derived name.
"Granted, this type of namecalling is typical among adolescent boys and is very much in character for Wayne," writes Miller. She adds, however, "it doesn't need to be there. Any other name spo-ken in the same derisive tone would have certainly been just as effective and much less offensive."
Otherwise, she praises the show highly, but suggests "the powers that be need to realize that the show's reputation will be marred if they don't apply a little soap to Wayne's foul mouth."
Regarding another show known for pushing boundaries of taste (though not in the early-evening hours), longtime fan Cynthia Oldewurtel of Baltimore found this season's premiere of "Saturday Night Live" vulgar, tasteless and, worst of all, not funny.
"I am not offended by obscenities if their inclusion in an act (like Tim Allen's, for example) furthers the act in an amusing manner. I do find myself offended when the obscenities are there for no apparent reason," Oldewurtel writes.
In fact, she found last spring's show with shock-comic Andrew Dice Clay "rather mild compared to the premiere," and says if Nora Dunn left the show this season as a result of her boycott of the Clay segment, "I think she got the better end of the deal."
READER ADVISORY -- Here is some good news for an inquiring caller named Gloria (and other cable viewers): Additional episodes of "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" are on the way.
A spokesman at the Lifetime network, which has kept the quirky series starring Blair Brown alive since its network cancellation, says 13 additional episodes are on order and should premiere in late January. (The series can be seen at 10:30 p.m. Saturdays and 11:30 p.m,. Sundays on the basic-cable service.)
The first episode is likely to cover the birth of Molly's baby. But who's the father? We may learn that, too.