Friday, March 24, 2006
FCC Fines: The Lunacy Continues
The WB has a new midseason show called The Bedford Diaries. It's from Tom Fontana, who worked on Oz and Homicide and stars Matthew Modine as a professor who teaches about sex, along with Milo Ventimiglia and other actors as sex-crazed college students. The pilot includes a finale where students stage a nude-in as their attempt to recreate the wacky days of the Sixties and comment on the Iraqi War. (Though the show has been on te shelf for a while -- I saw this pilot about six months ago - it's still sadly timely.) Fontana is a real talent, but the show is quite awful, I'm afraid. What's interesting is that the WB now claims they are so panicked and confused by FCC rulings (which truly make no sense) that they took the pilot away from Fontana and recut some scenes. Everyone is playing nice and blaming it on the FCC, though the cynic in me would like to think they're just getting some extra press for a dud. But what I love is their artistic solution to this problem. Instead of airing the episode on TV and marking it with a disclaimer (not suitable for the kiddies -- as if parents need to be told that a show about college students studying about and obsessed with sex isn't right for Junior), they've gone and posted the entire uncut episode online so anyone can watch it for free anytime day or night. And of course such a venue is out of the FCC realm. What clearer example of the current absurdities, where 100 cranks from Focus on the Family can get stations fined millions of dollars? The web makes this sort of fine system horribly passe.