We watch... so you don't have to.

We're On Sweeps Watch!

I loves the sweeps. There, I said it.

Every year, 'round about February, May, and November, the television industry goes into what you and I would kindly call a paroxysmal fit. In the trade, this is known as sweeps. Knowledgeable industry insiders would have you believe that this is the period where programmers haul out their best and most captivating shows like NBC's blockbuster made-for-TV movie "Asteroid" and last Thursday's episode of Friends (which henceforth shall be known as "The Penis Episode"), since ratings are even more closely watched than usual, and advertising rates ride on the results. Not-so-knowledgeable folks like myself have a different way of describing the antics: a race to the bottom of humanity.

I'll let you decide who's being tongue-in-cheek.

Sex, drugs, rock 'n roll, sex, Really Bad Things That Could Happen To You, and more sex. That's pretty much sweeps in a nutshell. Not that there's anything wrong with that. As my mammy always used to say, the world needs more depravity. And mammy was a wise, wise lady. So, purely in the name of insuring that TV's contributions to the fall of civilization don't go unrecognized by future civilizations, we proudly announce...


A chronicle of the depths TV shows will sink to in their quest to gain viewers who ordinarily would watch re-runs of Coach.

1. KABC News, Los Angeles -- For nearly a week now, KABC-TV in Los Angeles, usually recognized as the least moronic local news station of the three major networks, has been touting a story sure to capture the interest of even the most cynical, hard-bitten soul: "Porn in the Valley."

Rest assured, this will not be the only porn-related story to air during February.

In fact, it won't even be the only porn-related story to air on KABC, since the station's news director had the foresight to break this particular porn story into multiple parts. No sense blowing your wad all in one shot, I suppose. I've seen the first installment, and to spare you, the reader, the trouble of retasking your satellite dish, I'm pleased to report that the gravamen of the story can be summed up as follows:


No doubt this will come as a complete shock to those area residents who had trouble deciphering the valley's well- known credo: "Welcome to the San Fernando Valley, World Capital of Porn."

2. 20/20 -- Tired of old news? Had it up to here with those wacky Clintons and their pesky ethics problems? Don't want to hear word two about Unabombers, McVeighs, or O.J. Simpsons? Can't stand the thought of another "right to die" debate? Never fear. 20/20 has unearthed an issue burning at the core of our national conscience, an issue so unsettling that it goes right to the heart of what it means to be an American.

In the words of Barbara Walters: "What do you think about legalizing prostitution?"

I think it's a bad idea. Next question.

Ah, would that it were so simple. Unfortunately it's not my opinion that Barbara wants. See, unlike many industry people, I can say this with a straight face: I've never solicited a prostitute. Maybe that makes me "weird." Maybe that makes me "square." What it most certainly makes me is an outsider, a nonexpert, in these matters, so my opinion isn't an informed one. Warbles Barbara, as the screen lights up with shots of women dressed like Dennis Rodman and RuPaul: "We get the opinions of prostitutes and the men who use them."

Wonderful. This ought to be enlightening. I can't possibly imagine what those opinions will be...


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