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Out With The Old, In With The New: Has NBC Crossed A Line?

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I begin by stating that TV, to me, is an art form. I love everything about it. The convenience of watching in my home, night or day; I love the writing that goes into programming, the directing, cast selection, and definitely the plot that goes with any given story line. With this said, as with any piece of art, a decision must be made when it comes to where a painting should hang. The same is true with music. When it is played, where, and how loud it is played, must be given some thought. Timing, placement, the when, as well as the where, should be considered by the networks, when choosing a slot for all shows. With this in mind, I wonder if NBC considered the dialogue of some of their shows before they placed shows such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit or Mercy into their time slots.

NBC has embarked on some changes in their primetime lineup. In keeping with their budget, NBC has found it more feasible to produce a nighttime talk show (The Jay Leno Show), rather than stick with the same old hour drama (or half-hour comedy, for that matter) in hopes of saving on their bottom line. Now, the question is whether NBC has gone too far in order to save money. Prior to this season, NBC’s Law & Order series were shown in the 10 o'clock time slot. Since The Jay Leno Show now occupies that slot, NBC has had to shuffle some of its most popular yet “mature content” shows into an earlier time slot. Values and morals aside (obviously), I am not sure many parents are ready for what their children can now hear, if they were to turn on the tube to NBC early on in primetime.

After all the pomp and circumstance of the Emmy Awards on September 20, the major networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX) took the week to introduce new and old shows, along with new and old lineups. I have to admit, curiosity got this cat when it came to how NBC was going to navigate their new commitment to The Jay Leno Show appearing in their 10 o'clock slot every day of the week, while still choosing to keep shows such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Jay Leno and am completely aware of the fact that SVU is an Emmy-nominated, critically acclaimed show. With this said, I happened to see SVU’s eleventh season premiere on its new night, in its new time slot, Wednesday at 9 pm.

Although NBC, and NBC alone, has to contend with their decision to take all of the 10 pm time slots and give them to The Jay Leno Show, I have to wonder if they contemplated that some of the dialogue on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit crosses the line when it appears at 9 pm. Are viewers willing to accept dialogue from a show of this caliber at 9 pm? On this episode alone, viewers were inundated with words such as “balls” and “whore,” not to mention the themes that this show is submerged in every week. Then you have Mercy, whose pilot episode premiered an hour before Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in the eight o'clock slot. Within the first 15 minutes of this new series, the brother on the show had already called the lead character a “dick.”

I find it interesting to check out what makes the “cut” at the networks, not to mention which shows make a particular time slot, and what their competition from the other networks will be. However, in the past, networks have held their latest slots for shows with a more mature dialogue… a more mature theme… and for the possibilities of “slippery slop” comments like the ones mentioned earlier. It will be interesting to see just how long NBC will find it feasible to keep some of these "10  o'clock" shows on at nine o'clock, and whether they will or will not alienate viewers.

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About Roxanne Postell

  • Grittiness is written into the formula for each episode. But my question still remains, should we condone words such as “whore”,”balls”,and “dick” onto the airwaves at this early of a time? Or at all, for that matter.

    I’m glad you pointed out the other networks. They too should take a look at the dialogues in their shows. No one is exempt here. I’m simply asking, is it crossing the line? Should it be overlooked?

  • While not the same station, CSI is on at 9pm. Grittiness is written into the formula for each episode. Desperate Housewives is 9 too.