Recent controversies in
late-night television have - at the very least - given NBC a lot of material to
work with …and we’re not talking about the spat between Jay Leno and Conan
O’Brien. On January 15th, NBC aired an episode of Law & Order
(Fridays, 8:00 p.m. ET) that was eerily reminiscent of David Letterman’s
blackmail case. Coincidence? Perhaps. But the timing is impeccable.
Unfortunately, while audiences snicker as the late-night hosts take pot-shots at
network executives and one another, the grim, perverse explicitness of this
particular Law & Order episode was nothing to laugh at. In fact, it has
been named the Worst TV Show of the Week.
The episode’s plot revolves
around the murder of a journalist who had threatened to expose the sexual
dalliances of a popular female talk show host. Meanwhile, the talk show host
calls the police to report that someone has blackmailed her. The detectives
surmise that when the journalist’s editor heard about the story, he concocted
the blackmail scheme to extort a huge payoff for himself, killing the journalist
in the process. The story takes a kinky turn, however, when it is revealed that
the female journalist was actually one of a string of women who had lesbian love
affairs with the talk show host.
As per usual, the episode
contained frank, explicit dialogue about the murder. Take for example this
exchange between the detectives and the coroner:
Lupo: “Any sign of sexual
Coroner: “There's no
vaginal tearing and there's no semen in her, so she hadn't had sex within 72
hours or she used a condom. But I did find this. A pubic hair from her upper
inner thigh. And it isn't hers.”
Bernard: “Wrong color.”
Coroner: “Wrong gender.
Find the penis it belongs to and you'll have a lead.”
(Not exactly what you might
want to hear during the Family Hour on a Friday night as you settle in to watch
television with your kids.)
Incriminating photos were
also shown of the host and a female lover, topless in bed.
The most explicit content,
however, came toward the end of the show, when detectives discover a sex tape of
the journalist and her editor. The tape depicts rough sex. The editor
strangles the journalist while he violently thrusts on top of her. The camera
angle crops just above their waists, but her knees are propped towards his
torso. She slaps him in the face, but he continues strangling her undeterred.
She doesn’t die on camera, but the video does reveal that someone else was in
the room, filming the sordid act. The cameraman turns out to be the mastermind
of the blackmail scheme and the suspected murderer of the journalist.
Now that Jay Leno is moving
back to his original 11:35 timeslot, it is to be hoped that NBC will make better
choices with its line-up. Clearly, given the graphic dialogue and violent,
sexual content, Law & Order is only suitable for broadcast later in the
evening…like maybe 12:05 a.m., right after Leno. Who knows? NBC has made worse
For graphic sexual content
Law & Order has been named the Worst TV Show of the Week.
Parents Television Council,
Clean Up TV Now, Because our children are watching, The
nation's most influential advocacy organization, Protecting
children against sex, violence and profanity in
entertainment, Parents Television Council Seal of Approval,
and Family Guide to Prime Time Television
are trademarks of the Parents Television Council.