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Best and Worst TV Shows of the Week

Best and Worst Network TV Shows of the Week. Shows are chosen by Parents Television Council Entertainment Analysts.

February 24 - March 2, 2003

Best: My Life is a Sitcom
By Carl Monaco

Since the advent of the television sitcom, every American family, at one time or another, has exclaimed,  “Our family could be its own TV show!” Whether it is a certain quirkiness, a family full of colorful personalities, or an unusual family dynamic, all families possess some of the elements necessary for a successful situational comedy. This concept is the basis for ABC Family’s My Life is a Sitcom (Monday 8 p.m. EST).

My Life is a Sitcom is an innovative hybrid of a reality show and a sitcom, focusing on everyday American families competing to have their lives taped as a scripted show.  Families are initially taped in their own environment, performing ordinary, every-day tasks. The winning family will have a chance to star in their own sitcom, scripted by profession TV writers.

On this week’s episode, My Life is a Sitcom introduces us to the Fontaine family. A family best described as a whirling dervish of comedy and energy. The self-proclaimed “Fun-taines” are a household whose antics conjure up memories of ABC’s Just the Ten of Us because there is constant action and excitement following them.  As mundane as it sounds, there is an element of fun as we follow the Fontaines through an ordinary day of grocery shopping, kids activities, a garage sale, and a parental interrogation of the daughter’s boyfriend.  While this all seems fairly commonplace, the personalities of these people make the show exciting to watch.

Donna is an overprotective mom with a bent for using coupons and attending yard sales. Nicole is a teenager making her first dive into the dating pool. Her brother, Jimmy is an incredible ham. John is nine-years old and insists on speaking with a British accent. While Michael, another brother, is the self-anointed “eater” of the family.  Finally, there is dad, who brings a sense of calm and sensibility to the family.

It is obvious Donna and Jim love their children with all their hearts, and despite their comic eccentricities, they represent a strong model for good parenting. The PTC highly recommends this show because it promotes family unity, team work, and individual responsibility. Completely void of foul language, sexual content, or violence, this show is very appropriate for family viewing. 

 Worst: NYPD Blue
 By: Aubree Rankin

Now in its 10th season, Steven Bochco’s police drama NYPD Blue has become famous for breaking the barriers of decency on broadcast television.  Unfortunately, viewers have come to expect – and have received -- nudity, harsh language, graphic sex, and brutal violence from the series, and in that regard, the February 25th episode did not disappoint.

In the opening scene, Detective Andy Sipowicz’s young son, Theo, walks in on Sipowicz’s live-in girlfriend, Connie, as she is getting out of the shower. She is shown at full length with her bottom and left breast visible.  Instead of grabbing a towel, or simply closing the bathroom door, she turns around to the camera and Theo, with only her hands covering her breasts and groin. In a later scene, Detectives Sipowicz and Clark find Clark’s father lying dead in a chair with blood running from his mouth, the apparent result of a suicide.

In addition to these gratuitous visuals, the episode contained abundant foul language, including some of the most extreme words to be heard on broadcast television, including “bulls—t,” “prick,” and “dick.”  Later, a police informant opines: “Never marry a stripper, especially the full nude ones that give hand jobs in the back.  That is the best piece of free advice you’ll get boys.  They hate men.  Yeah, this is what I found out.  You see, because their main contact with us is while we’re tossing dollars at them while we’re staring at their muffin.  So they start to think that all men are suckers!” 

In their first season, NYPD Blue used profanity, nudity and graphic violence to gain television notoriety and build an audience interested in the envelope-pushing plots and visuals.  It is difficult to understand why -- after nine seasons -- the writers feel the need to up the ante each week.  It is a great disappointment when a show, such as NYPD Blue, provides its talented cast with strong storylines yet continues to sink into the gutter.  Instead of lowering itself to the level of its raunchy cable counterpart, The Shield, NYPD Blue should responsibly tell the stories of the many dedicated policemen and women who not only risk their lives everyday, but do their jobs honorably and with respect.  American law enforcement deserves more from NYPD Blue -- and so does the viewing public.

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