Sunday, January 27, 2008

Naked came the nude

Always nice to see our government operating in a timely manner. Five years after the fact, the FCC has issued a $1.4 million fine against a bunch of ABC affiliates in the Central and Mountain time zones for a February '03 episode of "NYPD Blue" that opened with a scene of Charlotte Ross' character being caught naked in the bathroom by Sipowicz's little boy Theo. (You can find slightly more graphic pictures here, or read Amanda Wilson's review at my old "NYPD Blue" site.)

Leaving aside how long it took for the FCC to get around to this one (bureaucracy in action!), I've gotta agree with ABC's defense (quoted from the B&C article):
"NYPD Blue, which aired on ABC from 1993-2005, was an Emmy Award-winning drama, broadcast with appropriate parental warnings, as well as V-chip-enabled program ratings from the time such ratings were implemented," ABC said Friday in a statement.

"When the brief scene in question was telecast almost five years ago, this critically acclaimed drama had been on the air for a decade and the realistic nature of its story lines was well known to the viewing public," the network added.
This was arguably the most skin ever featured on the show (though anybody who wants to offer a counter example from the Delaney or Brenneman days, I can be persuaded), but it was also an episode from late in the 10th season. Anyone who didn't know what "NYPD Blue" was about by that point had probably just purchased their very first television set the day before.

22 comments:

Millie said...

I am sure that there were more than a few people who were upset when it first aired (though didn't the show give advance warning?) but honestly, was anyone still upset by this? I mean, I had totally forgotten about this.

jcpbmg said...

Granted I was a little too young for NYPD Blue when it first came on (and watched little prime time pre nipplegate), but I just don't understand how this show was allowed to have as much nudity as it did. Between this and all of the early ass shots, how did this show get away with it. I know it was pre-nipplegate and I know it aired at 10pm, but still, how did this fly with Standards and the FCC, let alone ABC?

Elwood said...

I was trying to figure out what they had covering Connie's nipples there, until I realized that those were Austin Majors' ears. That kid had some big ears.

That being said...5 years later? FCC that bored?

jim treacher said...

How good must Charlotte Ross feel right now? She's got a million-dollar ass!

I seem to remember Sharon Lawrence and Kim Delaney showed their tushes as well. (Lawrence's was nicer.) Pretty much everybody did on that show at one point, didn't they?

Jenn said...

I think the only one that didn't show his ass was Rick Schroeder. Can't remember if MPG did either. I remember this episode - I laughed and laughed. I don't even remember it being as explicit as the photos show. I just felt Connie's pain, never even considered being offended. The "nudity" was part of the show, for better or for worse, as well as the swearing and racier storylines. The FCC must be bored by the lack of new programming and watching old DVDs or something.

Toby said...

Did they ever fine the show for the display of Dennis Franz' ass? There's the obscenity! LOL

LA said...

Alan - Any comment on the DGAs? Two of your favorites (and mine) scored.

http://www.imdb.com/features/rto/2008/dgas

electricia said...

Amusingly, this is the ONLY episode of NYPD Blue that I ever watched - I was bored, it was on when i was channel surfing, so I decided to see what all the hype was about. I didn't realize there would be any nudity, I just wanted to see the show. After that scene, and after having heard so much hype about Dennis Franz's behind, I just assumed there was nudity in most episodes. I didn't know there was anything unusual about this one.

I agree that the FCC is bored with strike TV and watching old DVDs.

olucy said...

Did they ever fine the show for the display of Dennis Franz' ass? There's the obscenity! LOL,

Aw, Toby beat me to it.

SJ said...

F*** censorship!

Undercover Black Man said...

If I remember right, "Blue" was also using the word "bullshit" in dialogue in those last years. They just didn't give a damn. (Or else just wanted to gin up some press attention.)

It's the kid's ears that make that screencap dirty, Alan. I had to do a triple-take before I realized those were not aureolas.

Nicole said...

I don't understand why it's worse if it is a woman who is showing her ass versus any of the men. Sounds kinda sexist to me, but what do I expect from a puritanical censorship board?

Zac said...

Nicole,

That's because showing a woman's ass is seen as sexual whereas showing a guy's ass is seen as funny. It shouldn't be seen that way, but unfortunately, it is.

Alan Sepinwall said...

That's because showing a woman's ass is seen as sexual whereas showing a guy's ass is seen as funny. It shouldn't be seen that way, but unfortunately, it is.

Depends on which guy's ass it is, I think. Dennis Franz's butt (and even Caruso's) is kind of funny, but I know a lot of women watching during the Bobby Simone era enjoyed their occasional glimpses of Jimmy Smits' tush.

And what makes this Charlotte Ross scene more skinful than some of the others isn't just that you see her from behind, but also from the side, and from the front, with her limbs just barely covering up the parts that Standards and Practices wouldn't let them show.

Alan Sepinwall said...

but I just don't understand how this show was allowed to have as much nudity as it did. Between this and all of the early ass shots, how did this show get away with it. I know it was pre-nipplegate and I know it aired at 10pm, but still, how did this fly with Standards and the FCC, let alone ABC?

You answered your own question with the part I bolded.

"Blue" debuted in the early '90s, at a time when all the networks were terrified of losing audience to cable in general and HBO in particular, and so ABC gave Steven Bochco a lot of leeway, which expanded once the show became a critical and commercial success. Up until Nipplegate, they were gradually expanding the limits of what they could show and say, and had recently been given a "two 'bullshit's per episode" allowance. (No, I am not making that up.) Because it aired after 10 p.m.(*), they were able to get away with it. After Justin tore off Janet's shirt, no more.

(*)It aired at 10 in the Eastern and Pacific time zones; the FCC is only fining ABC affiliates from Central and Mountain, because they aired it at 9.

Bix said...

It's worth noting that:

- The original choice was "horseshit," but ABC vetoed it because it's more literal (giving viewers mental images of horse poop) than "bullshit," which had become more common as a slang term. Seriously.

- ABC cut post-nipplegate nudity heavily, resulting in Esai Morales speaking out against the show when he left because his ass was cut out of his farewell and Gordon Clapp's first nude scene (played for laughs) being edited to shreds.

Tony Dayoub said...

Just goes to show how our country is regressing in its standards of decency.

Think the original Planet Of The Apes could still get a G RATING with its generous helping of male nudity? Or that Logan's Run would still get a PG RATING with it's sexual innuendo and Jenny Agutter's frequent nudity?

Meanwhile, I just caught Rambo today and can't believe that movie only got an R with its copious amounts of gore and violence. Don't get me wrong. Unlike other critics, I think Stallone was making a point in this one that he didn't in the others.

But obviously today's censors are puritanical concerning sex while giving a lot more leeway to violence when it comes to art.

Didn't I hear of an American that wanted to cover Michelangelo's David's genitals with a fig leaf because it offended the public?

Ken said...

the FCC is only fining ABC affiliates from Central and Mountain, because they aired it at 9

That seems like such an obvious trap, and I wonder how (a) they can continue to get away with it; and (b) the people in those time zones feel about being infantilized.

Bix said...

Oh, I forgot something from one of the articles.

The term "full dorsal nudity" was used.

DORSAL.

roy said...

Although the words "bullshit" and "horseshit" were allowed on the show, the word "shit" never was

paul b. said...

"Funny thing is, if Levy found out, he *might* even be somewhat sanguine about it, given his view of Marlo having a cell in the first place."

Just when I thought Levy couldn't get any more crooked when he gives his latest advice to Marlo, he reminds us whose best interests he really has in mind when he not only leaves out one important tip (re: cell phone use), but actually expresses pleasure that Marlo is being careless because it will result in more billing hours for him.

I guess a defense attorney isn't much of a businessman if he is too good at helping his clients avoid prosecution.

paul b. said...

Oops, that last post was meant to be in the discussion for The Wire Episode 5. On-demand section, specifically. Sorry Alan.