Sunday, December 25, 2005


From the Vault: ABC charged with criminal negligence


WASHINGTON (BS) — As ABC prepares to broadcast the third-to-last episode of Twin Peaks tonight, a federal grand jury has indicted the network and its parent company, Capital Cities communications Inc., for crimes against humanity and criminal negligence.

The first charge relates to the seemingly endless stream of idiotic and banal programming the network has unleashed on the public over the years. The second charge accuses the network of negligent treatment of several of its series and conspiring to bring about the programs' premature demise. Because of the statute of limitations, ABC only is criminally liable for series and events that have occurred since 1974.

U.S. Attorney Anthony De Medici believes the government has an iron-clad case.

"With the sitcoms and Aaron Spelling and the obviously criminal mistreatment of Twin Peaks, China Beach, Soap and Anything But Love, there is no doubt in my mind that we will convict," De Medici said.

If convicted, the network could be dissolved. The Fox network already has offered to buy its assets, should Capital Cities be forced to break ABC apart. De Medici indicated that no charges were brought against ABC pertaining to Moonlighting since, "it is fairly evident that the stars and makers of that show killed it, not the network."

De Medici said that there still could be indictments against Bob Saget and Dave Coulier as criminal co-conspirators pertaining to their roles on Full House and as hosts of America's Funniest Home Videos and America's Funniest People, respectively.

The grand jury was called in the wake of last week's decision to pull Twin Peaks off the air with only two original episodes left to air. The ratings for the show had declined steadily in its second season once ABC exiled the series to the dead zone of Saturday night. Demographically, the Twin Peaks audience is younger and tends to go out on Saturday nights.

Despite knowing early in the season that Saturdays were a bad idea, ABC kept the program languishing there while the ratings declined. After 16 episodes, Twin Peaks was yanked abruptly for six weeks before returning for its final six episodes in the killer 8 p.m. Thursday time slot opposite Cheers, the No. 1 show on television.

Last week, ABC announced that following tonight's airing of the fourth of the remaining six episodes, Twin Peaks would again go on hiatus with the final two episodes airing together June 10.

"It is ridiculous. They've screwed the show over. Granted, the ratings sank but with all the weeks it wasn't on, even the fans lost interest," said Robert Owlsby of Missoula, Mont.

Owlsby added that even if anyone watches the final two episodes when they air two months from now, the series will end with a cliffhanger that likely will go unresolved.

"Just give it an ending, a resolution. That's all I ask, Mr. Iger," Owlsby said, addressing Bob Iger, president of ABC Entertainment. "It's your move, Bob." Owlsby then vanished in a bright light.

De Medici also intends to bring up the network's mishandling of the comedy Soap, which aired from 1977-1981. The series was canceled with Jessica before a firing squad, Burt walking into an ambush, Jodie believing he was an old Jewish man and Chester about to kill Danny and Annie.

One of the government's witnesses, Billy Tate, was 18 when Soap was canceled.

"I've been in limbo for the past 10 years. I want to be 28. My cousin has gone from Chachi to Charles, but I'm still in this syndicated alternate plane waiting to age and get new parts," Tate said.

De Medici presented a document that showed part of the evidence against ABC. "The list of offenses is long and damaging, crimes against humanity that will be extremely hard to defend," he said.

The evidence includes: Who's the Boss?, America's Funniest Home Videos, America's Funniest People, Foul Ups, Bleeps and Blunders, That's Incredible, way too damn many Aaron Spelling series, Charlie's Angels, Three's Company/Three's a Crowd, Growing Pains, Full House, Perfect Strangers, Starsky and Hutch, Baby Talk, Hart to Hart and SWAT.

De Medici said that, in addition to the entertainment testimony, the most damning evidence will involve the news division as well which encouraged local affiliates in the 1970s to use "happy talk" on their local newscasts and began the downward spiral of television as a reliable source for actual news.

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