"The T.V. Show" was bumped from its original prime-time slot to 11:30 p.m. on Channel 7 tonight because, according to ABC and writer-producer Harry J. Shearer, the program offended big business.
This may be the first case on record in which a network has tried to disguise a simple exercise of sound artistic judgment as an act of political censorship.
Frankly conceived as an effort to imitate the "irreverent" style of NBC's "Saturday Night," "The T.V. Show" is an hour-long, channel-hopping excursion through such bogus TV programs as "Bowling for Food," "The Trial of "adolf Hitler" and a telethon sponsored by the "National Fight-death Foundation," with commercial interruptions from such sponsors as Par-Tee Time Hoof Stocks, an in-between-meal snack made of "ground beef feet."
Coming from the right mouths, this material might have been crudely amusing. But it comes instead, far too often, from the mouth of Rob Reiner, whose bizarre assortment of wigs and accents never even threatens to be funny.
The item ABC is alleged to have deemed offensive to big business is a public-service-minded commercial in which a little boy, chasing a lost ball, dives into a chemical vat.
"Worried about little Billy?" asks a corporate spokesman. "Don't be. The symptoms of chemical poisoning sometimes don't show up for 15 or 20 years. In the meantime, little Billy can live a happy and productive life . . . After all, we always say, 'it's the quality of life that counts, not the quantity.'"
ABC is to be commended for trying to delay this show. But 11:30 isn't nearly late enough.