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‘Ed’ cheated with episode on adultery

SHARE ‘Ed’ cheated with episode on adultery

Last week I rhapsodized about the NBC hourlong sitcom/drama "Ed," which I still feel is, in general, one of the best hours on television . . . although, these days, that's not saying a heck of a lot.

It's a show I have tried to see each week, and I don't feel that way about too many TV programs anymore. But I haven't seen every episode, and, as it happens, I missed last week's.


Timing, as they say, is everything.

After a few pithy e-mails from readers about last week's "Ed" episode, I watched a tape someone loaned me, and now I wish I had waited before recommending the show so heartily. Granted, it was only one episode, but I found it quite disturbing, as it trivializes a serious societal problem.

The main plot, in essence, sanctions — and roots for — a guy cheating on his wife after 25 years of marriage. It's part of "24 hours of freedom" to celebrate his 50th birthday. Ed's best friend Mike calls the guy "my new hero," and says Ed would understand if he was married.

And in the end, the guy's wife, though hurt, says it's really no big deal since it was only one night during 25 years of marital faithfulness.

In truth, however, adultery is a big deal, and it has torn apart more than a few families. Whether one night or an ongoing affair, it's not something to be treated so frivolously . . . unless you're living in Hollywoodland, where changing partners is more frequent than at a square dance.

One would hope that since, in this storyline, the adulterer isn't having a one-night stand with a stranger, but with someone he sees on the job, maybe it will be continued in a future episode . . . with consequences. But who knows?

Meanwhile, this stand-alone episode leaves a bad taste, and one that lingers about the show in general.

As I wrote to a couple of e-mailers, I hate to go into yet another diatribe about sex-saturated entertainment, if only because I do it so often. The fact is that sex as a subject for movies, TV shows, etc., is so pervasive that even if you watch a network program that isn't soaked with sex, the teasers for other shows will be.

(Or the commercials. Has anyone seen the Oreos tagline, "Twist, lick and dunk with someone today"? Or the new 7-Up ad that has a guy dropping his pants — and then his underwear — on a busy downtown street? Or the automobile ad for the Chrysler Concorde, which has a mother telling her young daughter that her name, "Savannah," came from the place where she was conceived, which prompts the girl to ask about her younger sister, whose name is "Concorde" — and the camera pans across the back seat of the car! Or the "chickens don't have nuggets" ads for Carl's Jr. "Sex sells" has long been an advertising truism, but lately it seems to have been taken to a whole new level.)

Over the past couple of years, I've given up on "Frasier," "Dharma & Greg," "The Practice" and other shows I once enjoyed regularly. Even "Everybody Loves Raymond" has had more sex-oriented episodes this year than we've come to expect.

Aside from a couple of sci-fi/fantasy guilty-pleasures ("Enterprise," "Smallville"), the only show I make any effort to catch these days is "24," which I find quite gripping and intelligent. (Except when people were using cell phones in a hospital; have the people who make this show ever been in a hospital?)

My TV-watching is dwindling.

Not that that's a bad thing. Where's that book I was reading?

PEGGY LEE died earlier this week — one of the great smokey torch singers. She wrote much of her own material and became a star in 1941, with Benny Goodman's band.

Best-remembered for the hot-blooded "Fever" (1958) and the cynically amusing "Is that All There Is" (1969), she also helped make Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" (1955) a hit, writing songs and providing character voices for the film.

Lee was hailed this week by Andre Previn as second only to Billie Holiday in her sense of rhythm, her interpretation of slow ballads and her passionate ability to swing. "And when she sang a song of unrequited love," Previn told the Boston Globe, "she really got to you."

Like Julie London, whom we lost last year, Lee knew how to sing songs with sharp phrasing, memorable melodies, and which often had something to say.

Madonna and Mariah Carey? Who're they?

E-mail: hicks@desnews.com