In fear of a reactionary Federal Communications Commission, Sally Fields' war words, as part of her Emmy acceptance speech on Sunday night, were eliminated. We knew something happened -- especially when Fox gave us an abrupt shot from the view of the Shrine Auditorium's ceiling.
Nice chandelier, by the way.
We all knew where this was headed the nanosecond after one of Janet Jackson's breasts made an unscheduled appearance at the 50-yard line during the Super Bowl a few years back. Now with higher fines for bad TV stuff, TV executives are crazy nervous -- even if CBS wins its ongoing court battle against the FCC for Jackson's stunt.
Here's where the weirdness comes in: At the same time this is going on, many critics will talk your ear off, telling you we are in the middle of the golden age of TV -- what with all the really good dramas on the air.
Others say no way. Storylines really aren't all that good. With seemingly shocking sex and violence talk and images, this is still a time to yawn.
TV seems to be offering us some prurient images as a bad front for edgy, unique programming. Weirdly, though, it turns out to be tame -- except for that housewife on Showtime who sells pot.
Here's the good news: With or without the strong language -- or outright profanity -- these Emmys are destined to be one of the lowest-rated in history. What does that say? That people are apathetic -- even in the face of real words from big-time actors.
The network hit the chandelier button three times Sunday night. The first was when Ray Romano joked about Kelsey Grammer sleeping with his stage wife -- referencing Patricia Heaton and her new show with Grammer, "Back to You".
Even "Katherine Heigl's "oh shit" when her award was announced was at worst a "fleeting expletive" -- said during an impromptu moment.
It wasn't said in a mean way. It wasn't calling for the troops to return from war, or for the U.S. president to be fired, or for sugar to be removed from Frosted Flakes.
Next year the TV academy should just give out the awards in almost total silence: no words, perhaps a pantomime. Then, like fish in a fish bowl, just listen for the bubbles. You could be thanked.
If you are unsure, call the FCC for a ruling.