Fox In Prime-Time: Radioactive

There's one extra reason to be excited about watching the World Series between teams that have never or rarely made it to the top. It means that Fox's prime-time lineup will go on hiatus for four to seven nights, which is one quick and easy temporary way to clean up network television.

Fox TV is radioactive, and every parent should be reluctant to point their remote control toward their local Fox station with children in the room. When the Parents Television Council compiled its list of the Top Ten Worst Shows in prime-time, Fox "distinguished" itself by filling six of the ten toxic spots.

Topping the list is most of Fox's Sunday night lineup, especially the new sitcom "The War At Home." The first episode opened with Dave introducing viewers to his wife, Vicky, then saying, "Did you check out that rack? Nice, huh?" Of his daughter, viewers learn, "I only have one simple rule for dating my teenage daughter: if she sees your penis, I'll cut it off." It goes downhill from there. An early episode this season had Dave buying his teenage son a lubricant because he was making himself sore from masturbating too often. Another show had the plot of everyone in the family (including Grandma) either smoking pot, buying pot, or looking for their missing pot.

Hollywood thinks a positive family show is a sweet and treacly twisting of reality. Their reflexive reply is to make families that are ridiculously below the average family reality.

Fox's Sunday night is also marred by Seth MacFarlane's cartoons, "The Family Guy" and its weak carbon copy "American Dad," which are new shows, at least in this calendar year. Sickening cartoons are especially offensive, since they are more likely to attract young viewers. Since its return in May, "Family Guy" is the highest ranked show among 12-17 year olds, and the fifth-highest ranked show among children ages 2 to 11.

One episode this season featured teenaged daughter Meg being deflowered by comedian Jimmy Fallon on "Saturday Night Live." This show's lack of any dignity whatsoever is proven by a parody of the classic children's tale of Pinocchio in which Geppetto bends over with his buttocks in front of Pinocchio's nose, then tries to get Pinocchio to lie, so that his nose will grow and, viewers are led to conclude, penetrate his anus.

In the first episode of the new season of the "American Dad"cartoon, the title character Stan's rebellious teenaged daughter Hayley began a sexual affair with Stan's boss. Stan happily overlooked the improper relationship because he was in line for a promotion.

Another episode, titled "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man," had a church-mocking plot where Stan competes with a neighbor to be elected deacon of his church, and then because of an incredibly strange sideplot about his supposedly pregnant son, he decides to resign from the post of deacon and puts on an elaborate show of pretending to be demonically possessed at church, which culminates with him vomiting in his vestments on the altar in front of the crucifix. It's bad taste on such a steroid binge that the show ought to be deceased by now.

Ron Howard, once the delight of family television as Opie and Richie Cunningham, is the narrator of the appropriately titled dysfunctional comedy "Arrested Development." Not only is it stuffed with curse words that have to be bleeped out, the show also employs some of the most outrageous double-entendres ever to find their way into prime time. In one episode, for example, one character says he was an analyst and a therapist, making him the first "analrapist." Other episodes have delved into the bizarre sexual proclivities of the main characters, such as Grandpa and Grandma's revelation that they derive sexual pleasure from being strangled with a belt.

One episode last spring featured a minister's wife throwing herself at Jason Bateman's lead character, begging, "Take me into your secular world." She rubs her body against his and tells him that she wants to "please him secularly." Later in the show, her teen daughter tells his teen son, "teach me the ways of the secular flesh."

Rounding out the list of worst shows on Fox are the teen drama "The O.C." and the rapidly aging "That '70s Show," which clearly ran out of its decade about three years ago. Fox does have two shows on the Best Shows list, as families love the talent show "American Idol" and "Bernie Mac" plays the cranky but functional dad to his sister's children.

But with Fox TV, you have to take your joys in the shows that won't air rather than the ones which do. So raise a glass to the World Series, and crack a smile at the thought of Paris Hilton having one less vapid TV spotlight.