Send in the clods. . . .

May is one of those ratings sweeps months that is critical in helping set local advertising rates. Hence, it’s a time of the year when local TV news is especially funny.

The networks do plenty of mugging themselves by deploying blockbuster programs that they publicize on their morning news shows in segments disguised as news interviews.

It’s the locals, though, that provide the biggest clown shows.


Some local stations also use the ploy of promoting entertainment schedules under the guise of presenting news. Hence, KNBC critic David Sheehan was on the air Monday interviewing Mark Harmon, star of NBC’s “The Deliberate Stranger,” which was in a tough ratings fight that night against against ABC’s blockbuster “North and South, Book II.”

What a coup for KNBC, getting an NBC star to consent to an interview on an NBC-owned station to promote an NBC program.

In self-defense, therefore, ABC-owned KABC’s “Eyewitness News” was forced to utter a few words on behalf of “North and South, Book II.” A station has a duty to defend itself.

Honoring its own ratings sweeps tradition, KABC’s 11 p.m. Monday news featured an interview with “Book II” performer Olivia De Havilland, which it advertised in a news break during that evening’s episode of “Book II.”

The reporter for this brutally probing piece at 11 was Larry Carroll, who announced that the movie classic “Gone With the Wind” was “unrivaled until now.” What a great kidder he is.

De Havilland, who appeared in “Gone With the Wind,” was shown appearing briefly in “Book II.” Then she revealed that Jan. 13 was the date on which “Book II” began production and “Gone With the Wind” completed major casting.

“Isn’t that strange?” De Havilland asked.

“And wonderful,” Carroll boldly added. That devil.

Next night, he would be just as merciless in pressing Jimmy Stewart about his cameo appearance in “Book II.” And with “Book II” lasting through Friday, there was still more ground to be covered later in the week.

Dynamite! Even more head-turning, though, are those spectacular minidocs that are the soul of local news during ratings sweeps months.

That means it’s time again for KABC’s William Rader. “SEXUAL ATTRACTION,” the newspaper ad shouted. “Every body loves some body sometime,” it continued. “Find out what revs up your sex drive and turns on your neighbors. All this week with Dr. William Rader.”

And there he was Monday night, Dr. Sex himself, with that special gleam in his eye, revealing that women sometimes wear perfume to be sexually attractive and that sexual attraction occurs between both lovers and non-lovers.

He was saving the best until last, however. “What happens when you’re attracted to another person?” asked Rader, ever the scholar. The answer? “We get sweaty palms, a pounding heart and an inability to catch our breath.” Mmmmm, profound.

Also strange and wonderful.

Local news minidocs are truly challenging. In the competitive rush, however, some critical topics have been overlooked. Some suggestions:

-- Dr. William Rader and Lust . Every body loves some body sometime. Find out what revs up Dr. William Rader’s sex drive and turns on his neighbors. All this week, he examines himself, using charts.

-- Breathing. What happens when you stop.

-- Loose Shoes. Tie them, sure, but don’t try it if you don’t have laces.

-- Sex After Death. Is it possible? If not, why not?

-- You and Your Pencil . For dark, use a soft lead. For light, use a hard lead. And remember, don’t oversharpen or your lead will break. All this week, Hollywood stars share their pencil tips.

-- Dirt . We take it for granted, but when it gets into food, uh oh.

-- Boa Blues . Tried to dress your pet boa constrictor lately? Well, you can’t, because even in Los Angeles, the nation’s most daring city, there are No Boa Clothes. All this week, we’ll tell you why.

-- Odd Couple . John Foster Dulles and Oliver Hardy never met, but if they had, oh boy! One so somber and conservative, the other so fat and goofy. Did they have anything in common? If not, why not? Some surprises, all this week.

-- Come Blow Your . . . Nose . But not on your friends. All this week, we talk to bathing beauties whose friends have blown their noses on them .

-- Lottery Eatery . Turn in your California Lottery tickets for cash. Rip them up or throw them away. But never, never eat them. Tune in and we’ll tell you why.

-- Baseball Quiz . Do you know the difference between a baseball and a coronation ball? If not, you may be an idiot. Watch this week and find out.

-- Young People . Why are they young?

-- Furniture Turn-Ons ! All this week, L.A. men who are sexually attracted to their own furniture.

-- Take a Chance ! Don’t be such a fuddy-duddy. For once, carpet under your floor. Make a sandwich without bread. Wear your underwear outside your clothes. Carpet your floor with your underwear. These and other exciting life - style ideas, all this week.

-- Names . Did you know that people call you “shorty” because you’re short? Tune in this week and discover the meanings of nicknames.

-- Minidocs. Are they as banal as they seem? Are you wasting your time watching them? Tune in all this week to find out.