Re "Do Families Matter?" (Oct. 15):
It's not what is on TV that bothers me (though it's pretty bad) as much as the passivity and uninvolvement it engenders. I've devised my own solution--call it "L.A. Unplugged."
That's right. Unplug the monster and then wait for the weeping and wailing from spouse and child. First surprise: a very brief period of adjustment, followed by child actually playing with roomful of toys, husband actually listening and responding to conversation.
Second surprise: Six months later, we are still unplugged. When asked by friends, "Where's your TV?" child answers, "We do , we don't watch." Mother's heart swells with pride.
Try it--you'll be surprised, too.
Your interviews with four families on the state of "family television" evenings from 8 to 9 each evening confirmed what my wife and I have been feeling for some time. Violence is limited, but sexual situations abound. One additional observation is that promotions and advertisements for "adult" shows later in the evening spill over into the family hour. Even safe shows like "America's Funniest Home Videos" can be interrupted by titillating promos for shows later that evening. My wife and I would like to see networks and independent stations think about the time they run their promos.
Easy solution to unnecessary "problem": Turn the TV off. After noticing an actual behavioral change in our children after they watched "Married . . . With Children" a few times, we decided that commercial TV would no longer be allowed in our home, except for a few cartoons. No one misses it, no one cares.
Family hour is, in many cases, the only time today's harassed families have together. Why is the bilge on TV allowed in anyone's home at all, much less to dominate and create even more stress? Buy a board game. Talk. Sing. Read. Take a bubble bath. Draw. Discuss the day. Watch a parent-approved video, or turn on the record player. Do anything, but don't waste that precious time on trash.
BARBARA R. LAFFAN
Because I co-starred on "Thunder Alley," one of the canceled shows from the now-defunct "family hour" of network television, I am perhaps open to charges of bias in my opposition to its "defunctness."
I am opposed to the sacrifice of the younger (and older) audience on the altar of market share. But I have made my living in television for many years, and I do not fool myself that it is not primarily a marketplace, subservient to the demands of the market. I don't even mind that fact. But I believe that the networks fail to see not only the ethical and cultural problems inherent in ignoring the young family audience, but the market problems as well.
When network executives tell of their own children watching family shows in syndication or on off-network cable channels, they are getting a glimpse of the 18-to-49-year-old non-network demographic of the future. When I was a kid, ABC, CBS and NBC were the fun networks; independents and cable were where the dull or embarrassing grown-up shows were. Today that situation is reversing and, for better or for worse, I'd bet that today's and tomorrow's kids will form their viewing habits somewhere other than on the networks. And who's going to own the precious 18-to-49s then?