Offending the Morons

No, I’m not talking about the Colonial Fan Force again. This is a true story that I’ve told here before (so this is like a blog rerun — only I don’t get any residuals).

I was working on Murphy’s Law,
a light-hearted detective series starring George Segal as an insurance
investigator when I got this call from the network censor with notes on
our script:

“You’ve got one of your characters calling another character a moron,” the censor said.

“Yeah, so?”

“You can’t do that,” he said. “We’ve approved ‘dolt,’‘dummy’ or ‘dink,’ as acceptable alternatives.”

“What’s wrong with calling somebody a moron?”

“You’ll offend all the morons in the audience,” he said.

I thought he was joking.

He wasn’t.

So I said, “Don’t worry, all the morons in the audience are watching Hunter.’”

Three months later, Murphy’s Law was cancelled… and I got a job on Hunter

8 thoughts on “Offending the Morons”

  1. …officially, they were based on the TRACE novels but, as we Murphy fans know, Trace was actually a reworking of DIGGER.

  2. Please tell me you weren’t responsible for the butchery that turned a great series of books into a sub-mediocre TV show. Two examples: Trace loved to drink; Murphy was a recovering alcoholic. Trace hated his ex-wife and kids; Murphy pined for his estranged children. From what you said about morons, it sounds like the producer or network guy was guilty. And a moron.

  3. The person responsible for the changes was Lee David Zlotoff, creator of MacGyver. He also changed Trace’s name to Daedalus Patrick Murphy. Zlotoff left after the pilot and Michael Gleason came on as showrunner. Michael hired Ernie Wallengren as supervising producer and Bill Rabkin & me as staff writers (that was the whole writing staff). Bill and I wrote six of the thirteen episodes. It was our first staff job and it spoiled us.


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