''Charmed,'' Steve Allen, and ''Good Morning America'' made the TV beat this week

By Joe Flint
October 30, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

TV IS BAD Industry pioneer Steve Allen has joined the ranks of TV bashers. The former Tonight Show host ran a full-page ad in The New York Times last week, declaring, among other things, that ”TV is leading children down a moral sewer.”

It’s hard to argue with Allen, who considers today’s content ”the filthiest” in TV history: Monica and Chandler are hopping in and out of bed on NBC’s Friends, which airs at 8 p.m. And censors are clearly asleep at the wheel when the cable channel FX decides not to edit the word a–hole out of a movie airing in the middle of a recent Saturday afternoon (Night and the City). But Allen also cites Howard Stern’s CBS raunchfest as a big — if not the biggest — small-screen offender, a show that airs very late on Saturdays, long after kids should be in bed. Allen counters that these days kids watch pretty much around the clock. Which may be true, but whose fault is that?

Allen’s heart is probably in the right place, but his tactics are dubious. In his ad, he aligned himself with the conservative watchdog group Parents Television Council, which has taken to pressuring advertisers to boycott shows it finds offensive — a tactic that has rarely proven effective. Anyone remember Terry Rakolta’s ill-fated effort to stop Fox’s Married…With Children years ago? She ended up helping to make the show an even bigger hit.

NOT-SO-GOOD MORNING How bad are Good Morning America‘s ratings? So bad even Oprah — who shares a network with the morning show — didn’t bother visiting the show to flog her new flick, Beloved. According to a source at CBS, the media titan opted instead for ABC’s competitors: the Today show and CBS This Morning. And if the latter (a long-time loser in the ratings sweepstakes) is beating you to talent, you’ve got problems.

HEX APPEAL Shannen Doherty has cast quite a spell on The WB: The network has ordered a full season’s worth of Charmed. The drama, which gave The WB its best premiere numbers for a new show ever (7.7 million viewers), held its own in week two against Fox’s Party of Five (albeit a greatest clips episode). Felicity and Hyperion Bay will also get a full season.