Boundary-pushing Bochco will explore ''Marriage'' for HBO. The veteran TV producer will get to loosen his shackles on cable with a show set in a couple's bedroom

After years of courting controversy on network TV with the content of shows like ”NYPD Blue,” producer Steven Bochco is heading to a place where he’ll get carte blanche: HBO. Variety reports that he and his ”Philly” co-creator Alison Cross are planning a drama called ”Marriage,” which promises to be an intimate look at a married couple, since the series will take place almost entirely in the pair’s bedroom.

The series, which will debut with a 13-episode season in 2004, will certainly save money on sets, since every scene will be shot in the bedroom, bathroom, or closet of the New York apartment of a husband and wife who are coming to a crossroads after five years of marriage. Other characters will be shown only when they visit those rooms. ”If you purposely frame the action of your story inside the confines of that limited space, it really forces an intimate, sometimes intense, very honest relationship to play out,” Bochco tells Variety. ”It’s almost voyeuristic.” Almost?

Not surprisingly, the yet-to-be-cast ”Marriage” will feature ”pretty frank” language and nudity, Bochco tells the New York Daily News. Of course, he’s been chafing to show more such content for years on ”NYPD Blue,” which pushed the envelope on language and nudity when it debuted on ABC in 1993. His argument has been that network series need to be more adult in order to be on the same playing field as the premium cable shows. ”You don’t want to beat them, you just want to compete with them,” he tells the Daily News. ”We’ve got to compete with what they do and what their freedoms are.”

In fact, ”NYPD Blue” keeps pushing those limits, even in its 10th year. This fall, the word ”bulls—” has crept into the dialogue a number of times, to only a handful of viewer complaints, according to the Los Angeles Times. ”The landscape has so changed people don’t even notice it,” Bochco told the Times last week. ”If you didn’t write anything about it, I guarantee you, no one would say, ‘Boo.”’ ABC may not be ”Marriage” material yet, but it’s getting there.