"If your naughty little boys have to write dirty words on the walls, please don't use our walls."
That's what Donald Perris, the station manager of Cleveland's WEWS, said in a telegram to then ABC president Elton Rule as he watched the first episode of Turn-On, an experimental social-commentary/comedy show directed by the creator of Laugh-In. Perris told Rule that he was dropping the show from his station.
After receiving a deluge of complaints from people who were incensed that the filthy and subversive Turn-On, with its bizarre lack of a soundtrack or host, electronic music soundtrack, computer graphic interstitials, and split-screen scenes had replaced their beloved series Peyton Place, ABC canceled the show immediately.
A few weeks ago, the first and only episode of Turn-On, complete with commercials, was uploaded to YouTube. Ernie Smith of Tedium offered a terrific critique of the show, explaining why the Laugh-In-meets-McLuhan show failed at the starting gate.
While Laugh-In was one of the earliest shows to feature diversity in its ensemble cast (notably introducing audiences to Flip Wilson), Turn-On attempted to push the envelope a bit further on the front, including Asian-American and Hispanic actors as well as multiple black cast members.
While Laugh-In had jokes about sex, Turn-On turned it into something of a pet topic, approaching it from multiple directions. (One of the most infamous sketches, starring the very cartoonish character actor Robert Staats in his E. Eddie Edwards persona, features the character talking foot fetishes.)