“FOUR CORNERS” WAS NO “NOTHING SACRED”
Catalyst April Issue 1998
The CBS show, “Four Corners,” was cut after just two shows. The drama featured a Catholic priest who was pursued by an attractive young woman.
In its debut, “Four Corners” ranked 65th in program households for the week of Feb. 23-March 1, posting a modest 6.9/11 ratings/share split; the second show lost 45% of its audience from the week before. In contrast, the ABC show, “Nothing Sacred,” which features a dissenting priest who doubts the existence of God, has averaged 107th place in the rankings. Moreover, in 13 of its first 14 episodes (the lone exception being its much-hyped debut), “Nothing” pulled much smaller audiences than “Four Corners” did, yet it survives.
The league compared the two shows in a news release:
“Some were surprised that the Catholic League didn’t complain about ‘Four Corners,’ and no one was more astonished than Los Angeles Times critic, Howard Rosenberg. But these critics miss the point: we never criticized ‘Four Corners’ because, unlike ‘Nothing Sacred,’ there was nothing offensive about it.
“That in the CBS show Father Tomas was the subject of sexual advances is of no consequence; he resisted all of them and was never portrayed in a manner that denigrated his role as a priest. For the same reason, the Catholic League never criticized Father Ray for being tempted by an old flame. Our singular criticism of ‘Nothing Sacred’ has been that it is pure propaganda for those who want to put a positive spin on dissenting priests and a negative spin on those who are loyal to the Church.
“It seems plain that ‘Four Corners’ and ‘Nothing Sacred’ have failed because they exploit Catholic themes without satisfying the hunger that viewers have for religious-based drama programs. The remaining difference is that ABC has an agenda and CBS does not. But it’s only a matter of time before ‘Nothing Sacred’ gets kicked in the can.”