"The Fruit Fucker made his prime-time television debut last Monday. Our friend Wil Wheaton was on Big Bang Theory sporting the FF shirt. I'd love to know what he told people when they asked him what was on his shirt. I'm guessing it wasn't "a fruit rapist"."
Prior to the late 1960s, there were very few (if any) network TV shows that got away with even the mildest of profanities. Even "hell" and "damn" would be bleeped if included in news reports, while scripts rarely (if ever) had those words. The only times "hell," "damn" and "ass" were allowed on TV were in religious contexts (such as, on a locally-produced TV program where a lay reader is quoting directly from the Bible, or a charismatic preacher referencing Hell in his sermon).
While Mork and Mindy (or rather, its star) may be the Trope Namer, Getting Crap Past the Radar has been going on ever since the beginning of television and is unlikely to stop as long as the censors are around, writers willing to mock them by letting the crap slip by them, and viewers who notice and put the instances on this website.
Everybody Loves Raymond: the whole extended sequence between Debra and Marie concerning a big fork and spoon as the underlying casus belli of a marital argument. The phrase is repeated, completely deadpan, at least twelve times.
Marie: ''Don't let a suitcase full of cheese become your big fork and spoon, dear.
In the Stealth PilotHappy Days episode, it is established that Orkans sit down by putting their faces on the couch or chair. This is referred to as "Sitting on my face!" several times
"Mork vs. the Necrotons":
In one scene, Mork is hiding inside the couch. When Mindy sits down on it he explodes out of it with the line, "I can sit on my face but I don't think you can!"
And for a visual example from that same episode, see the above picture. Hell, the censors must have been on vacation for that episode. It was so blatant, it even made Robin Williams, our beloved Trope Namer, uncomfortable.
A good example of the "bland script/prurient execution" method was a single line in one early episode: "Wait 'til you see my end table." As always, context is king — immediately before this line, Mork has just shown her a stool shaped like a giant foot, and had predictably identified it as his "foot stool".
Another example is near the beginning of the series. When Mindy is explaining different types of love to Mork, she mentions her dad and says, "The kind of love a father has for his daughter." Mork responds, "I understand all about that - I read Lolita."
And then there was Mindy's landlord. his name went unremarked in America but Robin Williams, who grew up for part of his youth in Scotland, knew exactly why it made parents in Britain choke on their Sunday evening tea. The rest of the cast must have been in on the joke, as all involved placed extra stresses on the name Mr Wanker whenever it came up in the script.
Firefly got a lot of profanity past the radar by simply translating it into poorly-rendered Chinese. Many of the phrases, when translated back to English, are actually quite funny, i.e. "Shove all the planets in the Universe up my ass!". The harshest Chinese swear, oddly enough, came from Shepherd Book, who referred to an organized crime group as "filthy cattle-fuckers".
Teen Wolf: Out bowling, Lydia bowls a perfect frame, after a game of lackluster throws. Allison tells her she should stop sucking for Jackson's benefit.
Lydia: "Believe me, I do 'plenty' of sucking for his benefit."
Another instance in the second episode, again with Lydia when she was talking to Scott about him not playing.
Lydia: " I prefer my boyfriend to be at PEAK performance."
In the season 2 opener, Stiles and Scott try to persuade Jackson to help them search for a missing Lydia who they believe is becoming a werewolf. Jackson tells them to worry about the search party instead.
Jackson: "You've got this all backwards Mc Call. When I was with Lydia, you should've seen the scratch marks she left on ME."
In the eleventh episode of season 2, when Coach Finstock is finally going to let Stiles into a lacrosse game.
Stiles: "I'm playing? On the field? With the team?"
Finstock: "Yes! Unless you'd rather play with yourself!"
Stiles: " I already did that today. Twice."
There will probably be a lot more of these as the censors don't seem to mind showing teenagers with active sex lives.
During its NBC network run in prime time, The Gong Show gave a classic, if unintentional example. A skit originally titled "Have You Got a Nickel?" featured two 17-year-old girls in cutoff shorts sat cross-legged on stage, provocatively sucking and licking Popsicles, without music. Celebrity judges Phyllis Diller and Jamie Farr didn't get the joke — Diller gave the act a zero, and Farr scored it a 2; however, Jaye P. Morgan awarded the pair a perfect 10, and inserted her own questionable comment: "You know, that's the way I started." The ultimate punchline was that the act was a case of reverse psychology - it was a non-competitive act (in other words, not eligible for the weekly prize money) intended to be a blatant homage to fellatio, with host-creator-executive producer Chuck Barris hoping that NBC's Standards and Practices executives would be more likely to allow the borderline acts that he actually wanted on the show. Not only did S&P not catch it when aired in the Eastern/Central time zones, the segment was abruptly censored elsewhere. The show was canceled shortly after the "Popsicle Twins" incident, and although the official explanation at NBC has been low ratings and a desire to bring a daytime talk-variety show to the time spot occupied by Gong, some have suggested that Barris' refusal to tone down his acts was the deciding (if not only) factor.
The Newlywed Game could not use the term "make love" so "make whoopee" was coined instead as a way of getting around the network censors (the show premiered on ABC).
Match Game The CBS version built its reputation on seeing how much they could get away with. The most frequent example comes with questions that involved a female and a pluralized blank, leading at least one member of the panel (but far more often, most of the six celebs) to respond "boobs."
Monty Python's Flying Circus has topless women appear uncensored many, many times. Add to that all the dirty jokes. But in one of Terry Gilliam's animations, the word "cancer" was considered too offensive and was, rather obviously (the narrator's voice changes dramatically) changed to "gangrene".
Interestingly, they did not remove Smoke-Too-Much's racial epithets (the "tiny emaciated epithet" and the "epithet waiter named Manuel").
In the TV version, they also did this in the Travel Agency sketch. Mr. Smoke-Too-Much is pathologically unable to say the letter "C", replacing it with "B". When the travel agent points out that he could just substitute "K" for the "C" in those words, Smoke-Too-Much muses to himself, "What a silly bunt." You can work out yourselves.
There were complaints afterward. The BBC responded by editing the punchline out of the master recordings, so it's nowhere to be found on the DVD release. The punchline was put back into the sketch on Monty Python's Previous Record and was used in live show, as heard in Live at the Hollywood Bowl.
The following exchange from episode 35 probably only got past because the audience's laughter obscured it so much:
Mr. Robinson: Come in. Mr. Cheap-Laugh: No! Just breathing heavily!
At the end of the "Crackpot Religions" sketch there was an animated sequence roughly 30 seconds long featuring, among other things, Jesus crucified to a telephone pole, but the censors cut it. But at the end of the episode, there was a montage of frames from every sketch in the episode, including two from the cut animation.
The "How Not To Be Seen" sketch introduces one character as "Mrs. B.J. Smegma."
Then there's the beginning of the "Still No Sign of Land" sketch:
Michael Palin: *All are starving in a lifeboat* Still no sign of land...how long is it?
Graham Chapman: That's a rather personal question, sir!
Sometimes they used words that were the erudite form of foul language.
"Ohhh, intercourse the penguin!"
"One of our lads, with a fair training in the black arts can scare the fertilizer (sh*t) out of them."
"It's a real pain in the sphincter!"
"I don't care how excrementally runny it is."
And in the Summarise Proust competition, a contestant lists his hobbies as
Golf; strangling small animals; and masturbation.
Oh dear. He's let himself down a bit on the hobbies. Golf's not very popular around here.
The word "masturbation" was bleeped out by the BBC, suggesting the corporation condones and promotes garroting small animals. Lipreaders, however, could still get the joke.
The Pythons were so infamous with the censors that the censors began attempting to censor things that weren't even meant to be dirty. A notable example is a sketch in which John Cleese holds a severed leg through a door, and that was misinterpreted as a penis.
The censors would, on occasion make things sound much dirtier than they actually were written. For instance, an animated bit with two men in a bathtub had the last two words censored from this dialog: "They washed their arms and they washed their legs and then they washed their naughty bits." The last word was censored when the show aired on American TV in the 1970s. How times have changed.
Cockney rhyming slang is often used on British TV due to censors not noticing it. One ITV miniseries about holiday reps in Ibiza was called "Is Harry on the boat?". Not getting it? Harry monk on the boat race.
In a flashback on The Odd Couple, Felix tells Oscar he has to marry Gloria. "Youhaveto marry her? A man who covers up every piece of furniture with plastic, and you have to marry her!?"
On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Ferengi have these giant ears that act as erogenous zones. They love to have women rub them while they're holding conversations, and at times they even rub them themselves. While they're not quite sex organs as such, the effect is much the same. There were times women have grabbed Quark by the ear to use the intense pain as a motivation for cooperation. Plus, all the times they use "[person] doesn't have the lobes for [task]" as an insult.
They call the ear massage "Oo-mox". Apparently it can't be translated into English.
There's also an offhand reference to the "old wives' tale" that performing Oo-mox on yourself too much might make you go deaf.
The only reference to masturbation in the entire Star Trek universe comes from Rom in Deep Space Nine, after he got sick from a near-fatal ear infection.
Rom: I forgot my bi-monthly ear scan. And besides, I've probably been getting too much oo-mox. Leeta: Who's the lucky girl? Rom: (sheepishly) Uhh, no female. Just me.
The head Ferengi is the guy with the biggest ears, and his valet even spends time combing the ear hair.
Farscape does the same thing with Rygel's eyebrows.
And Deep Space Nine is far more adult oriented than TNG or Voyager, so there are several other risqué references by the other characters:
Dax: Don't worry, I have a light touch.
Bashir: Not according to Worf! (Dax gapes at him) ...what?
In one Star Trek: Voyager episode, Seven of Nine has been stalking Tom and B'Elanna to find out more about dating. B'Elanna isn't happy when she finds out and reads the pad on which Seven took notes. One of the notes reads something like "300 hours, couple resumes intimate relations," leading to this exchange...
B'Elanna: How the hell do you know when we're having intimate relations?
Seven: There is no one on Deck 9, Section 12 who doesn't know when you're having intimate relations.
In an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, a disease-addled Sulu bursts onto the bridge armed with a sword, sweeps Uhura up in his arm, and says "I'll protect you, fair maiden!" Uhura says "Sorry, neither!" and elbows him. ...because she's neither "fair" (she's black) nor a maiden. (In the 1960s, yes, that did have to go under the radar.)
The most classic instance from original Trek: In "Wink of an Eye", one act has a time-accelerated Kirk and Deela in his quarters, after she's told him she wants him as her consort while the rest of the crew is to be cryogenically frozen to allow the Scalosians to rebuild their population from their breeding stock. She's coming on to him. The scene cuts to another scene with the rest of the crew trying to figure out where Kirk went, then goes to a commercial. When it comes back, Kirk and Deela are in their quarters. She's brushing her hair and he's putting his boots back on.
Speaking of Farscape, the show had more alien swear words than anything else. Off the top of my head: frell (fuck), dren (shit), schlock (shit), mivonks (balls), hezmanna (hell), trelk (slut/whore), and many more.
Back in The Sixties, U.S. TV networks, particularly NBC, wouldn't allow women to show their belly buttons, most famously affecting Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie. In the original Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror", Uhura's mirror outfit included a bare midriff and her navel is visible in several shots. The producers achieved this simply by having someone take the Standards guy out to lunch and lowering the bottom half of her costume while he was gone. The shots with her bare navel were edited into the episodes and evidently no one caught it.
The Brit ComOpen All Hours does this all the time. It happens so often that the show is immensely devalued if not able to understand it. Since the main character, Arkwright, is a somewhat mean, miserly old grocer, "large white loaves" and "Granville's two friends" have in particular become Unusual Euphemisms for his fiancée's breasts.
Another Brit Com called Man About The House (which was later remade in the US as Three's Company) had one in the end credits. They ran over a series of still frames, one of which was a set of three statues, a rooster between two cats. Apparently this wasn't blatant enough to get censorship.
The gang on That '70s Show seems to be smoking pot on a regular basis. The writers keep it ambiguous by never referring to it directly. The most common reference is scenes called "the circle" in which characters sit in a circle in a smoke filled room while acting unusually peppy, stupid, or paranoid. There are also "the circle" scenes without smoke suggesting that they don't always get high in "the circle".
That or they're getting high by other means, like that batch of "special brownies" Red once ate by accident.
Buffy's spinoff, Angel, which sure as heck got more than its share of crap past the radar — and Joss (and other writers) comments on it in several episode commentaries. Examples include:
In "That Old Gang of Mine" Cordelia is sent to ask the Furies to lift a spell.
Cordelia: "I know Lorne pays you to cast this spell. What will it take for you to lift it?"
Furies: "This is not a debt you can pay."
Cordelia: "You don't know that. My credit has been very good this last year."
The scene in "Waiting in the Wings" where Angel and Cordy get trapped in a room that has a... somewhat erotic effect due to ghostly presences. When they leave, Cordy makes a comment to the effect of "Thank god the effect only lasts in that room..." whereupon Angel glances down, agrees with her, and hastily whips off his tux jacket and drapes it to cover... certain areas.
A lot of the stuff with Lilah and Wesley — they practically beat out S6 Buffy and Spike for most mutually destructive, self-loathing couple, but that's a whole 'nother trope. As far as this one goes, there's Lilah dressing up in the schoolgirl outfit and her and Wesley having phone sex!
Wesley sexually controls Lilah on the phone, telling her to take off her panties during a meeting? It wasn't a schoolgirl outfit, it was a Fred outfit. Still, how role playing made it past the radar is amazing.
Everything involving c'amshacking with the Groosalug. Especially if you consider that in one episode, in order to prevent the visions (Wink) from passing to Groo, Cordelia wonders if they can c'am without the shucking.
When they take out Angel's soul to try and get information from Angelus, he spends all his time taunting and manipulating them. There's so much squicky dirty talk.
Squicky dirty talk, Hell Bound. Pavayne seems to be torturing Spike in an unusually, er, playful way. It's gone from sadistic vibes to outright rape vibes. Were Spike female, they would have gotten away with having a domineering older man strip him naked, cut him up, and talk about the naughty things Spike's done.
When Wesley, Cordie and Gunn try to escape the castle, Gunn wonders how Cordie's gonna get her booty (the treasures she's taken) out the door.
In the episode "Deep Down", Lorne says take care of Fluffy to Fred. Fred say to Gunn, "You don't think he's referring to anything of mine that's fluffy, cause that would just be inappropriate."
In "Deep Down":
Fred: Don't let it go to your head.
Gunn: That's not the direction it's flowing. (kiss)
Faith gets a few good ones in during "Salvage"
Wesley:(watching her stake two vampires) Feel natural?
Faith: Like riding a biker.
(on arrival at the hotel)
Faith: I hear you're a good fighter.
Gunn: I hold my own.
Kate Lockley is nervous about giving a speech for her father's retirement party. Angel suggests she try to Imagine the Audience Naked. Kate's eyes flick downward to check out Angel's body and she mutters "Way ahead of you."
Gunn: "So, you had an epiphany, did you? So, what you just wake up and 'bang'?"
Angel: (smirking) "Well, it was sort of the other way around."
Kenny Everett was forbidden to call his giant-busted, air-headed, sexually exploited starlet character "Mary Hinge" on the grounds that the Spoonerism was too rude, but then got away with calling her a "Cupid Stunt".
Beakman's World comes close a couple of times, many of those occurring in the final episode, where they tackle flatulence. One memorable moment is when Lester the Rat confuses "desert" with "dessert". His response? "Well, I've certainly made an 's' of myself."
Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In managed it sometimes by burying it in a hail of less offensive humor, and to a lesser degree by developing their own code words.
This video on YouTube contains a montage of moments on I Love Lucy that could be interpreted as this. On another episode not included, Lucy informs an old woman that she is conducting a poll to which the lady replies (shockingly for a show that aired back when even mentioning the word "pregnant" was as bad as saying "fuck"), "Your name ain't Kinsey, is it?"
In one episode of Supernatural, Dean's confronted by two fantasy hookers who are offering him a massage and says this immortal line — "You know, I'm a sucker for a happy ending. Really. But I'm going to have to (pauses, disappointed) pass."
See also Dean's line in a different episode: "Hand of Glory? I think I got one of those with my Thai massage last week."
Not to mention in 7.12, Sam asking Dean if he was looking at "More anime? Or are you strictly into Dick now?" (Regarding his obsession with Richard "Dick" Roman.)
The news report captioned "The Rise of Dick". Really.
Keely: What in the world are two teenagers going to do in a dark room alone with no adults?
An episode of That's So Raven, Tanya tells Cory that she has a surprise for him. He begins guessing and his last guess is "an inflatable—". Tanya cuts him off with a loud "NO!"
In "Food for Thought" Raven and Eddie are discussing the huge cafeteria portions, and Raven spends over a minute trying to get a huge hot dog in her mouth, in an extremely suggestive manner, let alone for a kids' show
Eddie: I think my pants are getting tighter!
Pushing Daisies is displaying a warped genius for this. "Jock-off 2000", "Well, I'll be dental-dammed...", "Simone had come... and gone", the Norwegians' Mobile Investigative Lab Facility, which they refer to as "mother" throughout the entire episode.
Louis Schatz: I choked on a tongue! Emerson: Yours or someone else's?
There was also the time when Young Emerson was brought to the principal's office for "inappropriate intentional Double Entendre in the science fair": "SEE THE RINGS AROUND URANUS - SCIENTISTS PLAN TO LAUNCH PROBES".
The Daily Show likes to play games with the censors. California banned gay marriage. Interestingly, they also created new legislation ensuring that chickens in slaughterhouses were not being mistreated.
Jon Stewart:(picture of rooster appears on screen) So clearly, California voters are still amenable to some [bleep].
When former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens made his infamous "series of tubes" speech, he claimed that "Your message can be delayed by anyone who puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material." Jon responds with the best way ever of saying that someone is full of crap.
Jon Stewart: There's apparently an enormous amount of material... clogging Ted Stevens' tubes. (Pause.) Perhaps some fiber... optic cable...
In an "Elmo's World" segment all about socks, when Elmo watches The Sock Channel, the announcer says: "Next up, Socks and the City."
A sketch featuring Katy Perry and Elmo singing "Hot and Cold" that was uploaded on YouTube before its TV debut was pulled from the Sesame Street episode it was going to appear in after complaints about Katy Perry's dress that she wore in the sketch, since it showed a lot of cleavage. The complaints about the sketch also caused a doll based on this particular Sesame Street segment that was going to be in stores to be canceled, and the segment was also parodied in the Halloween 2010 episode of Live With Regis And Kelly, featuring Regis as Elmo and Kelly as Katy Perry, and subtly mentioned on Saturday Night Live, with Katy Perry as a library volunteer who wears a low-cut Elmo shirt and reads to children (which the library will only allow her to do if she stops wearing skimpy clothes).
Another sketch had Neil Patrick Harris as The Shoe Fairy. This is a reference that would totally go over the heads of the younger audience.
Homelamb. Ca-aaaa-rie's obsession with Ba-aaaa-rody is way too unhealthy for kids consumption.
There once was a science TV show for children (Popular Mechanics For Kids) where they were visiting a recycling center. They are standing next to a conveyor belt with paper trash getting ready to be processed until suddenly a kid picks up from said conveyor belt an issue of Playboy. The adult standing next to him immediately goes "Hey! Put that down! This is a family show!"
Another Chloe-related example: she's under the influence of a potion that makes its drinkers become obsessed with pleasing whoever they're attracted to. Clark walks into his barn and finds Chloe sitting there, clad in his football jersey and nothing else. She eagerly says the following gem of a line to Clark:
Chloe:I'd do ANYTHING for you...things that Lana would never do! Things to help you relax...*starts moving her hand towards Clark, who panics
Someone had to know what the song, "One Toke Over the Line" was about. Lawrence Welk apparently didn't.
The Goodies were understandably upset when Mary Whitehouse cited them as an example of good, clean television - so they wrote an entire episode making fun of her and censorship in general. Under the guise of an apparently child-friendly silliness, they wrote (and aired) episodes candidly satirising police brutality, military testing, the British Post Office, even Apartheid (one of their less successful attempts), but it took Tim Brooke-Taylor donning a pair of briefs emblazoned with a cartoon carrot in a Saturday Night Fever parody to earn Whitehouse's condemnation. The BBC then axed their show and the episode was not shown in Australia because of its violence.
Star Trek: The Next Generation had a scene with a naked ten year old Alexander in a hot tub with two naked Betazoid women, the idea that the censors didn't stop that frankly boggles the mind.
Well, it was a hot tub filled with mud (which may be a problem in other ways) that couldn't be seen through, nothing is shown from the neck down, and while Luxwana and Deanna may have been naked when they were in the tub earlier in the episode, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that they (and Alexander, for that matter) were wearing swimsuits out of courtesy for the underage, opposite-gender child.
ST:TNG also got a number of obscenities under the radar by having Picard swear in French.
In "True Q", Q is getting frustrated with Dr. Crusher and turns her into a literal bitch - or a dog at least. Amanda switches her back.
And while we are discussing Star Trek, many slashers base the legitimacy of the Kirk/Spock pairing in Star Trek: The Original Series on a score of subtle character moments (the legendary "back rub scene", the hand holding, several glances and smiles, Spock's hands placed possessively on the back of Kirk's chair...) that, on their own, would not amount to much, but which slashers insist is proof of canon Ho Yay. Since this was the gay-bashing (well, more gay-bashing) sixties we are talking about, and Star Trek wasn't above slipping into controversial subtext, the theory is not entirely unreasonable.
Lots of fans see signals in the first Star Trek movie - especially the scene in sickbay following Spock's EVA - that the UST from the original series got resolved between the first five-year mission and the V'Ger incident.
Repeatedly, Bones would say the phrase, "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?" to Spock (with the same inflection you'd use to say "out of your fucking mind").
Then of course is the immortal line from an angry Scotty to Spock in "Day of the Dove". "Take your Vulcan hands off me".
Not to mention the famous bit in "Wink of an Eye" from the third season. Before a commercial break, we see the accelerated Kirk making out with the Scalosian woman, then back to the normal ship for a scene that sets up the prebreak tension. Back from the commercial, we see Kirk in his quarters with the woman. She's brushing her hair and Kirk is sitting on his bed putting his boots back on.
Degrassi The Next Generation generally doesn't get anything past the radar in the States. In Australia, nothing past season 2 has been shown.
Pee-Wee's Playhouse was a kid-friendly version of his adult-oriented live show, but still snuck in things like Cowboy Curtis telling Pee-Wee "You know what they say - 'Big feet, big boots!'"
Then there was Pee Wee singing "Milk, milk, lemonade, 'round the corner fudge is made!" And, of course, Miss Yvonne's horse ride...
In the Christmas Special, Miss Yvonne walks in wearing a sprig of mistletoe on her hair. When she invokes the "standing under the mistletoe" tradition, Floory (a talking "face in the floor") chimes in, "Hey, Miss Yvonne, come stand over me!"
In "Conky's Breakdown," Pee-wee is searching for the Conky manual in the bathroom. He opens a magazine and pulls out the fold-out in the middle. He makes an "ooh!" face, then shows us what it is: a bicycle similar to the one he rode in Pee-wee's Big Adventure. The inference is obvious, but younger viewers might assume that he's just very impressed with its craftsmanship.
The Burns And Allen Show did a seriously vulgar joke for its era. In one episode, another couple comes to visit and tells George and Gracie that they are planning on visiting the Alps for their honeymoon. George asks the woman a series of questions to make idle conversation, but the disinterested woman just answers every question with "Yes." After several times, George has one of his segments talking to the audience, and discussing the previous scene he says "They sound they'll have a perfectly boring trip, what kind of fun can you have with a girl who just says 'Yes, Yes, Yes.' all night long?" There's a pause for a good minute and a half before the audience bursts into uproarious laughter, and George just chomps on his cigar as if to say "Yep, I just said that."
Every other episode of Charmed when one of the sisters has a date or talks about a relationship.
"Be Careful What You Witch For" brings us Prue announcing a date with a man named Dick:
Phoebe: Prue, you are too hot to have to duty-date. Prue: Yeah, well, all demon-hunting and no play has made me a lot less picky. I gotta figure out a way to put some more balance in my life. Piper: Yeah, but you don't need Dick...
Although Frasier was by no means a show for young audiences, there were certain jokes that were more sexual in nature. For example, there is an episode when Frasier speaks to the condo board of his apartment block and they (through a classic misunderstanding) believe him to be speaking of his father's penis.
Frasier: Don't look so shocked! Whom does it really harm if he unleashes Eddie once in a while? Come on, it's not as though he's alone in this behaviour. Mrs. Tortwurst, I've seen you do the same thing many times with your Fluffy. You know, if you ask me, not only is this behaviour harmless, it's laudable. Why, you should see the looks on the faces of the schoolchildren when he takes Eddie out to the playground!
In Living Color! lived and breathed this trope, so much so that they hired a full time staffer whose specific job was to see what they could get past the censors. Examples are too numerous to list. David Alan Grier has openly wondered if a show like In Living Color would even be greenlighted these days.
In Sherlock, there's not that much cursing, as it's pre-watershed, but they manage to fit in some BEAUTS in The Empty Hearse, in which they alternate scenes of Sherlock and John with Sherlock, telling Mrs Hudson what John had called him, beginning to curse and John finishing them in a completely benign way (in his office with patients). It really has to be seen to be believed.