(S&P, BS&P, B&E, legal clearance...y'know, "the censor.")
It's been over two years since we got this one, and it's beome a "house number." We only have to mention the punch-line to relive it:
In an episode in which a character was to play an onerous number of practical jokes (a subject I now refuse to write about), we had him place a "kick me" sign on someone's the back. Not a brilliant bit, but the 22-minute episode needed about fifteen practical jokes. This proved really hard in the harsh light of the "Imitable Behavior" bugaboo.
S&P reminded us that we don't want to encourage violent behavior. "Perhaps the sign could read 'Tickle Me'." Tickle Me. The writers slapped "Tickle Me" post-it's on each other's back all day long after that.
If you're ever pitching episodes to me, don't even try "The Practical Joke episode" it can't work nowadays. We wanted to have a birthday cake frosted with toothpaste--couldn't do it. Money glued to the ground--defacing currency.
Then there's a flip-side to this: all the things you wrote when you only meant the thing you wrote--yet you get the note about a more-obscene variation of your scene which you were not obscene enough to have even thought of.
Pretty much every writer for the tween audience I've ever met takes their obligation to the kid audience seriously, and doesn't want to show the charagter burning himself alive with gasoline--because what self-respecting kid wouldn't want to at least try that if they saw it on TV. Most writers I know laugh at the constant implication that we have a secret agenda of corrupting the audience.
Sure, there are the rare occasions where scripts are turned in with the attitude of "Hey, it's funny, it's on the line, let's see what the studio thinks." Still, I'll bet every writer reading this has met the Unbelievable S&P Note.