I was 13 years old, watching with my family, when "Turn-On" premiered on February 5, 1969. President Nixon had just been inaugurated for his first term, the United States was in the middle of the Vietnam War, and America was becoming more and more divided over the War. Even the Paris Peace Talks were stalled over the “shape” of the negotiation table. Some TV shows were at the center of the public divisiveness, particularly "The Smothers Brothers" and "Laugh-In" - extremely controversial because of their "anti-establishment" take on humor. The producers of "Laugh-In", the number one show in America (both in ratings and controversy), decided to expand the "Laugh-In" franchise and push the envelope even more with "Turn-On".
Black-outs were one of the standard joke devices used on "Laugh-In": a narrator would set-up the joke while the audience looked at a blank black screen. Then a visual punch-line would appear to complete the joke.
Shortly after the premiere episode started, a black-out began with the narrator saying "they finally decided on the shape of the table to be used in the Paris Peace Talks". The screen immediately showed a table in the shape of: a swastika! My father, a retired Marine, angrily jumped up and announced in a loud voice "that's it!" He went directly to the kitchen where we could hear him asking the operator to connect him with ABC Headquarters in New York (a very expensive collect call from California). When the ABC representative came on, my father let loose with his outrage at ABC going “over the line of basic decency with this show”. “Turn-On” was the talk of my school the next day - three of my teachers in the 8th grade talked about it for more than half the class time. Later that evening, the Huntley-Brinkley Report told us that ABC executives “decided today to cancel “Turn-On” after a “record number of complaint calls”.