After first issuing a statement that fell as flat as the original joke, ABC announced on Mon., Dec. 12, the network was pulling an episode of “The Conners” that referenced how a driver plowed through the Waukesha Christmas parade, killing six and injuring more than 60.
Caledonia Firefighter Don Tiegs’ son, Eric, suffered a broken femur, broken ribs, and a bruised lung. He said he doesn’t watch the show and was alerted by a friend.
“I don’t watch the show, so I looked it up and couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing,” he said.
In the episode, one character while driving from Wisconsin asks another if they heard a “bump, bump.” The response was along the lines of, “I wouldn’t hear it if I ran over a marching band.”
“The Conners” is set in the fictional town of Lansford, Ill.
Complaints roll in about ‘The Conners’
Tiegs said that reference to the parade was no coincidence, so he contacted WISN, the local ABC affiliate. Apparently, he wasn’t the only one.
“Waukesha residents and victims voiced their disgust and disappointment over a scene in the show referencing a car hitting a marching band in Wisconsin,” the story reads.
A spokesperson for ABC’s entertainment division issued a short statement regarding the episode of “The Conners”:
“The show in no way intended to reference the tragedy and deeply regrets any dialogue that could be misinterpreted, and our hearts are with the Waukesha Christmas parade victims and their families.”
That wasn’t enough for Tiegs, and he wrote about his frustration in a FB post.
“They deeply regret any dialogue that could be misinterpreted. What’s there to misinterpret? You talked about running over a marching band and you were driving from Wisconsin,” the post reads. “They don’t say sorry. They don’t say the episode will be removed. They don’t say that they will look into the writers or producers. It’s just swept under the rug.”
But on Monday, executive producers for “The Conners” issued a second statement saying they were pulling the episode, and if any versions of it air at a later time, any reference to the Waukesha parade will be edited out.
“On behalf of the entire team at ‘The Conners,’ we’re deeply sorry and extend our sincere apologies to those who are still reliving the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy. We would never consciously make light of such an event and are mortified that it was perceived that way. We have pulled the episode in its current form and will ensure this dialogue is removed from future airings. Our hearts are with the victims and their families.”
When asked how he felt about the second statement and that the episode would be pulled, Tiegs replied, “That’s a better start than what they said on Friday.”
Eric Tiegs is still recovering from his injuries, but his life returned to some normalcy earlier this year when he returned to baseball.
“He played high school baseball this past April on a limited basis and traveled with Stiks Academy to play summer baseball,” Don Tiegs said.
When Eric Tiegs watched the episode, his dad said Eric was shocked that the joke was even written but even more so by the audience’s laughter. “The Conners” films in front of a live audience, according to VisitBurbank.com.
In his last five games of summer ball, Eric pitched complete games, winning four of them. He has accepted a scholarship and a spot on the baseball team at Beloit College.
Racine County Eye and Kenosha Lens – Journalism that serves.