Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sanitized Sopranos

Today's column looks at the vaguely cleaned-up A&E version of "The Sopranos," which, not surprisingly, I'm not happy with:

Christopher Moltisanti has had it. He's watched Tony Soprano let Uncle Junior run roughshod over him and his whole crew, found his friend Brendan shot dead by Junior's goons, and Tony doesn't seem willing to fight back. Christopher's at a boiling point, and he's going to use the strongest language possible to describe the situation to Tony:

"Your freakin' uncle's spittin' on your head!"

Welcome to "The Sopranos" on A&E, where the Bada-Bing girls dance in their underwear, where Paulie Walnuts uses phrases like "weirdo jerk," where AJ will presumably complain about the lack of freakin' ziti.

It's an awkward, often unintentionally hilarious transition away from the freedom of pay cable, and one that changes the overall meaning of the series.

To read the full thing, click here.


Anonymous said...

Is there a reason they couldn't just bleep out the cursing? They wouldn't get in trouble for airing bad language, but they also wouldn't have to replace it with ridiculous watered down words. Plus, let's face it, we'd all know what they were trying to say.

Adam said...

My favorite such bowdlerization remains the safe-for-cable version of THE BIG LEBOWSKI, in which Walter Sobchak, about to smash (what he thinks is) Larry's car, eliminating a sodomy reference to instead shout "This is what happens when you FIND A STRANGER IN THE ALPS!"

Undercover Black Man said...

The bleeping is how I assume BET will handle "The Wire"... a show that would sound even more ridiculous with dubbed expletives. (Can you imagine the classic McNulty/Bunk crime-scene dialogue dubbed? "Frickety-frick frick!")

On the other hand, BET bleeped "The Corner," and I couldn't bear to watch it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've been wondering how BET will handle The Wire. Well, bleeping is preferable to that dubbed [BLEEP]. AMC is showing Terminator 3 with all the cuss words dubbed. I don't ever remember anybody calling someone a "rat hole," but I guess it could happen.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Alan's favorite radio show, Opie & Anthony, has a funny bit where they take past clips from their uncensored XM show and replace the profanities with the lamest made-up curses possible. Whenever they do that I laugh like a Mr. Falcon.

Greg said...

I was always fond of the Repo Man TV edit: "Freeze, melonfarmer!"

I forget which Samuel L. Jackson movie (maybe Jackie Brown) has him wanting to get his "mutual fund money"

Anonymous said...

The Paul Reiser/Dudley Moore movie Crazy People is just useless, sanitized.

somehow translating a hand job (or was it a blow job) into "Special Attention" (from women they hardly know, as a reason to buy a Porsche) just doesn't cut it.

I don't watch HBO (don't have it) but there is at least one Scott Bakula movie where there are the silliest language replacements.

The brother wanted me to see The Breakfast Club, or one of those, but with the replaced words, decided it wasn't worth it. I felt the same about the aforementioned Crazy People (and I'm a prude, even) so I had to buy it.

PS-- never having seen the Class, and having a recent spate of DVDing my Ally McBeal tapes, I actually liked In Case of Emergency.


Anonymous said...

I try to catch the Chris Tucker/Ice Cube classic Friday everytime it airs on USA. The replacement wors crack me up and it is almost as if there isn't a single word retained from the actual sundtrack.


Will you be around the TCA Hospitality suite on Friday night? I think it might be sponsored by IFC? I was going to drop by and I'd love to buy you a free drink.

Tobias said...

For a while -- this may still be up -- View Askew had audio clips from the dubbed-for-network TV version of Mallrats. Highlight: Not Jason Mewes saying, "All it took was a phat karate punch!"

Anonymous said...

Outside of The Sopranos obvious popularity and the desire for TV networks (and creators) to get rich by replaying the old, this whole A&E thing seems curiously targeted. Who's suppose to be watching? Die hard Sopranos fans who need a fix between seasons? People who always wanted to watch The Sopranos, but who didn't want to fork over the cash for HBO, and who couldn't find a video store in the past seven years? People who would like to watch The Sopranos, but shudder at the thought of all of that sex, violence and swearing?

The fact of the matter is none of those people have any reason to tune into this show.

Syndication works great for old sitcoms because you can use them to pad out your day, but its an imperfect way to watch a narrative series that spans nearly seventy episodes. The whole thing is just... odd.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Mark, I'll be in town and may pop by the suite. If so, I'm easy to spot, as I'm the tallest member of the TCA. (Not the greatest distinction, but it's something.)

Anonymous said...

Rick: My parents are weirdly frugal; they have satellite, but won't pay for HBO and they won't rent movies, and they certainly won't pay $80 for a season of the Sopranos. So my mom proudly announced over Christmas as she tore through my Veronica Mars DVDs that I loaned her that she will be catching up with the Sopranos on A&E.

I didn't start watching The West Wing until midway through Season 4, so I ended up TiVoing the first four seasons on Bravo, and watching three or four episodes a week. I watched all of Season 2 of Veronica Mars over two weekends. I had sixty Comedy Central episodes of Scrubs on my souped-up TiVo at one point, because I didn't start watching until last year. It's not completely crazy, though I agree with Alan that the bowdlerization really hurts the show here.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Just watched a couple of minutes of "The Wire" on BET. Looks like they went the wiser root of bleeping (is there a word for silent bleeping?) instead of dubbing in new words. Guess Jimmy and Bunk are gonna be awfully quiet when they're going through that crime scene in episode 4.

Anonymous said...

i guess what kills me more is commercials.

commercials during sopranos or the wire.


that's just not right...

Tosy And Cosh said...

Every review I've read notes the silliness of the clothed strippers at the Bada Bing - and yet not one has noted that Satin Dolls, the real life NJ strip club that stands in for the Bada Bing, serves alcohol - which in NJ means that the dancers can't be nude. So in real life, the "Bada Bing" dancers DO dance with skimpy clothes on.(Or at least did. Maybe things have changed)