Sunday, May 9, 2004
Long before we all started talking about the end of "Friends" and "Frasier," we were talking about the end of "Sex and the City."
Oh, how we were going to miss those four pleasure-seeking maids of Manhattan. Their scalding love affairs. Their sharp-tongued truisms. Their delicious shoes.
We braced ourselves for the sweet, painful loss and got ready to look back at our favorite episodes the same way we smile nostalgically at the size 6 sundresses in our closets that we know will never fit again.
But as luck and television commercialism would have it, "Sex" is already back.
In their basic-cable afterlife, Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha return to us in a more demure incarnation of their former selves.
Beginning June 15, TBS plans to show prime-time reruns of the gal-pal comedy. Minus every F-word uttered on the HBO original. And minus the full-blown nudity. And lots of the ribald revelry that made the show unique.
Let's be honest: When Samantha swallows Viagra in one episode and goes tete-a-tete with a very healthy ear, nose and throat specialist, the results aren't nearly as satisfying in the TBS remix.
For her, or for us.
In another installment, Charlotte decides to embark on a businesslike plan to find a husband. In the HBO version, Samantha responds with a punch line that is a salty play on words about getting ahead. Abridged, the joke falls flat.
Instead of "Sex and the City," the new version comes across more like "Veiled Suggestions and the Outer Boroughs."
In all fairness, the editing has been executed well. There's no digital blurring of body parts. No bleeping. No random lip-moving redubbing. And by no means have the characters suddenly become Amish.
Lots of the dialogue is still anatomically correct. Remember the luncheon conversation about Charlotte's depressed reproductive organ? It's all there.
The makeover is good, as far as makeovers go, because folks at HBO knew "Sex" would live on. In fact they planned on it, so they actually filmed cleaned-up versions of particular scenes while producing the originals, said Ken Schwab, senior vice president for programming at TBS and TNT.
"There are more than 50 million potential households that didn't have access to this show on HBO," he told me. "And we wanted people to be able to fully appreciate it."
Fair enough. But a crucial part of the show was its unflinchingly funny presentation of single women's lives. In full-frontal glory. Which you can rent on DVD.