A&E Treads Lightly on Sopranos Violence

The folks at A&E have done a nice job of scrubbing the HBO-grade profanity and nudity from The Sopranos, which premieres in syndication next month on the basic-cable network. But it seems the changes to the show’s graphic violence amount to little more than a split second of flying brain matter.

Last week, A&E sent out two sample episodes and a clip reel featuring before-and-after edits for nudity, language and violence. Using alternate takes of the Bada-Bing girls in lingerie, the editors were able to make a scene in a strip club look as wholesome as the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on CBS. Less seamless, however, is the substitution of "jerk" and "freakin’" for variations on the f-bomb. (Alas, there was no example of their solution for "c**ksucker.")

But one scene edited for violence—in which mob rat Jimmy Altieri gets whacked—looks almost indistinguishable from the original. Whereas the HBO version shows a slow-motion spray of blood and chunks of brain, the A&E version merely trims the shot before said brain chunks hit the wall.

Given the increase of graphic content on TV since The Sopranos premiered in 1999, explains A&E Executive VP/General Manager Bob DeBitetto, there was little need to edit for violence.

The network will run back-to-back episodes at 9 p.m. ET, beginning Jan. 10.