Monday, September 24, 2007

Pulling Punchlines

I recently wrote about an incongruity on The Simpsons between script as performed and script as...scripted. In a Monday evening rerun of the episode "Eight Misbehavin'" (production code BABF03) I heard Apu (voiced by Hank Azaria) utter the line "Pirates are wild!" while the subtitle showed "Pilots are wild!" This is just a misheard phoneme. And a reasonable one. The l~r alternation from one approximant to another makes perfect sense. The two sounds even occur as allophones in Korean.

But later in the show Apu expresses his appreciation for "the good folks at Sony" when he receives their generous gift of a large-screen television. The subtitle for the line read "the good folks at Ampyo." I can't think of any allophones that would explain that alternation.

It's another instance of an apparent script change that didn't make it to all terminal forms. Unlike the Spungoes/Cowbogs switch -- a choice between joke1 and joke2 -- this switch is between real brand and fake brand. And neither is a true punchline. Ampyo comes closer but it doesn't go beyond throwaway joke.

One possible factor: Sampyo is the name of a Korean construction group. Was it too close? The Simpsons is quite heavily linked to Korea--all the animation is done there. Such caution seems just as likely an explanation as does cutting "Ampyo" for calling too much attention to a flat throwaway.

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