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The Watcher - Truncated 'Sex'

The lovely ladies of "Sex and the City" are beginning their sexually adventurous lives all over again on TBS. On regular network TV. But how can a show known for its explicit dialogue and even more explicit sex scenes air on anything but a premium subscription channel? With commercials, no less? How can the sex in "Sex and the City" be cleaned up?

Fear not, Samantha is still in the show, but say ta-ta to seeing her tatas. The show sanitized the sex enough to get a TV-14 rating and nipples are for adults. Thinking ahead to the show's profit potential in syndication, its makers cleverly filmed alternate scenes throughout production. Topless or nude scenes are replaced by shorter shots with bras and respectable bum-covering panties. This pre-planning saves viewers from the usual edited-for-television annoyances like bleeping out foul language. Although it would be sort of funny to see the network digitally draw in underwear on a nude Samantha the way VH1 does in the movies it broadcasts.

Of course, some of the delicious edginess of the ladies' dialogue suffers, but the spirit generally remains the same. So far, the rules are something like this: "Pussy" may only refer to a feline, but not a vagina. "Vagina" is acceptable when referring to an actual vagina. The girls can still discuss anal sex, and can even call it "up the butt," but not butt-fucking. Predictably, Samantha's character loses some of her jaw-dropping boldness, as do some guest stars. In the infamous Carrie-in-a-fashion-show episode, Margaret Cho portrays a don't-cross-me fashion show producer whose dialogue went something like this: "Fuck fuck fuck. Bitch. Fuck." In the edited version, Cho loses the intimidating presence that bullied Carrie into walking down the runway.

The overall effect is similar to watching a movie on TV. Die-hard fans will spot changes and notice missing or shortened scenes, but new or casual viewers won't be able to tell the difference. TBS will air 10 of the series' most popular episodes June 15-19 at 10 and 10:30 p.m. On June 22, the series starts from the beginning, airing Tuesday at 10 and 10:30 p.m.