Tonight’s episode of Boston Legal should be interesting. As was reported in TV Guide, Yahoo! News, various blogs and other sources, it’s the episode that as originally written featured several references to Fox News that have now vanished.
Some of the blogs and sites like Buzzflash are crying “censorship” and raising the issue of free speech. Now, I like Boston Legal, don’t care much for Fox News, and you’d better believe I’m comitted to free speech.
But I’m not sure this is worth getting our knickers in a twist about, as they say. I read excerpts from both versions of the episode (availible in the blog entry linked above). It looks quite clear that it comes across which television network the characters are talking about, even if they do not specifically name it.
I may revisit this tonight when I’ve actually seen the episode, but it can be argued that the new version is actually more subversive.
Yes, ABC/Disney probably leaned on Boston Legal producer David E. Kelley to make these changes, and no, in a perfect world, they shouldn’t have. But we’re not talking about a perfect world here, we’re talking about network television. Things get changed for lesser reasons than this all the time, and to greater apparent detriment.
Look, I like to think that even in television, some people are actually trying to simulate ideas, and Kelley is one of them. But if the same point can be made without waving a big flag and screaming “yoo-hoo,” does it really harm the greater concept of free speech?