Bed, bath and what???

The most curious thing happened the other day! And now you are already wondering, what has happened to me with a title like that? What does it even mean? I’ll come to that in a second!

Bored I was surfing the TV channels and got stuck with the 80s series “Married … with children”. I’m sure you all remember Al Bundy, Peggy, Bud and Kelly. Of course, you do. And since it was German TV – I’m living in Germany, so German TV is the normal standard – I had to listen to the Bundys in German synchronization. Laughing out loud about Jay Leno being exchanged with former German talk show personality Harald Schmidt. Do you guys know Harald Schmidt? Of course not! Didn’t think so!

And was once again reminded that German synchronizations and movie title translations totally suck. At least they did in the 80s and 90s. I have to admit it has improved with guys like David Letterman not being replaced anymore. Because we are cosmopolitan enough to recognize the name.

One of the funniest things I came across was while watching the movie “Old School” with Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn. I nearly fell off my couch laughing my head off when Vince Vaughn mentioned in one scene that his wife had been shopping at “Bett, Bad und Boden” which should stand for “Bed, Bath and Beyond” of course but was actually translated as “Bed, Bath and Floor”. I had to rewind, cause I couldn’t believe whether I had heard right. I had!

In those times of my youth they translated absolutely everything and I won’t even mention how some movie titles were translated. It’s just too embarrassing and you’d either be totally flabbergasted or sue our German/Austrian broadcasters’ butts because of “cruelty to the American people”.

Some of the worst experiences I had – and still have – are watching synchronized American sitcoms. The one or other is pretty well translated and the chosen voices acceptable. Others, however, I find hilariously funny in the original version and can’t crack a smile over in German. Like … John Lithgow in “Third rock from the sun”. He is absolutely brilliant, his facial expressions paired with his vocal ones … incredible. I just can’t stop laughing whenever I watch it on DVD. The same experience I had to suffer with “The big bang theory”. It’s sad. It’s just sad.

In German, it’s so dull I actually have to switch channels so that I don’t hit the TV set with something when it’s on. (And usually I’m not a violent person! Most of the time!)

One of the few exceptions – from the good old times, since the synchronization situation has definitely improved – is Bruce Willis’ voice. It’s perfect! Hunkily perfect, much deeper than his original voice, so it’s totally weird hearing him say “Yippie-Ki-Yay, Motherfucker!” in a much higher voice.

Another very rare exception from the old times – as in the 70s – was the series “The Persuaders” (followed by “Jason King” and “Department S”). You remember Tony Curtis and Roger Moore? Surprisingly I learned that it was not exactly a hit in the States and Great Britain. And I just didn’t understand why, only knowing the German version … until I came across the one or other episode not synchronized … oh boy! I so got it then! I really did! Boringly boring! … The German version was synchronized by two genius men speaking the parts of Lord Brett Sinclair and Danny Wilde, using a language you could only describe as 70s Berlin youth slang. It’s so ridiculously funny that even I stick to German and German only! (And that should tell you something!)

Anyway, let me just say that – compared to series from all over the world – you Americans and British (sorry, no experience with Australian series :-)) just have a knack for it to produce the funniest sitcoms ever! Let’s just hope synchronizations will be done more carefully in the future!


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