Home / General / Then the grasshopper said, “You’ve got a drink named ‘Doug’?”

Then the grasshopper said, “You’ve got a drink named ‘Doug’?”


The person who subtitled Alias is either brilliant or an idiot:




RUSSIAN SPY: ALRIGHT! Alright, I’ll tell you …

It’s like a spy novel written by old Jews.

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  • OmerosPeanut

    What was actually being said?

    • SEK

      “Antidote.” Vaughn has this disease he caught from the first iteration of J.J. Abrams’ Big Red Ball.

      • OmerosPeanut

        Thought that might have been it, but I’ve seen some *strange* subtitles in my time so I was leaving open possibility for some truly Hong Kong-worthy errors.

        • parrot

          watched a movie on TNT years ago (can’t remember the title) and for each use of the word ‘fuck’ and its variations, they substitued the word ‘viking’ … by far the most surreal of bleep-fisting i’ve ever heard … so awesome, every scene had ‘viking’ talk marauding through the dialog …

          • Just Dropping By

            Google “find a stranger in the Alps” for another great instance of weird TV dubbing over obscenities.

          • Pee Cee

            Watching the movie Blue Thunder on some broadcast TV station years ago:

            “I found out what JAFO is. “Just Another FREAKY Observer”, huh?”

            • LeftWingFox

              One of the worst I ever heard was Tremors.

              “Good morning Mr. Basset. This is your wakeup call. Please move your ass.”

              All they did, was replace “ass” with “butt”, but in the most jarring, incompetent dub I’d ever heard.

              If it had been typed, the replaced word would have been in typed in Comic Sans, a size too big, in a different color, with the blink tag.

          • Pope Bandar bin Turtle

            I remember seeing that, too, but I can’t remember the title either.

            They would have subtitles like, “This is a viking nightmare!”


          • parrot

            finding fighting vikings the movie … at times, it sounds like chickens dialog-ing

  • SEK

    Yes, I’m alternating grading stacks of papers with episodes of Alias. What of it?

    • avoidswork

      Nothing wrong with Alias. Nothing at all.

      • DocAmazing

        Ah, echo La Femme Nikita. All the way down to a bestubbled boyfriend named Michael.

    • djangermats

      What up, Netflix instawatch-haver

  • ajay



    A likely story.

  • Julian

    russians always crack when you rephrase a request as a command. Reagan knew this.

    • Warren Terra

      There was a scene in some spy thriller parody – I forget which one – where the enemy agent being questioned admitted that the third time they heard a question they were compelled to answer it, no matter how theatrical their denials the first two times. As I recall, the captured agent was of course killed right before they could complete the most important answer.

      • ianmorris

        that was austin powers

    • herr doktor bimler

      To divulge the anecdote now, vile Terry, or to face the punishment pits!

      • Tief-Tief

        Not to forget which side of the bread substitute has the ikky-wax on it!

        I also like the aliens who talked in spoonerisms all the time. “Fold the hort till I get back.”

  • Jerry Vinokurov
  • Murc

    Is it, in fact, subtitled by people?

    I always figured that most modern closed-captioning was done primarily by voice-recognition computer transcription, which is then given a very brief once-over by an editor, who is looking for things like grammar and spelling and scansion rather than ‘is this sensical’.

    • John

      Given that shows like Alias *have scripts* and are recorded, wouldn’t the anecdote just involve someone transcribing the script and syncing it with the actual show?

      I’m not sure about news events, but it seems like it would be crazy to do it any other way for scripted programs.

      • greylocks

        For various reasons (ad libs, dubs, editing) the shooting script and the final cut often don’t match. It’s probably less of a headache to just transcribe the final cut.

        • John

          I suppose, but having the shooting script available would surely be very helpful, at least.

          • Hob

            It would be, but that’s not how it’s done– at least, when I worked at an agency that did captioning, we did not have access to the scripts. It could be a legal issue but more likely it’s just logistics, i.e. there’s no other reason why shooting scripts would be transferred from the production crew to the post-production/distribution people, and they don’t consider closed captioning to be an important enough reason by itself.

          • SEK

            Scripts are archived items; shooting scripts are highlighted, annotated, thrice-copied coffee-stained wrecks held together by sticky tape and willpower, because they’re actually used on the set. At least, that’s my impression, as well as that of an editor I know who works on publishing “shooting scripts,” which according to him he reverse-engineers by watching the film and transcribing it.

            • Hob

              Yeah, we did exactly that at the place I worked too, although in many cases it was a stretch to imagine anyone publishing the scripts (or using them in descriptive tracks for the blind)– at one point they had me typing up dialogue and stage directions for obscure kung fu movies. MAN 1: I will destroy you! MAN 2: Aaaah! [MAN 2 JUMPS FROM BALCONY; THEY FIGHT; MAN 2 IS WINNING UNTIL MAN 3 SNEAKS UP AND STABS HIM]

              • SEK

                There’s a lucrative black market in genuine, authentic “shooting scripts” funded by aspiring screenwriters and other deluded dreamers.

              • Warren Terra

                Eh, I’d watch that, and probably have.

          • Njorl

            Every time the guy doing the subtitling asked his assistant to get the shooting script, the assistant thought “shooting” was just a TV-friendly version of an obscenity used out of habit, so he just asked for the production company for the script. It never matched up.

    • Malaclypse

      Is it, in fact, subtitled by people?

      Yes. I’ve known people who did captioning, and it is fairly skilled work.

      • marijane

        Yes, it’s skilled work similar to court reporting — AFAIK most captioners are using phonetic chorded keyboards/stenotypes, and software is used to convert the phonetic chords back to English. I believe this phonetic conversion is to blame for the occasional mondegreen error like the one SEK shares in this post.

    • NonyNony

      Is it, in fact, subtitled by people?

      God I hope so. Considering what the state of the art is for speech recognition, I’d be terrified of the garbled mess that the hearing impaired would be forced to put up with trying to puzzle their way through.

      (Clean broadcast news speech will probably be okay – but anything with explosions in the background or background music or someone talking in a crowded cafe or … pretty much any other dramatic situation will be a massive headache. You could do the recognition for a first pass, but I’d want a human in the loop for more than just double-checking the computer’s work.)

      • greylocks

        They call it “wreck a nice speech” for a reason.

  • I got a Star Wars box set for xmas once. I watched with subtitles and one of the discs had AAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHH! for everything Chewbacca said.


    • rea

      But that is everything Chewbacca said!

      • I swear sometimes he goes URHHHHHH.

        • Cody

          Classic attempt to impose your human feelings onto a non-human.

        • Hob

          Having done a lot of transcription, I sometimes find myself thinking about the correct way to spell the various dog and cat noises that I hear at home. They have fairly different ones for specific occasions: “raa” = cat just wants attention, “rweur” = cat got attention, “aroeuruh” = dog is sitting down but only under protest, etc.

          • Vance Maverick

            There’s a book you might want to check out.

        • Njorl

          Sometimes he didn’t even speak in all caps, like when he was worried or embarrassed.

    • UserGoogol

      More importantly, Bob Odenkirk was Elaine’s boyfriend in that episode of Seinfeld? Neat.

  • Sometimes people are just really in the mood for a good story.

    • parrot

      always keep your fiddle tuned …

  • JD

    Doug? In the version I know, it is most definitely “Steve.” (To be specific, “and the grasshopper looks up at the bartender with his big blue eyes and says, ‘You have a drink named Steeeeeeeeve?'”)

    • SEK

      I think any generic, WASP-sounding name suffices. Doug, Steve, Jim, who can tell the difference? White people all look alike anyway.

      • parrot

        kain’t tell ’em apart from each other … heights, drawls, culinary choices are nearly isomorphic …

  • Froley

    Not to be a spoiler, but the Rambaldi Device is actually a closet full of thigh-high boots and multi-color wigs that give the wearer a kind of sexytime cloaking device.

  • Halloween Jack

    “…he must have thought that I was asking for an twelve-inch pianist.”

  • There is no anecdote, only data!

  • HP

    I once watched an obscure HK action flick subtitled in both Mandarin and English. It took me an hour to figure out that “abasement” = dungeon, and another thirty minutes to work out how that actually makes sense in retrospect.

  • Whats all this fuss I hear about saving Soviet jewelry – E. Littela

  • personally, I am interested in learning more about this drink called “Doug”.

  • Western Dave

    Iceberg, goldberg what’s the difference?

  • aimai

    My family were early devotees of Chinese Sword Fighting movies–this would have been in the 70’s. We used to go down to chinatown to see them. The subtitles were no less hilarious than the plots. Several of my favorite lines:

    “Lay off, Eunuch.”
    or, following a torrent of sophisticated and elaborate chinese curses

    “You bunch of Rabbish.”

    Finally, a eunuch (naturally) and another bunch of bad guys are torturing the hero’s mother, who has been tied between two pillars for their convenience. To protect her son she dashes her own brains out against one of the pillars, at which point the eunuch villains tsk tsk almost sadly and say:
    “I’ve never seen such stubborness in a mother.”


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