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Tweaking TV History

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 20, 2005

I was looking at an upcoming re-release of ''Sex and the City'' on DVD when I noticed a significant change in one episode. Samantha, a social outcast after a prominent matron caught her with the matron's husband, redeemed herself by making contact with John F. Kennedy Jr. Kennedy himself did not appear in the episode, being presented instead as a figure in a shining light; it was a funny little bit.

But we all know that Kennedy came to a sad end, and ''Sex and the City'' took that into consideration. Kennedy's name was later edited out of the episode, and Leonardo DiCaprio's substituted. It's the revised version that is preserved on DVD.

And it made me cranky.

TV shows on DVD should preserve the programs as they were first shown. They often do not, notably by substituting music from the original telecasts, or by distributing episodes as they were edited for syndication, which means that shows have been trimmed to make room for more commercials. The ''Sex and the City'' cut is another way of reshaping a show for the historical record, and one that makes the series less a part of the time in which it was made.

Should the show also, then, take out all references to designers and shoemakers from the show's heyday, replacing them with chic names of the current moment? Should Leo's name now give way to a shinier, younger actor?

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