After 13 years of home video stardom, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber have discovered another way onto TV: NBC and Telemundo have picked up VeggieTales for Saturday mornings.

The hit series did not reach network TV unscathed. Critics like the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell claim that NBC has "sliced and diced" God right out of the shows.

Most notably, the NBC broadcasts do not end with VeggieTales' trademark line, "God made you special, and he loves you very much." VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer says that line summed up his original vision for the series, which was "to reintroduce the idea of a personal, loving God into pop culture."

"We couldn't quite bring all of the Sunday morning values to Saturday morning," Vischer said of the move to NBC, "but we tried."

The editing process with NBC was a two-way street, said Terry Pefanis, chief operating officer of Big Idea, which produces the show. Big Idea submitted programs to the network's standards and practice board. The network responded with notes for suggested changes. Both sides compromised and worked together until they had a program they could live with.

Had NBC asked for all or most of the God references to be cut, Pefanis said, "we could never have agreed." But Big Idea decided the opportunity to be on television and compete with other shows seemed worth the edits.

Vischer, who said he hopes the broadcasts will "grow the VeggieTales family," expressed reservation about how the process turned out.

"If I had known from the beginning how restrictive NBC would be, I probably would have declined to participate in the project," he admitted.

Vischer has questions about the consistency of the edits. Episodes of 3-2-1 Penguins, another Big Idea show broadcast by NBC, end ...

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November 2006

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