The first episode of “Yellowstone” made its broadcast debut on CBS Sunday night with only minor cuts. The network had the hit series in its hip pocket, which has run for five seasons, as a handy solution to fill in for shows that have been put on hold due to the ongoing dual Hollywood strikes.
The Taylor Sheridan-created drama, which launched a whole western franchise for Paramount, had free rein on streaming and cable to include swearing and nudity. Those were both trimmed for network sensibilities.
The trademark violence, however, remained. That includes series star Kevin Costner putting a bullet through the head of his severely injured horse to end its suffering in the first few minutes of the episode.
A CBS insider did not comment on specific edits, but did tell TheWrap, “We are preserving the integrity of the original episodes with minor edits to meet our CBS Broadcast Standards.”
We compared the network copy provided by CBS ahead of its airing against the original version, which is now streaming on Peacock. (The history of the streaming rights of the series is a long and tangled one, if you’re wondering why a show streaming on Peacock is now on CBS instead of NBC.)
Not surprisingly, the plentiful F-bombs uttered by the Dutton family and others didn’t make it to air. But the clean-up was hardly as heroic a task as, say, someone trying to edit “Deadwood” for broadcast TV would have had.
John Dutton (Costner) doesn’t get to call developer Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston) a “c–ksucker” anymore, but he does still drop a more censor-friendly “son of a bitch.”
Some scenes end just before the F-word is dropped, such as Jenkins’ one-word reaction to Dutton redirecting the river away from his planned Paradise Valley development.
Another use of the word “f–ker,” part of a trimmed scene during which the quarreling Dutton brothers eat fish by the side of a river, doesn’t make it to the CBS version. The show also cuts away sooner from Jenkins hobnobbing at a ritzy event, just before giving his “touching your destiny” speech.
The most noticeable edits involve Kelly Reilly’s character, Beth Dutton. Instead of telling a man hitting on her in the bar that she thinks he’d be a disappointing “soft f–k,” she now simply tells him — if we heard correctly — that he’s a “snowflake.”
A scene where she flirts with ranch hand Rip Wheeler (Cole Houser) seems to have had some digital retouching. In the original version, she opens up her robe to reveal she’s naked underneath — we only see a small sliver of flesh to be able to tell she’s not wearing a bra, but in the CBS version, her robe never opens.
The wall-slamming sex scene that follows is intact, just reframed so as not to show the actress’s bare breasts. The rest of the two-hour episode plays out virtually the same as it did on cable and streaming.
“Yellowstone” has three-and-a-half more seasons to tap, but a major dispute between Sheridan and Costner meant the series was put on hold long before either strike began and remains unresolved.
Additional episodes of “Yellowstone” Season 1 will air at 8:30 pm PT/ET Sundays on CBS, although some may be delayed due to NFL football.