It’s All About The Chung Chung

There’s a new Law and Order in town, this time without all the D’Onofrio. The real importance of Trial By Jury, however, has nothing to do with its quality or its dead cast members.

It’s all about the Chung Chung.

As you recall, that was our preferred onomatopoetic representation of the inter-scene sound on each of the Law and Order shows, yet The New York Times in December created an absurd sound of their own. The premiere of this new series has prompted another round of appearances of “the Law and Order sound” in print.

But not once does a columnist say Chung Chung.

Let’s start with the worst offender, an Associated Press article courtesy of our Cable News Network:

The New York setting; the time-and-place title cards and “ba-bing” signature; a solemn mission statement with which each episode begins: “In the criminal justice system, the most important right is a trial by jury. This is one of those trials.” Chik-chok!

That’s right, two horrible bastardizations of Chung Chung in the same paragraph! Is this the result of some hearing impairment? How else can the same sound, repeated twice in quick succession, be represented by two different syllables? “Chik-chok” calls to mind British comedy troupes searching for the Holy Grail, not Sam Waterston’s histrionics.

A Fort Wayne Journal Gazette version of this same article seems to be more coherent, but at a cost:

[T]his latest entry bears an unmistakable family resemblance: The New York setting; the time-and-place title cards and “ba-bing” signature; a solemn mission statement with which each episode begins: “In the criminal justice system, the most important right is a trial by jury. This is one of those trials.” Ba-bing!

The editors wisely chose only one of columnist Frazier Moore’s textual abortions, but sickenly decided to run it in the headline: Ba-Bing: Latest “Law & Order” Ready To Go To Trial. Horrible.

What should a beseiged Chung Chunger do? Run for the border? You won’t find solidarity with our Northern neighbors. Bill Brioux of the Edmonton Sun finishes his article with:

The death of Orbach will be acknowledged with every “ba-ding!”

With that language, Brioux seems to have the Law and Order cast confused with the Rat Pack. Bill, the cop show that takes place in Las Vegas is CSI.

After these grotesques, I was relieved to see Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Sun-Times get us back to one repeated syllable.

[A]mong the traits it shares with its “L&O” cousins—beyond its ripped-from-the-headlines stories and titles between scenes with the dundun! sound—is Wolf’s utter contempt for defendants and the lawyers who represent them.

Rosenthal is the only critic to even consider using a plausible Law and Order sound; even The New York Times‘s clunky doyng-doyng is more valid than the sounds in the minds of the Associated Press.

But the gold standard remains Chung Chung. It seems to be the most popular phrase online and—as seen in The Village Voice—was one of the earliest expressions in print as well.

We are being tested, brothers and sisters, by the established media. But don’t dispair. Keep watching the undead Jerry Orbach for three hours every night. Keep crossing your fingers for a Dianne Wiest sighting. And keep evangelizing the goodness that is Chung Chung.

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One Response to It’s All About The Chung Chung

  1. Andy says:

    Do you think we could find a use for “chik-chok” and “ba-bing” in our household’s doubtlessly eventual onomatopoetic transliteration of the Law & Order theme song? For example: “Ba-bing!/ Dunh dunh dunh dunh dunnnhh/Ba-bing/dunh dunh dunh dunh dunnnhhh dunnnhhh/naer naer naer naer naer naerrrrhh”. Still no “chik-chok,” though. Dear Lord, that’s some unwieldly nonsense.

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