An unidentified reporter for The Copenhagen Post makes the audacious claim that the voices for the Danish dub of SpongeBob SquarePants are “better than the originals.”
With nary an audio or video clip to support this claim, the reporter says that even with A/V examples his (or her) “point would have been lost without them being able to understand the language.”
SpongeBob — or more appropriately SvampeBob Firkant, which translates literally in Danish as “SpongeBob Square” — is Nickelodeon Denmark’s most popular program, and according to the article the Danish dub cast includes Jens Jacob Tychsen as SpongeBob, Søren Ulrichs as Patrick Star and Peter Zhelder as Squidward. [FYI: Ulrichs is a “voiceover veteran” in Denmark, and has dubbed many lead roles for a number of US cartoons.]
This reporter states that Zhelder’s performance as Squidward is an “improvement over the original” (referring to Roger Bumpass), and that Tychsen as SpongeBob is “actually better than the much-hailed Tom Kenny, who voices the original American character.” And at the close of the article, the reporter goes as far as to claim that the Danish version is “superior” to the original.
Tychsen is also interviewed in the article, and had this to say about voicing the iconic character:
‘I honestly had the initial impression that the show was some cheaply produced piece of crap that should be done as quickly as possible and would be forgotten just as fast,’ he said. ‘But then we found out how popular it was in the US and thought that maybe we had something good going. We also gradually learned the humour of it, although we were a bit worried that too few people would see it being aired only on Nickelodeon. But once [public broadcaster] DR bought the rights it really took off.’
Tychsen said he soon fell in love with the ‘bizarre’ character he was voicing, and eventually made the voice more personal after the first episode, ‘Help Wanted’, where he says he was just doing a straight copy of Kenny’s voice traits.
‘I realised how important it was that SpongeBob wasn’t just this bloody irritating little thing, but that there also had to be something loveable or attractive about him,’ he said. ‘So instead of just copying the original I incorporated a bit of mischief into his voice and there it was – my own SvampeBob!’
Tychsen said the most difficult SvampeBob moments are when the little yellow sponge sings. He also admits that, away from the microphone, he has a hard time doing the voice when asked.
I could understand that national pride might be a factor to Denmark residents in claiming that the dubbed version is “superior” to the US version, but even without hearing any proof I already have a problem with Tychsen’s take on the character because he says he “incorporated a bit of mischief into his voice” which seems contradictory to SpongeBob’s character.
Who knows why this reporter didn’t bother to provide even a single audio or video clip for comparison, but it was easy enough to find online thanks to YouTube and the official Nickelodeon Denmark website.
Review the clips that follow and see if you think the Danish dub is genuinely “superior” to the original. (Up front, I’ll just go ahead and warn you that SpongeBob’s laugh is off. Way off.)
And there are over a dozen high-quality streaming complete SvampeBob cartoons on Nickelodeon.DK. Here are direct links to some of the more memorable ones: