Tag Archives: television

Hello, nose. Meet grindstone.

No dessert until I finish my dinner.
No TV until I do my homework.
No shopping until I clean out my closet.
No new blog posts until I turn in my writing projects.

Sorry, I just had to put these declarations in writing. In front of a community of witnesses.

Actually, the grown-up version of that first one should be: No dessert if I finish my dinner. As far as those others go, it’s time to ramp up the self-discipline. I’m grateful to have a busy work schedule this Fall; much of it entails lots of writing.

Given looming deadlines and a busy travel schedule, it’s hard for me to justify writing recreationally. So, Word Nymph may have to put down her feather pen a little more often, so she can concentrate on her day job.

This also means that the new fall TV schedule will have to go on without me. I had even blocked out time from 1:00 to 2:00 this afternoon to watch the final episode of All My Children, so that I could write here about how the serial had changed since the last time I watched it (30 years ago), but I just can’t justify it. Books and mags remain neatly stacked for my return. Fall fashions will await me at Lord & Taylor, as the next personal project, making room in the closet, stands in the queue behind other obligations. I might even have to sit out National Punctuation Day this year—it’s tomorrow and, alas, I’ve made no preparations.

However, the work does yield good travel tales, as well as opportunity to observe regional language differences. Maybe I can weave an epic tale when things settle down.

While you may see less of me around here, may I rely on you to stay in touch?

Please post a comment now and then, and tell me what I’m missing:

  • How did All My Children end? Did Erica Kane find happiness? Is there peace in Pine Valley? Is Susan Lucci finally free to overindulge in Boston creme donuts and Popeyes chicken and biscuits?
  • Who’s interviewed in Vanity Fair’s latest Proust Questionnaire?
  • Is the bow blouse still (back) in fashion and will I still be able to get one?
  • Has Mark Zuckerberg caved to public outcry and put Facebook back the way we like it?

All right, I’ve procrastinated long enough.


Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Movies, Television and Radio, Reading, Technology and Social Media

Save the subplot

Among the season’s sitcoms debuting recently is one I will keep my eye on with high hope.

You already know how I feel about sitcoms—that good ones are a dying breed, and the best ones can provide enough laughter therapy to last through the week.

I can’t say just yet that Mad Love will fulfill my therapeutic requirement, but I do know there’s a gleam of potential. The premise isn’t anything special. However, in addition to a strong lead cast and some mildly decent writing, the creators have also written in a character who is prone to mutilating common words and expressions. What’s especially funny is that her gaffes are corrected boldly by the one character who seems least likely to know enough to do so.

Dim-witted characters aren’t uncommon sitcom material. However, I can’t readily recall any having this particular trait. There are so many ways the writers could go with Erin. They could shape her into a modern day Mrs. Malaprop, which would be hilarious. Haven’t we all worked with one person who just couldn’t seem to get straight a simple figure of speech? I’m tempted to send in a few real-life ideas.

The problem is, it looks as though Erin’s character could be short-lived, as she was dumped by her boyfriend, one of the main characters, in the first episode. I can only hope they at least remain colleagues at the law firm in which the story takes place.

It seems that Chicago Sun-Times TV critic Paige Wiser agrees with me. In fact, her review took the words right out of my mouth: “The other bright spot is Ben’s ex-girlfriend Erin, played by Alexandra Breckenridge. She’s given to mangled expressions like “taken for granite” and “an escape goat,” and I hope to God that Ben’s new relationship doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of her. Come back, Erin. Please.”

Erin’s calling a fabric swatch a “snatch” was just a tease.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Movies, Television and Radio

Another land

It’s Saturday.  Time to take a rest from the heady grammar issues and get a little shallow.  And I can be quite shallow.

The truth is, I love TV sitcoms. 

My favorite are the old sitcoms of the 1960s and 70s.  I now confess to being a closet viewer of the TV Land network.  I got hooked early on.  TV Land started off playing the classic comedies I grew up with.  Actually, my parents placed fairly strict limits on our TV viewing, so I usually had to sneak off to a neighbor’s for I Love Lucy or Dick Van Dyke.

My husband jokes that, if there were a channel that aired all Everybody Loves Raymond all the time, I’d watch no other.  He’s right.  And now, on TV Land, for two hours every weeknight—Raymond.

Until recently, TV Land has been a place to which losers slink off to forget their problems and the fact that they are losers.  My time spent in TV Land is clouded by tremendous guilt.  I go when no one is home and always remember to change the channel to CNN before turning off the TV, so the next person doesn’t know where I’ve been.  A shameful addict always covers her tracks.

But things have changed.

TV Land has become home to some intelligent—or at least socially accepted—programming , namely, Hot in Cleveland.  By now, it’s almost cliché to rave about Hot.  It’s really a modern-day Golden Girls, another classic (Psst, Hallmark channel).  Let’s hope its popularity gives rise to more clever new shows in the fall.  

Personally, I think what makes the show successful is timing.  Timing in featuring a hot cast, led by Betty White and Valerie Bertinelli, both at the height of their hotness.  The other two co-stars, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick, no slouches themselves, fill in nicely, though I’m disappointed they have Malick playing the same character she played on Just Shoot Me.

And what a brilliant move to have Carl Reiner, one of television’s most acclaimed comedic geniuses, on the show.

The writing is also based on timing–timing of the jokes, one right after the other with barely a chance for the viewer to catch her breath (my husband has come in to ask me if I’m OK) and the agile timing of the sight gags. 

Timing is also a big part of the acting.  The lines are delivered with a soft build and a one-two punch, while the actresses’ facial expressions, some extremely subtle, add beautiful texture to the humor.

OK, so maybe I am shallow.  But I am certain of two things.  One, that laughter is good for me and I know where to go to get it, and two, that there are smart people in TV Land who know their target demographic and are going to do very well capitalizing on it.

Now if you’ll allow me to skulk out of here, I’ll try and have something smart to write about next week.

Please remember, Word Nymph doesn’t post on Sundays.  They’ve got to be airing some kind of marathon.


Filed under Movies, Television and Radio

Ambush advertising

The new Kraft mayonnaise commercial is not only entertaining but extremely clever.

Have you seen it?  It’s a takeoff on the Extreme Makeover shows.  The wife was always making tiny finger sandwiches, like the ones you’d have at high tea, and the husband was forlorn.  Kraft bursts in and does an extreme sandwich makeover with its new seasoned mayo and an oversized roll, and the result moves both husband and wife to tears.

Advertising Age ran a story earlier this year on Kraft’s push to step up its marketing strategy following the company’s acquisition of Cadbury.  Kraft has produced some pretty memorable ads over the years.  Remember the famous “And I helped!” for Shake and Bake? Ad Age points out that the company continues to wear a bit of a down-home label when it comes to its commercials.

Twenty-four years ago, Neil Postman wrote Amusing Ourselves to Death:  Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, in which he discussed how television and other entertainment media spill over into politics and public dialogue.  Even after 24 years, while the entertainment media are vastly transformed, a point Postman made regarding television advertising holds true today, as Kraft proves in its Sandwich Makeover campaign:  “What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer.”

What better way is there than an ambush makeover to make a consumer feel bad enough about herself to run right out and buy mayonnaise?

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Filed under Food, Marketing/Advertising/PR, Movies, Television and Radio, Reading

One away from the No Fly list

I am a fairly composed person and behave appropriately in most situations.  I demonstrate good manners and a respect for decorum and diplomacy.  Unless something makes me laugh.

I regularly make a fool of myself on airplanes, letting out squeals and snorts while watching an in-flight Mr. Bean video short, or muffling howls during a hilarious scene from a Steve Carell movie.  Recently, while reading A.A. Gill’s tongue-in-cheek review of Kentucky’s Creation Museum in Vanity Fair, I came close to being restrained by federal marshals.

There is something about an airplane that, for me, turns ordinary amusement into a full-blown uncontrollable spectacle. Perhaps it’s that people are already on edge, inconvenienced by security checkpoints and constrained by seatbelts in close quarters.  An airline cabin is a place where howling and snorting just aren’t done.

Perhaps it’s the sanctity of a quiet space that pulls the pin on my explosive laughter.  And I know it’s the same stifling sanctity that prompted Mary Richards’ painful laughing attack at Chuckles the Clown’s funeral in 1975.  It was one of television’s most memorable scenes.   A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.  Mary, I feel your pain.


Filed under Foibles and Faux Pas, Movies, Television and Radio, Reading, Travel