Friday, January 26, 2007

In A Moment

195 In A Moment

The Big Lie of television, revealed.

TV folks speak a different language. You THINK it’s English, but it amen’t. It SOUNDS like English and uses English words. But it’s TVspeak.

The favorite and most often used are “coming up,” and “after these messages.”

When they say “…coming up…” they mean they’ll soon show you this or that, so don’t go away. As in “coming up, we’ll show you how you can cook a ten course dinner in under 20 minutes.” But it always sounds like a prelude to the onset of stomach distress, to be followed by in involuntary expulsion of an oral projectile.

When you hear, say, Brian Williams or Katie Couric say they’ll be “…back after these messages,” you expect that an audience of several million viewers will whip out their pencil and paper in case any of the messages are for THEM.

Sample messages from the first “message break” in the NBC Nightly News:

“Dear Harry, I’ve decided to run off with your brother. Dinner’s in the fridge. Have a nice life.”

“Alfred, clean up your room.”

“Jack, the Friday night poker game is off because Harry can’t make it.”

“Attention all members of the Moote Pointe Country Club… the swimming pool will be closed for maintenance until next Monday.”

“Dad, can you pick me up after school tomorrow?”

But these aren’t the “messages” we receive. The messages we receive are those exhorting us to buy sleeping pills (ask your doctor about Lunesta.) Or heatburn medicine or a new Chevy.

Earth to TV: how about being up front and calling the “messages” what they really are?

The late David Brinkley was found of saying he would be “…back in a moment.” But word-lover Dave wasn’t using the word in its true or original meaning, which was 90 seconds, or even in its present-day distortion, “about a minute or so.”

TV is also guilty of overusing promotional announcements, or promos. In fact, it’s gotten to the point of promo-scuity.

On “Entertainment Tonight” and its clones, you get six promos for a report before anyone thinks of showing a report.

But the higher falutin’ among us are not immune from this, either.

“Dateline NBC goes under ground to cover ground hog day… and you won’t believe what we found. On Dateline Sunday.”

“Dateline” is up against the newly-diluted CBS 60 Minutes, which although is generally classy is not shy when it comes to promo-scuity, either. They just talk slower.

Probably the worst of these things is the weather promo: “Snow on the way. We’ll tell you how much.” This is accompanied by pictures of people shoveling out from chin-high drifts. But it could mean half an inch. Besides, there’s ALWAYS snow on the way.

Anyway… coming up next week in this space…. Behind the scenes at the Supreme Court Prom… SCOTUS unrobed.

I’m Wes Richards and I’ll be back after these messages. In a moment.

(c) 2007 WJR

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