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So argued Stuart Pankin and Lucy Webb about Certs, a sponsor for a "Crossfire"-type show hosted by these two obstreperous jabber-jaws who were too busy lambasting each other's opinion to allow their guest (a meek Washington insider played by Danny Breen) to get a single word in.
Why only two other user comments so far? Nobody else remembers this program, the "Daily Show" of its time? I have about a half-dozen episodes of "NNTN" I taped years ago off HBO. I was just a kid then so I didn't really get the political satire (what were the Iran-Contra hearings all about? What's so funny about Margaret Thatcher?) but loved the commercial parodies: An aspirin spot, with the shaky-cam, zoom-crazy, A.D.D.-edited style of early MTV; a travelogue promoting Middle East tourism, featuring bombed-out cities and a jingle called "Come to Lebanon"; a promo for a Lifetime-esqe domestic drama about some way-obscure illness (poly-malabsorption?), with Anne Bloom and Mitchell Laurance reciting banal, melodramatic dialogue ("Dammit, Brad! You know I can't eat butter!"); a PSA featuring Webb as a mother so frustrated with the risks inherent with seemingly healthy foods that she goes back to the basics ("Lard: It's what's for dinner") and concoctions she's read nothing negative about (like marshmallows soaked in blue food coloring); and one poking fun at the countless, minutely different types of sanitary napkins flooding the market ("Here's an Ultra-Regular-Thin-Maxi-Thin-Lite-Lite, for jury duty"). One risqué skit hawked a condom carrying case to eliminate telltale "Ring Around the Rubber" from a man's wallet. And another ad recommended one pharmaceutical after another to curb the side effects of the drug you were taking to curb the side effects of another. ("Doesn't Stamforex cause night blindness and fever blisters?" "Of course it does, that's why you need Glycane D...") And so on. (Don't forget to use Washital to swallow all those pills.) Then there was Backseat Driving School, which needs no explanation.
Its "interview" segments were clever, too. One edited quotes from a Marilyn Quayle Q&A session with Larry King (the dotted background reveals the source) to make it appear she was answering questions from Webb about an adulterous affair. (What ever happened to her, anyway? She was hilarious! Lucy, I mean, not Marilyn.) Another had Henry Kissinger pitching a political drama to Pankin's movie exec, who tosses the script in the wastebasket and suggests adding more sex and violence next time. Every episode found plenty of fodder in the Reagan-Bush era (though I can just imagine what the writers would have done with Clinton), and even if a lot of it went over my head, "NNTN" was probably the root of my aversion to the Republican party. For which I'm grateful.
And then there were Sniglets, words that should be in the dictionary but aren't. Like "destinesia," which is when you forget what you came into a room for, and "cinemuck," the sticky combination of cola, candy, and popcorn on the floors of movie theatres. I suppose Rich Hall was, in a way, a proto-Seinfeld, since "spongeworthy" and "double-dipping" are more recent and popular examples.
Rarely does a comedy series remain funny to the end, so "NNTN" wasn't the same when it went live and the original cast (Bloom, Breen, Pankin, and Webb) was replaced with Tom Parks, Annabelle Gurwitch and a couple others who've never been heard from again. I've got one of these eps but can't remember a thing about it. Not good.
That's about all I can recall now. Would like to watch all the episodes I've got -- some titles are "Not Necessarily the Year in Review" and "NNTN Inside Entertainment," which are from '87 or '88 -- but I'm between VCRs right now. The tapes aren't gonna last much longer, so a DVD set, please, HBO.
(And now that I'm old enough to appreciate it, I want to rent "Tanner '88" ['cause we all know the time is always right to mock politicians]...too bad it's not on DVD, either.)
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