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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.)
I recall this show quite fondly. It could be said that this was HBO's
first true foray into the kind of programming it is now so routinely
associated(i.e. edgy,go-for-broke programming,freed of commercial
constraints). An American treatment of England's "Not the Nine O'Clock
News",this show premiered as a one hour special in late 1982,and then
was trimmed to a half hour show that premiered monthly the following
year,running routinely through much of the decade before dipping
ratings,writer defections and massive cast changes(by 1989,the show had
been re-configured and re-cast with less-than positive results)put the
show down,first temporarily--running sporadically from 1988 on--to
permanently by decade's end.
The summary line stems from the fact that this show,which weighed VERY heavily on current events of the day,would come off as too native to the era it was from,hence making this a negligible sell as a DVD and probably inspire blank looks from video store clerks not yet born or too young to remember the Reagan/Yuppie era. But upon reading the comment I saw on its IMDb site,it jogged my memory as to not only the events it covered but the conventions it parodied. And yes,when I come to think about it,it actually WAS an ancestor to "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report",picking on media conventions with great accuracy. So,with that in mind,I suppose it's got some timeless elements to it.
A collection of veteran character actors with great comic timing(Stuart Pankin,Audrie Neenan,DAnny Breen,Mitchell Laurence,Anne Bloom and Lucy Webb)along with a stand-up(Rich Hall)made a good "transparent" news team/stream of talking heads to fill up various news and faux ad segments. Toss in such once-rarely-used devices as doctored news reel B-roll and the invention of a lost nugget of pop culture known as the Sniglet(words for things that had previously no word for them),and you had the recipe for a show that took welcome--if sometimes somewhat tiresome--gags at targets that so richly deserve it.
If I run across this show on a DVD shelf,I may just have to buy it. Given the low demand,or even memory,of this show,that may not be all that likely.
A now-forgotten series that was based on a British news parody, "Not the
Nine O'Clock News" (1979).
NNTN was a fierce reaction to the goofy Americanism founded by Ronald Reagan and the weird policies and attitudes of that time. When Reagan left office, they even made a "tribute" to him in a special.
NNTN used news clips and warped them into biting satire. When NNTN was on, it was deadly.
It also launched the careers of Rich Hall (who left the show and made "guest appearances" thereafter) and Stuart Pankin.
Maybe someday HBO will re-air the series, or re-release it on video, or perhaps a network like Fox will syndicate it. It's a pity, because NNTN has more perspective on that shameful decade than most real news services.
How can you tell a real fan of the show? They'll know what a Sniglet is.
This was back in the day just around the rise of VHS/beta. SO HBO was still the premier channel to get latest release, which at that time was about three years after box release. This show did a lot of dubbing and re-editing so that political figures were saying comedic lines. The sniglet series was also hilarious, and Rich Hall wrote several books containing sniglets. For example, he gave a definition to the act of shaking out only two pills from a bottle, and defined the dirt that the vacuum cleaner can't get at the edge of the floorboard. There were also commercial parodies, one for a hearing aid which drowned out yelling wives and grandchildren. A great show and was not only ahead of its time compared to the daily show, but funnier, too.
HBO should release this show on DVD. I remember it and was a fan back in the day. It was a hit or miss affair, but it hit often enough to be pretty funny (though not as funny as the BBC version, "Not the Nine O'clock News"). There were some really hilarious bits on the show and a lot of great comedy writers got their start there, like, Al Jean (of the Simpsons) and Conan O'Brien. I definitely liked the original cast the best but there were even a few funny bits in the later years too. It'd be funny to see just how the politics of the day were made fun of -- because even though the show wasn't great at the time it was probably the best political satire on television. Remember, this was during the extremely lean years for Saturday Night Live when they were just limping along. So NNtN provided all the best Reagan jokes. It sucked that during the Reagan/Bush years, which were ripe for satire and jokes, that SNL was so weak then. I mean, can anyone even recall who was the great Reagan impressionist during those years? During the 70s we remember Dan Ackroyd doing Nixon and Carter, and Chevy doing Ford. In the late 80s/early 90s Dana Carvey made his Bush impression famous. And during the 90s there were two great Clinton impersonators, Phil Hartman and Daryl Hammond. But during the 80s who was the great Reagan impressionist? What a lame cast that was. Anyway, Not Necessarily the News should definitely be released on DVD, not only for the comedy but as a time capsule of political humor.
Political satire of today has much to learn from Not Necessarily The
News. The humor is generally steeped in topical humor pertaining to the
politics of the Regan White House era, yet there are no golden calves,
as they're not afraid to poke silly fun at both sides of the political
aisle. They focus on being funny, rather than remaining politically
Some of the highlights are Mitchell Laurance in his Phil Noir sketches, Rich Hall with his sniglets, and the many and sundry "commercials" the entire crew put together to break up the news stories. All of it wrapped up in a mock-up of serious newscasting. Brilliant stuff!
his proud little word "sniglet, " thou for the life of me, I can't remember how he applied the word. I do remember however, that his use of the word was one of the unfunny moments To Me of a show that otherwise kept me in stitches and almost busting a gut every time it was on the tele. BTW, I thought Goldie was a regular; No ???
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