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The Slice: Sorry, kids, but ‘neat’ won’t cut it

Once upon a time, the arrival of back-to-school season meant one thing.

Yes, the TV networks were just about to trot out their new fall lineups. That annual transition was eagerly anticipated and much discussed on grade-school playgrounds.

Perhaps you can recall leaning against heavy-gauge steel monkey bars and comparing notes on the new shows.

Too bad you didn’t know then what you know now. Instead of sounding like just another dumb kid, you could have been the pop-culture sage of recess.

But you lacked a critic’s vocabulary. So you were left to characterize a favorite new program as “neat” or some such.

So today, I would like to address my youngest readers.

Kids, don’t let that happen to you. Take a tip from your old pal, Uncle Slice. Learn to sound like you know what you are talking about.

And as there are now a zillion channels and new TV shows get dribbled out all year long, this is a skill that will stand you in good stead beyond September.

All right, the first thing to keep in mind is the importance of not being overly enthusiastic. Nothing will brand you a rank amateur quite like unrestrained gushing.

So Rule No. 1 is “Don’t seem impressed.”

Better to say a show has “potential.”

Better to say it might “evolve” into something interesting.

If your school chums are going on about how great some new show is, you can gently shake your head.

“It’s flawed.”

Or, “It’s derivative.”

Sometimes you can’t beat a simple “Oh, please.”

That might sound snobby. But chances are, you will be correct.

OK, now Rule No. 2: Be specific.

Don’t just say a new show stinks. Suggest that it lacks a coherent narrative, is marred by clumsy production values or is unambitious.

And if some of your classmates are revved up about an actor or actress thought to be attractive, don’t hesitate to be dismissive.

“Well, I’ll grant you,” you could say. “She seems capable of playing a sweater.”

The big thing, of course, is to eventually declare that you don’t really watch much TV.

Today’s Slice question: A TV show set in Deer Park would be called what?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail Sausage season is coming.

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