TV Talk-Show Typography

dctroy's picture

Something I've noticed recently is the surpringly awful type design used in on-screen graphics on tv shows like the Tonight Show, Ellen, The Today Show, etc. These programs make a fortune (yesterday's New York Times reported that the Today show alone rakes in $180 million per year, or something like that, making it the most profitable show on tv) but their typography looks like something from a high-school newspaper. The opening sequences are usually okay (although the Tonight Show is pretty bad) but any additional type they have to denote segments, highlight contests, etc. looks completely amateurish. I was wondering if this was always the case -- this format of show has been around since the 1960s or earlier. Does anyone have any thoughts or has anyone seen anything written about this?

(I saw a rerun of a "What's My Line" show from the early 1960s on Nickelodeon and the title design was brilliant... reminiscent of Saul Bass's film-title designs from the same era. It's animated in black & white.)

Dan Weaver's picture

I thought talk show and typography were oximorons. I swear I read it in Webster's Dictionary.

Si_Daniels's picture

I always thought the cheesy typography, often combined with over the top flying text effects was deliberate, and totally In line with the ridiculous sets and misfit bands used by Mr Letterman and co. Seems in keeping with the self-deprecating humor of the hosts – self-deprecating typography if you like.

Si

oldnick's picture

If you live in the good old US of A, looking around while standing in the checkout line of a grocery store should give you a pretty strong clue as to what inspires this particular kind of typography. Tabloid headlines like "Boy Trapped in Refrigerator Eats Own Foot" really don't lend themselves to elegant typographic treatment...

Nick Shinn's picture

>self-deprecating

Their disregard for excellence doesn't interfere with their vanity: they always have such well-tailored suits.

marcox's picture

>well-tailored suits

Although in Letterman's case, ruined by white socks and loafers.

hrant's picture

> Tabloid headlines like “Boy Trapped in Refrigerator Eats Own Foot”
> really don’t lend themselves to elegant typographic treatment…

Not elegant, but it can still be appropriate = good typography. Like the Globe cover I spied the other day: a title about the "murder" of that Aruba chick, set it... Amplitude! The font's severe traps being nicely evocative of physical violence. A rare case then of the typography being much more sophisticated than the content.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Amplitude is indeed an excellent choice for a story on violence (to me, it always looked like a typeface that had been put through a meat grinder, then reassembled), but good typography in tabloids is still more the exception than the rule.

Si_Daniels's picture

> good typography in tabloids is still more the exception than the rule.

In the US or globally?

oldnick's picture

If you live in the good old US of A, looking around while standing in the checkout line of a grocery store...

Type design in British tabloids is irrelevant because, unlike their American counterparts, they have "Page 3."

Si_Daniels's picture

gotcha - thx, Si

parker's picture

Troy:

In order to enjoy the thread — and of course to learn from it — you need to be more precise, specific;

Take one show — or more — post a sample/screen shot, and tell us what is wrong, what is right.

with generalization — as you can see (pardon guys — I know you're great) we are playing ping pong without an aim.

:)

oldnick's picture

Tina,

Although many of us are given to digression (some more than others, and we know who we are), we also pretty much understand the question. If YOU go to nbc.com and click "Select a Show," you will probably be hard pressed to find any examples of GOOD typography.

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