Wednesday, August 23, 2006

gr8est ways to name TV characters

You have this great concept for a TV series with interesting characters, a killer hook, and a formula for new ep ideas to lead you into syndie valhalla. All you have to do is name your main characters.

Now what? Here's a short guide to help you with those names.

    8. Same Name as Performer: Not very creative, but effective. It worked multiple times for Tony Danza, Andy Griffith and others.

    7. Homophonic Synonyms: Uh-oh, sounds like you have to remember some grammar. Don't worry. Here's a quick review. Two words are synonyms if they are spelled differently but have the same meaning. Two words are homophones if they are spelled differently but are pronounced the same way. That means two words are homophonic synonyms if they are spelled differently, pronounced the same way and have the same meaning. It's really just a fancy way to say misspelled. Anywho. John Larroquette played Royal Payne on ''Payne'' and, of course, there's Don Karnage on ''TaleSpin.'' 'nuff said.

    6. Former Significant Others: Let your former girlfriend know how you really feel about her — but only if you don't like her very much. No matter how kind and pure the character might be, your ex will magnify that character's minor faults, personalize them and blame you. And definitely don't name the mangy dog after an ex that you like. No matter how cute the dog, you're still calling her a bitch.

    5. Talk-Show Host Mashup: This one's simple. Mash the first name of one talkie with the last name of another. You'll find names like Vicki Springer from ''Women in Prison,'' Jenny Williams on ''Titans'' and maybe Craig Stewart for your show.

    4. (In)Famous People: Take your pick: presidents, sports figures and serial killers. Abraham Lincoln Jones was the lead character in "The Law and Mr. Jones," and Theodore "Trap" Roosevelt Applegate III was a deputy on ''240-Robert.'' For patients on "M*A*S*H," Ken Levine used names of baseball players. Marilyn Manson used serial killer names. On their next show I think Ted McGinley should play a yuppie named Charlie Manson and Paula Marshall should play his girlfriend, Theodora "Teddy" Bundy.

    3. Your Porn Name: We've all played this little game. First name = The name of your childhood pet. Last name = The name of the street you grew up on. My porn name is Birdie Marymac, which isn't too different from Deputy Birdie Hawkins on "Lobo," Birdie Huff on "Nashville 99" or Birdie Bodkin on "The Wonderful John Acton."

    2. Foreign Words: Now you can have some fun with hidden meanings or get yourself in hot water with unexpected meanings. If you're going to use a foreign language, consult someone who is a native of that country. Using Nova to name a car probably wasn't Chevrolet's best idea. The main character on ''Phoenix'' (ABC, 1983) was Bennu of the Golden Light. Of course, Bennu is another name for Phoenix in Egyptian mythology. I think my favorite foreign-word character is Gohan of ''Dragon Ball Z.'' Who gave the powerful son a name that means 'cooked rice?'

    1. Anagrams: Crap. More grammar. Use all the letters from one word (or phrase) to form a new word (or phrase). If you rearrange the letters, you've formed an anagram. If you use the letters in reverse order, you've formed a reverse anagram. A character in ''Dracula: The Series'' was named Alexander Lucard, which can be shortened to A. Lucard. Lo and behold, A. Lucard is the reverse anagram of Dracula.

Update (Sep 3, 2006; 8:11AM): Based on reader correction, I changed palindrome to reverse anagram in list item #1 and removed link to erroneous source. Thank you readers!:)


Toby said...

A fun list, Doc!

Here's another for your famous persons list: Tommy Lopaka's full name on 'Hawaiian Eye' was Thomas Jefferson Lopaka. (Played by Robert Conrad)

Ever notice all of those fictional presidents who have real presidents names as part of theirs? It's almost as if the name pre-ordained them to become presidents themselves!

Oh, and the porn name game that I know is your pet's name and your mother's maiden name. So mine would be Rusty Griffin.

It's the Golden Smog name game that uses the street address with your middle name. In that I'm George Highland.

And of course for the foreing words, my fave is Latka on 'Taxi' which was some kind of potato pancake dish.......

Vynce said...

that isn't what a palindrome is, technically. that's just spelling it backwards. a palindrome is when spelling it backwards is the same thing, like "Madam, I'm Adam" or "a Toyota" or "race car" (but not, you see, "a toyota race car").

dr. tv (mike vicic) said...

Thanks for the correction about the palindrome! How embarrassing that I got the definition incorrect:(

I'll make the change.