En Vivo Por Univision

8 05 2010

The 2010 World Cup is a month away, and to get warmed up I have started to watch Univision. My intent is to watch the tournament on Univision rather than ESPN. I was very impressed with the 2006 World Cup in Spanish, as opposed to the amateur hour that was ESPN. Maybe ESPN will have better coverage this time but really, when it comes to La Pasion Del Mundial™ you have to go with the experts. And oh yes, Univision is getting into high gear as the Cup approaches.

This is not an article about sports, however.

My rationale for tuning in now to Univision is twofold: One, I don’t like to “sit” on a given channel indefinitely because it seems to lead to brain rot. When I first moved out I tuned in (mostly) to HGTV, then Planet Green, then the World Fishing Network, then the NHL Network. I do flip around and watch other things but I tend to “anchor” to a specific channel much in the way that browsers have a default home page. Two, I think the “immersion” method of learning foreign languages has its benefits. I don’t know that I will ever be fluent in Spanish (the science claims I am facing an uphill battle) but I am noticing that I can read more words without having to look them up.

Now, soccer has a set vocabulary and besides “GOL” I would keep an ear out for “esquina” (corner kick) or “falta” (foul). “Offside” is harder to pick out of the air, but the call is usually accompanied by the linesman making the offiside signal.

I have been watching various and sundry shows on Univision and have been interested in what sorts of vocabulary words I am picking up in Spanish.

I was thinking that I should have been clever and made a series called “what I learned by watching Univision this week” but this will have to do. In the mornings I try to watch “Despierta America” (Wake Up America) but as it ends at 9:00AM and I am usually trying to crawl out of bed then (pause for sympathy) I don’t get to see very much of it. I have noted that the cast has changed a bit since 2006. This past week I “discovered” Kany Garcia. She sang some songs in-studio and I thought one of the hosts was joking around inserting a phantom line “donde esta el baño?” Um, no. The line that Kany apparently could not or would not sing was “amigo en el baño”, hem hem. I likened this to when Pink sang “U and Ur Hand Tonight” on the Ellen Degeneres show.

Immediately following the wake up show is a talk show called “Quien Tiene la Razon? (Who is Right?). It is something out of the Jerry Springer model where guests argue a lot but there haven’t been any would-be fistfights so far. I did see a guest get ushered out by security but the reason wasn’t clear. The host is a matronly figure named Dr. Nancy Alvarez and despite her matronly air she is liable to get bleeped just as much as the rowdier guests.

I have an easier time reading Spanish than trying to pick words out of the air when spoken. Worse, when three people are going at it arguing even fluent Spanish speakers look like they have no clue who is saying what to who anymore. I have been joking this week that the Spanish I learned by watching this show is “no no no no no”, because ultimately that seems to be the response to anyone who argues. At the end of each segment Dr. Alvarez makes a “washing her hands” gesture and asks “Quien Tiene la Razon?” She has a panel of three “Archis” (arch friends or arch enemies, depending on whose side they are on) who take turns passing judgment, then a designated member of the audience weighs in.

My other joke of sorts this week has been that watching the context cards that pop up on this show is like doing the daily newspaper crossword and realizing over time that they tend to use the same words over and over. My new vocabulary words actually are things like “mentira” (lie), “mujeriego” (womanizer), and “veces” (times, as in “three times a day”). The ultimate context card series read like so (Spanish not included, and paraphrased from memory):

“My son is a womanizer.”
“[The mother] blames [the father] for her son becoming a womanizer.”
“[The father] says he is not to blame for his son’s womanizing.”
“[The father] is proud of his son’s womanizing.”
“[The son] is 18 years old and already has two children.”

BOOM! That ended that segment muy pronto. Dr. Alvarez went OFF on the son, lectured the parents, and cleared the deck.

I don’t think I can or should hang in with this show (Casos de Familia seems worse) but it has been interesting to try to read the context banners without help.

Finally, I would announce that my favorite Spanish-language show is back on the air, but thanks to DVR hijinx (Univision renamed the program and my DVR didn’t record any new shows) I have to amend that to say it has BEEN on the air. AAAUGH!

Mujeres Asesinas 2 Logo

For everyone who thinks that prime time Spanish-language TV shows are dung, may I suggest Mujeres Asesinas. Stunning filmmaking. In HD, even! Since I am far from fluent I have been enjoying the show just in terms of the raw production. I am not sure if this is a director quirk or what, but the actors tend to avoid doing the infamous “script reading” look that plagues many shows in English. This adds to the intensity and realism of the show and removes a layer of “acting” meaning you don’t have as much of a problem suspending the window of disbelief.

As luck and fate would have it, Caray, Caray! offers recaps of this and other Spanish-language shows in English. What a godsend! I read the recap from the most recent episode after doing my usual routine of muddling through the raw footage and was happy to learn the nuances and particulars about the episode.

In any language, one this is certain about each episode: It won’t end well.

If you get Univision in HD (a must), tune in on Thursday night and check it out. It is presented with minimal commercial breaks which helps build the intensity.

(Late breaking update: You can stream the show here and see it for yourself!)

My hope is that someday Univision will offer English subtitles so their programs can be viewed like foreign films. I am wondering if the DVD sets offer English subtitles but can’t find any information about them other than that yes, the DVDs exist and are for sale.

Some years ago I saw a trailer at the movie theatre for a Telemundo show that featured English subtitles, but I think that was just for the trailer. Vamos! Make this happen ahora!

Here’s to 11 Junio y El Mundial 2010. En Vivo por Univision! (And ESPN if you insist.)

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