Five Things – 03.20.17 – What They Call a Ronald Ray-gun

1989 Disney-MGM Studios Grand Opening

The decision to make a Disney-MGM (now Disney Hollywood) Studios theme park was an odd one for the company. This 1989 television special celebrating the opening of the park is filled with similarly odd decisions.

Disney-MGM was the third Florida park, coming after EPCOT but before Animal Kingdom. Where the Magic Kingdom focused on Americana, Fantasy, Futurism, and Adventure and EPCOT focused on a more expanded Futurism and International appreciation, Disney-MGM was centered around Hollywood, moviemaking, and their acquired interests like the Muppets and their stake in Star Wars.  The park beat its most direct competition, Universal Studios Orlando, to the market by a year, but the actual offering of attractions – you know, the things that people go to theme parks to enjoy – were a bit iffy.

Like Universal, the intent of the MGM studio was to be an actual production lot.  Florida was rising as a destination for film and television production in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and Central Florida was leading the cyarge. It didn’t work out so well for Universal, and only worked out slightly better for Disney-MGM; large, loud, open-air parks don’t lend themselves well to delicate filming.  The production aspect of both parks was ultimately shuttered, with the exception of a few television studios that held out for another decade or so. This special is dripping with the optimism of the promise of that idea, though.

The special opens with a big production number led by Smokey Robinson, some fancy special effects, and a whole bunch of iconic movie characters in an elaborate dance number.

John Ritter hosts the special, for lack of a better word, as a director who has just learned that the park opens in two hours (gulp!). To get an idea of how he reacts to this news, watch any episode of Three’s Company, ever. Copy and paste this gag about twenty times throughout the special, as he clumsily pulls everything together for the grand opening, just happening to show off all of the park’s features along the way.

He stumbles across a ton of celebrities in the process.  There are bits, songs, or pre-recorded well-wishes from Harry Anderson, George Burns, Jane Fonda, Rue Maclanahan, Willie Nelson, John Ritter, Smokey Robinson, Dick van Dyke, the Pointer Sisters, and tons more.

Harry Anderson shows off the magic of blue screen technology and other special effects, complete with a bag full of “bee” puns and dad jokes.

President Reagan’s a natural fit for a well-wish to the new park, given his Hollywood background. Thatcher, though?

Dick van Dyke and the Creel triplets show off some of the actual attractions of the park, like the flagship Great Movie Ride, in an impressive attempt to chew up some runtime.

The highlight of this special is, without a doubt, the music.  In addition to the aforementioned Smokey Robinson number, the Pointer Sisters kill it, Buster Poindexter’s got a big number (right?)  and Suzanne Somers even pulls of an amazing, yet confusing, version of “Rhythm of the Night”.

Two hours, about twenty celebrity well-wishes, a dozen physical gags, and six musical numbers later the park is officially open.  A replica of old-timey and modern Hollywood in Central Florida. Was anyone asking for this? It’s difficult to get an accurate gauge of the actual appeal of this theme of a park. Growing up in Central Florida at the time, I know that the local reception was lukewarm. Star Tours was the main draw, and it was a great one, but one swallow does not make a Summer. I did meet Kid ‘n Play at the park one night as part of the 1992 NBA All Star Weekend, so there’s that.

Here’s the special.  Make sure to watch the commercials and promos – that spot for the Bionic Woman/Six-Million-Dollar Man crossover looks flat out bananas.

 

1969 IHOP Commercial

I can’t imagine the conversation that led to the approval of this voice singing this song in this commercial.  And the food just looks awful! Outside of that, though, gorgeous commercial.

 

MicroPro Ad

Before we had computers that could do multiple tasks and take up a reasonable amount of space, we had unitasker machines like word processors.  Not going to lie, I get so easily distracted that I kind of miss those days.. This print ad for MicroPro word processors has a clean look to it that makes me miss word processors even more.

Grins & Smiles & Giggles & Laughs

It’s interesting to see how fierce the cereal war was in the 1970s and 1980s.  There are so many flashes in the pan, so many unnecessary variations on successful formulas, and so many tacky TV Show/Movie tie-ins on the playing field during this time.  Case in point: 1976’s Grins & Smiles & Giggles & Laughs, a weird smiley-face cereal featuring five mascots – the aforementioned Grins, Smiles, Giggles, Laughs, and a grumpy robot named Cecil that produces the cereal if something makes him laugh.

It didn’t last long.

 

Lynda Carter’s Rock & Roll Fantasy

Where was Lynda Carter when Michael Eisner was casting for the Disney-MGM opening ceremony? This is such a delightful cringe.

 

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Five Things – 3.13.17 – That’s Why I’m In This Box

Invasion of Nintendo – Super Nintendo Infomercial

It’s always weird when Nintendo tries to be cool. Cool just isn’t their thing. This 1995 infomercial for the Super Nintendo is a perfect example of my point; it sets out to showcase the system’s lineup in an edgy, gritty way and it comes off looking like when the chaperones try to dance with the students..

Bush video, or Korn video?

A man in a video screen sends his dark agents to gather intel on the latest Nintendo games.  There’s an air of malice to the effort, but each outing quickly turns comical; there’s little edginess to be found in Yoshi’s Island, and even less in Donkey Kong Country.  The agents seem committed to torture in order to get the info they need, but the ‘torture’ ends up to be mild aggression and, in one case, just plain money.

There would have been good value in watching this as a kid in the mid-90s. There weren’t many chances to get a look at footage of games that weren’t out yet, and Killer Instinct is a pretty extreme title for Nintendo. Even though Super Mario RPG wouldn’t come out until the N64, it’s pretty exciting to see it here.

And speaking of N64, the video ends with the ultimate intel: a first glimpse at the new console from a Japanese convention. There’s not a lot to it, but what’s there is cool.

So yeah, a mixed bag.  The tone isn’t really congruent with the Nintendo we knew then or know now, but it was the ’90s and everyone was trying this sort of thing on.  Here’s the video:

 

1940s Catholic Truth Society Covers

Vintage Irish Book Cover enthusiast Hitone’s got some book covers from the Catholic Truth Society that are nothing short of breathtaking. Here are a few of my favorites – hit their site for the rest.

 

Big Loo

This “Giant Moon Robut” is flat-out terrifying. Just $9.99 in 1960s money!

Those teeth!

 

Cycles Rad

I’d like to live in this 1910 poster for a French Race sponsor.

Mend-Aid

Finally, this 1970 commercial for an adhesive glue that almost certainly gave anyone who touched it some sort of disease.

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Five Things – 3.6.17 – POWER PLUS

TurboGrafx 16 Infomercial

This 18-minute promotional video for the TurboGrafx 16 game system pulls a page or two from the Saved By The Bell book of video effects.

Most videos like this have a terrible-yet-fun narrative angle threading the game showcases together, but outside of an awkward little kid occasionally playing unseen games we get a rapid-fire tour through just about the entire TurboGrafx library.  From Bonk to Darkwing Duck to Super Adventure Island to…Riot City…well, there’s a lot to see here.

The tour through the extensive game library is broken up by accessory after accessory. The portable Turbo Express, the CD Player, and the 5-controller connectable Turbo Tap all make an appearance, promising to turn your slick TurboGrafx system into an expanded clunky mess.

The infomercial concludes with a hard sell on the Turbo , the PS4 Pro of its day boasting increased speed, better graphics, and a higher price point.  And a subscription to their Nintendo Power, called Turbo Force.

For what amounts to a relatively unremarkable informercial, it’s actually pretty great – the graphic treatment is insultingly ’90s, the voice-over treatment given to each game is genre-appropriate to the point of being offensive, and the ability to look at the excitement around the gaming technology in 20-year-retrospect gives one a pretty satisfying smug feeling. Definitely worth a look:

 

Moon Zero Two Pressbook

Speaking of worth a look, I’ve been a fan of Moon Zero Two since I saw it featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the 1990s.  The set design, the costumes, the soundtrack, the goofy animated intro, the goofy live-action dance numbers, it’s all fantastic. Zombo’s Closet of Horror features a 12-page pressbook for the movie that’s just amazing in its depth of offerings to all members of a community. Hit the link for all of the scans, but here are some of my favorites:

 

MTV Spring Break 1993 Special

Is there anything more perfectly 1993 than this special concert during MTV’s legendary annual Spring Break stunt featuring Lenny Kravitz, Living Colour, the Black Crowes, and Stone Temple Pilots? If there is, it’s on you to show it to me.

Of particular note are those black and white MTV bumpers… I may break those out into their own thing at some point. Amazing stuff.

 

1980s Showtime Free Preview Weekend

I wore my VHS player out during the HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime free preview weekends. My family would take shifts recording as many movies as we could. Thanks to these weekends I can still recite Caddyshack 2 verbatim. This Showtime segment featuring Bill Harris hits that sweet spot.

For a bonus, check out the graphic design of this 1987 Showtime bumper. I want to live in it.

That bass line!

 

Safeway Supermarket Ad w/ Bob Weir

And to round things out, a stiff, muted Bob Weir championing a good cause in a 1980s Safeway ad. Just weird all around.

 

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Five Things – 2.20.17 – Say Hello To Michael Jordan For Me

Gamepro Video Game Secret Tips, Tactics & Passwords, Vol. 1

Our old friend J.D. Roth from Gamepro TV takes us on a journey to sap all of the fun out of video games by using cheat codes and exploits!

This video covers the Super Nintendo, Genesis, and TurboGrafx generation of games, and features some pretty B-list games for a “Volume 1”.  While most videos of this type gave viewers hints and strategies around tough parts of games, with the occasional game-breaking code or exploit, this video delivers hack after hack, with the objective seeming to be to get you to the end of the game as quickly as possible.  I guess that’s what you’d be paying for?

There’s a LOT of “attitude” here, fueled by Roth and his arsenal of slang.  I did not age well, but I will say that it sets this video apart from its drier, more straightforward competition.  Roth is also awkwardly superimposed on top of game footage for much of the video. Does that make it more fun?

At the end of the day, this video is a pretty interesting snapshot of early ’90s video gaming technology, early ’90s video technology, and…well, just early ’90s technology in general. Back then it would have taken several weeks for someone to mail in a payment for a non-trivial amount for the VHS, wait for it to arrive, watch it, and then apply a learning from the video to a game that they owned.  I achieved the same thing this morning in about 30 seconds, for free. FUTURE.

Here you go.  Enjoy skipping straight to the end-game ceremony in Bulls vs Lakers And The NBA Playoffs. Seriously, who wants that?

 

Saturday Superstore

This ultra-charming Saturday morning kids show ran on the BBC from 1982-1987.  It featured several different segments, some with kids, others with pop stars, scripted bits and the occasional call-in.  Margaret Thatcher was on the show in 1987, and was repeatedly asked by a little girl where Thatcher planned to go if nuclear war broke out.  Ultra Charming!

Here’s the 1982 Christmas episode.

 

Vanilly Crunch

The Cap’n continued to experiment in the early 1970s with variations on what was already the perfect cereal. This iteration, called “Vanilly Crunch”, featured Wilma the White Whale as the mascot.  Better her than La Foote, I guess.

 

Palitoy Star Wars Ad

I love everything about this hand-drawn ad for Palitoys’ Star Wars line.

 

1992 Lincoln Malfunction

In honor of President’s Day, here’s Abraham Lincoln from Disney’s Hall of Presidents shorting out and taking a little robot nap.

 

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Five Things – 2.6.17 – Two Simple Digits

The Y2k Family Survival Guide

Leonard Nimoy lends his credibility to this alarmist video produced to aid those concerned with the potential societal collapse caused by the world’s computers’ refusal to acknowledge the year 2000.

This video is one of several attempts to cash in on the hysteria around the Y2K phenomenon.  1999 was the perfect breeding ground for such a scam – nobody could say for sure that the Y2K alarmists were wrong, and nobody wanted to look like a fool. The President even appointed a Y2K Czar! And the Y2K Czar appeared in this video! What an honor!

While the content of the video is assuredly alarmist, and we’re reminded throughout that many people are probably going to die, the tone never rises above a typical infomercial level.  It’s not a frantic or panicked video, which makes it play pretty creepily.

It’s sort of an impressive effort that this video is an hour long – it’s really about 4 minutes of information repeated over and over again in different ways.  When the video feels like it needs a break from that, there are instances of what seems to be free-form musing on specific catastrophes that could occur.

There’s a lot of specific advice, too. Helpful nuggets, like “Don’t buy a machine gun and run to the woods.” We’re also encouraged to “enjoy the family time” when our systems fail us. I can only imagine the satisfaction that those who paid actual money for this VHS tape must feel. The video takes on a very nuclear-scare-era tone when advising preparedness: store fresh water all over your house, in any dark place, toilet safety in a world without plumbing, stock up on baby wipes to bathe with.  From here, it’s essentially a survivalist video – which makes for a good thirty minutes more content.  While the video stresses the importance of community, there’s an underlying addition of “but make sure you get yours first”, which is pretty ugly once you notice it.

Here it is.  Alarmist and cheesy, and a little bit alarming that so much time was spent on this. And that it probably made money.

 

French Mega Man 2 Commercial

There’s so much to love about this commercial for Mega Man 2 – from the newscaster Mario to the overacting live-action Mega Man to the shrouded, overacting Dr. Wily. Perfection.

 

Coors “Phone Home”

Amazing idea, amazing painting, amazing font. Amazing.

 

1979 Taco Bell Commercial

A patio? The Enchirito? Gas Rationing?

 

Sony Superscope Ad

Don’t make the oversight of building an elaborate stereo system and skipping out on the tape deck, guys. Rookie mistake.

 

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Five Things – 1.30.17 – I Guess You’d Look Like A Garden

Isaac Asimov’s Robots VHS Mystery Game

This 1986 VHS game envisioned a murder mystery set in the universe of Isaac Asimov’s Robot books.  Loosely based on the book Caves of Steel, it’s an ambitious effort and carries a high production value – particularly for the mid-1980s, when so many were getting away with so much less.

Robots follows Detective Elijah Bailey, an Earthling, as he is assigned to the murder of a member of a rival faction, the Spacers.   Was an Earthling behind the killing? A Spacer? A (gasp) robot? The Earthlings have their own robots, but they’re pretty crude.  Sorry, really crude.

Bailey’s  got 24 hours to solve the case before the Spacers destroy the Earth. Ok.  He’s sent to “Old New Jersey”, a city that’s been modernized as a Spacer embassy on Earth, and is paired up with one of the Spacer robots, a much higher grade of production.

The sets of “Old New Jersey” are pretty impressive, for a mid-80’s production. They look positively ’90s!

Unlike some VHS games, there’s no fast-forwarding or rewinding around to different points of the tape to play the game. The story plays out pretty linearly, with prompts to pull clue cards at significant plot points throughout.

Depending on the clues selected, and your keen eye at noticing details during the episode, you either convict a legit criminal or an innocent person.  There’s no video payoff, though – it’s all up to the cards at that point. The game box boasts 256 possible storylines, but that’s a stretch.  There are really only a few outcomes, and the general consensus seems to be that there’s no replay value to this game.  A shame, given the clear effort to make this a big production. Here’s the VHS:

And here’s an ad for the game:

Call me when there’s a Foundation VHS game.

(Seriously. Call me.)

 

The Prom: It’s A Pleasure (1961)

Coca-Cola sponsors this short film filled with instruction on how to properly prepare for and attend the high school prom.  Who knew etiquette was so by-the-numbers? I have the feeling that any attempt to turn a high school prom into a formal cotillion generally ends in disappointment.  Still, the film gives good general advice, like don’t give a flower corsage to a girl who’s got a dress with daisies on it.  Tips that anybody can use.

Do NOT forget to say goodnight to the chaperones!

 

Polaris Nuclear Submarine

I’m fairly certain that this “Nuclear Sub” was little more than a pointed cardboard box, but I’d probably have fallen for this ad.  “Controls That Work” is a particularly bold feature.

 

Evel Knievel Commercial

From the motorcycle to the drag racer to the skycycle, this is a pretty impressive array of Evel Knievel toys.

 

Batman & Superman Sesame Street Ad

On the surface, it’s interesting that Batman and Superman are promoting the premiere of Sesame Street. It’s charming – they hold up the CTW letters, they refer to themselves as stars.  But, really, what are they watching? Themselves, promoting Sesame Street?

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Five Things – 01.23.17 – Hit The Play Button And Go Blow Up Some Spaceships

Pioneer LaserActive Infomercial

In 1993 Pioneer released a sort of megadevice that combined CDs, Laserdiscs, video games, and  interactive karaoke CDs.  Called “LaserActive”, it retailed for just under $1000 and in a result that shocked nobody, was largely unsuccessful.

This 1993 “issue” of Zoom, the “Video Magazine” (what?) features the ins-and-outs of the LaserActive.  It’s a showcase of the technology itself, the software featured, and an awkward technical section that describes how to set the thing up.  Not sure that last part is “video magazine”-worthy but hey, I’m not a “video magazine” editor.

This video is about 40% content and 60% stock ’90s introspective flash and graphics. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The LaserActive software is impressive; games like Pyramid Patrol, Quiz Econosaurus, and I Will demonstrate the different types of game options available, and the quality of the (then) high technology is evident.

Here’s the thing: it’s actually a pretty impressive machine. In the early-to-mid nineties, in the aftermath of the VHS/Beta war, in the middle of the CD/Laserdisc/VHS landscape, and on the cusp of DVD’s entry into the foray (not to mention minidiscs and mp3s), a device that could do it all was a pretty novel idea.  And in that light, $970’s actually a value.  Still, that’s a high price point to rationalize.

An interesting experiment, albeit a failed one.  What do you think? Here’s the “video magazine”.

 

Cinnamon Crunch

In my day, Cap’n Crunch battled the Soggies. These white, wet embodiments of too much milk goofily tried to thwart the Cap’n and his child companions, to no success.  In the 1970s, though, the Cap’ns nemesis was a fellow pirate named Jean LaFoote. He had his own cereal, Cinnamon Crunch, years before Wendell and the bakers would come along and stake a claim on cinnamon-flavored cereal with their Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Here’s LaFoote’s finest hour.

 

EPCOT Horizons Commercial

It’s not often that I come across something about Horizons that’s new to me, so I’m excited to share this sedate 1980s EPCOT commercial focused entirely on Horizons.  Everything about it is great, but for some reason the music doesn’t feel like a total match.  Still, so good!

 

Mason Shoe Recruitment

This ad ran in men’s magazines in the 1960s, recruiting would-be door-to-door salesmen across the country.

 

1940s Band-Aid Commercial

This commercial features a fascinating and unsettling proof-of-concept, testing the band-aid’s adhesiveness on an egg. That glue is way too powerful.

Way too powerful. Man was not meant for this level of adhesion.

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Five Things – 01.16.17 – Once Or Twice In History

Kid n’ Play Cartoon

I’ve watched Hammerman. I’ve written about Hammerman.  This is no Hammerman.

Kid ‘n Play premiered in 1990 on NBC. It followed the by-then-standard formula of a cartoon celebrity show where the featured celebrities appear in live-action wrappers at the beginning and end of each story, and a mediocre effort is sandwiched in-between.

Kid ‘n Play seems to loosely follow the House Party premise, where Kid is responsible and Play is a troublemaker. Also, they’re totally normal high school kids who also happen to rap and have connections in the music industry. Also there’s a rival gang out to get them. The episodes feature pretty typical “Saturday Morning” lesson-teaching efforts; probably a little bit less than their counterparts.

Not a lot happens during these episodes, for the most part. There are no superpowers like Hammerman, no combat like Chuck Norris’ Karate Kommandos, no relatable characters like the gang in Mr. T. Just Kid and Play, making music and reacting to music.  Still, there’s something eye-catching about it. The animation is definitely crude, but the lazy “pyschedelic” backgrounds that appear during music sequences actually give the show a unique flavor.  Martin Lawrence and Tommy Davidson also provide voice work for some of the characters – that’s a level of involvement that neither Kid nor Play gave.

Check it out for yourself. There’s something charming about it, right? What is it?

Attack of the Timelord

No, not a Doctor Who game, unfortunately. This 1982 title for the Magnavox Odyssey is a pretty solid offering. A side-scrolling space shooter, a la Galaga, with voice, a ridiculously beautiful color palatte, and 256 punishing levels? Yes, please.

The box art is no slouch, either.

 

Six Million Dollar Man Toy

I’m legit floored by this two-minute ad for a Six Million Dollar Man toy.  It’s so good! Where would an ad like this have even run? The hubris of it is amazing. They are suggesting that this toy release is a ‘once or twice in history’ level event!

Jeep Gladiators

For some reason, we Americans seem to be at our best when we’re selling cars. This gorgeous vintage Jeep ad supports that claim.

 

Maxwell House Commercial

This bland Maxwell House spot is actually refreshingly straightforward, and makes me want a cup of coffee.  Just not Maxwell House coffee, please.

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Five Things – 1.9.17 – Nickel, Nickel

Hammerman

It should come as no surprise that MC Hammer, he of the pop charts and the parachute pants and the very-safe-edginess and the runaway early-90s success, had his own cartoon.  Hammerman ran on ABC in 1991, and only lasted one season.

(My computer keeps trying to correct Hammerman to Hamilton.  Guessing this is the only time those two shows have been compared.)

Hammerman follows the adventures of Stanley Burrell, a youth center worker who becomes the superhero Hammerman when he wears a pair of magic shoes passed along from aging superhero Soulman.

This is all explained in what is perhaps the laziest theme song ever rapped.  That includes the end credits of Leprechaun in the Hood.

Hammer hosts each episode with a live action intro and outro, and the episodes usually focus on some issue relevant to kids or a larger societal issue.  A villain pops up and Stanley has to turn into Hammerman to put the villain down.  The background music gets to dip into the MC Hammer library, which is probably the only standout feature of this series .

It’s a pretty lazy effort all around – this sort of thing should be right in my sweet spot, but it’s really tough to watch all the way through. It’s remarkable in its laziness, though, and maybe that goes to show both how iconic MC Hammer was in 1991 and also how eager TV Networks and (maybe) kids were for cartoons related to any already-existing-and-popular property.

Here’s an episode. It’s titled “Rap-oleon”.  Like Napoleon.  Shudder.

 

Cookie Monster IBM Film

Jim Henson was contracted to do a series of short films for IBM in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They’re all pretty great, but some of them in particular offer glimpses of the Muppets to come. Here’s one such glimpse – an early Cookie Monster with teeth and claws, eating a sentient computer.

A toothed Cookie Monster is a recipe for some real, lasting damage.

 

Lock’n Chase Ad

I’m in love with the illustrations in this ad for Data East/Taito’s 1981 Arcade Game Lock’n Chase.

 

Big Trak

A beautiful design for an awful toy.  Big Trak was a “programmable” utility vehicle that intelligently performed tasks that you told it to do.  I can only imagine how clunky and limited the interface must have been to ‘instruct’ Big Trak to do anything. Also, I’m sorry, but if you program Big Trak to bring me an apple and if Big Trak dumps that apple onto the floor in front of me, I’m not going to eat that apple.

 

1939 Pepsi Ad

As a Coca-Cola kid and a (now) soda-free grown-up, I can safely say that this 1939 animated ad is the best thing I will ever associate with Pepsi.

Now where’s my coffee?

 

-ds

Five Things – 1.2.17 – Sure, Mac, Sure

Connections: AT&T’s Vision Of The Future

AT&T’s got a record of anticipating future trends and technologies that extends almost as far back as they do. They kind of have to; that’s their business.  This 1993 video, Connections, takes the emerging technologies of the internet and mobile phones and imagines a future that combines the two. And, despite a few silly overreaches, pretty much nails it.

Connections starts off with a trans-continental phone call between a woman, her fiancee, and the owner of the rug store in which the couple met.  This call auto-translates the three languages to suit each participant – a translation in the actual voice of the speaker. 

The next scene features (what we will find out later is) the girl’s Dad, a land developer using a tablet PC to imagine changes to a building project and then receiving a voice call. Look familiar?

Cut to the family’s Son, playing a VR game online with his buddies, during which he receives a video message from mom reminding him not to turn off the VR system but instead to switch over to the homework module.

Mom and Dad pick Daughter up at the airport, who rushes to a public phone booth to call her finance. Of course it’s a video call, with a voice-activated sign-in that can instantly access the caller’s contacts.

Mom, a doctor, then engages in a remote consultation for a patient.

She then shops for wedding dresses with Daughter, over the internet. The online store uses models of Daughter to explore different customization options.

There are two plotlines threaded through this showcase: the Daughter’s wedding plans and the Dad’s development plans.  The development plans are controversial as they would mean the loss of a community center. A concerned citizen appeals to Dad, showing him the appeals of the electronic classroom – a classroom filled with terminals that “connect to the Education Center in Washington” and provide virtual lessons customized to each student.

Speaking of, there’s a Siri/Alexa component that is apparently customizable. There’s a bit where Dad questions Mom’s use of a handsome digital personal assistant. Gulp!

Anyway, the education classroom visit forces Dad to grow a conscience and he confronts his boss in a futuristic office that belongs in an episode of 1995’s The Outer Limits reboot, in an episode that takes place on Coruscant.  No future tech in this scene, just some old guys arguing.

The storylines wrap up predictably in a way that makes everybody happy. The boss finds a way to make the development they want to make and incorporate a Community Center as well. Daughter gets married and has a baby. The rug salesman is conferenced in to meet the baby. The end.

It really is remarkable how right this video gets the application of the technology. It’s one thing to say that mobile communication and the internet will merge and define our lifestyles, but there are still dozens of ways that could happen.  Just about everything in this video exists now, 20-plus years later.  Except, I hope, that we’re a little less cheesy than these guys.  I don’t know.  Maybe we should be. There’s a lot of hope in this video.

K.C. Munchkin

The Odyssey 2’s answer to Pac-Man was, well, Pac-Man.

This ripoff of Pac-Man was actually available a year for home entertainment a year before any Pac-Man ports were, so in a sense it was actually the first to that specific market.  It was Pac-Man, though, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone arguing otherwise with a straight face.  That said, there were some interesting additions to the Pac-Man formula. On some levels the map would become invisible, forcing you to remember the layout. On others the box where the ghosts respawn would change location. Little things that, while not admissible in court as grounds for a unique product, do impact the gameplay experience significantly. Still, total ripoff.

The marketing was pretty good, though, and the box art is as on point as most video game box art was at the time.

Sure, Mac, Sure

This bizarre 1970s PSA dispels the myth that eating food makes it okay to drive drunk.  I think it also serves a secondary function as a cautionary tale about drinking seventeen different types of alcohol and then getting in a car.

 

John Berkey 1975 Otis Ad

This ad for the Otis Elevator Company, illustrated by famed Sci-Fi and Space artist John Berkey, depicts an indoor vertical storage solution. Maybe that sounds a little dry, but this is the future for me.

 

Sugar Free 7-Up

The illustration! The font! I love it!

 

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