1. Nick Arcade - In the same sweet spot as Legends of the Hidden Temple but just a shade down in quality, Nick Arcade was Nickelodeon’s 1992 attempt to integrate game shows and video games in a realtime, live action setting.
Think Starcade with easier questions and less licensing and a green screen. The show kind of played like Mario Party, where players would move a character around a board and partake in whatever challenges or mini-games they landed on. In addition to using games that you could actually play in the arcades or on home consoles at the time, Nick Arcade used original content that was significantly cruder than any real-world offering. Kids would play these crude mini-games throughout the episode, and the winner would get the chance to play in a video game themselves against a green screen. It sounds cooler than it was. The players had to watch what they were doing on a screen that was off-camera, and the coordination between where they were and what was happening on the screen was clearly too difficult for most of them to handle. Most players performed abysmally if they made it to this point.
1. Legends of the Hidden Temple – Imagine if Indiana Jones was a child and then imagine that he was a contestant on Supermarket Sweep and you’ve got a good idea of the premise of Legends of the Hidden Temple.
Legends ran in that golden age of Nickelodeon game shows that included Double Dare, G.U.T.S., Family Double Dare, Figure it Out, Super Sloppy Double Dare, and Wild and Crazy Kids. Olmec, a huge statue, would dish out some (actually real) legend to these kids and the episode would center around that particular legend. The host, Kirk Fogg, would lead the kids through a few physical challenges and trivia questions. The winners of these challenges got to ransakc the temple in search of hidden treasures, which would grant them real-life prizes like Variflex skateboards and trips to Orlando, Florida. Also lurking in the temple were TERRIFYING guards who could jump out of the darkness and scare these poor children at any moment. Seriously, these guys were horrifying.
Legends ran from 1993 to 1995 and then lived on in repeats until 1999. As a kid I dreamed of being a Silver Snake someday, but it was never to be.
1. Colossus: The Forbin Project – I came across the trailer and artwork for this film this week, and it pretty much has it all. Man creates super computer that can make itself smarter, super computer then makes itself smarter, super computer “enslaves” man to make sure man doesn’t kill himself. Kind of a grim tale, but it’s told in fabulous 1970′s style. Here’s the poster art:
Three fonts for the title, and it works! And don’t get me started on the illustrations. Also, “Practically Perfect” is a bold claim, Vincent Canby…
This one’s a little more art house but no less awesome. If anyone’s doing some early birthday shopping, I could use this on a white tank top.
Some beautiful shots from the movie. This is the future I want to live in, computer overlord or not:
And the trailer:
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1. Shamrock Shake – It’s that time of year again, the time when McDonalds opens its Snack Vault and lets one of its temporary treats out to briefly stretch its legs before being locked away again for a year. There’s a few items on the menu that suffer this fate, but one of the more notable and long-running offerings is the Shamrock Shake.
A green-dyed mint milkshake that’s been on the roster since the ’80s, the Shamrock Shake has spawned a slew of “DIY” recipes that include both faithful recreations of the drink and boozy, adult versions. In the McDonaldland lore Grimace is the master of shakes, so it’s only appropriate that the Shamrock Shake go to one of his ilk. McDonalds chose to introduce Uncle O’Grimacey, a pretty horrifying creation:
Not sure what creeps me out so much about the last one, but it is not okay!
Have you been wanting to try my 40 Days of Green Smoothies program but weren’t ready to pony up $4.99 to do it? Carissa at Creative Green Living is giving away a copy of my green smoothie ebook over on her blog, and there are lots of ways that you can enter. She also shares a nice roundup of green smoothie recipes, in case you want to dip your toe into green smoothie-making without committing to a whole new habit. Enter the giveaway here!
1. Magic Bullet To Go – Mick and Mimi are at it again with their weird batch of friends that they seem to do everything with. This time they’re bringing their friends the gospel of the Magic Bullet To Go, a portable version of everyone’s favorite blender that takes care of all of your blending needs for about 45 seconds before the battery runs out.
The “ad” part of the informercial suggests all of the locations that you could use the Bullet To Go, like a boat or the beach or…the office. For those who aren’t familiar with the Magic Bullet in real life, this thing is loud. Good luck winning any popularity contests in the office once you’ve established yourself as the guy who has a Magic Bullet at his desk.
The strange “play-acting” part of the infomercial, the only part worth watching, takes Mick, Mimi, and most of the original Bullet gang on a camping trip. The whole thing is sort of a headscratcher but some parts that stand out are Berman’s insinuation that Mick and Mimi might have a strange obsession with the Magic Bullet, the revelation of Hazel’s steamy love affair with Berman the night before, the fact that EVERYONE IS SPOTLESSLY CLEAN IN THE WOODS, and finally the part where they brought enough ingredients to make about 15 full course meals and nobody thought about a way to prepare all of this food until Mick and Mimi reveal the Bullet To Go.
There’s more. There’s a lot more, but it’s really best to watch for yourself.
What is with their continual claim about how easy this thing chops garlic? Who’s complaining about chopping garlic?
1. Wonderbug – Part of the Krofft Supershow in the back half of the ’70s, Wonderbug was about some kids who find a magical car in a junkyard.
In its non-wonder state the car was called Schlepcar and was pretty hideous.
Then, when a magical horn was sounded, Schlepcar would turn into Wonderbug, a mildly less hideous supercar that had some sort of computer dashboard, articulated eyes and mouth, and also could fly. The original Smartcar! Sorry!
The intelligent flying Wonderbug would help the kids solve crimes and stuff like that, but like most Krofft offerings the articulation was pretty crude. Kind of like Speed Buggy on ketamine. Still, the show’s got Seventies Good-Time all over it, especially in the also-signature-Krofft explanatory intro:
I’m not sure what constitutes a Krofft sucess versus a Krofft failure, but I think a gorgeous metallic lunchbox is a point in the “win” column. Check out C.C. in the back seat! What a blast that dude is having!
1. Salute Your Shorts – The ’90s saw Nickelodeon throwing a ton of programming against the wall to see what would stick. A lot of it was animated, but there were also several cheaper, faster-to-produce live action sitcom and sketch comedies filling out the lineup. This was the breeding ground of their current live action success and while I don’t know if any of these ’90s shows were “successful”, Hey Dude, Clarissa Explains it All, and All That certainly made their imprint on the minds and memories of kids of that day. The one for me, though, was Salute Your Shorts.
Salute Your Shorts was a series about a bunch of un-relatable kids at summer camp, kids who filled every convenient niche of storytelling. You had Budnick, the unofficial leader and bad-boy, his heavyset minion Donkey Lips, the Radar-like genius Sponge, Dina the princess, Telly the tomboy…you get the idea.
You might think that ‘un-relatable’ is a dig on the show and maybe in this day and age it could be, but in the ’90s there were no relatable casts. The Saved By The Bell/90210/Boy Meets World television landscape showed us that we weren’t meant to identify with characters back then, merely watch them through windows.
Anyway, the bulk of the show focused on the gang’s efforts to “get one over” on the head counselor Ug.
Ug wasn’t even really that bad a guy, just the authority figure; again, though, ’80s and ’90s television taught us that it was the job of the children to show the adults who was boss. Ultimately they would usually only end up sort-of ruining Ug’s life, coming around by the end of each episode to help him pick up the pieces of his dignity that were shattered by a group of bored children.
I bag on the show now, and I probably bagged on it then, but the fact remains that this show made me laugh as a kid. While I was entertained by many, many TV shows back then, very few of them got actual laughs out of me. That’s something.
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1. Starman – John Carpenter’s 1984 film Starman is kind of hokey and hamfisted, but at least it ends pretty tidily: the Starman, a well-meaning alien who arrived Earth in response to Voyager 2′s message of peace, escapes our awful government’s wrath and leaves behind the Earth as well as a human woman whom he has impregnated. Nice and tidy.
ABC couldn’t leave well enough alone and in 1986 Starman the television series graced the air. The series took place fifteen years after Starman left Earth forever, fifteen years in which Starman appeared to have a change of heart and return to awful Earth to be with his son that he abandoned. Who had to just be thrilled to see him.
He comes back as a different looking human (good save, there) and his son’s a teenager at this point (and an orphan?). The movie sets up that Scott, the son, inherited all of the Starman’s powers and the series focuses on the kid learning those powers. Because this is an ’80s prime time television action/drama, the pair go on the road from town to town, running away from the awful government and looking for Scott’s mom, Starman’s girlfriend.
1. McDonaldland Video Game - Also known as M.C. Kids in the US, this game was released by Virgin in 1992 for the NES as well as for Amiga, Commodore 64, and PC.
If that cover doesn’t promise an exciting rad time, I don’t know what does. Some cool teens or preteens hanging out with Ronald, what could be cooler? It’s better than the M.C. Kids cover:
Couple of toddlers in the same outfits, no Ronald in sight. Lame. I’m trying to imagine how these kids will land from this hi-five and the physics aren’t adding up. It’s going to be messy.
Basically, the Hamburglar has stolen Ronald’s magic bag (why? I thought he only stole burgers), and for once Ronald is powerless to take matters into his own hands. Instead he employs two children and sends them on a journey across seven different areas of McDonaldland, where they interact with many of the classic McDonaldland characters and find secret cards that unlock the next area.
Once you find the Hamburglar the kids learn that the magic bag got away from him and they’ll have to fight the bag itself, which raises the question of why Ronald would have such an evil bag in the first place.
The game’s a cult classic but didn’t get much praise when it came out. There’s an interesting take on its performance and a (perhaps unfair) comparison to the Mario games here by one of the developers.
The graphics are pretty good for the time, but the ever-watchful eye of the Ron Don in the corner is more than a little creepy. The mechanics of the game seem pretty solid, but the concept and licensing tie-in are typical 90s tacky.
Here’s a playthrough:
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