Call Me Twice – Paula Abdul 900 Number (1980s)

One could argue that greed is just a fact of the 1-900 number life, that the entire business exists to give as little entertainment as possible for as much money as possible. There are no charitable 900 number services that I’ve found, no services that prioritize the customer’s experience over the prospect of a slow…….

Short Circuit, Boom – Dead at 21 (1994)

Dead at 21 sits right at the fulcrum of MTV’s rise as a unique music industry powerhouse and its slope into scripted and reality basic cable normalcy. When the show premiered in 1994 the network had a healthy roster of not-music-video-related shows, but most of them were some form of comedy, game show, or animation….

A VJ on MTV – Where’s The Cap’n (1985)

In 1985, Cap’n Crunch disappeared. We – the cereal-eating populace – didn’t witness this departure in a commercial, the main way of keeping track of the lives of cereal mascots. Instead, we saw through those commercials that the departure had already happened. The hunt was on at that point, a million dollars at stake. Well,…

Skidmarks On Your Soul – Pole Position Atari 5200 Commercial (1982)

A typical approach when creating a commercial for a video game is to identify a clear target audience, identify the most appealing message you have to offer that audience, and communicate that message as uniquely as you can in a short amount of time. Actually, that’s a sound tactic for commercials of any product, not…

Living Things Do Grow – Dragons, Wagons and Wax (1970s)

Dragons, Wagons and Wax is the perfect title for a medieval-themed kids show. Unfortunately, this show couldn’t be less of a medieval-themed kids show. Fortunately, what it is is pretty unique and pleasant. This breath of fresh air came out of WCET in Cincinnati in the late 1970s. Shown in schools and distributed to PBS,…

Get It, Not Eat It – Boglins 1-900 Number (1980s)

The mid ’80s saw a rush on dolls that “come to live with you.” Television ad space was filled with toys literally asking to be a part of your home. If Pound Puppies, Cabbage Patch Kids, or My Buddy were too cute for your taste, you could always adopt a Boglin. These grotesque rubber hand…

Hey Willy! ALF (Sega Master System) (1989)

The quirky, furry, wisecracking ALF had a bit of a cultural moment there in the late 1980s, enjoying a licensing spree spun out of the decently popular NBC sitcom. He got a cartoon, some toys on shelf, and a Pizza Hut hand puppet. He also had a handful of educational video games and toward the…

I’ve Got Pals Over Here – Popeye & Pals (1970s-80s)

I don’t know about you but from my end nothing enhances the enjoyment of a good block of cartoons like a bunch of kids crammed into a bleacher and loaded up with fried chicken and soda. Popeye’s Fried Chicken did this for, like, a really long time with “Popeye and Pals”, a kid’s block on…

The Secret’s Out- Storyphone (1990s)

I know that the 900-number industry isn’t exactly known for their respectability, but this one seems particularly shady. Who doesn’t like to have fun, am I right? And what better way than to spend three dollars for the first minute and thirty-five cents for each additional minute to call a phone number to hear someone…

Thinkabout (1979)

The Agency for Instructional Technology may sound like some actually-nefarious organization in the Fallout universe, but here in the real world they had a big role in creating and distributing educational programs and other tools to broadcast outlets and schools in the US and Canada. The ’70s saw a nation still rich with optimism about…