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.
2. Super Contra – The original Contra video game was pretty hard to top. It tapped into that sweet spot of playability, difficulty, co-op play, and aliens and became a staple in most NES gamer’s libraries. Konami tried to top it in 1988, when Bill and Lance returned in Super C. Or Super Contra. Or Probotector II, depending on where you lived.
He’s the predator*!!
*not the actual predator
This game was noteworthy in that it did NOT include the famous Konami code which the original used to grant 30 lives, making the game actually completable for children around the world. Konami code notwithstanding, Super C was pretty well received. For me, it was the start of making an already difficult franchise even more difficult, a hat they would wear even more proudly in later iterations.
But hey, we got this ad out of it:
3. Hostess ’80s Commercial – Who let this guy near a playground? Get outta there, guy!
4. Disney Puppets Cereal – Here’s a 1966 commercial for Disney’s Puppet cereal, which is just a weird idea all around. But a fascinating one, too, and an interesting extension of the Disney brand for back then.
5. Bill Nye on Evolution – My favorite Bill Nye bit. Bill! Bill! Bill!