Five Things – 09.08.14

1.Nightmare Cafe – Here’s Nightmare Cafe, a short-lived Wes Craven fantasy/horror-ish series that aired on NBC for about four months in 1992.

Nightmare Cafe

Starring Robert Englund as Blackie, the Cafe’s owner, the show centered around the titular cafe, a sort of nexus in the ether which had portals to just about anywhere. This made for pretty convenient storytelling, and the show relied on a rotating cast of guest stars in each episode to draw the regulars (Blackie and a couple of employees) into a unique situation each week.

It was definitely light-hearted fare for Craven, who said in interviews that he wanted the show to be “Twilight Zone meets Cheers“. Nightmare Cafe started out as a straight up anthology show concept, with a unique story each week, but Craven re-tooled it after getting the green light to allow for the three regulars to be the main characters.  The show premiered to a warm reception, but ratings were low and the series was cancelled after six episodes.

The intro explains the concept pretty well (Twilight Zone meets Cheers? More like Quantum Leap meets Creepshow) with a fun rundown that showcases the tone of the series followed by a very nineties title sequence:

 

2. NES Max – My personal favorite NES accessory, the NES Max was a streamlined controller that hit the market in 1988.

NES Max

The controller featured a thumbstick of sorts (a “cycloid control”?), inside of the traditional d-pad.  On the right side, the respective turbo buttons were available underneath the standard A and B buttons.  The turbo buttons were medium-good: they were occasionally helpful in shooter game but didn’t really work so well with most other games.  That disappointment aside, the Max was an improvement over the standard NES in just about every other way – it was smaller, lighter, and (in my ten-year-old opinion) more responsive.  I only barely needed the 30 life cheat code in Contra to make it to the end with this bad boy

Here’s a commercial for it, prefaced by a really bizarre clip of a kids game show that’s about to cut to commercial that’s almost better than the ad itself:

 

3. From the Earth to the Moon – I stumbled across this 1979 adaptation of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon while searching for the HBO series of the same name.

Earth to the Moon Full disclosure: it’s mistakenly up on Amazon as the preview trailer for the HBO series. Oops! While there are certainly adaptations and inspirations from this novel before this one, this is definitely the most ’70s-cartooniest!

 4.  1982 High Tech Industry Report – This is an amazing local news segment from 1982 covering video games.  The reporter’s use of the terms “nifty” and “Pac-Man pinkie” really illustrate his genuine knowledge of the subject.

Kind of oddly feels like a Defender commercial…which isn’t an awful thing! It’s interesting to see “The Fear” surrounding video games spawning this early.

 

5. Post Tens Commercial – A 1960 Post ad featuring a Bugs Bunny painting as the prize in a cereal pack.  Maybe don’t make a lot of hay out of the “bright colors” of your watercolor painting prize when the commercial is in black and white?

 

-ds