1. The Return of Halley’s Comet (1985) – I’ve mentioned before that I had a slight obsession with Halley’s Comet in 1986, devouring any book or TV show on the subject that I could find. And there were plenty; it seemed like Halley’s Comet’s return provided either a window in which you could make countless gobs of money with a related product or a window in which many companies thought you could make countless gobs of money with a related product. I don’t know how it all shook out for them, but they certainly got my parents’ money.
I came across a video from 1985, The Return of Halley’s Comet, that prepares kids for the comet’s triumphant return the next year. It’s bad. It takes a ten minute subject and stretches it into thirty. That said, I remember seeing this thing multiple times as a seven-year old. The animation is super crude, like barely even animation, and the video effects are awful, too. Some of that’s due to the VHS rip, sure, but they didn’t really have great source material to work with. Still, there are some unintentionally beautiful design elements in this video. Like these:
This one is from a song in the middle of the video about how the excitement of the comet is “hypnotizing”:
Here’s the video. The real victory here is the last two minutes, starting at around 26:00. This is a song that was also on my Return of Halley’s Comet book-and-tape that I’ve been trying to track down for about thirty years. I finally did it. It’s so cheesy, but I wore that song into the ground in 1986.
2. Thunder in Paradise CD-i – I know I’ve kind of got CD-i fever lately, but come on. Who could resist sharing a video game version of Hulk Hogan’s action-packed ’90s series Thunder in Paradise?
The game has a noble premise – it’s an interactive episode that integrates actual show footage with gameplay interludes. Ignoring the merits of the show footage, the real issue of the experience lies in the gameplay. It’s pretty clear that it’s tacked on light-gun levels, and there are only three.
Still, you get the option to just play those three levels if you want, just watch the episode if you want, or play the hybridized experience. That’s kind of neat, considering the era.
Here’s the full game.
3. Candyland Commercial – A kind of creepy commercial for Candlyand from 1964. Why do I find it creepy? I can’t really say. Seriously. Any ideas?
4. 18 MB Hard Disk Drive – A gorgeous ad with a laughable deal.
5. NOVA: The Shape of Things (1985) – Mid-eighties PBS. Is there anything more comforting? This NOVA episode on the shapes nature takes is like an hour-long belly rub.