1. The Kids Guide To The Internet – Here’s what appears to be an effort to position the internet as the least cool thing in the world. If the “Christmas Jammies” family existed 20 years earlier, this might be what they’d be doing.
Kids Guide to the Internet shows how a nuclear family of the ’90s uses the ‘net (they call it that) to change their lives, and really drills down on how the kids might use the internet- mostly writing emails to the President, looking at museum floorplan layouts, and hitting up the Wall Street Journal.
This is back when “professional” webpages looked like spam webpages do today. The video is largely useless, and you have to wonder who was buying it. Schools for rainy days? Grandparents? Clueless parents? Probably all three, and throw a couple of copies for a youth group or two in there as well.
There’s also a catchy ragtime tune that pops up every two or three minutes. WATCH IT.
2. The Electric Company Magazine – Electric Company was a hipper next step up from Sesame Street in the Children’s Television Workshop portfolio. It didn’t quite hit the insane level of success that Sesame Street enjoyed, but it still had style. Like Sesame Street, The Electric Company had a subscription magazine publication that went alongside it. Think Dynamite magazine, where there was a split between fun original content and clear marketing efforts by whatever TV Show/Movie was big at the time. The covers of The Electric Company magazine are pretty great – the logo works well with the different artistic approaches to each cover, and it’s interesting to see how they treat a cover when it’s not as simple as placing a production still on it. Here are a few of my favorites:
These last three are probably at the top of my list, with their original art. Especially Jellybean Spiderman!
3. Quark – Created by Buck Henry (co-creator of Get Smart), Quark was a Sci-Fi comedy that ran on NBC from February to April 1978.
Despite their station, Quark and his crew get pulled into many exciting, perilous situations – some of which are direct parodies of Star Trek episodes. The parody was thick on Quark, also drawing from films like 2001 and Flash Gordon.
Looking back you’d expect a lower level of quality from a show that only made it to eight episodes, but there’s actually some solid stuff happening in Quark. The set design, costumes, writing and comedic timing are all pretty inspired.
For some reason, though, it just didn’t strike a chord with audiences. One more for the pile. Here’s an episode. It’s fun!
4. The Town and the Telephone – Enjoy this charming film for Bell Telephone Systems employees, illustrating how the telephone makes the town work.
5. Lighting a City – Beautiful print ad from Union Carbine pushing atomic energy.