1. Out of This World – GM’s Futurama pavilion’s been covered here before; the film accompanying the exhibit does a great job conveying the excitement and hopefulness of the future, a wonderful when instead of an if. Frigidaire tried the same thing around the same time with their video titled Out of This World. It uses alot of the same footage and tries to do the same thing that GM’s video did, but kind of blows it.
Out of This World takes what they presume to be your average American housewife and sends her through Futurama. She marvels at the direction our civilization is headed, into bases in Antarctica…
…beneath the sea…
…and into the jungles, where bulldozer technology will be unparalleled.
Seriously, they go there. Most futurist videos produced by corporations try to downplay the obvious fact that they’re eager to develop tools that exploit the natural resources that we discover, but Frigidaire didn’t seem to get that memo. They claim in this video that we’re going to “drain the sea” to make fresh water for ourselves, and that we’ll transform the Amazon jungle into farmland and pastures for cattle.
The wonders of the future then shift to things a little closer to home, namely kitchens. And stays there. The last half of the film is about kitchens. To be fair, they’re gorgeous kitchens:
The housewife star of the video is floored by the kitchen technology as well as the other ancillary appliances, like a mobile bar that can be rolled into any room:
Or the inexplicably outdoor laundry room on the back porch.
The already-awkwardly-turned video then takes another awkward and sort of offensive turn, in which the housewife travels through kitchens of the world, herself acting as the housewives of each region. There’s not much that’s different about each kitchen other than the food that’s in the fridge and the decorations that are on the table, but they seem to feel that they’re on to something and spend several minutes on the world tour.
Then the housewife wakes up and realizes it was just a dream, that she never went to the Futurama exhibit at all, and that she’s stuck in her terrible non-futuristic AMAZING KITCHEN.
That’s kind of three strikes, right? They’ve shown a rotten intention toward our natural resources, a rotten notion of gender roles, and a rottenly lazy attempt to showcase the different cultures of the world. It just goes to show that maybe not everybody should go for the futurology angle with their infomercials.
Here’s the whole thing.
2. Children of the Stones – Broadcast in the UK in 1977 and later in the US on Nickelodeon’s Sci-Fi Anthology show The Third Eye in 1983, Children of the Stones is a seven part miniseries dubbed “the scariest programme ever made for children”.
The gist of the program is that there’s a village located inside of an ancient circle of stones, and that village exists in a time rift because of the circle. A researcher and his son move to the village in the 1970s to study the area, and things get…weird.
The village exists inside of a time rift and throughout history events in the village happen over and over again, the surrounding stones radiating the energy created by those events. It’s a complicated and chilling series, for sure, and one that’s pretty highly regarded as one of the best children’s dramas of all time.
Here’s part of episode one. You could probably find the rest if you were so inclined.
3. Fraggle Rock Books – I don’t know what it was about the ’80s but kids just hated to read! At least, we were told all the time that kids hated to read. It was an odd thing to hear as a kid for whom there were not enough books in the world. In order to entice these word-resistant children, lots of popular TV series lent their licenses to book series that parents could subscribe to. I assume these things printed money. Fraggle Rock was one of those series, and this commercial seemed to air about every ten minutes on any kids network it could find.
4. Green Cross Man – The Green Cross Man was a PSA Hero in mid-1970s UK. He appeared in several public service announcements giving kids safety tips. His videos are pretty well preserved, like this one!
Green Cross Man also played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy! Except for the voice part.
5. Mercury Ad – Straight out of Tomorrow!