1. Otherworld – This short-lived sci-fi series ran for three months in 1985 on CBS. It sits in the bucket of failed 1970s and 1980s science fiction shows, but like many of them it’s kind of charming and has a fun idea.
While in Egypt, the Sterling family takes a tour of the Great Pyramid of Giza during a celestial event in which several planets are in alignment. Somehow this transports them to another world.
The family stops an officer to ask for help, but it turns out this world’s got a crazy class structure and all of the provinces are closed off from each other and no travel’s allowed. The officer (actually Commander Kroll, a real bad dude) treats them belligerently and in the ensuing scuffle is shot by the Sterling son. Interesting note: Kroll’s played by TV’s Jonathan Banks, better known as Mike from Breaking Bad.
The family takes Kroll’s transport into the city, where they cheese some papers and get indoctrinated into society. It’s clear that this society is far advanced from where 1985 Earth was, and it turns out for good reason – they’re all androids. There’s a radiation present that affects the human Sterlings and nobody else, and they end up having to leave the colony and set out on the road for answers. It’s not an easy departure, what with Kroll on their trail, but they make it out and pave the way for a glorious series of discovery and fun.
Or 8 episodes.
The world, Thel, is actually pretty interesting. There’s high technology, a totalitarian religious government, and myriad isolated zones each with their own culture, technology and customs. The production is no slouch either, there’s decent effects and good set design and fashion.
It seems like a fertile ground for a science fiction series, but apparently it just wasn’t in the cards. Here’s the pilot episode. It’s actually pretty fun!
2. Partridge Family, 2200 A.D. – If the Bradys did it, you know the Partridges couldn’t be far behind.
This animated series aired on CBS in 1974, and looking at it I have to admit that I gave The Brady Kids too hard a time. They at least had a somewhat inventive premise; Partridge Family, 2200 A.D. is just a Jetsons ripoff. Seriously, they made this series instead of making a teenaged-Elroy version of Jetsons.
Here’s the intro; episodes are a little harder to find. Still kind of catchy, no?
3. Buster Sales – Thrill as a teenage Blockbuster Video employee is taught to recognize and make the most of sales opportunities by a creepy guy trapped in a video monitor!
Remember all those tapes?
4. Pizza Hut Back to the Future – Pizza Hut was a pretty big licensing partner for Back to the Future II‘s theatrical release. They had a pretty nifty set of sunglasses you’d get with a purchase. They also had this over-the-top futuristic commercial. Now that we’re out of 2015, I can safely say they were way off base.
5. Howard Johnson’s Commercial – Meanwhile, in a simpler time, Howard Johnsons just wanted to sell fried clams to children.