1. The Weird Al Show
Here’s a 1997 Saturday Morning kid’s show hosted by “Weird Al” Yankovic.
Produced by Dick Clark Productions, taped at NBC Studios, and broadcast on CBS, The Weird Al Show had a lot going for it. In many ways it took the formula that made Pee-Wee’s Playhouse so popular; it starred a well-known personality, it championed the use of different types of media, it had a funky set, it taught a lesson, and offered some degree of star power in its guests.
The intro to The Weird Al Show is impressive. It’s got stop-motion animation, CGI, hand-drawn animation, and live action all set to a “Weird Al”-penned song. Each episode had its own lesson, which was pretty clearly stated after the intro, and most of the episode would foot up to that lesson. The segments were broken up with television show and commercial parodies as well as “Weird Al” music videos, and Al recaps the episode’s lesson at the end.
The writing is actually pretty solid, and this might be what ended up hurting the show – it’s a bit on the subversive side for ’90s children’s television, in an age when parent groups and the FCC were watching that sort of thing closely. I can imagine the CBS censors taking a heavy hand with the scripts, and the balance of the show being affected by that.
Whatever the reason, The Weird Al Show was cancelled after one season, and that’s kind of a shame – there was potential there. Here’s an episode, see for yourself.
2. Twin Peaks Newspaper Ads
These are a few of the black-and-white ads that ran in the TV sections of newspapers while Twin Peaks was in premieres. I really love their simplicity and the consistency of design from the premiere to the finale. Some spoilers here if you haven’t seen the series, obviously.
3. The Book Bird
This charming 1978 PBS show featured John Robbins, a former schoolteacher, illustrating scenes from passages of books as he read them. Think Reading Rainbow meets Bob Ross with a great stop-motion intro.
4. 2 Legit 2 Quit
Here it is: MC Hammer’s fourteen-minute epic featuring just about every ’90s R&B personality under the sun and then some. I can’t figure out if this is hard to watch or if I’m just not worthy to see it. Speaking of ’90s R&B personalities, Jim Belushi really gives it his all here.
5. Pure Moods
This mid-90s “As Seen On TV” CD release set the public’s impression of what ambient music was back DECADES. Full disclosure: I bought this CD. While most of its songs are top-40 new-agey stuff, it did turn me on to Jean-Michel Jarre so it wasn’t a total loss.