Author Archives: david

Five Things – 5.22.17 – Stories For Boys

 

It’s About Time (1966)

What if you had a silly TV show set in a remote jungle location and you had an idea for a second, unrelated-yet-just-as-silly TV show set in a remote jungle location and you just re-used props and sets from the first silly TV show for the second silly TV show and crossed your fingers that nobody would notice? That’s pretty much Sherwood Schwartz’s approach to It’s About Time, the second silly TV show to Gilligan’s Island‘s first silly TV show.

He actually probably didn’t cross his fingers that nobody would notice. He probably just didn’t care.

It’s About Time follows the adventures of two astronauts, Mac McKenzie and Hector Canfield, who get sent back in time to caveman days and end up living with caveman family Gronk and Shad, . Gronk is played by Joe E. Ross. essentially a caveman version of his Gunther Toody character from Car 54 Where Are You? Shad is played by the lovely Imogene Coca.

The cavemen speak in broken-but-very-very-passable modern English.  The rest of the tribe are suspicious of the astronauts, but are eloquently suspicious.  The plot lines revolve around either the astronauts bringing modern civilization to the cavemen, or trying to adjust to/reconcile their worldview with the cavemen’s.

Now here’s the interesting part – the show was retooled 2/3 of the way through the season to address the sagging ratings.  They basically flip the premise, where the astronauts find a way to return to the present and bring the cavemen with them. The episodes then revolve around the cavemen’s acclimation to 20th Century life. That’s a courtesy the Gilligan gang didn’t get until their TV movie finale!

It didn’t help. It’s About Time was cancelled after the first season. While it’s definitely not up to par with Schwartz’s stronger efforts like Gilligan’s Island or The Brady Bunch, there’s still something special here. There’s just a lot of other stuff weighing it down.  Here’s a few episodes.

 

 

1980 Coleco Catalog

There is so much to love about this 1980 Coleco Games and Toys catalog. So much to love! This Holly Hobbie oven looks like something out of a haunted house. And how about that plaid stroller?

 

1987 Train Ride to Coney Island

This is a pretty great snapshot of New York City in the late 1980s.  Those kids need to jump into a pool of Purell after laying around on the seats of that train, though .

 

Goonies Famicom Commercials

The Goonies, as a movie, couldn’t be more American in how the kids act, what motivates them, and the nature of their reward. The beautiful insanity of the Goonies videogames, however, we’re just not capable of that.  Kudos to Konami for taking a solid foundation and launching it into the stars.  These ads for both Goonies games really hammer that insanity home.  I’ll also take this opportunity to repeat the fact that Goonies II is one of the greatest video games of all time.

 

U2’s First TV Appearance

This 1980 TV appearance is a completely different band.

 

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Five Things – 05.15.17 – Fall Has Come To Millbrook

Nintendo Fun Club – April 1988 – Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

I played the new Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, for about an hour this morning. I didn’t have a ton of time to play, so I didn’t want to get into anything too big. Instead I just collected some food and cooked it, went to a few camps to farm arrows from some scrub mobs, scouted and unlocked a lookout tower while dodging laser beams from ancient robots, and stumbled across a giant one-eyed monster called Hinox and figured out how to defeat him.  Then I looked back at the past hour and marvelled at how far the series (and really, gaming in general) has come since 1986 and 1988’s Zelda and Zelda II games.  Then I remembered the Nintendo Fun Club issue that came out in April of 1988 covering Zelda II, and I found it again on Archive.org.

Amazing ’80s font work aside, the cover art pales a bit in comparison to the cover for the original Zelda, but by itself that’s forgivable. The original cover is pretty amazing.  What’s less forgivable is that this design sort of leans into the character design of the CD-i Zelda games, which are legendary for their awfulness. It’s gotta be a coincidence, though – this cover is cartoony but still not that bad.

It’s no ‘cooking food’, but the addition of the winged boots, thunder spell, fairy transformation and, you know, towns, were pretty significant upgrades.

Apart from Zelda, there’s some other really fun stuff here.  The pros offer some Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! tips – it’s the least they could do, since the game itself advertises the Fun Club pretty blatantly:

Some user-submitted reviews and Metroid artwork are pretty adorable:

And, of course, some epic-looking game ads. Nintendo’s own ads are always a significant cut above the rest:

It’s times like this that I’m thankful for sites like archive.org, that can collect and keep these pieces of history. Stuff like this could have easily been lost, otherwise, and it’s such an important part of pop culture history. Consider throwing them a few dollars if you haven’t already. It’s good work!

 

 

How to Send an E-Mail (1984)

I had to continually convince myself that this 1984 “Database” feature on modems, bulletin boards, and email was not a parody or a segment of Look Around You. The enthusiasm these folks display about this technology is really pure, encouraging, and charming.

That’s definitely not Jermaine Clement travelled back to the past to be on a BBC Program, right? Definitely not. Right?

 

 

Day In The Life of a 1950s Small Town

Richard’s town’s got a lot going on! Movies AND bowling? This is actually a really good slice of life of the ’50s.

 

1989 Canon Superman Commercial

Not sure how much more on the nose you can be with your subject matter without actually being on the nose.

 

1978 Taco Bell Commercial

The Enchirito cameo makes this 1978 Taco Bell commercial an easy share.  Miss that guy. The man about to eat them looks a bit ogre-ish for such a refined dish.

Tac-a-tac-a-tac-a-tac-o Bell!

 

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Five Things – 5.8.17 – Some People Call This A War

The Front Line

This 1960s training film on the merits of good checkout procedure places an awful lot of responsibility for the store’s performance on what happens in the checkout lane.  Indeed, they are “The Front Line” in the grocery war.  Seriously, they just casually call it a war.

I’m not going to spend time romanticizing the actual advice given in this film; it boils down to ‘make the right amount of change’, ‘don’t get tricked by crooks’, and ‘sell stuff at the right price.” The way they give the advice, though, is great: the hair and fashion are top-notch for the era, and the large green “test room” has an awesome visual aesthetic.

The real star of the film, though, is the reality of the 1960s grocery store and the golden crossroad of an almost clinically clean store design filled with beautifully packaged processed foods.

It’s worth “checking out”.  Get it? Sorry. Here it is.

 

Cadbury’s Smash Commercial

Speaking of war, this 1970s spot for Cadbury’s mashed potatoes is nothing less than a declaration of it from those smug Martians.

 

Cosmography & Astrology

This beautifully confounding print from 1686 demonstrates the various applications of Cosmography and Astrology.

King Vitaman Commercial

I don’t know who these people thought they were fooling. This is a cereal made of styrofoam that nobody would enjoy.

 

You Are Too Fine

Heineken’s got the right hook, here.

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Five Things – 5.1.17 – Halfway to Hades

Nearly Departed

This 1989 NBC show features a married couple who die in an accident, yet their ghosts live on in their house and they have to live with/around the living family that moved into their house after they died and only one member of the family can see them and it’s not Beetlejuice and somehow they still got away with it.

In the spirit of fairness, there are a few adjustments to the formula.  Ghost Husband Grant (played by Eric Idle) was a professor in life, and his hoity-toity ways conflict with Living Husband Mike who’s an unrefined plumber.

The person who can see the ghost family is not the youngest member of the family (Derek, the super cool teenage babe-hound) but the oldest – curmudgeonly Grandpa Jack.

Jack hates Living Husband Mike, too, so he and Grant have some common ground. Also the Ghost couple can apparently leave the house without being devoured by sandworms.

Nearly Departed lasted all of four episodes before being cancelled.  Two went unaired. Perhaps it was the too-obvious Beetlejuice draft, but I doubt it.  It also directly claimed inspiration from the 1937 Cary Grant film Topper, so there’s at least some admission of its derivative nature.  Instead, I think it’s that it just wasn’t very good. Eric Idle’s fine in it, and there are some good bits, but it’s just not very unique in any aspect. The plot lines are typical sitcom tropes and the premise doesn’t do anything to elevate the stories.

Also, why would this family have a bed that fit four people and cram into one side of it if they weren’t aware that there was a ghost family next to them? And why would Mike hug Grant and find something tangible at all?

Here’s an episode where Grandpa is tasked with babysitting babe-hound Derek, but instead goes off to play poker and leaves the ghosts in charge… hilarity!

 

 

Quick Fast

This 1979 PSA instructs kids how to make a quick breakfast – a “quick fast”, if you will.  I’m on board with the idea, but toast with cheese AND peanut butter? That’s weird, right?

Also, where does that bowling part fit in to all of this?

 

Pink Panther Flakes (1971)

I’ll take a piece of toast with cheese and peanut butter over whatever this garbage is supposed to be. It’s pretty bad when the commercial won’t even show you the cereal.

The vocal on the verse is pretty amazing, though.

 

Silent Running Trailer

They don’t make trailers like this any more.  There’s something charming about the combination of the uneventful font, the deadpan narration, the blatant ‘this is what the movie is’ nature of the clips and the progression of the trailer’s narrative, and the circus-ringleader copy playing up the robots and Joan Baez.

 

MST3k Season 2 Promos

In honor of the recent release of Mystery Science Theater 3000  season 11(!) on Netflix, here are some promos announcing season 2. It’s pretty neat to see the promos reference TV’s Frank as the “new villain”.  It’s also neat to see some of the Comedy Channel’s look and feel.

 

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Five Things – 4.24.17 – Coming Soon, You Angel!

1982 ABC Pac-Preview Party

It’s 1982. Pac Man’s a pretty big deal. So big that they didn’t just make a Pac-Man cartoon, NBC centered its 1982 Saturday Morning Preview Special around it.

Sort of.

Pac-Man is the carrot that Dick Clark dangles for forty five minutes through this awful special, held on the set of American Bandstand. Like the free movie tickets that come at the end of a Timeshare presentation, you have to through clip after clip of unoriginal, derivative cartoons based on existing properties.  When you’re not doing that, you’re watching Dick Clark have a hamfisted time around some children. Seriously – he doesn’t know what to do with these kids. Not 90 seconds into the special, Clark is admonishing a child for talking when he’s talking. On mic. To the camera.

The special tries to be interesting – ventriloquist Willie Taylor does a solid three minute set.

Scooby and Scrappy-Doo costumed characters show up for a clunky appearance.

Henry Winkler and Frank Welker do a table read of a scene from the Laverne and Shirley cartoon. Kids love seeing voice actors!

After a ten-minute long “clip” of The Lil’ Rascals cartoon we finally get about a forty-five minute preview of Pac-Man! Then we’re sent out of the special with a rockin’ dance party.

Seriously, there’s so little effort here. Give me a sloppy narrative or a musical act or some actual star power! At the very least, I guess it’s heartening to see a studio full of disappointed kids make the best of things. Here’s the special.

 

Ward’s 1971 Microwave Oven

Love that dinosaur puppet! The flaming arrow into the conestoga, not so much…

FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS.

 

Waffelos

Watch a cowboy with dementia peddle a cereal based on stale waffles to a couple of overacting kids!

 

The Long Walk Artwork

“The Long Walk” is one of my favorite short stories by Stephen King.  This promotional artwork really catches the story, from the illustration to the red background to the font choice. Beautiful.

 

Heinz Ad

Guys, I don’t think this conversation actually happened, but I love the layout of this ad.

 

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Five Things – 4.10.17 – A Great Makeout Champion


Mazes and Monsters (1982)

Tom Hanks’ first movie role wasn’t a comedy, like you’d think. It was barely a drama.  His movie debut took form in the role of Human Robbie/Cleric Pardieu in the 1982 TV Movie Dungeons & Dragons Scare-Film called Mazes and Monsters, a movie based on a hastily written book loosely based on inaccurate facts about the disappearance of a teenager who was interested in D&D.

The movie starts out with a flash-forward to a crime scene – someone’s in trouble and we don’t know who. We’re told that the incident involved a role-playing game called Mazes and Monsters and not much more.

Flashing back to the true start of the movie, we’re introduced to a bunch of priveleged kids who attend school together. There’s JJ, the eccentric party boy who wears a rotating lineup of goofy hats.

Then there’s Kate, the beautiful collegiate who is way-too-fashionable to be a Dungeons and Dragons fan in the 1980s.

Boring Daniel wants to be a videogame designer, but doesn’t have his parents support.

And finally  Robbie, played by Tom Hanks.  Kicked out of one school as a result of his obsession with Mazes and Monsters, he transfers to the school that JJ, Kate, and Daniel attend with the promise that he won’t play again.

That promise lasts about five minutes, as Robbie falls in with the gang and the foursome become best friends over sessions of Mazes and Monsters. Turns out Robbie’s got a pretty rad character from his obsessive other-college campaign.

Robbie and Kate become an item. Robbie confides to Kate that his little brother ran away when he was younger and he hasn’t seen him since, a strange thing to bring up.  JJ gets isolated from the group due to their relationship, and plans his suicide in a nearby cavern.  He then quickly changes his mind on this plan, for some reason, and decides to create a Mazes and Monsters campaign in the caverns for his friends to enjoy instead.

The group goes out for their first session in the cavern and have a pretty good time. Robbie, however, has an episode where fiction and reality become blurred, and a switch ‘flips’ inside of him.  He sees an actual monster, and fights it.

From that point on Robbie more or less becomes his character,  the healer Pardieu.  He abruptly breaks off his relationship with Kate, has dreams of his missing younger brother, designs elaborate maps referencing “The Two Towers” and “The Great Hall”, and eventually disappears completely.

While the gang tries to find details of his whereabouts, the police get involved as well.  The police learn that Robbie had a history with Mazes and Monsters, and the gang hides their involvement so as not to be implicated.  The police somehow learn of the cavern campaign, and a detective poses to Daniel the theory that one of Robbie’s fellow gamers killed him in the cavern.

Daniel says, “That’s pretty far out.”

The detective replies, “Mazes and Monsters is a far out game.”

Solid line.

The gang realizes that Robbie’s mentions of “The Great Hall” are referring not to a place but to his missing brother who was also named Hall.  We see Robbie in New York City, still in character, looking for The Great Hall.  He’s chased by some local toughs and ends up in an alleyway. Reality and Fiction fall on top of each other and he accidentally kills one of them.

He calls Kate in a panic, who tells him to head to JJ’s family’s house in the City to wait for them.  Robbie doesn’t follow this advice and continues to amble around. The friends arrive in New York and quickly realize that “The Two Towers” refers to the World Trade Center, and that Robbie is heading there to jump off and join his brother, “The Great Hall”.

They all run into each other on the roof of the World Trade Center and, in character, talk Robbie down. JJ uses his authority as dungeon master to convince Robbie that this is a game, and Robbie snaps back to reality. And gives the first of what will be many classic Tom Hanks sad faces.

Epilogue: three months later. Kate is basically writing Mazes and Monsters: the book of the TV Movie. The gang visits Robbie at his family’s house, where he is taking time off of school to get his head straight. They meet him in the backyard and prepare for a special reunion….only to learn that Robbie is still trapped in his character.  They play the game one last time.

This whole movie seems like it was written by somebody who read the sensationalist headlines of the day regarding the dangers of Dungeons and Dragons and not much more. It’s an interesting interpretation of the form that someone’s concerns about losing a child to D&D might have taken in the 1980s.  It’s also interesting because, despite the hokey story, Tom Hanks is actually pretty good in this. He makes it worth watching.

Roll for initiative and see for yourself.

 

SEGA Game Gear Commercials

How do you sell your superior handheld device if you’re not Nintendo? Throw a bunch of jabs at Nintendo! These ’90s SEGA Game Gear commercials are quick to push their full color  and game library, but don’t necessarily bring up their four-minute battery life.

 

Moonstones Cereal

An alien race called the Moonbeams are mining moonstones from our Moon. The Moonbums are trying to steal the recipe for the moonstones.  Do you need recipes for things that are mined? This is a really complicated cereal.

 

Watch Out For The Munchies

I could use this ’80s anti-snacking PSA’s reminders on a half-hourly basis.

 

Gingervating

A truly horrifying Canada Dry ad.

 

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Five Things – 4.03.17 – Protection From The Ravages

1994 TGIF Saturday Morning Preview

This special, which aired in the typical Friday-Night-In-Fall position that all of these Saturday Morning Previews occupied, is a little bit misleading. It aired during TGIF, but you’d think from the title that the whole TGIF gang would show up and take you through the lineup. I was excited to see this. Instead, it’s just the Boy Meets World cast.

Except it’s not the Boy Meets World cast; it’s the Boy Meets World characters.  And they’re somehow straddling the line between watching ABC programming and being ABC programming.  There are several points during the show where older brother Eric Matthews is on the phone with a girl who sees through his lies because she is watching him on ABC at that moment.  It’s weird.

Also weird: the lineup.  There aren’t a lot of staples in ABC’s 1994 roster – The Bugs & Tweety Show is the only classic cartoon holding things down. New arrivals include a bizarre Free Willy cartoon that ups the ante with explosive violence and a evil, Dr. Claw-like villain.

Tales from the Cryptkeeper seemed like it would be an interesting take…

…Bump in the Night featured a pretty original idea and great stop-motion animation that must have taken ages to accomplish…

…and there’s the introduction of Reboot, the computer-animated show that everyone remembers fondly but that nobody actually watched.

The show concludes with a pretty awful rap rounding up the entire lineup, and we’re out.  There are better Saturday Morning lineups, and there are better Saturday Morning Preview Specials, but there’s still something about this one.

1989 PC Strategy Guide

This 1989 “strategy guide” for PC games is pretty thin on the actual strategy. You couldn’t pick this up and expect to use it to complete any games.  It’s more of a showcase of the latest games with a few spoilers mixed in.

That said, I’m a big fan of the layout and fonts used throughout the magazine, and this issue touches on some of my favorite games like Police Quest 2 and Gold Rush.

The ads are pretty great, too – like this creepy ad for PC Gaming Software.

And this one for Space Quest 3, another Sierra game.  This thing is pretty Sierra-heavy – I’m slightly suspicious.

Here’s the whole issue, up on archive.org.

 

Freakies Cereal

Because who doesn’t want the first thing you put in your mouth and stomach every day to be called “Freakies”?

Terrible name aside, this is a pretty impressive setup for a cereal. There are seven Freakies, each with a different personality. They travel to the Freakies tree, where Freakies cereal is produced every morning. It’s weird, right? Yet, the animation in these spots is flat-out amazing. Especially for 1972, where it was much easier to get away with much less.

 

Don’t Drown Your Food

Now this is a PSA I can get behind! I’m not much of a sauce guy, myself.  And neither is this dude from this 1980s ABC PSA!

 

Vitalis 1950 Hair Tonic Commercial

I don’t know why that camel has to have that accent, why half of the commercial is a scrolling wall of text, or why they replaced some words in that wall of text with pictures, but I do know that this commercial for Vitalis hair tonic is….a minute long.

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Five Things – 3.27.17 – Dough-licious

The Jim Henson Hour

This 1989 experiment tried to marry the light and dark sides of Jim Henson’s work into one weekly television event.  It didn’t really take.

Henson himself hosted the weekly hourlong anthology series, setting up the episode’s lineup and theme.  The first thirty minutes were called “MuppeTelevision”, hosted by Kermit and structured like a modern-day Muppet Show.  A muppet named Digit served the Scooter role in coordinating the production, and the tradition of a weekly special guest was still intact.

The second half hour was, for the most part, a more serious offering.  This segment was typically one story told over thirty minutes exploring the more poignant, emotional, story-led side of puppetry.  The short film Lighthouse Island aired here, as did several episodes of The Storyteller, starring John Hurt.

The series was a ratings flop, and only 9 of the 12 episodes produced ever made it to air before NBC cancelled the show. A shame, as there’s something special here. Here’s the first episode.

 

Cathy Ads for McDonald’s Salads

It was an odd-yet-very-eighties move for McDonalds to offer a line of salads as a standard menu item. I’ll ignore the fact that they chose to put them into cups so that you could shake them to toss and mix the dressing, which added the frustrating experience of eating a salad from a cup. Ok, I guess I won’t ignore it.  Still, an even odder decision was to use comic strip character Cathy to sell the McDonalds Salad idea. Here are a few commercials with her as the pitch-person.

 

 

Ack, indeed.

 

Powdered Donutz

It’s 1981! Candy can be cereal! Anything can be cereal! Everyone’s making cereal!

Cereal!

 

ALF (SEGA Master System)

It’s no surprise, given the TV show ALF‘s wide success, that a video game would release featuring the Melmac-ian jester.  It should also be no surprise that it was awful.

It’s a pretty simple premise: ALF’s scouring the town looking for tools to repair his spaceship, evading men-in-black and other, more pedestrian perils.  These men-in-black are pretty awful at disguise, their characters eternally hunched over with comically ‘grabby’ hands.

Still, the music’s charming and although the premise sounds A LOT like E.T., at least this game adaptation isn’t total garbage. Here’s a playthrough.

 

Baby Ruth Ad

And a beautiful, beautiful early-20th-century ad for Baby Ruth. The original driving stimulant. Except for, you know, drugs.

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Five Things – 3.20.17 – What They Call a Ronald Ray-gun

1989 Disney-MGM Studios Grand Opening

The decision to make a Disney-MGM (now Disney Hollywood) Studios theme park was an odd one for the company. This 1989 television special celebrating the opening of the park is filled with similarly odd decisions.

Disney-MGM was the third Florida park, coming after EPCOT but before Animal Kingdom. Where the Magic Kingdom focused on Americana, Fantasy, Futurism, and Adventure and EPCOT focused on a more expanded Futurism and International appreciation, Disney-MGM was centered around Hollywood, moviemaking, and their acquired interests like the Muppets and their stake in Star Wars.  The park beat its most direct competition, Universal Studios Orlando, to the market by a year, but the actual offering of attractions – you know, the things that people go to theme parks to enjoy – were a bit iffy.

Like Universal, the intent of the MGM studio was to be an actual production lot.  Florida was rising as a destination for film and television production in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and Central Florida was leading the cyarge. It didn’t work out so well for Universal, and only worked out slightly better for Disney-MGM; large, loud, open-air parks don’t lend themselves well to delicate filming.  The production aspect of both parks was ultimately shuttered, with the exception of a few television studios that held out for another decade or so. This special is dripping with the optimism of the promise of that idea, though.

The special opens with a big production number led by Smokey Robinson, some fancy special effects, and a whole bunch of iconic movie characters in an elaborate dance number.

John Ritter hosts the special, for lack of a better word, as a director who has just learned that the park opens in two hours (gulp!). To get an idea of how he reacts to this news, watch any episode of Three’s Company, ever. Copy and paste this gag about twenty times throughout the special, as he clumsily pulls everything together for the grand opening, just happening to show off all of the park’s features along the way.

He stumbles across a ton of celebrities in the process.  There are bits, songs, or pre-recorded well-wishes from Harry Anderson, George Burns, Jane Fonda, Rue Maclanahan, Willie Nelson, John Ritter, Smokey Robinson, Dick van Dyke, the Pointer Sisters, and tons more.

Harry Anderson shows off the magic of blue screen technology and other special effects, complete with a bag full of “bee” puns and dad jokes.

President Reagan’s a natural fit for a well-wish to the new park, given his Hollywood background. Thatcher, though?

Dick van Dyke and the Creel triplets show off some of the actual attractions of the park, like the flagship Great Movie Ride, in an impressive attempt to chew up some runtime.

The highlight of this special is, without a doubt, the music.  In addition to the aforementioned Smokey Robinson number, the Pointer Sisters kill it, Buster Poindexter’s got a big number (right?)  and Suzanne Somers even pulls of an amazing, yet confusing, version of “Rhythm of the Night”.

Two hours, about twenty celebrity well-wishes, a dozen physical gags, and six musical numbers later the park is officially open.  A replica of old-timey and modern Hollywood in Central Florida. Was anyone asking for this? It’s difficult to get an accurate gauge of the actual appeal of this theme of a park. Growing up in Central Florida at the time, I know that the local reception was lukewarm. Star Tours was the main draw, and it was a great one, but one swallow does not make a Summer. I did meet Kid ‘n Play at the park one night as part of the 1992 NBA All Star Weekend, so there’s that.

Here’s the special.  Make sure to watch the commercials and promos – that spot for the Bionic Woman/Six-Million-Dollar Man crossover looks flat out bananas.

 

1969 IHOP Commercial

I can’t imagine the conversation that led to the approval of this voice singing this song in this commercial.  And the food just looks awful! Outside of that, though, gorgeous commercial.

 

MicroPro Ad

Before we had computers that could do multiple tasks and take up a reasonable amount of space, we had unitasker machines like word processors.  Not going to lie, I get so easily distracted that I kind of miss those days.. This print ad for MicroPro word processors has a clean look to it that makes me miss word processors even more.

Grins & Smiles & Giggles & Laughs

It’s interesting to see how fierce the cereal war was in the 1970s and 1980s.  There are so many flashes in the pan, so many unnecessary variations on successful formulas, and so many tacky TV Show/Movie tie-ins on the playing field during this time.  Case in point: 1976’s Grins & Smiles & Giggles & Laughs, a weird smiley-face cereal featuring five mascots – the aforementioned Grins, Smiles, Giggles, Laughs, and a grumpy robot named Cecil that produces the cereal if something makes him laugh.

It didn’t last long.

 

Lynda Carter’s Rock & Roll Fantasy

Where was Lynda Carter when Michael Eisner was casting for the Disney-MGM opening ceremony? This is such a delightful cringe.

 

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Five Things – 3.13.17 – That’s Why I’m In This Box

Invasion of Nintendo – Super Nintendo Infomercial

It’s always weird when Nintendo tries to be cool. Cool just isn’t their thing. This 1995 infomercial for the Super Nintendo is a perfect example of my point; it sets out to showcase the system’s lineup in an edgy, gritty way and it comes off looking like when the chaperones try to dance with the students..

Bush video, or Korn video?

A man in a video screen sends his dark agents to gather intel on the latest Nintendo games.  There’s an air of malice to the effort, but each outing quickly turns comical; there’s little edginess to be found in Yoshi’s Island, and even less in Donkey Kong Country.  The agents seem committed to torture in order to get the info they need, but the ‘torture’ ends up to be mild aggression and, in one case, just plain money.

There would have been good value in watching this as a kid in the mid-90s. There weren’t many chances to get a look at footage of games that weren’t out yet, and Killer Instinct is a pretty extreme title for Nintendo. Even though Super Mario RPG wouldn’t come out until the N64, it’s pretty exciting to see it here.

And speaking of N64, the video ends with the ultimate intel: a first glimpse at the new console from a Japanese convention. There’s not a lot to it, but what’s there is cool.

So yeah, a mixed bag.  The tone isn’t really congruent with the Nintendo we knew then or know now, but it was the ’90s and everyone was trying this sort of thing on.  Here’s the video:

 

1940s Catholic Truth Society Covers

Vintage Irish Book Cover enthusiast Hitone’s got some book covers from the Catholic Truth Society that are nothing short of breathtaking. Here are a few of my favorites – hit their site for the rest.

 

Big Loo

This “Giant Moon Robut” is flat-out terrifying. Just $9.99 in 1960s money!

Those teeth!

 

Cycles Rad

I’d like to live in this 1910 poster for a French Race sponsor.

Mend-Aid

Finally, this 1970 commercial for an adhesive glue that almost certainly gave anyone who touched it some sort of disease.

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