Category Archives: news

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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Five Things – 3.6.17 – POWER PLUS

TurboGrafx 16 Infomercial

This 18-minute promotional video for the TurboGrafx 16 game system pulls a page or two from the Saved By The Bell book of video effects.

Most videos like this have a terrible-yet-fun narrative angle threading the game showcases together, but outside of an awkward little kid occasionally playing unseen games we get a rapid-fire tour through just about the entire TurboGrafx library.  From Bonk to Darkwing Duck to Super Adventure Island to…Riot City…well, there’s a lot to see here.

The tour through the extensive game library is broken up by accessory after accessory. The portable Turbo Express, the CD Player, and the 5-controller connectable Turbo Tap all make an appearance, promising to turn your slick TurboGrafx system into an expanded clunky mess.

The infomercial concludes with a hard sell on the Turbo , the PS4 Pro of its day boasting increased speed, better graphics, and a higher price point.  And a subscription to their Nintendo Power, called Turbo Force.

For what amounts to a relatively unremarkable informercial, it’s actually pretty great – the graphic treatment is insultingly ’90s, the voice-over treatment given to each game is genre-appropriate to the point of being offensive, and the ability to look at the excitement around the gaming technology in 20-year-retrospect gives one a pretty satisfying smug feeling. Definitely worth a look:

 

Moon Zero Two Pressbook

Speaking of worth a look, I’ve been a fan of Moon Zero Two since I saw it featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the 1990s.  The set design, the costumes, the soundtrack, the goofy animated intro, the goofy live-action dance numbers, it’s all fantastic. Zombo’s Closet of Horror features a 12-page pressbook for the movie that’s just amazing in its depth of offerings to all members of a community. Hit the link for all of the scans, but here are some of my favorites:

 

MTV Spring Break 1993 Special

Is there anything more perfectly 1993 than this special concert during MTV’s legendary annual Spring Break stunt featuring Lenny Kravitz, Living Colour, the Black Crowes, and Stone Temple Pilots? If there is, it’s on you to show it to me.

Of particular note are those black and white MTV bumpers… I may break those out into their own thing at some point. Amazing stuff.

 

1980s Showtime Free Preview Weekend

I wore my VHS player out during the HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime free preview weekends. My family would take shifts recording as many movies as we could. Thanks to these weekends I can still recite Caddyshack 2 verbatim. This Showtime segment featuring Bill Harris hits that sweet spot.

For a bonus, check out the graphic design of this 1987 Showtime bumper. I want to live in it.

That bass line!

 

Safeway Supermarket Ad w/ Bob Weir

And to round things out, a stiff, muted Bob Weir championing a good cause in a 1980s Safeway ad. Just weird all around.

 

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Five Things – 08.08.16 – Luther Destroys The Gond

Total Recall 2070

My love for science fiction can probably be traced back to the time I saw Total Recall when I was eleven years old.  I somehow convinced my parents to buy me a VHS copy from Sam’s Club and  I think I spent the next two or three days watching it over and over.  I liked space stuff before then – I was a huge Star Wars fan – but Total Recall was the first time I remember falling in love with a science fiction idea.  I even bought (convinced my parents to buy) the Piers Anthony novelization, a Piers Anthony novelization of a  film adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story, and read it to tatters.  It actually holds up, if you’re the forgiving type of person.

Total Recall

Anyway, Total Recall is probably my favorite movie of all time.  It’s not the best movie of all time, of course, not by a long shot, but there’s so much there that works. So why nine years later someone thought it would be a good idea to use the franchise to make an episodic series that’s more Blade Runner than Total Recall is completely beyond me.

Total Recall 2070

Total Recall 2070 aired in 1999 on Canadian channel CHCH-TV and on Showtime in the US.  It’s a sequel of sorts to the film, at least in the timeline.  The fact that I had to look that up should tell you how thin the connection is between the film and the series; beyond the presence of the Rekall company (who I couldn’t imagine would still be in business after the Quaid debacle), the concept of memory-implant excursions, and the existence of the planet Mars with people on it, there are really no similarities between the two. Oh, it re-uses some spacecraft shots from the movie. But that’s it.

Mars

It really has more in line with Blade Runner – instead of the mutants in Total Recall there are androids, and some of those androids are up to things that shouldn’t be possible given their programming. Programming supplied by Rekall, because they do apparently do that sort of thing. Detective David Hume’s partner is gunned down by a gang of these rogue androids, and his investigation into the case partners him up with a rookie (who, spoiler alert, is secretly an android created by an unknown-to-the-rest-of-the-world manufacturer) and takes him to Mars. What time the series doesn’t spend exploring the nature of android psychology  and paying marginal lip service to the world that Total Recall built is spent on flashy gun battles, awkwardly placed cursing and similarly awkardly-placed gratuitous sex scenes.

So not so unlike Total Recall on that last part.

It baffles me that they had a series that really fit so well in the Blade Runner universe but chose instead to shoehorn the idea into Total Recall.  The series has a few things going for it – the sets are pretty good, the action’s fine, the effects are decent and the ideas are interesting – but the acting and writing are terrible and the episodes themselves are overlong and dull.  It’s not hard to see why it was cancelled after one season, leaving several plot points unresolved.

Recall Screen 2

Here’s an episode.  It’s hard to recommend spending the time on it.  You’d be better off reading the novelization of the movie. Also, NSFW warning: there’s nudity in this link.

 

World War III Comic, Part One

This 1950s nuclear-scare comic book really dials up the enthusiasm for atomic weapons of all shapes and sizes (atomic bazooka?), frequently at the expense of common sense or complete sentences!

World War III

With such memorable lines as “I’m on fire! Being burned alive! Eeeeeahhh!”, it’s hard to believe this comic didn’t make it into our public school curriculum.  Did the US’ Super Atomic Guided Rocket make it to Moscow? Find out next time!

Nuts for Nintendo

This 1988 segment of “20/20” is pretty charming, not because it characterizes the Nintendo craze as a phenomenon – it was – but in the way it illustrates it as something adults just can’t understand, like the children are possessed and speaking a different language.

Freemans Egg Powder

This poor girl’s left arm needs a little help.

Egg Powder

TRY IT

Vanguard Atari Commercial

This spot for the Atari game “Vanguard” illustrates the camaraderie of a group of high school boys generated from the game. And their inclusion of poor Luther.

 

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Five Things – 05.09.16 – I’m Talkin’ Quarter Pounder Beef On The Hot Hot Side

Don’t Look Now

Last week we saw a failed attempt at a prime-time spinoff of You Can’t Do That On Television called Whatever Turns You On.  Well, here’s a failed attempt at a carbon copy of You Can’t Do That On Television, 1983’s Don’t Look Now, produced for PBS station WGBH by the YCDTOT creators.

Dont Look Now Dylan

Don’t Look Now copied and pasted the sketch format from YCDTOT, making slight adjustments so that it could qualify as a different thing.  Canada had Barth, the US had a sleepaway camp cook who specialized in gross-out food.  Canada had a recurring firing squad gag, the US had a recurring kid-on-the-pirate-plank gag.  Instead of green slime, there was “yellow yuck”.

Yellow Yuck

Don’t Look Now added a few things to differentiate it from it’s Canadian sister, though.  The show was performed live, which allowed them to take phone calls from viewers.  If the viewers could answer questions posed by the show, they’d win a T-shirt.

Call In

Several “man on the street” segments featured real kids telling jokes to the camera.

Man on the Street Man on the Street 2

The crude humor and subversive “grown ups are awful” attitude are the focal point of both shows, and predictably so; it’s a very ’80s children’s television theme, and also grown ups are actually awful.  Here’s the first episode.

The kids don’t have the chops that the Canadian kids have, none of the adults are anywhere near the level of Les Lye, and the potty humor feels even more forced than usual, but there’s still a level of charm here.  It’s a bold move for a PBS station to commission a program that betrays the established trust from parents about the content of kids’ programming on public television, and that’s probably why it backfired.  Don’t Look Now premiered on October 2, 1983 and the finale ran 28 days later on October 30. So it goes.

Also, that segment about what happens to your poop after flush it is legit fascinating.

 

Pre-War Travel Posters

There’s a great roundup of British pre-war travel posters over at Flashbak. Here are some of my favorites – hit the link for the rest.

‘To Hampshire and the New Forest Quickly by the New “Bournemouth Limited”’. Poster produced for Southern Railway (SR) promoting train services to Hampshire and the New Forest. The poster shows a panoramic view of the countryside with a quote by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). Artwork by Leonard Richmond, who studied at the Taunton School of Art and Chelsea Polytechnic and exhibited widely both in London and abroad. He painted landscapes and figures and designed posters for the Great Western Railway (GWR) and Southern Railway (SR). Dimensions: 1016 mm x 1270 mm.

Poster produced for the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). Artwork by Norman Wilkinson. A famous marine painter, Wilkinson made a major contribution to the art of camouflage. He designed posters for the London & North Western Railway, LMS and Southern Railway, and organised the Royal Academy series of posters for the LMS in 1924. He also worked for the Illustrated London News and Illustrated Mail. "

British Tourist and Holidays Board poster. Artwork by Norman Wilkinson.

 

Frogger/Empire Strikes Back Commercial

This Parker Brothers commercial for its Frogger and Empire Strikes Back Atari games doesn’t quite have the synergistic thread that Data East had with their Robocop/Bad Dudes spot. The custom animation for Frogger is great, though.

 

Compuserve Ad

This seems like your average early-internet ‘hey you can manage your whole life with this service’ ad until you notice that it’s from 1983. That’s some future-stuff.

CompuServe

 

Mc D.L.T.

Jason Alexander foreshadows his Pretty Woman role in this 1985 spot for the Mc D.L.T. burger.

They used that much styrofoam for EVERY hamburger. That’s bonkers.

 

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