Short Circuit, Boom – Dead at 21 (1994)

Dead at 21 sits right at the fulcrum of MTV’s rise as a unique music industry powerhouse and its slope into scripted and reality basic cable normalcy. When the show premiered in 1994 the network had a healthy roster of not-music-video-related shows, but most of them were some form of comedy, game show, or animation….

A VJ on MTV – Where’s The Cap’n (1985)

In 1985, Cap’n Crunch disappeared. We – the cereal-eating populace – didn’t witness this departure in a commercial, the main way of keeping track of the lives of cereal mascots. Instead, we saw through those commercials that the departure had already happened. The hunt was on at that point, a million dollars at stake. Well,…

Living Things Do Grow – Dragons, Wagons and Wax (1970s)

Dragons, Wagons and Wax is the perfect title for a medieval-themed kids show. Unfortunately, this show couldn’t be less of a medieval-themed kids show. Fortunately, what it is is pretty unique and pleasant. This breath of fresh air came out of WCET in Cincinnati in the late 1970s. Shown in schools and distributed to PBS,…

Hey Willy! ALF (Sega Master System) (1989)

The quirky, furry, wisecracking ALF had a bit of a cultural moment there in the late 1980s, enjoying a licensing spree spun out of the decently popular NBC sitcom. He got a cartoon, some toys on shelf, and a Pizza Hut hand puppet. He also had a handful of educational video games and toward the…

I’ve Got Pals Over Here – Popeye & Pals (1970s-80s)

I don’t know about you but from my end nothing enhances the enjoyment of a good block of cartoons like a bunch of kids crammed into a bleacher and loaded up with fried chicken and soda. Popeye’s Fried Chicken did this for, like, a really long time with “Popeye and Pals”, a kid’s block on…

The Secret’s Out- Storyphone (1990s)

I know that the 900-number industry isn’t exactly known for their respectability, but this one seems particularly shady. Who doesn’t like to have fun, am I right? And what better way than to spend three dollars for the first minute and thirty-five cents for each additional minute to call a phone number to hear someone…

CBS All Star Rock n’ Wrestling Saturday Spectacular (1985)

The Prime-Time Saturday Morning preview specials of the 1970s and ’80s have a bespoke magic to them, self-serving events created from scratch for the sole purpose of promoting other things elsewhere on that same network and using big star power to do it. It’s never a simple roundup, never a straight “hey, here are our…

It’s For Everyone – Today’s Special (1981)

The department store of the 1970s and 1980s was a labyrinth of wonders, a never-ending series of corners opening up into new lands – most of which were pretty dull to a kid. Until you got to the children’s department, that is. Push past the shoes and the pants and the dress clothes and more…

Cut. It. Out. – Out of Control (1984)

Before Dave Coulier warmed America’s hearts as Uncle Joey Gladstone, he hosted a low budget talk show for kids that spent most of its time off of the rails. Have mercy! Out of Control was conceived as a parody news magazine show for kids or, more accurately, a show about putting on a news magazine show for…