Five Things – 01.23.17 – Hit The Play Button And Go Blow Up Some Spaceships

Pioneer LaserActive Infomercial

In 1993 Pioneer released a sort of megadevice that combined CDs, Laserdiscs, video games, and  interactive karaoke CDs.  Called “LaserActive”, it retailed for just under $1000 and in a result that shocked nobody, was largely unsuccessful.

This 1993 “issue” of Zoom, the “Video Magazine” (what?) features the ins-and-outs of the LaserActive.  It’s a showcase of the technology itself, the software featured, and an awkward technical section that describes how to set the thing up.  Not sure that last part is “video magazine”-worthy but hey, I’m not a “video magazine” editor.

This video is about 40% content and 60% stock ’90s introspective flash and graphics. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The LaserActive software is impressive; games like Pyramid Patrol, Quiz Econosaurus, and I Will demonstrate the different types of game options available, and the quality of the (then) high technology is evident.

Here’s the thing: it’s actually a pretty impressive machine. In the early-to-mid nineties, in the aftermath of the VHS/Beta war, in the middle of the CD/Laserdisc/VHS landscape, and on the cusp of DVD’s entry into the foray (not to mention minidiscs and mp3s), a device that could do it all was a pretty novel idea.  And in that light, $970’s actually a value.  Still, that’s a high price point to rationalize.

An interesting experiment, albeit a failed one.  What do you think? Here’s the “video magazine”.

 

Cinnamon Crunch

In my day, Cap’n Crunch battled the Soggies. These white, wet embodiments of too much milk goofily tried to thwart the Cap’n and his child companions, to no success.  In the 1970s, though, the Cap’ns nemesis was a fellow pirate named Jean LaFoote. He had his own cereal, Cinnamon Crunch, years before Wendell and the bakers would come along and stake a claim on cinnamon-flavored cereal with their Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Here’s LaFoote’s finest hour.

 

EPCOT Horizons Commercial

It’s not often that I come across something about Horizons that’s new to me, so I’m excited to share this sedate 1980s EPCOT commercial focused entirely on Horizons.  Everything about it is great, but for some reason the music doesn’t feel like a total match.  Still, so good!

 

Mason Shoe Recruitment

This ad ran in men’s magazines in the 1960s, recruiting would-be door-to-door salesmen across the country.

 

1940s Band-Aid Commercial

This commercial features a fascinating and unsettling proof-of-concept, testing the band-aid’s adhesiveness on an egg. That glue is way too powerful.

Way too powerful. Man was not meant for this level of adhesion.

-ds

Five Things – 01.16.17 – Once Or Twice In History

Kid n’ Play Cartoon

I’ve watched Hammerman. I’ve written about Hammerman.  This is no Hammerman.

Kid ‘n Play premiered in 1990 on NBC. It followed the by-then-standard formula of a cartoon celebrity show where the featured celebrities appear in live-action wrappers at the beginning and end of each story, and a mediocre effort is sandwiched in-between.

Kid ‘n Play seems to loosely follow the House Party premise, where Kid is responsible and Play is a troublemaker. Also, they’re totally normal high school kids who also happen to rap and have connections in the music industry. Also there’s a rival gang out to get them. The episodes feature pretty typical “Saturday Morning” lesson-teaching efforts; probably a little bit less than their counterparts.

Not a lot happens during these episodes, for the most part. There are no superpowers like Hammerman, no combat like Chuck Norris’ Karate Kommandos, no relatable characters like the gang in Mr. T. Just Kid and Play, making music and reacting to music.  Still, there’s something eye-catching about it. The animation is definitely crude, but the lazy “pyschedelic” backgrounds that appear during music sequences actually give the show a unique flavor.  Martin Lawrence and Tommy Davidson also provide voice work for some of the characters – that’s a level of involvement that neither Kid nor Play gave.

Check it out for yourself. There’s something charming about it, right? What is it?

Attack of the Timelord

No, not a Doctor Who game, unfortunately. This 1982 title for the Magnavox Odyssey is a pretty solid offering. A side-scrolling space shooter, a la Galaga, with voice, a ridiculously beautiful color palatte, and 256 punishing levels? Yes, please.

The box art is no slouch, either.

 

Six Million Dollar Man Toy

I’m legit floored by this two-minute ad for a Six Million Dollar Man toy.  It’s so good! Where would an ad like this have even run? The hubris of it is amazing. They are suggesting that this toy release is a ‘once or twice in history’ level event!

Jeep Gladiators

For some reason, we Americans seem to be at our best when we’re selling cars. This gorgeous vintage Jeep ad supports that claim.

 

Maxwell House Commercial

This bland Maxwell House spot is actually refreshingly straightforward, and makes me want a cup of coffee.  Just not Maxwell House coffee, please.

-ds

 

 

 

Five Things – 1.9.17 – Nickel, Nickel

Hammerman

It should come as no surprise that MC Hammer, he of the pop charts and the parachute pants and the very-safe-edginess and the runaway early-90s success, had his own cartoon.  Hammerman ran on ABC in 1991, and only lasted one season.

(My computer keeps trying to correct Hammerman to Hamilton.  Guessing this is the only time those two shows have been compared.)

Hammerman follows the adventures of Stanley Burrell, a youth center worker who becomes the superhero Hammerman when he wears a pair of magic shoes passed along from aging superhero Soulman.

This is all explained in what is perhaps the laziest theme song ever rapped.  That includes the end credits of Leprechaun in the Hood.

Hammer hosts each episode with a live action intro and outro, and the episodes usually focus on some issue relevant to kids or a larger societal issue.  A villain pops up and Stanley has to turn into Hammerman to put the villain down.  The background music gets to dip into the MC Hammer library, which is probably the only standout feature of this series .

It’s a pretty lazy effort all around – this sort of thing should be right in my sweet spot, but it’s really tough to watch all the way through. It’s remarkable in its laziness, though, and maybe that goes to show both how iconic MC Hammer was in 1991 and also how eager TV Networks and (maybe) kids were for cartoons related to any already-existing-and-popular property.

Here’s an episode. It’s titled “Rap-oleon”.  Like Napoleon.  Shudder.

 

Cookie Monster IBM Film

Jim Henson was contracted to do a series of short films for IBM in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They’re all pretty great, but some of them in particular offer glimpses of the Muppets to come. Here’s one such glimpse – an early Cookie Monster with teeth and claws, eating a sentient computer.

A toothed Cookie Monster is a recipe for some real, lasting damage.

 

Lock’n Chase Ad

I’m in love with the illustrations in this ad for Data East/Taito’s 1981 Arcade Game Lock’n Chase.

 

Big Trak

A beautiful design for an awful toy.  Big Trak was a “programmable” utility vehicle that intelligently performed tasks that you told it to do.  I can only imagine how clunky and limited the interface must have been to ‘instruct’ Big Trak to do anything. Also, I’m sorry, but if you program Big Trak to bring me an apple and if Big Trak dumps that apple onto the floor in front of me, I’m not going to eat that apple.

 

1939 Pepsi Ad

As a Coca-Cola kid and a (now) soda-free grown-up, I can safely say that this 1939 animated ad is the best thing I will ever associate with Pepsi.

Now where’s my coffee?

 

-ds

Five Things – 1.2.17 – Sure, Mac, Sure

Connections: AT&T’s Vision Of The Future

AT&T’s got a record of anticipating future trends and technologies that extends almost as far back as they do. They kind of have to; that’s their business.  This 1993 video, Connections, takes the emerging technologies of the internet and mobile phones and imagines a future that combines the two. And, despite a few silly overreaches, pretty much nails it.

Connections starts off with a trans-continental phone call between a woman, her fiancee, and the owner of the rug store in which the couple met.  This call auto-translates the three languages to suit each participant – a translation in the actual voice of the speaker. 

The next scene features (what we will find out later is) the girl’s Dad, a land developer using a tablet PC to imagine changes to a building project and then receiving a voice call. Look familiar?

Cut to the family’s Son, playing a VR game online with his buddies, during which he receives a video message from mom reminding him not to turn off the VR system but instead to switch over to the homework module.

Mom and Dad pick Daughter up at the airport, who rushes to a public phone booth to call her finance. Of course it’s a video call, with a voice-activated sign-in that can instantly access the caller’s contacts.

Mom, a doctor, then engages in a remote consultation for a patient.

She then shops for wedding dresses with Daughter, over the internet. The online store uses models of Daughter to explore different customization options.

There are two plotlines threaded through this showcase: the Daughter’s wedding plans and the Dad’s development plans.  The development plans are controversial as they would mean the loss of a community center. A concerned citizen appeals to Dad, showing him the appeals of the electronic classroom – a classroom filled with terminals that “connect to the Education Center in Washington” and provide virtual lessons customized to each student.

Speaking of, there’s a Siri/Alexa component that is apparently customizable. There’s a bit where Dad questions Mom’s use of a handsome digital personal assistant. Gulp!

Anyway, the education classroom visit forces Dad to grow a conscience and he confronts his boss in a futuristic office that belongs in an episode of 1995’s The Outer Limits reboot, in an episode that takes place on Coruscant.  No future tech in this scene, just some old guys arguing.

The storylines wrap up predictably in a way that makes everybody happy. The boss finds a way to make the development they want to make and incorporate a Community Center as well. Daughter gets married and has a baby. The rug salesman is conferenced in to meet the baby. The end.

It really is remarkable how right this video gets the application of the technology. It’s one thing to say that mobile communication and the internet will merge and define our lifestyles, but there are still dozens of ways that could happen.  Just about everything in this video exists now, 20-plus years later.  Except, I hope, that we’re a little less cheesy than these guys.  I don’t know.  Maybe we should be. There’s a lot of hope in this video.

K.C. Munchkin

The Odyssey 2’s answer to Pac-Man was, well, Pac-Man.

This ripoff of Pac-Man was actually available a year for home entertainment a year before any Pac-Man ports were, so in a sense it was actually the first to that specific market.  It was Pac-Man, though, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone arguing otherwise with a straight face.  That said, there were some interesting additions to the Pac-Man formula. On some levels the map would become invisible, forcing you to remember the layout. On others the box where the ghosts respawn would change location. Little things that, while not admissible in court as grounds for a unique product, do impact the gameplay experience significantly. Still, total ripoff.

The marketing was pretty good, though, and the box art is as on point as most video game box art was at the time.

Sure, Mac, Sure

This bizarre 1970s PSA dispels the myth that eating food makes it okay to drive drunk.  I think it also serves a secondary function as a cautionary tale about drinking seventeen different types of alcohol and then getting in a car.

 

John Berkey 1975 Otis Ad

This ad for the Otis Elevator Company, illustrated by famed Sci-Fi and Space artist John Berkey, depicts an indoor vertical storage solution. Maybe that sounds a little dry, but this is the future for me.

 

Sugar Free 7-Up

The illustration! The font! I love it!

 

-ds

Five Things – 12.26.16 – Top Five of 2016

Those polls at the bottom of each Five Things post? This is why they’re there. Here are the top Five things of 2016, selected by a very unscientific combination of votes, comments, email feedback and good old personal bias. Looks like old TV shows were mostly what resonated with you guys this year. Me, too!

Yars Revenge Theatrical Trailer (5.2.16)

This 1982 trailer for Yars Revenge on the Atari 2600 puts the premise into its proper, ridiculous perspective.

 

1987 NBC Saturday Morning Preview (4.25.16)

“ALF Loves a Mystery”, and I love an original fabric woven with characters and elements from a half-dozen different Saturday Morning shows.  These things are the dream of the eighties, and this is probably one of the best of the bunch.

 

Twin Peaks Newspaper Ads (2.1.16)

Hard to believe now, but there was a time when the TV itself didn’t offer a lot of information as to what was coming on so you had to consult print media to see what the viewing layout was for the evening.  Alongside those programming guides were ads for prime time shows, just above and below the horoscope and Jumble puzzles. The Twin Peaks ads were uniformly fantastic, in both layout and tone.

 

Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (3.14.15)

This failed detective show starring Ben Vereen and Jeff Goldbum (an accountant who knows karate) gave us little more than a great intro and some amazing print ads in its own right. I mean, come on.

Love that “New York Seltzer” font on the Title!

 

Man from the 25th Century (7.11.16)

Another failed show, but this one didn’t even make it past the pilot. In 1968 Irwin Allen sent future alien Tomo on a mission to then-present-day Earth, and then sold him out and attacked Earth, forcing Tomo to defend what was apparently his new homeland. Fantastic premise that never bore fruit. Yes, I blame Irwin Allen directly for Tomo’s misfortune.

and my personal favorite of 2016….

 

The Starlost

This series has taken up residence in my brain more than any other Thing I covered this year, and for good reason.


A farmboy who questions his reality just enough to trigger events that cause him to discover that he’s an astronaut on a generation ship that’s malfunctioned and is headed straight into a star, and that there are countless other pods of isolated societies on that generation ship, unaware of the existence of both the ship and of any other society? Sign me right up.

I seriously chew on this premise at least a few times a week.  Unfortunately the reality of the show itself doesn’t shine as brightly as the idea going into it, but there’s a lot there to love.

And that’s 2016.  For those of you who have read, commented, tweeted, sent me feedback, I can only say thank you. I’m delighted that someone out there gets as much of a kick out of these as I do. Happy New Year.  More to come.

 

-ds

 

 

Five Things – 12.19.16 – Go Find Your Mother

The Spirit of Christmas

This strange Christmas special first hit broadcast in 1953, presented by “Your Telephone Company”.

It was really Bell Telephone, but for some reason that’s never mentioned in the special. That’s just the first of many things that feel….off….about this video. The unnamed host addresses us in a poor overdub, explaining how he and the rest of the telephone company employees are busy creating books in braille for blind children. Okay.  He then throws to an overlong scene in which he, as Clement Moore, gets the inspiration to write The Night Before Christmas.

Then we get to see marionettes perform The Night Before Christmas.  Guys, I understand that marionettes are difficult. It’s an impressive skill. I couldn’t do it myself, and I take my hat off to those who can.  The only question I have is, is there some unspoken rule that marionette puppets need to be creepy? This is some serious nightmare fuel.  Cases in point:

The Night Before Christmas lasts for half of the special, and we switch gears to a straightforward telling of the birth of Jesus. Again, using marionette puppets.  To be fair, this is significantly less creepy than the previous segment, but still.  Is it just their faces that makes it creepy?

Once Jesus is born and the three Wisemen show up we’re given another round of ‘hey isn’t Your Telephone Company great’ and we’re done.  A very odd Christmas special.  Even more odd (and special) is that it was produced in color even though color TVs weren’t really a thing yet.  I’m glad it was; for all my gripes about its creepiness, the special does look great and really captures the era.  Here it is.

New Leaf Entertainment Promo Video

Here’s a fascinating video from 1992, where Dennis Miller acts as a pitch-man for an eerily prescient Video-On-Demand idea for Blockbuster Video years ahead of its time. They get so much right, just a decade too soon.

 

Casey Cassette

Somewhere on the spectrum between Chatbot and Alphie, there’s Casey Cassette.  That growling Santa Claus song he sings is pretty impressive!

 

Coke And Food Go Together

Alternately titled “Coke and Layout Design Go Together”. This 1957 Australian magazine ad for Coke is fantastic.

 

Atari Holiday Checklist

The thing that gets me most about this ad is the call-to-action with the dotted line, suggesting that any parent receiving this checklist would give it the time of day.

 

-ds

Five Things – 12.12.16 – Alphie Says I Got It Right

Mr. Ed’s Christmas Story

What holiday season would be complete without the ritual viewing of that one Christmas episode of that one show about the horse that can secretly talk and makes life miserable for the awkward suburban man who owns a horse that can secretly talk?

Mr. Ed’s Christmas Story opens with Ed and Wilbur hanging decorations in the barn. Ed asks Wilbur to buy some gifts for the other horses “at the stable”. (What stable? Where is Ed making these connections?) Wilbur balks at the idea and leaves.

On the way out, Wilbur bumps into Gordon, his neighbor. The two of them make a very modern agreement not to spend more than fifteen dollars on Christmas presents for themselves or their wives.  The pair purchase terrible cheap gifts to give to their wives and receive their expected wrath.

As Wilbur argues the value of thrift, there’s a knock on the door. It’s a delivery man, asking for a signature for all of the presents that Ed called the department store to buy for all his pals at the stable. Gulp!

The episode takes an awkward pivot at this point to Ed’s telling of how a horse saved Christmas by helping Santa Claus.  We cut to a really impressively decorated Santa’s Workshop, complete with two rotating clowns, where Santa (Wilbur) himself is stressing out over his ability to make enough toys.

The horse suggests he go to the bank to borrow money to make more toys (?), but the bank (run by Gordon) is pretty stingy about lending it. Santa makes a deal with the bank that if he will make all of the toy deliveries in one night, or else he’ll shut down his workshop for good.  This is a good four-to-five minute chunk of logic that makes absolutely no sense. Santa returns to the workshop with the money in hand to learn that the horse has taught the reindeer how to fly.  I give up.

Santa immediately gets in the sleigh and (presumably) makes his delivery, leaving unanswered the question of what exactly he needed the money for in the first place. The two couples get together for gift swapping, and the husbands deliver with the desired expensive gifts and… it doesn’t really matter at this point. The viewer’s brain is mush. Then this happens.

The eternal frustration of Mr. Ed, to me, is not that a horse can talk or that a man can find value in harboring a horse that can talk, it’s the continued instances of evidence of high levels of dexterity that a horse just isn’t capable of achieving – talking or not.  Ed removed Christmas decorations, dialed a telephone, and dressed himself up in a Santa costume on his own, amazing and impressive feats for a horse that completely outclass the ability to vocalize. That’s the crux of the story of Mr. Ed, and of Santa himself: we have to believe completely in this impossible magic, knowing that we’ll never see it for ourselves, and the entire thing falls apart if we don’t.

Here’s the episode.

Alphie

He’s no Chatbot, but Alphie – Playskool’s learning robot – was pretty cool in his own right.

 

Tunnels and Trolls Coleco Ad

A Coleco version of the popular RPG game Tunnels & Trolls was planned, and evidently made it far enough to Coleco to put together press materials for, but ultimately got scrapped.  Here’s the beautiful one-sheet for Tunnels & Trolls.

And the title screen. Not much else made it.

 

Sea Monkey How-To Video

This ultra-90s official video shows kids how to set up their new Sea Monkey tank.  This video would be watched mere hours before the disappointment sets in!

 

The Handle

Kodak’s handle-held instant camera is the perfect gift to immediately unwrap and then take pictures of all of your other gifts that are not The Handle!

 

-ds

 

 

Five Things – 12.5.16 – I Can’t Sell It To You

Deck the Halls With Wacky Walls

Wacky Wall Walkers were a very popular toy for a brief period in the early 1980s.  They were these rubber octopi that were sticky; you threw them against the wall and they would slowly “walk” down until the adhesive gave out and they just fell to the floor.  Super popular for a while, then relegated to cereal prizes, then gone forever.

wacky-wall-walkers

(via Retroland)

In their brief heyday, though, they were huge.  In typical ’80s fashion, that meant that they just had to have a presence on television. That presence took the form of Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls, which aired on NBC in the Christmas season of 1983.

ww-title

Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls had the liberty and license to apply any backstory they wanted to these rubber octopi. Naturally, the writers decided that they came from a complex space civilization.

wall-walker-planet

A team of 7 Wall Walkers – Kling-Kling, Big Blue, Springette, Bouncing Baby Boo, Crazylegs, Stickum, and Wacko – are sent to Earth to investigate something their scientists have heard about called “Christmas”.  My eyes are rolling, too.

wall-walker-gang-2

(They’re on the ceiling because they can walk on things like walls and ceilings. Get it?)

The special quickly falls into the normal Christmas special routine – outsiders looking for clues on what Christmas is find that some like the decorations…

decorations

…others like the music…

wacky-wall-dancing

…and others like the presents and the shopping.

santa

There’s a storyline woven through about an ungrateful kid who gets introduced to the Wall Walkers when one is accidentally wrapped into a gift.

unwrapped

Together, they learn that the true meaning of Christmas is giving, and the typical cursory nod to Jesus is given right before they wrap up.

The only truly special thing about this special is that someone decided to create a lore and background for a bunch of fad toys.  The work that went into this special probably outshines any effort that went into the toys themselves…and the special still comes up so, so short.  Here it is. It’s a fascinating sort of awful. Bah. Humbug.

 

TOMY Bots

I’ve mentioned before that as a child I believed that robot servants were always just around the corner.  They never materialized in any useful form, but that didn’t stop the toy companies from  scratching our itch with several iterations of few-function rudimentary remote-control devices in the shape of robots. TOMY was the best at this game, with their Chatbot, Verbot, and Omnibot models. Here’s a roundup of the commercials for the various models.

The Omnibot ads are legit fantastic. We’re clearly the chimps in that last one.  It’s always great when a company can get sales by insulting the customers.

 

Sammy Davis, Jr Alka Seltzer Ad

Sammy was an odd choice for Alka Seltzer’s spokesman in the late 1970s and early 1980s. but not really the wrong choice.  Alka Seltzer’s primary job is to provide relief from last night’s party, and you probably can’t find a much better expert on partying.

The Santa get-up is weird, though. BUT THAT FONT.

to-all-a-good-night

 

1987 Sports Illustrated Christmas Commercial

Watch this salesman blow all of his 1987 holiday commission by letting these wives and mothers know about the existence of Sports Illustrated!

Bless Your Hearth!

I don’t claim to understand the appeal of Necco Wafers, but I don’t need to; somebody out there loves them and that’s enough for Necco.  They DID, however, have an awesome Holiday print ad in 1952, and that’s enough for me.

bless-your-hearth

 

-ds

Five Things – 11.28.16 – I Doubt My Feet Can Disco

The Burger King Kingdom

McDonaldland gets some flak for its suspicious similarities to the world of H.R. Pufinstuf, and alot of that flak is deserved, but at least there’s some charm and originality to McDonaldland that redeems the effort.  Burger King’s 1976 attempt to rip off McDonaldland, on the other hand… there’s no redemption here.

burger-king

We’ve talked about the original Burger King mascot here before, that man who performs basic magic tricks for children in the lobbies of the fast food restaurants that bore his name.  He’s the leader of the “Burger King Kingdom”, a realm that involves an underwhelming roster of supporting characters and also takes place in our world and also is barely magical.

shake-a-lot

Sir Shake-a-Lot is a knight wearing milkshake armor. He’s a human who shakes a lot, that’s his whole thing.  It’s supposedly because he’s cold because he likes milkshakes so much, but it comes off like he’s mocking an actual condition.  His catch phrase is “Great Shakes!”

duke-of-doubt

The Duke of Doubt is the main villain of the Burger King Kingdom. His power is…doubt.  He doesn’t seem to cause any real trouble, doesn’t steal hamburgers or thwart plans or anything. He just doubts that things that are true are actually true, and is typically proven wrong by the end of the commercial. His catch phrase is “I doubt it!” Clever!

burger-thing

The Burger Thing bears the worst name of the gang and has the appearance to back it up. He’s a giant Hamburger puppet with a disturbing human face and the voice of Frank Welker. Total nightmare.

the-wizard-of-fries-mcdonaldland-apocalypse

Lastly, the Wizard of Fries is….actually pretty cool. He’s a robot who can take one french fry and duplicate it endlessly.

I will admit a certain bias toward McDonaldland; I was a McDonalds kid growing up, and I have a head full of fond memories of the McDonaldland gang in all of their various toy/cookie/playground-ride forms.  I like to think that I can rise above this bias, however, look at the two realms objectively, and still say that the Burger King Kingdom is garbage. If you need specific evidence, look no further than the leaders of each realm. Ronald McDonald is a magical man, a clown being who can manipulate the world around him and travel seamlessly between his dimension and ours whenever the children of our world need him.  The Burger King is merely a man who knows magic, a man who lives in our world, apparently in our very country, yet declares himself king and attempts to impress us all with parlor tricks.  One is a pale, pale version of the other.

Here’s a string of Burger King Kingdom commercials. That robot’s pretty cool.

 

Oompas

This 1970s predecessor to Peanut Butter M&M’s was one of Wonka’s few chocolate efforts, few compared to what you might expect given the man’s, you know, chocolate factory. Oompas were half peanut butter, half chocolate, wrapped in a thin candy shell.  The packaging was fantastic.

oompas-1 oompas-2

They’d later experiment with fruit flavors instead of the chocolate and peanut butter, but the whole idea ended up being a bust.

 

Ski or Die

A spiritual sequel to the arcade and console megahit Skate or Die, this game tries to apply the grit and style of 1980s skateboarding to the less-popular-but-still-popular-but-not-really-gritty world of skiing.

ski-or-die

You basically did what you did in Skate or Die, just replace anywhere you would “skate” with the word “ski”. There was limited open-world interaction, mainly getting to and from events which were the real meat of the game.

I dunno, it’s not awful. There are definitely worse games. Here’s a playthrough:

 

1980 Radio Shack Christmas Commercial

Radio Shack’s your place if you’re looking to pick up the latest Kingman, Zackman, or Alien Chase video games!

 

Seven-Up Punch

This recipe/ad for a Seven-Up punch is breathtaking.

Seven-Up Punch

 

-ds

Five Things – 11.21.16 – He Collected Old Things From Ships

Sapphire & Steel

If there was ever a premise that deserved a better go than it got, it’s the 1979 ITV Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series Sapphire & Steel.

ss-intro

Sapphire & Steel focuses on the adventures of the two titular characters, transdimensional Operatives charged with keeping our timeline intact. Not really clear on what’s meant by ‘our’ timeline – Earth’s? This whole dimensions?- but that’s not really relevant. What is is the concept posed in the series that Time is both a progressing, stable entity as well as a malicious sort of chaos when it’s allowed to be.

ss

A central element of the show is that a focus on the past, an obsession with relics or memories, can weaken the forward progression of Time and allow chaos to break into our reality in the form of ghosts and other malicious beings. Some of these beings hail from the beginnings and ends of Time itself, searching for weak points in the timeline to break in and do damage.  Sapphire and Steel are two of 127 Operatives tasked with preventing this, and each Operative possess unique abilities. Sapphire can manipulate Time on a small scale, creating loops or seeing things that happened in the recent past. Steel can directly combat these manifestations of the past, and possesses a supernatural strength and telekinesis.

time-loop

When I say that the premise deserved a better go than it got, I’m not really bagging on the show itself. The production’s as good as it could have been given the budget it had, and the audience numbers reflect the quality of the idea.  At the end of the day, though, it’s a 1970s British Sci-Fi serial and reflects the qualities of similar programs from that region from that time. It’s slow, dry, light on effects, heavy on words.  It’s a testament to the novelty of the premise that it’s such an interesting show despite these things.  Lack of effects aside, the title sequence is beautifully done.

ss-intro

 

Sapphire & Steel ran for five seasons (actually five “Adventures” – isn’t that adorable?) before being cancelled for various reasons.  Its relative popularity gave it a good merchandise run as well as some recent audio plays.  Here’s the first episode of the first Adventure. There’s a lot to like here.

 

1971 Dick Cavett Show Thanksgiving

In 1971 The Muppets joined Dick Cavett for the Thanksgiving episode of The Dick Cavett Show.  It’s pretty great stuff.

 

Punch Crunch

I can understand, from a sales and marketing angle, why Quaker would want to improve upon the already-flawless flavor of Cap’n Crunch cereal with varieties on the original recipe.  Peanut Butter Crunch and Crunch Berries, after all, have stood the test of time. I just don’t think it’s necessary – the original recipe is all you need.  For every Crunch Berry success, though, there seems to be a miss.  Punch Crunch was a miss.

punch-crunch

Introduced in the 1970s, Punch Crunch also welcomed Harry Hippo as a potential new mascot.  Neither Punch Crunch nor Harry lasted long.

 

K-Mart 1980s Thanksgiving Sale

From back when 8am was an acceptable start time for a doorbuster.

 

Trust Swanson

The first TV dinner, produced by Swanson, was a Thanksgiving meal. Depressing, right? Let the illustration and design of this ad make up for that.

trust-swanson

Ignore the plastic peas.

-ds