Tag Archives: 1970s

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.

 

-ds

 

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.

-ds

 

Five Things – 2.20.17 – Say Hello To Michael Jordan For Me

Gamepro Video Game Secret Tips, Tactics & Passwords, Vol. 1

Our old friend J.D. Roth from Gamepro TV takes us on a journey to sap all of the fun out of video games by using cheat codes and exploits!

This video covers the Super Nintendo, Genesis, and TurboGrafx generation of games, and features some pretty B-list games for a “Volume 1”.  While most videos of this type gave viewers hints and strategies around tough parts of games, with the occasional game-breaking code or exploit, this video delivers hack after hack, with the objective seeming to be to get you to the end of the game as quickly as possible.  I guess that’s what you’d be paying for?

There’s a LOT of “attitude” here, fueled by Roth and his arsenal of slang.  I did not age well, but I will say that it sets this video apart from its drier, more straightforward competition.  Roth is also awkwardly superimposed on top of game footage for much of the video. Does that make it more fun?

At the end of the day, this video is a pretty interesting snapshot of early ’90s video gaming technology, early ’90s video technology, and…well, just early ’90s technology in general. Back then it would have taken several weeks for someone to mail in a payment for a non-trivial amount for the VHS, wait for it to arrive, watch it, and then apply a learning from the video to a game that they owned.  I achieved the same thing this morning in about 30 seconds, for free. FUTURE.

Here you go.  Enjoy skipping straight to the end-game ceremony in Bulls vs Lakers And The NBA Playoffs. Seriously, who wants that?

 

Saturday Superstore

This ultra-charming Saturday morning kids show ran on the BBC from 1982-1987.  It featured several different segments, some with kids, others with pop stars, scripted bits and the occasional call-in.  Margaret Thatcher was on the show in 1987, and was repeatedly asked by a little girl where Thatcher planned to go if nuclear war broke out.  Ultra Charming!

Here’s the 1982 Christmas episode.

 

Vanilly Crunch

The Cap’n continued to experiment in the early 1970s with variations on what was already the perfect cereal. This iteration, called “Vanilly Crunch”, featured Wilma the White Whale as the mascot.  Better her than La Foote, I guess.

 

Palitoy Star Wars Ad

I love everything about this hand-drawn ad for Palitoys’ Star Wars line.

 

1992 Lincoln Malfunction

In honor of President’s Day, here’s Abraham Lincoln from Disney’s Hall of Presidents shorting out and taking a little robot nap.

 

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Five Things – 2.6.17 – Two Simple Digits

The Y2k Family Survival Guide

Leonard Nimoy lends his credibility to this alarmist video produced to aid those concerned with the potential societal collapse caused by the world’s computers’ refusal to acknowledge the year 2000.

This video is one of several attempts to cash in on the hysteria around the Y2K phenomenon.  1999 was the perfect breeding ground for such a scam – nobody could say for sure that the Y2K alarmists were wrong, and nobody wanted to look like a fool. The President even appointed a Y2K Czar! And the Y2K Czar appeared in this video! What an honor!

While the content of the video is assuredly alarmist, and we’re reminded throughout that many people are probably going to die, the tone never rises above a typical infomercial level.  It’s not a frantic or panicked video, which makes it play pretty creepily.

It’s sort of an impressive effort that this video is an hour long – it’s really about 4 minutes of information repeated over and over again in different ways.  When the video feels like it needs a break from that, there are instances of what seems to be free-form musing on specific catastrophes that could occur.

There’s a lot of specific advice, too. Helpful nuggets, like “Don’t buy a machine gun and run to the woods.” We’re also encouraged to “enjoy the family time” when our systems fail us. I can only imagine the satisfaction that those who paid actual money for this VHS tape must feel. The video takes on a very nuclear-scare-era tone when advising preparedness: store fresh water all over your house, in any dark place, toilet safety in a world without plumbing, stock up on baby wipes to bathe with.  From here, it’s essentially a survivalist video – which makes for a good thirty minutes more content.  While the video stresses the importance of community, there’s an underlying addition of “but make sure you get yours first”, which is pretty ugly once you notice it.

Here it is.  Alarmist and cheesy, and a little bit alarming that so much time was spent on this. And that it probably made money.

 

French Mega Man 2 Commercial

There’s so much to love about this commercial for Mega Man 2 – from the newscaster Mario to the overacting live-action Mega Man to the shrouded, overacting Dr. Wily. Perfection.

 

Coors “Phone Home”

Amazing idea, amazing painting, amazing font. Amazing.

 

1979 Taco Bell Commercial

A patio? The Enchirito? Gas Rationing?

 

Sony Superscope Ad

Don’t make the oversight of building an elaborate stereo system and skipping out on the tape deck, guys. Rookie mistake.

 

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Five Things – 1.30.17 – I Guess You’d Look Like A Garden

Isaac Asimov’s Robots VHS Mystery Game

This 1986 VHS game envisioned a murder mystery set in the universe of Isaac Asimov’s Robot books.  Loosely based on the book Caves of Steel, it’s an ambitious effort and carries a high production value – particularly for the mid-1980s, when so many were getting away with so much less.

Robots follows Detective Elijah Bailey, an Earthling, as he is assigned to the murder of a member of a rival faction, the Spacers.   Was an Earthling behind the killing? A Spacer? A (gasp) robot? The Earthlings have their own robots, but they’re pretty crude.  Sorry, really crude.

Bailey’s  got 24 hours to solve the case before the Spacers destroy the Earth. Ok.  He’s sent to “Old New Jersey”, a city that’s been modernized as a Spacer embassy on Earth, and is paired up with one of the Spacer robots, a much higher grade of production.

The sets of “Old New Jersey” are pretty impressive, for a mid-80’s production. They look positively ’90s!

Unlike some VHS games, there’s no fast-forwarding or rewinding around to different points of the tape to play the game. The story plays out pretty linearly, with prompts to pull clue cards at significant plot points throughout.

Depending on the clues selected, and your keen eye at noticing details during the episode, you either convict a legit criminal or an innocent person.  There’s no video payoff, though – it’s all up to the cards at that point. The game box boasts 256 possible storylines, but that’s a stretch.  There are really only a few outcomes, and the general consensus seems to be that there’s no replay value to this game.  A shame, given the clear effort to make this a big production. Here’s the VHS:

And here’s an ad for the game:

Call me when there’s a Foundation VHS game.

(Seriously. Call me.)

 

The Prom: It’s A Pleasure (1961)

Coca-Cola sponsors this short film filled with instruction on how to properly prepare for and attend the high school prom.  Who knew etiquette was so by-the-numbers? I have the feeling that any attempt to turn a high school prom into a formal cotillion generally ends in disappointment.  Still, the film gives good general advice, like don’t give a flower corsage to a girl who’s got a dress with daisies on it.  Tips that anybody can use.

Do NOT forget to say goodnight to the chaperones!

 

Polaris Nuclear Submarine

I’m fairly certain that this “Nuclear Sub” was little more than a pointed cardboard box, but I’d probably have fallen for this ad.  “Controls That Work” is a particularly bold feature.

 

Evel Knievel Commercial

From the motorcycle to the drag racer to the skycycle, this is a pretty impressive array of Evel Knievel toys.

 

Batman & Superman Sesame Street Ad

On the surface, it’s interesting that Batman and Superman are promoting the premiere of Sesame Street. It’s charming – they hold up the CTW letters, they refer to themselves as stars.  But, really, what are they watching? Themselves, promoting Sesame Street?

-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!

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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