What Do Children Think Of When They Think Of The Bomb? (1983)

It’s pretty chilling to hear kids’ candid thoughts on the persistent threat of nuclear apocalypse, and even more chilling to hear their speculation on what a nuclear attack might be like.  This 1983 short film commissioned by WNET “goes there”, combining interviews with the kids with performance pieces featuring those kids and tossing in animations…

I’m Going In – Star Wars Atari Games (1983)

I’m four films into the process of indoctrinating our five-year-old to the Star Wars universe, and it’s safe to say at this point that we’ve got a fan on our hands.  There have been a few course corrections; I wanted to go the Machete route of IV-V-(optional)I-II-III-VI, thinking I’d be telling the most complete story at the…

Is That Legal? – Coleco Adam Ads (1983)

It’s not enough, apparently, to have a successful video game console; there’s a long history of the industry trying to sweeten the appeal of the purchase by promoting or promising additional non-gaming features.  Sony wanted you to run Linux on your PS3, Microsoft wanted your Xbox One to be a cable box and DVR, Nintendo…

Since The Invasion – Manhunter (1988)

Sierra On-Line had a pretty great thing going in the ’80s, but it was also a pretty specific thing.  Game series like King’s Quest, Police Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and Quest for Glory and one-offs like Gold Rush! and Codename: Iceman had really distinct worlds, characters, and storylines but all followed the same…

Making It Great – Pizza Hut Training Video (1988)

This video’s been a bit of a sleeper hit around my house. On the surface it seems sort of unremarkable given the other fast-food training videos of the era like “Grill Skills” and “Clean It”, but something about it has infected us.  Maybe it’s Julie’s enthusiasm. Maybe it’s her brown-plaid-on-brown-on-brown uniform. Maybe it’s the painful…

Meltdown – Nightline Chernobyl Accident Report (1980s)

On April 26, 1986, a late night safety test at the Chernobyl nuclear plant went horribly wrong and led to the most disastrous nuclear power plant accident in history.  The world found out two days later, when Russian state news broadcasted a four-sentence report on the event.This episode of Nightline, ABC’s late night news program,…

Words Have Power – Read All About It (1979)!

There’s something really beautiful about kids’ public television in the 1970s and 1980s.  With government funding and then-still-high public enthusiasm about TV’s use as a teaching tool, the floodgates seemed to be open for production on all sorts of ideas at the national and local level.  These decades saw some really creative programming developed all…

I Got Gooped – The Real Ghostbusters Toy Commercials (1980s)

I was obsessed with Ghostbusters growing up, a fact that should surprise nobody.  The film lent itself to a child’s obsession with its special effects, its cool gadgets, its all-star cast, and the fact that it hit in the peak-VHS era where movies were all of a sudden watchable (and re-watchable) on demand. My personal…

All Those Ghosts Turn Blue – Pac Man Ads (1980s)

Readers of this blog are already aware of my distinct fondness for video game box art, particularly from the early 1980s. The disparity between the elaborate imagery on game boxes and in marketing materials and what players saw on the screen with the actual gameplay isn’t too surprising given the limited technology of the time,…

Christmas, 1982 – The Wing Broke Off And I Ate It

1982 brought a lot of cool things into the world. E.T. was released, as was the Commodore 64.  Sony launched its first CD Player, Disney opened EPCOT Center, and Michael Jackson released Thriller.  Atari blessed the world with Pitfall!, and the 1982 World’s Fair introduced us to the Sunsphere (or Wigsphere, depending on which narrative you adopt).  Here’s…