Five Things – 5.29.17 – A Swinging New Way To Spend The Summer

Meet Us In September

“Meet Us In September” was the slogan for the ABC Network’s Fall 1969 lineup. These sizzle reels capture all of the programming news of the 1969 season. There’s so much to love about this campaign! The font choice and graphic work is fantastic, both in the overall face of the campaign and the show-specific stuff:

Not sure what to make of this Johnny Cash segment.

 

Here’s a compilation. The Bewitched promo is interesting, too – really assumes you already know what the whole show is about. Which, I guess, in a three-network world in 1969, is a pretty safe assumption.

 

 

Dynamix 1989 Video Catalog

This reel of upcoming games from the small-ish (bigger now that they were acquired by Sierra) game company Dynamix is earnest and sweet.  A-10 Tank Killer was on a heavy rotation in my house. David Wolf: Secret Agent looks like something right out of Decker.

 

Pennywise – Microwave Cooking (1985)

There are few things more comfortingly charming than seeing these two British women in 1985 discussing the merits of the microwave. Using “units consumed” as an indicator of value, no less! Is this an alternate reality?

Luna (1965)

I’ll admit, I’m not entirely sure what I’m watching here – particularly in the first half without subtitles.  When you imagine the Soviet side of the Space Race presented to children, though, I doubt you imagine something this beautiful, colorful, and hopeful.  The second half presents an inspiring vision of our future in space.  Imagine where we’d be if we’d worked together on this back then.

 

The Cure’s First TV Appearance

Robert! Put on your long hair!

Is there any time that a live performance of “A Forest” isn’t a contender for the best part of your day?

Five Things – 5.22.17 – Stories For Boys

 

It’s About Time (1966)

What if you had a silly TV show set in a remote jungle location and you had an idea for a second, unrelated-yet-just-as-silly TV show set in a remote jungle location and you just re-used props and sets from the first silly TV show for the second silly TV show and crossed your fingers that nobody would notice? That’s pretty much Sherwood Schwartz’s approach to It’s About Time, the second silly TV show to Gilligan’s Island‘s first silly TV show.

He actually probably didn’t cross his fingers that nobody would notice. He probably just didn’t care.

It’s About Time follows the adventures of two astronauts, Mac McKenzie and Hector Canfield, who get sent back in time to caveman days and end up living with caveman family Gronk and Shad, . Gronk is played by Joe E. Ross. essentially a caveman version of his Gunther Toody character from Car 54 Where Are You? Shad is played by the lovely Imogene Coca.

The cavemen speak in broken-but-very-very-passable modern English.  The rest of the tribe are suspicious of the astronauts, but are eloquently suspicious.  The plot lines revolve around either the astronauts bringing modern civilization to the cavemen, or trying to adjust to/reconcile their worldview with the cavemen’s.

Now here’s the interesting part – the show was retooled 2/3 of the way through the season to address the sagging ratings.  They basically flip the premise, where the astronauts find a way to return to the present and bring the cavemen with them. The episodes then revolve around the cavemen’s acclimation to 20th Century life. That’s a courtesy the Gilligan gang didn’t get until their TV movie finale!

It didn’t help. It’s About Time was cancelled after the first season. While it’s definitely not up to par with Schwartz’s stronger efforts like Gilligan’s Island or The Brady Bunch, there’s still something special here. There’s just a lot of other stuff weighing it down.  Here’s a few episodes.

 

 

1980 Coleco Catalog

There is so much to love about this 1980 Coleco Games and Toys catalog. So much to love! This Holly Hobbie oven looks like something out of a haunted house. And how about that plaid stroller?

 

1987 Train Ride to Coney Island

This is a pretty great snapshot of New York City in the late 1980s.  Those kids need to jump into a pool of Purell after laying around on the seats of that train, though .

 

Goonies Famicom Commercials

The Goonies, as a movie, couldn’t be more American in how the kids act, what motivates them, and the nature of their reward. The beautiful insanity of the Goonies videogames, however, we’re just not capable of that.  Kudos to Konami for taking a solid foundation and launching it into the stars.  These ads for both Goonies games really hammer that insanity home.  I’ll also take this opportunity to repeat the fact that Goonies II is one of the greatest video games of all time.

 

U2’s First TV Appearance

This 1980 TV appearance is a completely different band.

 

-ds

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.

 

-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 – 11.7.16 – Pappy Drew It

Beyond Westworld (1980)

What if the catastrophic events of Westworld (1973) and its sequel Futureworld (1976) were not the result of one company’s hubris, mismanagement, or ill intention but rather the beginnings of the schemes of one man with a larger plan in mind? That’s the premise behind Beyond Westworld, the short-lived 1980 television series based on the hugely successful film. And, I guess, also based on the hugely unsuccessful sequel.

Beyond Westworld Ad

Beyond Westworld follows John Moore, the head of Delos security, as he thwarts rogue ex-Delos scientist Simon Quaid’s attempts to unleash his special brand of psychotic robots upon the world.  He’s assigned a beautiful partner – of course – named Pamela Williams, and together they work to keep safe a world on the brink of an android holocaust.

quaid

Its a pretty great premise, right? Unfortunately, it comes out pretty flat. Only five episodes were produced, two of which weren’t even aired before cancellation. The plot lines are pretty mundane, especially given the license the show had to literally do anything they wanted in a world filled with murderous androids who could look like just anybody on the street.

foam-robot

Still, the premise and the tie-in to Westworld warrant a look at the series. The look of the show, of the sets and costumes, is fantastic – it was even nominated for an Emmy in Art Direction – but, like the Logan’s Run series, fails to deliver on a fantastic what-if.  For whatever reason it’s difficult to find episodes online; perhaps the powers that be envision a world in which there is only one Westworld television series in existence, and if that is the case I’m glad that the one we have is the one we have.  Here’s some of the promo material for the 1980 series, though – there’s definitely some charm here.

 

 

Pappyland

In the “this show could never exist in this form today” department, here’s Pappyland.

pappyland

Pappyland is what you’d get if an inferior version of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse married an inferior version of The Secret City and had a child.  The show, which premiered in 1993 on New York Public Television Station WCNY-TV, focuses on Pappy Drew-It (that’s right) and his magical friends.  They hang out in a magical cabin, draw pictures, and go on bluescreen adventures.

pappyland-gang drawing

None of this is inherently bad – except that it is.  The drawing itself is pretty good and it’s clear that the whole show is a labor of love but everything just kind of comes off as half-baked and thrown together. Which would sort of be fine, but it’s clear that it wasn’t half baked or thrown together! Also, am I the only one creeped out?

pappyland-in-space

Here’s an episode. Feel differently? Do you have fond memories of this show? Let me know!

 

Doctor Dreadful’s Food Lab

The gross-out version of the Easy-Bake Oven.

 

Pumpkin Dream Pie

This 1959 recipe from Jell-O’s got my interest – from a design and a flavor perspective.

Pumpkin Dream Pie

 

Stephane Grapelli – How High The Moon

Because it’s beautiful. Here’s Stephane Grapelli playing “How High The Moon” in 1991.

 

-ds