It Keeps My Kids At Home – SEGA Game Channel Infomercial (1990s)

The fact that streaming video game services are only just now entering the mainstream shows how innovative The SEGA Channel was in the early 1990s.  Harnessing the power of and the enthusiasm for cable TV, SEGA worked with local providers to roll out the SEGA Channel in 1994.  This subscription service ($13/mo) offered a rotating…

A Young Bug – The Write Channel (1978)

Mississippi was pretty late to the public television party,  taking until 1970 to actually establish its own station. Even then it wasn’t the best look for the state, as their refusal to air Sesame Street due to its racially integrated cast drew national criticism, but they eventually figured it out and actually ended up developing some…

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,…

Let’s Get Warty – Battletoads (1990s)

Despite being an awesome yet punishingly difficult NES game (and later SNES, Genesis, and more), Battletoads always had the stink of a late-to-the-party reaction to the runaway success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Teenagers turn into green animals who fight to save the day from weird-looking enemies.  There were a few points of differentiation that would probably…

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,…

The Monster In Your Living Room – Anti-Pay-TV PSA (1970)

While not an apples-to-apples situation, there’s still a strong psychic tie between this 1970 PSA against the oncoming Pay TV juggernaut and our modern-day Net Neutrality fight.  The dawn of Pay TV was an undeniable game changer for just about everyone on Earth, and we’re still seeing the ripple effects of that shift in a…

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…

Christmas 1981 – We’ll Be Back To Pick You Up Later

1981. By the time Santa came, the world had been through the ringer.  Bob Marley died, Reagan was shot, Walter Cronkite left our televisions, the first AIDS cases were officially recognized, Muhammed Ali lost his last ever fight, the Cold War raged on, and the Iran Contra scandal caught its spark. But! Also in 1981,…

Christmas in 1980 – They’re Afraid Of Your Snake, Yoda

Christmas, 1980. Carter’s on his way out, Reagan’s on his way in, Rubik’s Cubes are the must-have holiday toy, The Empire Strikes Back rules the theaters and Dallas rules the living room.  Here’s a look at the holiday ad surge you’d have seen if you were a television viewer or magazine reader in Christmas of 1980.  It’s…