1. Put Down the Duckie – Created in 1988 for a PBS Pledge Drive special, Put Down the Duckie features Ernie attending a jazz session. He’s having trouble with a strange squeak when he tries to join in, because he won’t let go of his rubber duckie. A myriad of celebrities including John Candy, Paul Simon, a still-married Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman, and a “Playhouse”-era Pee Wee Herman come out of the woodwork to persuade Ernie to put down the duckie so that he can join the (already crowded) session.
It’s adorable! And don’t miss the classic Children’s Television Workshop logo at the end.
2. Soloflex – . Soloflex was a one-stop workout machine that could tone your entire body if you only spent all day with it.
I love this ad for the font at the top and in the body (no pun intended). Also that it’s championing the phrase “No Pain No Gain” as something that might be specific to workouts with Soloflex.
This commercial aired in pretty much every break on cable between 1985 and 1990. Thing is, as a kid, it worked on me. I wanted one so bad! For some reason!
3. Colonel Sanders on What’s My Line – It’s pretty amazing that there was a time when people didn’t immediately associate Colonel Sanders with KFC, but here’s a panel full of people trying to figure his job out to prove it!
4. Cartoon All Stars To The Rescue –
This special aired in 1990 simultaneously on NBC, CBS and ABC. It featured cartoon characters across many different properties, a rainbow coalition of licensing aimed at fighting the War on Drugs. Calling it weird would be an understatement. Still, I always wondered what would happen if Winnie the Pooh, Slimer, the Muppet Babies, and cartoon ALF ever got together. Now I know!
There’s a riveting intro by George and Barbara Bush, as well!
5. Pee Wee Herman Crack PSA – Continuing on the drug train (and the second Pee Wee Herman reference this week!) At first this might look laughable, and I guess it is, but I have to take my hat off to Paul Reubens for using his character for this purpose and treating the subject seriously. Still, a weird combination and the 80’s look to the PSA is flagrant!