1. Starman – John Carpenter’s 1984 film Starman is kind of hokey and hamfisted, but at least it ends pretty tidily: the Starman, a well-meaning alien who arrived Earth in response to Voyager 2’s message of peace, escapes our awful government’s wrath and leaves behind the Earth as well as a human woman whom he has impregnated. Nice and tidy.
ABC couldn’t leave well enough alone and in 1986 Starman the television series graced the air. The series took place fifteen years after Starman left Earth forever, fifteen years in which Starman appeared to have a change of heart and return to awful Earth to be with his son that he abandoned. Who had to just be thrilled to see him.
He comes back as a different looking human (good save, there) and his son’s a teenager at this point (and an orphan?). The movie sets up that Scott, the son, inherited all of the Starman’s powers and the series focuses on the kid learning those powers. Because this is an ’80s prime time television action/drama, the pair go on the road from town to town, running away from the awful government and looking for Scott’s mom, Starman’s girlfriend.
2. Mr. Microphone – From the magical mind of Ron Popeil, Mr. Microphone was a low-power FM transmitter that allowed kids (and adults, if you believed the ads) to project their voices onto the radio.
Imagine that! You could sing along with your favorite songs AND turn the volume up so that everyone could hear you! AND, if there were several people in an area with Mr. Microphones and portable radios of their own, EVERYONE could do it at the same time! Don’t even get me started on the possibilities for professional entertainers!
3. McKids Clothes – A few years before McDonalds pushed the McKids brand into video games, they launched a clothing line in partnership with Sears. The McKids line took over a whole section of the kids clothing store and had prominent McDonalds branding outside of just the garments.
A few things: 1) The Hamburglar leading the McDonaldland gang in the installation of the McKids section of the store is a little hard to believe. Hamburglar’s not a leader. 2)Were brightly colored kids clothes ever in short supply, as the ad would have you believe? 3)What business does McDonalds have dressing children?
4. Zaxxon Arcade – It’s hard to imagine a commercial for an arcade game these days, or a commercial being as deceptively low-actual-footage as this 1982 big-budget spot for SEGA’s Zaxxon:
5. Rockapella Folgers – When the audience screamed “Do it, Rockapella!” at the end of every Carmen Sandiego episode, I don’t think the meant for Rockapella to do this. Why does this feel like selling out? It’s Rockapella!