Listen To This – Fresh Prince 900-number (1990s)

It’s not exactly surprising, but it’s still pretty tacky. Few celebrities could resist the easy one-and-done money of the 900-number concept in the ’90s, that terrible consumer experience that stretched content delivery as thin as possible in order to grab a few more dollars per minute through the low-fidelity medium. But Will Smith? OUR Will…

A Night’s Work – Shadowrun Promo (1990)

Here’s one of the few official promos, perhaps the only official promo produced for Shadowrun, the cyberpunk fantasy tabletop RPG. A four-minute short film produced for GenCon 1990, “A Night’s Work” is over-and-under-produced at the same time, and really something special. Set aside the side-hopping stealth, the terribly slow pacing, the high school drama club…

Marry Me, Marie – Police Quest II (Japan) (1989)

In the mid-90s, Sierra On-Line and Pioneer Electric formed a joint venture which was uncreatively called Sierra Venture. In addition to the benefits of the acquisition of a handful of smaller developers, the venture allowed Sierra to distribute many of its signature titles in Japan for the first time. Most of these titles were localized…

Call Me Twice – Paula Abdul 900 Number (1980s)

One could argue that greed is just a fact of the 1-900 number life, that the entire business exists to give as little entertainment as possible for as much money as possible. There are no charitable 900 number services that I’ve found, no services that prioritize the customer’s experience over the prospect of a slow…….

Short Circuit, Boom – Dead at 21 (1994)

Dead at 21 sits right at the fulcrum of MTV’s rise as a unique music industry powerhouse and its slope into scripted and reality basic cable normalcy. When the show premiered in 1994 the network had a healthy roster of not-music-video-related shows, but most of them were some form of comedy, game show, or animation….

A Strange Transmission – Tab Clear Ads (1993)

Recently I went into Crystal Pepsi’s story, with a footnote about Tab Clear. As the story goes, in order to stave off any loss of market share to the new clear Pepsi product, Coca-Cola introduced an intentionally doomed product – Tab Clear – to turn the public off of the idea of clear sodas altogether….

I’m Not Exaggerating – The Sierra Newsletter (Spring 1988)

Sierra On-Line spent the ’80s and early ’90s building an impressive catalog of adventure games, titles that were pointed to as examples of the best the technology of the moment could offer. ¬†They built franchises that stood the test of time: King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and Quest For Glory all…

Claymation Comedy of Horrors (1991)

Is there a Will Vinton seasonal TV special that’s not an absolute classic? If there is, I haven’t seen it yet. 1991’s “Claymation Comedy Of Horrors” continues the streak, with some of the best stop motion work I’ve ever seen. The story? Eh. But the animation? Classic. “Claymation Comedy of Horrors” opens with a flashback…