Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday Feature 2

Here comes another quick round-up of commercials, sitcoms and cartoons. Let me know which ones of these you remember...

One day, I promise that I'll have to write a post about our fascination with computers in the 1980s. I remember using a Commodore 64 much later than anyone should ever have used the thing. But whatever else has changed, Apple still makes a damn fine computer. And they still make pretty good, convincing commercials. In 1984, though, they had Ridley Scott directing commercials for them!

I have the feeling that someday, Doogie Howser will warrant a whole post, as well. Funny thing is that when you're a kid watching this, the show loses some of its punch. OK, so he was a teenage doctor. It could happen! When we were kids, we didn't really have very much of a 'plausibility-screener'. A kid could be a doctor, if he was some kind of a genius. Just because we'd never really heard of that in real life, doesn't mean it couldn't happen somewhere! And let's never forget the fact that he always finished every episode with a little computer-diary entry. Some folks have already noted that Doogie Howser was the world's first blogger. Alas, at the time, we didn't know that's what he was doing . How could we? Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet. That's how you knew he was a genius. He was easily fifteen to twenty years ahead of his time.

This one was just shameless. My Pet Monster was just a plug to get you to buy the toy. In 1986, someone had the bright idea of marketing a plush doll for boys, with horns and fangs and a pair of big orange handcuffs ("Put 'em on you, and break away too!") I don't really know how well they sold initially. I'm betting parents thought that the doll was too horrific, and would frighten small children. So they came out with a cartoon to popularize the toy. Apparently, the cover story was that when you put the cuffs on him, he would shrink down and look like a stuffed toy. When the cuffs came off, he became a prank-playing, garbage-eating monster. As if you needed another reason to be afraid of the doll!

And these were really weird. Remember 'Time for Timer'? These were a series of Public Service Announcements that used to run during Saturday morning cartoons, reminding us to eat nutritious snacks instead of just junk food. In general, I always wondered what 'Timer' was supposed to be. Was he some kind of a potato? He didn't look like anything I ever wanted to eat. With this particular 'Time for Timer,' I was well into my twenties before I realized he was not saying 'A Hank o' fur, a hunk o' cheese...' Scary.

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