My wife recently found a VHS tape filled with holiday specials, all recorded during the 1987 and 1988 Christmas seasons. For her, the unequivocal highlight was A Muppet Family Christmas. And I'll admit, the uber-ensemble cast of Muppets, Sesame Street residents and inhabitants of Fraggle Rock was fantastic. But for me, even this historic Jim Henson masterpiece was eclipsed by all the terrific commercials laser targeted at my eight-year-old self.
This episode of 'The Projectionist' represents my first foray into YouTube uploading, and is absolutely nostalgia for nostalgia's sake. But if you're the kind of person who enjoys Lego ads, Mr. Belvedere promos and a toned-down Dick Vitale, read on.
1. Panasonic VCRs
The self-important tagline "just slightly ahead of our time" is even funnier when the product being advertised is a VCR you can program via pay phone.
2.TV 101 on CBS
This show only lasted 13 episodes and was not on my third-grade radar. But look closely and you'll notice a young Matt LeBlanc (00:03) and Teri Polo (00:06).
3. CrÃ¶onchy Stars
Another thing I don't remember: CrÃ¶onchy Stars. But I learned two fun facts from Wikipedia, one of which is almost certainly false. 1) "In addition to the gratuitous umlaut in CrÃ¶onchy, most of the cereal's labeling and promotional material used the idiosyncratic spelling Swedish Chef, with an umlaut over the letter d. As with 'Spinal Tap,' this marks one of the rare instances of an umlaut being used over a consonant." 2) "Originally, Jim Henson created the name of the cereal as "Stoopid Flakes." However, this did not sit well with Post. They renamed the breakfast cereal into CrÃ¶onchy Stars ."
4. A less animated Dick Vitale
By today's standards, he seems sedated.
5. Pat Petersen Anti-Alcohol PSA
I did not know who Pat Petersen was when we watched this clip the other day, and I'm sure my 1987 self did not accept substance abuse advice from any member of the Knots Landing cast. (For this PSA, the Swedish Chef would have been a better choice.)
I probably made the same joke twenty years ago, but I'll ask again: does anybody find it strange that Grimace is wearing earmuffs but doesn't have ears?
7. The Lego Maniac
Of all the jingles, this is the one I'm most upset is stuck in my head. On repeat.
8. ABC Promos, Part I
A plug for the power hour that was Mr. Belvedere/Just The Ten Of Us.
9. The Halls of Medicine
How come The Halls of Medicine never became a theme-park attraction?
10. ABC Promos, Part II
Here's one for all you Bruce Willis and Timothy Busfield fans: Moonlighting and thirtysomething.
11. Definitely Dinosaurs
I did not own any Definitely Dinosaurs, but I clearly remember the last two seconds of this commercial.
12. ABC Promos, Part III
One more network promo: Who's the Boss? and Roseanne.
13. Toys 'R' Us
I can't decide whether to call the star 'a Mark Harmon lookalike' or 'a young John Edwards.' Either way, the ad is far more touching than I'd expected from a Toys 'R' Us commercial, and probably convinced my parents to load me up with WWF figures and Thundercats merchandise that Christmas.