Welcome to a special edition of Five Retro TV Commercials. Special to me, at least.
Every commercial in this batch aired during The Death of the Incredible Hulk, an NBC television movie that premiered on February 18th, 1990.
The Death of the Incredible Hulk got the plush Sunday Night at the Movies treatment, where so many big screen hits had their network television premieres. (Just watch the video. If you’re anywhere near my age, those opening graphics and that triumphant theme ruled your childhood.)
I can totally see myself on that cold Sunday evening, pretending to do homework while the Hulk snarled and leapt. I’d be in my bedroom with the volume kept low, flanked by my Trapper Keeper and a bag of Tato Skins. (Guess which one got more attention.)
Below are five commercials that aired during the movie, and my God do they ever take me back:
NBC Promo featuring Unsolved Mysteries! (1990)
This promo for NBC’s Wednesday night lineup had it all. From Scott Bakula doing the “Wednesday” button to the reminder that Dear John was really a thing, I’m of course most drawn to the bit about Unsolved Mysteries.
Back then, even a passing hint of that show’s theme would’ve filled me with dread, and not even a quick switch to Night Court’s sax anthem would’ve helped me shake it.
If you’re curious, they were promoting the Joe Owens case. Owens murdered his wife and stuffed her remains in a compost box, which would’ve been haunting even if the jerk wasn’t seventy years old at the time.
Common Sense Oat Bran! (1990)
Don’t let this commercial’s seeming mundaneness fool you: It’s downright bizarre.
“Common Sense Oat Bran” sounds like a fake cereal from an SNL skit, but it was 100% real. The commercial stars an older man who really enjoys his Common Sense. In fact, he brazenly challenges the entire world to give him ONE GOOD REASON to stop eating it.
Oat bran was something of a fad food at the time, and I love how defensive this guy was about it. “All you champs and chumps can argue in the corner… I’m just gonna sit here eating oat bran until there’s no oat bran left to eat.”
WWF “The Main Event” Promo! (1990)
Remember when Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson? This was his victory’s strangest side effect.
Tyson was scheduled to appear as a guest referee during The Main Event, one of the WWF’s recurring prime time specials. The match against Douglas was less than two weeks prior, and after his shocking loss, Tyson dropped out.
So, when Douglas beat Tyson, he didn’t just win a shiny belt, but also the opportunity to referee a match between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.
I’d like to believe that that’s what truly motivated him.
Advanced Formula Chloraseptic! (1990)
As a kid, my “2nd best friend” habitually battled colds and flus, and pretty much lived on Chloraseptic spray. He used it so much that he and his mother had this whole “Chloraseptic bit,” with him kind of monkey-dancing towards her while she readied the bottle for a spritz.
I guess he developed a taste for it. Whenever I asked about the flavor, he swore it was like cherry fruit snacks. I spent six months being secretly jealous of his medicine before finally getting sick myself, and then begging my mother for some of that “red Chloraseptic.”
She obliged, though I wish she hadn’t. “Cherry fruit snacks” my ass. Stuff tasted like 9V batteries mixed with Christmas tree sap.
ALF and The Hogan Family! (1990)
ALF and The Hogan Family aired back to back on Monday nights, and here, NBC’s poor promo department was charged with finding a link between two shows that honestly had none.
They settled on an “accidents will happen” theme, which even going by their handpicked clips seems tenuous. Still, it was worth it for the iffy mockup of ALF and Sandy Duncan with hilarious injuries. The thumbnail on this video is now the wallpaper on my phone.
Thanks for reading about throat spray and Common Sense Oat Bran. You do a lot for me.