Here’s another batch of TV commercials from the ‘80s and ‘90s, as I continue to muscle through these dangerously teetering piles of VHS tapes that are all over my desk. (Not kidding. Whenever I scratch my shoulder, there are at least three crashes.)
McDonald’s “Gold Rush” McNuggets Promo! (1980s)
This isn’t on anyone’s list of best-ever McDonald’s commercials, but it should be. Oh, what lengths they went to for this two week sale on Chicken McNuggets!
I’m totally in love with that old western set. Even conceding that much of the effect was achieved with a simple backdrop, they still had to fabricate an entire general store and hire assorted cowpeople. It’s like something out of a Six Flags park.
If you’re thinking that this was a touch overindulgent for a McNugget sale, well… yes… but in McDonald’s defense, their Chicken McNuggets were still fairly new by this point. (McDonald’s was sans-McNuggets before 1981, and they weren’t available everywhere until ’83!)
PS: I’m super into them correlating Chicken McNuggets with chunks of actual gold. I don’t know why that makes them seem more delicious, but here we are.
HBO Creepshow Movie Intro! (1980s)
This isn’t a commercial, obviously, but I think you’ll give me a pass. Here we have an HBO intro to an evening broadcast of Creepshow, likely from the late ‘80s. Every frame is perfect. Especially the ones that stutter and hiccup.
Give it up for HBO’s commitment to content warnings. They were practically daring us to watch this thing, all while promising that they’d *only* air Creepshow at night. Such disclaimers were common back then, and even if that was just a case of cable networks covering their asses, they only made the movies more appealing to us kids. So dangerous!
I have such fond memories of dipping my toes into horror by way of late night cable broadcasts. Knowing that I could click to a different channel when shit got too heavy encouraged me to test the waters, and it was with that fail-safe that I first experienced everything from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Hellraiser III.
Ewoks at the Ice Capades! (1986)
Wow, I had no idea that the Ewoks were ever a part of the Ice Capades. I absolutely would’ve demanded tickets to this as a kid, especially in 1986, when new Star Wars things were so few and far between.
If the Ewok costumes seem cartoony, it’s because they were based on the designs from the Ewoks animated series, *not* Return of the Jedi. (The show ran on Saturday mornings and was paired with the *other* Star Wars cartoon, Droids.)
Since I was in their target demo, I missed out on the sweet Ewok hatred that was all the rage in the early ‘80s. Between the toons and the live-action TV movies, I adored the Ewoks for keeping those Star Wars fires burning for way longer than Vader’s corpse did.
G.L.O.W. Hotline! (1988)
I still haven’t gotten around to watching GLOW on Netflix, but I’ve spoken to a few people who didn’t know that the series was based on a real life wrestling promotion. Lucky young punks.
My memories of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling are sketchy and scattered. I only ever caught the shows by happenstance, back when I was still too young to get the joke. (…let alone the idea that everything was staged. I remember seeing one woman cattle-brand another, and completely buying it.)
In fact, GLOW was always tongue-in-cheek, and its unserious presentation was the whole point. That vibe carried into this commercial for their official hotline, which juxtaposed steamy voiceovers with shots of the gals trying to bite each other’s toes off.
Cheers WPIX Promo! (1990)
I’ve been watching a lot of Cheers lately, since it’s on Netflix. I never considered myself a big fan of the show, so I’ve been consistently surprised by how much of it I distinctly remember. Like, to the point where I’m mouthing key lines before the characters say them.
That’s thanks to WPIX, which used to air the syndicated reruns at 11PM every weeknight. For a stretch of time, Cheers was the only decent thing on network television at that hour, and it’d often be the last thing I watched before bed. (Hell, I would’ve been in bed while watching it!)
Because of this, I’ve long associated the show with sadness. Once Cheers signed off, I couldn’t even count on television for companionship. No smartphones, no internet connection, no on-demand video services — just me, some infomercials and a leftover waft of Sam’s cologne. Pass the goddamned Pizzarias.