Let’s ease out of the holidays and into 2021 with some random TV commercials from 30 years ago. (That line played better in my head, but since nobody reads intros, better to be clunky now than later.)
Rare TMNT PPV Promo! (1990)
Here’s an extremely rare promo that ran on preview channels for the Ninja Turtles’ Coming Out of Their Shells Tour, live on PPV!
Picture TMNT as an odd mash of NKOTB and Van Halen. The Turtles really did tour nationally, but this pay-per-view was for their kickoff show at Radio City Music Hall.
Given that this went down when the cartoon, toy line and live-action movie were all white hot, I’m guessing that the PPV did huge business. Pretty shocked that I didn’t order it myself, but then, I had an irrational fear of music before high school.
Maaaaan, I miss the hell out of PPV preview channels. Are they still a thing? Way back when, I’d let them play for hours on end, slowly memorizing every trailer, and even the order in which they appeared. It was like radio for the radio-averse.
Nestle Alpine White! (1986)
Wait, have I really never featured this spot on Dino Drac before? I know I covered the second version with the female vocalist, but this is the original — one of the definitive 1980s commercials, with a jingle so good it should’ve been released on vinyl.
God knows what compelled Nestle to be so “extra” about Alpine White candy bars, but I’m not complaining. Available with and without almonds, the bars were otherwise pure white chocolate.
White chocolate is still rare in the candy arena, but it was positively alien during the ‘80s. Which meant that Nestle could define it however they wanted. Hence, we got this batshit awesome commercial where winter models stood moody and mute, only ever opening their mouths when it was time for another bite. A+.
Scorch on CBS! (1992)
Scorch, a sitcom about a thousand-year-old dragon living with a present day family, lasted for just three episodes before CBS pulled it. Even if the show was performing poorly, that seems extreme. My guess is that CBS’s quick canning was as much a face-saving measure as anything else. With a show like this, you’re a genius if it hits and out of your mind if it doesn’t.
If you can imagine “ALF but a dragon,” yeah, it was in that area. Looking at the pilot, I’m surprised that the show didn’t work out better. You’d imagine there would’ve been interest from younger viewers, even if only in a Pavlovian “THERE’S A DRAGON ON MY TV” sort of way.
Network-specific streaming services should dig deeper into their archives for oddities like this — shows that lasted for a season or less, and that were never released on home media. The sheer implausibility of their sudden availability would get jerks like me to do those month-long free trials, and then half of us would forget we signed up. Bait me with your doomed dragon show, CBS.
Dick Tracy Crimestopper Game! (1990)
You had to be there to get it, but Dick Tracy was supposed to be 1990’s Batman — not just in terms of box office success, but also in becoming a pop culture juggernaut, with tentacles reaching into everything.
In fact, it *was* that year’s Batman, even if interest in the film never seemed to merit all that came with it. There were toys, cards, cartoon and comic revivals, theme park attractions, and even this McDonald’s promotion, where kids learned the thrills of gambling!
Instead of Happy Meal toys, we got “Crimestopper” scratch-off cards, with prizes ranging from cheeseburgers to a million bucks. There were a few TV commercials supporting it, but this Pruneface-heavy one is my favorite. (Out of context, Pruneface is SCARY, and I gotta imagine that this spot caused a few nightmares.)
BK’s Green Slime Dipping Sauce! (1999)
Consider this my formal request for Burger King to bring back Gooey Apple Green Slime Dipping Sauce, which I’m capitalizing out of respect.
Available as part of Burger King’s Big Kids Meal in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, the tubs of ooze were at one point paired with teensy packets of just-as-green Heinz Ketchup. (If you’ll recall, Heinz went nuts in the 2000s and began selling ketchup in a volley of neon colors.)
So you’d get a tub of green gel to dip your chicken tenders into, and a packet of green ketchup to squirt on your fries. Your tray looked like something out of Troll 2.
It was assuredly the result of focus group tests where sugar-charged children screamed “YES MORE COLORS” in unison. If we can get a revival in 2021, BK should just call it a Halloween thing and let us old bloggers talk it up for free.
Thanks for reading, and may your 2021 be better than your 2020.