I didn't think I'd be doing Animaniacs
twice...or, at least if I did do it twice, I would be picking a
recording from the Kids WB years. But last year I stumbled upon a
Goodwill tape that hit such a sweet spot in Fox Kids history that
it would be a complete waste not to cover it. It's full of reruns
that were taped during mid-September of 1994, the very week the
new fall season began and when X-Men's Phoenix Saga five-parter
first aired. That was such a big event that it couldn't wait for
Saturday...they temporarily put the Power Rangers slot on hiatus
so the whole X-Men story could play out in five days. Since the
promos for each chapter only appeared once, they were pretty hard
to find....until now, that is!
Usually, the tapes I get from Goodwill are from
Portland...which is a good thing, because finding recordings from
your specific region on eBay is tough. Sometimes the tapes will
be from up in Tacoma, down in Eugene or even further down in San
Diego, which gives me an idea of where people have moved from in
the past twenty years. But this one comes from KNXV-TV in Phoenix
-- the only Arizona tape I've run across to date (and I've seen
several from Alaska).
Next time you're watching Animaniacs -- either the 1990s original or the new episodes on Hulu -- slip some of these suckers in for the FULL EXPERIENCE.
Things get off to a good start as the
tape blips on during a Wal-Mart ad for Nintendo products.
I felt like banging my head on my desk when I saw that
"get a Game Boy and Zelda for $50" deal. It's
not the first time I've been clued into such a deal
decades after the fact -- THIS sale would have netted me a Game Boy for
just $30. You have to
understand, my parents ABSOLUTELY WOULD NOT spend any
money on video games...and my allowance was $2 a week.
But I was so determined to get a Game Boy that,
eventually, I resisted all other temptations and saved
my money nonstop for six full months just to earn
the right to finally march into a Toys R Us, point at the
glass display and say "I'll take it." That was
when my parents looked at each other with guilt on their
faces and said, "Maybe we should raise his
DID YOU KNOW the guy who appears at the
end of the ad is a young Jack McBrayer? (Okay, it isn't.)
Imagine this scenario: three siblings
are standing in their backyard. The oldest one is
supposed to watch them, but splits on his bike. The
smaller two beg to come along, but he says "Nah, Mom
can watch you through the window or something." No
sooner does he leave than a full-grown man in clown
makeup appears from behind the fence and grabs the kids.
EAT FAST FOOD
How long until Hilary Swank appears on
Cobra Kai? There are at least two guaranteed
seasons ahead for it to happen in.
I loved The Wonder Years. One
of my favorite recent finds is a Wonder Years
tape recorded locally, but that's a Full Experience for
another time. My earliest memory of the show is a scene
where Kevin is dreaming that he's walking through a cave,
and then suddenly appears in front of his math class, in
his underwear. Oddly KNXV-TV in Phoenix picked this exact
clip, in its entirety, to promote the syndicated airings
-- and nothing else.
Until the whip was cracked sometime in
the 2000s, all children's television was sponsored by
junk food. You'll be seeing a LOT of it. Cocoa Puffs,
Lucky Charms and Trix were in an arms race to cram as
much sugar and candy into a dried cornmeal product as
they possibly could. Cocoa Puffs tried to get a leg up
this week with the "Spaced Out Edition" that
gave all their puffs the shape of Saturn. Apparently that
wasn't enough, so the following year Sonny picked up an
official endorsement from Hershey's and shamelessly swam
through rivers of chocolate. Eventually parental voices
would grow loud enough to ban all of this, but for now,
bad nutrition was as common a sight on kids' TV as
Scrooge's money bin or Stimpy's litter box.
Oh, this is priceless. It's a local ad
for a Phoenix-based independent video game store, hyped
up by a totally 90s teenager in a Soundgarden T-shirt. He
informs you how cool a dude you will be if you trade
twenty of your old cartridges toward the price of one
rental -- that's correct, rental. You didn't see places
like these do rentals very often, but why would you trade
something permanent for something temporary? I have to
question his wisdom, but I can never question his
righteous rat-tail hairstyle.
It is him....THE TICK, in his VERY
FIRST TV ad for the FIRST of several shows to get
cancelled prematurely! I have to admit I had no idea what
I was staring at here, and didn't feel enticed enough to
watch. It was only after my cousin came over and yelled
into my face "YOU HAVE TO START WATCHING THE
TICK" that I started tuning in.
Its time slot was opposite ReBoot, and ReBoot
was really starting to slay with Season 2. I didn't
technically give into my cousin's demands until ReBoot
went into reruns (and on such a cruel cliffhanger too),
but I did enjoy The Tick just as much. There was a lot of
good TV back then.
Does anybody remember Incredible
Universe? Its existence seems to be contained entirely
within the 90s; maybe Captain Marvel should have crashed
into one instead of a Blockbuster (which you could still
visit for most of the following decade). There was one of
these in my general area, but it was far enough away to
make a visit inconvenient, so I never set foot inside.
Have any of my readers been in one?
I mean...you want to talk about food
that's bad for you; look at these kids' faces after just
eating one piece of Gushers candy. Does THAT girl look
healthy to you? We weren't at the point yet where the
candy was actually turning kids' heads into fruit, but
one kid eats a Gusher so sour his mouth becomes a black
hole and he collapses into a singularity with a loud
"POP." The breaking point for parents had to be
Behold the versatility of Betty
Crocker's "String Thing" product. You can play
it like a harp. You can wear it as a wig. You can use it
as a jump rope. It's an all-in-one solution for every
problem you have in your life. You can even eat it,
though we don't recommend it.
It appears at one point Fruit Roll-Ups
figured out how to implant their product with wailing
ghosts, but decided not to pursue it in retail. Instead
they stamped the rolls with designs that looked like
dollar bills, which by comparison is rather weak. The
rolls that scream in your face were far more impressive!
Perhaps, maybe, super-sugary snacks are making a
comeback, if the recent sighting of Elf Cereal is any
indication. Yes, it's marshmallows mixed with maple
syrup. The stuff that Buddy ate was enough to send a
mortal person's heart rate into hummingbird territory.
His tongue should not be a role model!
It's generally accepted that Fox Kids'
most popular show at this time was Power Rangers, but
X-Men clearly performed just as strongly if the network
was willing to delay the start of the new season one week
so Jean Grey could turn into a flaming bird. We're now in
the following week, which means we get the first
confrontation with Lord Zedd -- half ground beef, half
golden battle armor, he came out of nowhere and nearly
handed the Rangers their color-coded butts. It took two
additional episodes and a brand new suite of mechanoids
to beat the new threat back down. I'm told these episodes
aren't exactly "new" because they aired in a
prime-time slot first, possibly at the same time X-Men
was occupying their normal space.
What the....Good Morning America??
That's on ABC! We're watching Fox! What is this doing
It appears there weren't
enough broadcast channels in Phoenix so ABC and Fox had
to share one....I think. I didn't live there, I have no
idea what's really going on.
The shortest Goof Troop cartoon ever
made is just three seconds long. Goofy sticks his hand in
a top hat and says he's about to perform a magic trick.
Pete gets angry and insists he's the one who's
going to perform the trick. But the hat is displeased
with the unauthorized number of hands presently inside it
and eats them both. Max Goof, now fatherless, says
Unlike most cereals from this time
period, Froot Loops has managed to keep its ads on the
air to this very day. I have to tell you, though, they
JUST recently redesigned Toucan Sam.
Those people who
complain online about "CalArts Bean Mouths"
sure aren't going to appreciate this.
Finally, the piece de resistance of
the whole thing: the 60-second version of the
"Everything's Happening On Fox" promo. It's one
of the better efforts at the "promote the whole
network at once" type of ad. It really IS a
"hot party that rocks." The interesting thing
is that Spider-Man is in it, yet his show wouldn't turn
up until 1995. Not a single ad had been produced telling
kids a Spider-Man cartoon was on the way. Instead THIS
was how everyone found out. I can't tell if that's dumb
or genius. Depends on if it was intentional.