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 allowance."

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.


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 there.
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 here??

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 "Cool."
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.