Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Commercials: Burger King Kids Club

Until 1990, Ronald McDonald and the gang dominated the kid-friendly fast food commercial racket. However, that changed when some new mascots emerged: The Burger King Kids Club Gang.

This group of kids was even more PC than Captain Planet's Planeteers. Burger King was determined to cover every demographic. Here's a rundown:

Boomer, the tomboy: The jock of the group, who always wielded a hockey stick and never took off her roller blades. I could make a joke about her eventually replacing her blades with Birkenstocks, but she seemed pretty enamored with Lingo in one of the commercials I posted...

I.Q., the stereotypical nerd: Pocket protector? Check. Glasses? Check. Wild hair? Check. Huge vocabulary? Check.

Jaws, the token black guy: His shtick was his incredible appetite. His only other memorable quality was his hightop fade.

Lingo, the token ethnic kid: Wow, that name isn't exactly PC. Anyhoo, Lingo was probably the most three-dimensional of the Kids Club gang. He was a bilingual (English and Spanish) artist. I had a slight crush on him back in the day.

Wheels, the token disabled kid: Yet another hilariously unfortunate naming choice. This kid had one pimp wheelchair. He probably tricked it out himself, considering that he was the mechanically inclined member of the gang.

Snaps, the "hot" girl: Blonde, of course. Other than her interest in photography, she exhibited absolutely no personality.

Kid Vid, the "cool" kid/leader of the pack: Most likely the Zack Morris of the group. Was into video games and techie stuff. Eventually he was the lone member of the Kids Club Gang to be used in the commercials.

J.D., the animal mascot: Um... he was a dog.

According to Wikipedia, Token Ethnic Kid #2 was added in the early 2000s: Jazz, an Asian musician (trumpet seems to be her instrument of choice). I had no idea that the The Kids Club Gang still existed at that point, but it's apparently still going strong in the Middle East.

I just realized that there's one missing demographic: the token fat kid. However, from a business standpoint, the omission of such a character is understandable.

The early commercials were pretty high quality, both animation-wise and music-wise. Here's a sampling:

You thought that one was good? This one was featured on the promotional Ninja Turtles VHS movies that came with the kids meals:

And finally, to make up for the lack of my beloved Lingo in the last video, here's his debut:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Commercials: Sprinkled Chips Ahoy

In the late 80s and early 90s there seemed to be an ongoing trend in many commercials: a group of kids are being bored to death by a stodgy old fuddy-duddy, then one of them breaks out some sugary snack and suddenly, it's party central.

This commercial for Sprinkled Chips Ahoy (do they even make those anymore?) is a classic example. You gotta love the generic rock music and hideous 1990 ensembles these kids are sporting. Anybody recognize the teacher? Bueller? Bueller?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Letter People

Here's an obscure one for you.

The Letter People was a staple in my weekday morning PBS lineup. Although it first aired in the early 70s, the network (at least my local affiliate, which actually produced the show) showed sporadic reruns until right around the time I hit puberty.

Upon surfing the web for this entry, I discovered that sometime in the 90s there was a revival. And let me tell you, it is a politically correct ABOMINATION!

In the original version, there were only five female characters, each of whom represented the vowels. In the new version, F, J, K, L, P, S, T, V, W, and Y are now also female, although I and O have been turned male. Personally, I think that the old series had a better feminist message. After all, to make a word, one of the "female" letters is always needed (I know there are a few exceptions, but I'm not getting into that now). Hell, if they really wanted to be PC, they could have made Y into a hermaphrodite or a tranny. Y is sometimes a vowel, after all.

It gets worse. Many of the beloved characters received name changes. All references to junk food and "negative" images are the most notable. Here are just a few examples:

Mister C, Cotton Candy ---> Mr. C, Colossal Cap

Mister D, Delicious Donuts ---> Mr. D, Dazzling Dance

Mister H, Horrible Hair ---> Mr. H, Happy Hair

Miss I, Itchy Itch ---> Mr. I, Impossible Inches (BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Sorry, one-track mind over here. Seriously, couldn't they give the character a name that doesn't sound like a bad porn?)

Mister J, Jumbled Junk ---> Ms. J, Jingle Jangle Jacket

Mister L, Lemon Lollipops ---> Ms. L, Longest Laugh

Miss O, Obstinate ---> Mr. O, Opposite

Mister X, Mixed Up ---> Mr. X, Different (what the hell? At least "mixed up" has an X in it)

As a final slap in the face, check out just how fugly the new puppets are (not that the old ones weren't fugly in their own right).

The "Lucky Star" song was always my favorite. Click here for the video. The uploader has TONS of Letter People episodes, so if you want more, just click on their name.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Commercials: Skip-it

"Hey now kids come gather 'round,
See what just skipped into town!"

Ah, Skip-it. Every little girl of my generation's favorite recess pastime... assuming anybody was actually willing to lug the damn thing to and from school.

As the commercial says, "the very best thing of all is the counter on the ball". That's probably the only real incentive for buying a Skip-it... that and the pretty colors. Now that I'm older, I realize just how big of a rip-off this toy is. If I ever have kids, I think I'll just spring for a jump rope instead.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sesame Street: Forgetful Jones Does Oklahoma

Forgetful Jones was one of my favorite Sesame Street characters. I'm not sure why exactly, but there's just something about him. He certainly was unique.

Hehe, my immature self laughed at this excerpt from his Wikipedia profile for about five minutes: "He 'rode in the saddle' with his girlfriend, Clementine."

Sadly, the character was retired in 1992 after his voice actor died. Godspeed, Forgetful Jones. Sesame Street just isn't the same without you.

The video below features undoubtedly the best Forgetful Jones moment ever. That's right I'm talking about the infamous Oklahoma parody. Classic. And how adorable is Kermit in his little director's outfit?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bumpers: USA Cartoon Express

Believe it or not, there was actually a time when the USA network showed something besides Law and Order reruns. Once upon a time, there was a block known as Cartoon Express. I spent many Sunday mornings watching old Hanna-Barbera cartoons (though I usually ignored the weekday afternoon block). Cartoon Express produced possibly some of the best bumpers ever.

Here's a bumper featuring Slimer from The Real Ghostbusters:

Here's one featuring a bunch of Hanna-Barbera characters: