Tag Archives: beavis and butt-head

90’s Nostalgia is Taking Over

959_The_Nineties(2)It was only a matter of time before the 1990’s received the same treatment as the decades that preceded it. Even when living in the moment I knew it would happen some day. My dad’s favorite radio station when I was a kid was Oldies 103.3 playing mostly hits from the 60’s and 70’s, at the time. Sometimes I would think to myself that this could be me one day, only the radio would be playing the hits of the 80’s and 90’s. Of course, this didn’t quite happen as FM radio is practically irrelevant in the year 2016, but the 90’s are striking pop culture today in numerous ways.

It’s come along gradually, with novelty products showing up in specialty stores with a bit of a 90’s theme. I’m thinking mostly of t-shirts featuring bands and cartoons from that decade, or those oppressive POP vinyl toys of seemingly every licensed property invented from the 80’s and 90’s. It just seems like in the past couple of years we’ve been hit with a wave of nostalgia from that era, pointing to it being here to stay for the foreseeable future until it’s pushed aside by something else.

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Missed Doug? Clarissa? Tommy? Well they’re on TV once again. Rocko? Not so much.

We’re near the two year anniversary of The Simpsons marathon that launched the FXX network. For this first time in well over a decade, those classic Simpsons episodes from the earliest seasons were back on television. The Simpsons has been a hit for FXX, and it’s not surprising that other networks have followed suit with similar packages. Last year, The Nickelodeon Network debuted The Splat on its Teen Nick channel. This brought back the shows from the 90’s every night starting at 10 EST. I’m not sure how The Splat has faired when it comes to ratings, but it’s mostly delivered what it promised even resurrecting old TV spots from back in the day. It’s second year hasn’t been as good though, with the network relying way too much on Hey Arnold! and later seasons of Rugrats. The grosser, more “90’s” styled shows like Ren & Stimpy and Rocko’s Modern Life seem to only pop up around holidays. And while it’s a bit of a trip to watch Double Dare, the show is so outdated and just not engrossing at all for an adult as the trivia questions are usually absurdly easy or absurdly hard (when they needed to force a physical challenge).

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Give us the Beavis and Butt-Head we want, MTV!

Just in the past couple of weeks, MTV (a sister network to Nickelodeon) has launched its own classic channel called MTV Hits. It promises to feature programming from the 80’s and 90’s, though the promos they ran seemed to emphasize the 90’s more than anything. It’s been kind of hit and miss for me since it launched. While it’s neat to see Unplugged again featuring the classic performances of Nirvana and Alice and Chains, why the network chooses to only feature Beavis & Butt-Head episodes from the 2011 revival makes little sense. I can only assume it’s a licensing issue (perhaps regarding the videos featured in the old episodes) that keep the classics off-air, or maybe they’re saving them for a future marathon or some other feature. The package shows of music videos have also been really spotty. I watched an episode of Rock Hits and found most of the videos to be post 2000, and who gets a nostalgia boner for Creed?

Perhaps more surprising is the rise in 90’s soft drinks of late. Food and beverages isn’t the first category I think about when I ponder nostalgia, but it does make sense as a lot of people will associate certain consumable items (like candy, soda, or even beer) from a particular era. It was still kind of surprising though when Coca-Cola partnered with Amazon a couple of years ago to resurrect Surge. Surge is perhaps the most identifiable 90’s beverage thanks in part to a silly marketing campaign as the extreme soda (though anyone alive at the time knows Jolt is the real extreme soda) and its recognizable can. It’s apparently been successful enough for it to hang around on Amazon, though apparently not successful enough for a full re-release to stores. I’ve had the re-launched Surge, as I did like it as a teen, and found it tasted more or less how I remembered. It seemed to be just a bit sweeter than I remembered with less bite to it, but that’s probably more to do with me drinking far less soda today than I did back then.

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Surprising many, is the return of Crystal Pepsi in 2016.

Coca-Cola didn’t stop with Surge though, as this summer they re-introduced Ecto-Cooler, their green, orange flavored drink that was a tie-in with The Real Ghostbusters. For whatever reason, the flavor stayed on store shelves well past the expiration date on that cartoon and you could even find it in the 2000’s. With a new Ghostbusters film hitting theaters this summer, Coke felt it was an appropriate time to resurrect the brand. I have not had the new Ecto-Cooler, because I didn’t care for the original. Hi-C is basically soda without carbonation. It’s gross, but if it’s your thing be my guest. I hear it basically tastes the same.

While Surge may be the most 90’s of beverages, the undisputed king of 90’s soda that isn’t around today has got to be Crystal Pepsi. Launched with a massive marketing campaign in 1992, Crystal Pepsi only lasted a year, but it made an impression. Marketed as a cleaner alternative to regular Pepsi, Crystal Pepsi was essentially caffeine free Pepsi without any coloring. It was sort of an odd experience when consuming it out of a glass or bottle where you could see the liquid, but it tasted almost exactly like traditional Pepsi. I think it was that sort of weird factor, and the fact that Crystal Pepsi had virtually no health benefits over regular Pepsi, that doomed it. It also had to likely make up a huge deficit to start off with thanks to that ad campaign which featured “Van Hagar’s” “Right Now” heavily.

After an online campaign that attracted some mainstream attention, Pepsi brought back Crystal Pepsi as a reward for a promotional tie-in with their cell phone app last December. Just this past week, Pepsi brought the beverage back to retail in 20oz form only. Time will tell how successful this is, but for now, Pepsi is saying it’s only here for six weeks or so. I’ve been surprised at how quiet the company has been about it as I’ve see no advertisements for it whatsoever, just a clever website mocked-up to look like an early 90’s website (it also features a playable 90’s themed version of Oregon Trail). When I’ve mentioned the subject to friends and co-workers, the reaction has been the same “They brought it back?”

As for the product itself, it tastes pretty much how I remember. Of course, we’re talking almost 25 years here so my memory cannot be relied upon, but Crystal Pepsi still tastes like regular Pepsi with maybe a slight difference that’s too small to even really describe. I’m pretty excited to have it back, as the point of my life that I’m easily the most nostalgic for is probably that period from 1992-1994. It was just a good time to be alive and be a kid and I loved Crystal Pepsi when it first came out so it’s pretty cool to have it back. I just wish the label was a little more interesting and incorporated that light shade of blue the original had. I hope it does well enough to score a 12-pack release in cans. If Pepsi wants to make it a seasonal, summer beverage I’ll even accept that. I just hope it’s not gone for good come October.

So what’s next for the 1990’s? I didn’t even touch on the movies, like the revival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or the upcoming Power Rangers film. There appears to be no end in sight. Hopefully these nostalgia-themed television channels up their game and companies continue to resurrect the great brands of yesterday. I’m looking at you Nestle, as I want my Alpine White back, damnit!

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The Best in Televised Animation – Introduction

ARCHIVAL PHOTOProbably 90% of the posts here could be separated into two broad categories:  video games and animation. Thus it would come as no surprise to anyone who has spent even a small sum of time browsing this blog that I love animation, especially the classic hand-drawn kind. I’ve never given much thought as to why I enjoy animation so much. I would guess it’s because animation can do anything, even things live-action cannot. It can imitate real life or do the exact opposite. It’s often a haven for comedy and a natural destination for characters who began life as a comic book.

Animation has spent considerable time on the big screen and on television. As film, animation often takes the form of a general audience picture running around ninety minutes. It of course began life as a short subject often pre-empting a more traditional picture, then Walt Disney came along and decided animation could go feature-length. On television, animation often occupies children’s programming, but select shows have broken through as animated sitcoms and adults-only comedy acts. Trying to narrow down the best animated films and television shows is quite a tall task, which is why this feature is going to concern itself with television for now. This I envision will be a long-running feature. I’ve settled on what I consider to be the ten best animated programs, but there’s always the possibility I could continue to add to it even after I do a write-up on my ten favorites. It’s also possible I never finish. The possibilities are endless!

Before getting to my top 10, I wanted to make an introductory post on the feature and use it as an opportunity to highlight the shows that just missed the cut. My list does not exclude the animation aimed at children and my top ten is almost half kid’s shows and half adult programs. I tried to approach all of them with the same basic questions:  Is the show entertaining? Is the medium used well? Is the artwork pleasing to the eye while suiting the show’s needs? Naturally, the list will be influenced by the era I grew up in, the 80’s and 90’s, so the shows that came before that time are unfairly penalized (though in my opinion, most of the cartoons from that era are garbage). I also didn’t include the package shows like Looney Tunes. I loved those cartoons growing up, but they’re theatrical shorts

With that out of the way, it’s time to hit on the ones that just missed my list. One of the first cartoons I can remember watching daily as a kid is DuckTales. DuckTales was extremely pleasing to the eyes, like just about all of the Disney cartoons from that era, and featured a fun, engaging plot with likable characters and a catchy soundtrack. It holds up pretty well today, but is obviously aimed at children. The show could get redundant as well as the premise for most episodes was Scrooge having to thwart the Beagle Boys, but as far as children’s entertainment goes, it’s hard to beat DuckTales.

Spider-Man has made numerous appearances on television, but the oddest looking is probably the best.

Spider-Man has made numerous appearances on television, but the oddest looking is probably the best.

DuckTales was an adventure program, and another adventure program that’s still fun to this day is Dragon Ball. Hailing from Japan, Dragon Ball tells the tale of Goku who travels the world in search of the seven magic dragon balls. The plot gets more complicated than that as the show moves along, but it’s packed with equal parts action and humor. Since it arrived in the states after its sequel series, Dragon Ball Z, anime dubbing was able to improve and english speaking audiences were treated to a wonderful dub, something that was rare during the 90’s. Dragon Ball Z is the more popular show, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the quality of Dragon Ball.

Superheroes have seen a great many takes on their comics in the world of televised animation. One such character has received numerous adaptations: Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man. Two adaptations stand-out for the wall crawler, the simply titled Spider-Man from the 1990’s and the more recent Spectacular Spider-Man. The 90’s Spider-Man was a great introduction for kids unfamiliar with the character. It hit on lots of Spidey’s most famous stories from the comics, and even though it was for children, it took itself very seriously. Sometimes too seriously. Spectacular Spider-Man distinguished itself with a unique look. It’s style was a bit off-putting at first, but the animation was crisp and the show packed a ton of energy. Sadly, it was a casualty of the Marvel purchase by Disney and an inferior Spider-Man program took its place.

Superhero shows were quite popular in the 90’s, but one stood out amongst the crowd for its satirical take on the genre. I am, of course, talking about The Tick. The Tick closed out the mega-popular Fox Saturday Morning block of programming and was a particularly zany take on the superhero genre. It was probably too weird and too out there for a lot of kids, but it’s definitely a show that works better on older audiences. So obvious was this fact that Fox attempted a live-action sitcom starring the dim-witted blue hero starring Patrick Warburton. It was not a success.

The Tick was a breath of fresh air coming on the heels of numerous melodramatic superhero cartoons.

The Tick was a breath of fresh air coming on the heels of numerous melodramatic superhero cartoons.

In the world of adult cartoons, Family Guy is pretty popular these days. It was roughly animated when it first showed up, but the increased ratings lead to better production and the show looks much better these days. Unfortunately, like another very famous adult cartoon that I’ll get to much later, its current output is far less creative than the first couple of seasons. Family Guy really only had 2 and a half seasons of good content before the formula became too obvious and the characters unlikable. An even more vulgar program for older audiences, Beavis and Butt-head dominated a small chunk of the 90’s. It was impossible to find a teen that didn’t know who those two were. The show was a lot sharper than most gave it credit for, though the animation was as crude as it comes. It would make a Hell of a nice time capsule kind of show.

When it comes to cartoons not aimed primarily at children though, all present cartoons owe a great deal to The Flintstones. The Flintstones were basically a stone-aged take on The Honeymooners and the first primetime cartoon. It’s premise is clever, and the setting is a good example of one that works far better in animation that it ever could have as live-action (just watch The Flintstones movie if you’re not convinced of that). It’s also a show hurt by the age of your humble writer. I grew up watching The Flintstones in syndication when it aired as just another cartoon among many others. I enjoy it for what it is, but it doesn’t engage me enough to make my top ten. It very nearly did though just on its laurels, but I wanted to go with the programs that I personally enjoy the most, because after all, it is my list.

All of those shows I just mentioned were good at one point or another, though truthfully, other than The Flintstones, it wasn’t hard for me to leave any of them off my list. The ten I have picked as the best really are ten shows I enjoy quite a lot and I look forward to doing write-ups on them as I find time. And now, a few others I considered for this post:  Rugrats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012, 2003), Rocko’s Modern Life, Sealab 2021, Batman Beyond, and Bob’s Burgers.


Essential Halloween Viewing

When it comes to holiday themed television specials and films, Christmas leads the way with its countless amount. Coming in second is likely Halloween. Unlike Christmas, there usually isn’t some serious undercurrent to Halloween specials. It also feels less sinister when it comes to marketing, even though there’s certainly lots of money to be made off of Halloween by costume and candy suppliers. For the most part, Halloween is just fun and it’s emphasis on scares helps to distinguish it from other holidays. Like many people, I enjoy a good Halloween special whenever the season rolls around, but with so many out there it can be hard to make time for them all in what amounts to only a month. There are some modern ones out there, like the entertaining Toy Story of Terror, but for the most part I like to watch the specials I watched as a kid. Without further adieu, here’s The Nostalgia Spot’s Halloween viewing guide.

Mickey Mouse in “Lonesome Ghosts”

220px-Lonesome_GhostsHere’s an oldie from way back in 1937, something that would have entertained my adolescent grandfather. Since I only discovered it a few years back, it’s not exactly something I remember from my childhood but certainly fits the theme of this blog. In this cartoon, professional ghost exterminators Mickey, Donald, and Goofy investigate paranormal activities in an old house. The twist is that the trio were hired by the ghosts themselves because no one ever enters their haunted house anymore and they’re just plain bored. Less creepy than it is humorous, it’s mostly a slapstick affair as the ghosts play tricks on their would-be exterminators. It’s an entertaining short, and one can’t help but wonder if it maybe partly inspired Ghostbuster, or at least the theme song, especially when Goofy declares, “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!” The short has been shown on television numerous times over the years as part of Halloween specials. It was also re-released to theaters in the 1960’s and has been released on VHS and DVD as well. The easiest way to see it these days is probably youtube.

Donald Duck in “Trick or Treat”

By the late 40’s and into the 1950’s, Donald Duck was basically the only classic Disney character still receiving new short films. There just wasn’t much money in the format anymore and the budget for each short was scaled back considerably. For the 1952 short “Trick or Treat,” Disney decided to increase the budget to give Donald a proper Halloween special. It has its own theme song and the animation is quite nicely done in comparison with other shorts from around that time. In this one, Donald’s nephews Huey, Duey, and Louie are out trick or treating and come upon their uncle’s house. When the boys knock on his door and request their tricks or treats, Donald (not surprisingly) elects trick. A witch, Witch Hazel, passing by happens to see this and decides to help the boys get their treats out of Donald. Apparently, the Halloween spirit does not include the tricks portion of the ages old phrase. Hazel uses her magic on Donald and a lot of physical comedy follows. Like “Lonesome Ghosts,” this one has been released on VHS and DVD over the years either on Halloween compilations or as a bonus feature with certain films. There’s a chance it could pop up on one of the Disney channels this Halloween, but if you want to see it better head to youtube.

The Real Ghostbusters – “When Halloween Was Forever”

Samhain, the spirit of Halloween!

Samhain, the spirit of Halloween!

A cartoon that centers around four guys (and a ghost) who hunt down paranormal creatures naturally lends itself well to Halloween. Pretty much any episode could qualify for such a holiday, but the episode “When Halloween Was Forever” happens to deal with the holiday directly. This episode features the ghost Samhain, the spirit of Halloween, who decides to freeze time on Halloween night so that it lasts forever. Since Halloween is said to be derived from the Pagan holiday Samhain, it’s a nice touch to name the ghost after it. The Real Ghostbusters was a DIC production and if you’re familiar with any of their cartoons from the 80’s then you likely know what to expect out of the audio and animation. It’s standard for the era, with the soundtrack being appropriately spooky. While no episode of this cartoon can come close to matching the film it was based on, it’s actually not a bad show and time has been far kinder to it than it has the more popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Ren & Stimpy – “Haunted House”

The premise for this one is conventional, Ren and Stimpy stumble upon a creepy looking house and, in need of shelter for the night, decide to head inside. Unbeknownst to them, the house is haunted and a malicious ghost lurks inside who can’t wait to scare them. The twist here is that Ren and Stimpy are seemingly in on the joke as they break the fourth wall and end up impervious to the ghost’s efforts. This naturally frustrates the ghost, to the point that he becomes depressed and suicidal (apparently, ghosts can “die” in Ren and Stimpy’s world). Highlights of the episode include a Psycho shower-scene parody and the previously mentioned fourth-wall breaking remarks (“This looks like a good place to kill 12 minutes!”). There’s also the usual random humor found in a Ren and Stimpy short that people either find amusing or stupid. This one is unlikely to show up on television so anyone looking to watch it will either have to pick it up on DVD or turn to the internet. Be warned, the version found on the official Ren & Stimpy Volume 1 is censored with the Bloody Head Fairy bit removed completely. Apparently it was considered too gruesome after the fact.

Beavis and Butt-Head – “Bungholio:  Lord of the Harvest”

Beavis and Butt-Head on a quest for candy.

Beavis and Butt-Head on a quest for candy.

Sometimes referred to as “Buttoween,” this episode features everyone’s favorite dim-witted duo as they go trick or treating in search of free candy. Since they weren’t even aware Halloween was coming until trick or treaters showed up at their house, the two do not have costumes so Butt-Head covers his head in cheese sauce (“I’m nachos.”) while Beavis wears his underwear on his head (“I’m a nad!”). Beavis eventually has too much sugar and his alter-ego, The Great Cornholio, shows itself. The two soon find themselves on a farm ripped right from a slasher film. Most of the humor comes from watching the two try and get some candy in the first part of the episode, while the second part puts the two in an obvious bad situation that they’re apparently oblivious to. The animation is pretty terrible, but anyone who has seen an episode of Beavis and Butt-Head before should already be aware of this. It’s stupid humor, but it is pretty funny. You either like it or you don’t.

South Park – “Pinkeye”

South Park is more known for its numerous Christmas specials, but early seasons often featured other holiday themed episodes. The first season episode, “Pinkeye,” remains the show’s top Halloween special. In this one, a mishap with worcestershire sauce causes a dead Kenny to turned into a zombie. Kenny, as patient zero, spreads a zombie plague all through-out South Park that a clueless doctor mistakes as a severe case of pinkeye. It’s up to Chef and the boys to put a stop to the zombie menace so they can go trick or treating and get some candy. The episode includes some notable gags such as Cartman’s mom on the cover of Crack Whore Magazine and a memorable parody of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” It also features Cartman’s attempt to find a non-offensive Halloween costume.

The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror V”

Treehouse of Horror V is best-remembered for its parody of Stephen King's "The Shining."

Treehouse of Horror V is best-remembered for its parody of Stephen King’s “The Shining.”

The Simpsons Halloween special, Treehouse of Horror, has become an annual tradition. With 24 to choose from, some may consider it a daunting task to select only one. As is the case with most things “Simpsons,” the earlier episodes are usually considered the better, and for me, it came down to a choice between Treehouse of Horror II and V. V is just slightly stronger and a little more horror-themed than the more sci-fi II. Treehouse of Horror V features parodies of The Shining, The Sound of Thunder, and Soylent Green. In the first segment, “The Shinning,” the Simpsons are basically dropped into the plot of its source material and includes the memorable line “No beer and no TV make Homer go something, something.” The second segment, “Time and Punishment,” puts a time-traveling toaster in Homer’s hands resulting in Homer unintentionally creating a new present time ruled by Flanders. The third segment, “Nightmare Cafeteria,” has Principal Skinner resort to cannibalism of the student body to cope with budget cuts at Springfield Elementary. If a Treehouse of Horror is able to hit on two out of three, it’s generally considered a good iteration of the venerable television special, but Treehouse of Horror V is the rare one where all three are pretty entertaining. With The Simpsons now being featured on the FXX channel, hopefully a Treehouse of Horror marathon is in the near future. The 25th version of the special is set to air tonight.


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