One, well two, of my most prized possessions are a pair of VHS tapes that have been in my family for generations (assuming we use the more practically applicable definition in which a generation is, like, 7 or 12 years or so– enough time so that your references fly over heads, slang seems genuinely baffling, and the bands of your youth make their accustomed lifestyle money milking the reunion circuit with full album performances of the when people actually liked, or theme cruises, or both (Weezer) or enjoy a disturbing second life you don’t understand amongst folks not even born yet when they originally hit big (Green Day)).
One of my most prized possessions is a pair of VHS tapes basically as old as myself. We got a VCR pretty early and, lucky for me, my parents were pretty into taping things off TV. The Mary Martin version of Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Disney’s demi-live-action trilogy (Mary Poppins,1 Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Pete’s Dragon), Lady and the Tramp, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Star Wars, I think those last two may have been me, Superman II But With A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Taped Over Part Of It, and Et Cetera. Anyways, I watched these things into the ground, none moreso than the two tapes upon which we taped All The Christmas Specials (Every Single One Of Them).
The tapes have the All-Timers, the Mega Classics, the Four Lions of Jihad Crossout Font Christmas Cheer, the Oh Wait I Should Have Said ‘The Christmas Mount Rushmore’– Chestnuts!: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman. Of COURSE they have those —>> O.B.V.I.2
And the next tier down, too: Christmas Eve on Sesame Street , Sesame Street vs. Muppets Christmastime Clusterfuck, A Garfield Christmas Special Might Be Included On This Tier, Also Maybe A Chipmunk Christmas (The One With The Harmonica and ‘Money Money Money’)?, the Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special, and the feel-bad trilogy of the season Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
FEEL GOOD FIRST, then…
Why are they such dicks to their uncle and how did they not all die! Why do Chip and Dale gotta torture Pluto and why doesn’t Mickey believe him! Man’s best friend indeed slash I forgot about the one where Goofy is terrible at skiing! I guess it’s a quadrilogy! And what if my tape cut off when Uncle Scrooge gets sent to hell?! It didn’t, but for someone I bet it did!
And then you have your The Night Before Christmas‘s, which I thought was ubiquitous until I was met with blank unknowing stares when I would try to rouse a round of “Even A Miracle Needs A Hand,” as well as your real shitpits like Apparently There Was A Saturday Morning Cartoon Of Snow White And It Had A Christmas Special Of Some Kind, and The Smurfs. But that’s not the point.
What Even Is-er This?
The point is, my parents in taping things off TV were inconsistent about their dedication to skipping the ads. Sometimes this would result in missing entire scenes from a movie so that I didn’t see the credits to Star Wars until those mid-90s re-releases. Other times they would remember thirty seconds into the ad, which would make skipping the ads for future me a real trick (especially pre-VCR-remote). But on occasion they would forego even trying and let every single ad through. I still can’t watch Ghostbusters without expecting that next week ABC will be showing Who’s Harry Crumb?, and I still can’t watch a Christmas special without thinking “Scared Ya! Didn’t I?!”. And That Is Why These Tapes Are The Best
This isn’t what they showed, but the internet doesn’t have what they showed/EVERY STOCK JOKE IN THE WORLD
The following is an anthology of some of the ads I remember from my VHS tapes. Each one is like a time capsule into which I’ve shoved a tiny piece of my heart. It was a poor choice, as for each one you watch you get that heartpiece and I’m down 0.00031% blood refresh capacity. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up.
Playskool Dinosaurs – “Scared Ya Didn’t I?”
Me and my sister can still sing this. Probably not every word– def not that second verse– but both “we can play with them real rough” and “Scared Ya – Didn’t I?” are basically trigger phrases. I hope to never learn/remember for what. Also: that kid sells it real good. Why isn’t he still doing anything? Or is he John C. Reilley now? Stepped in some kind of time pool, maybe, or travelled a light decade and then returned to Earth?
Note: so the guy who posted this video 4 years ago apparently had the exact same experience I had feat. some of the same ads. Sad/no wait, pretend it’s good somehow?
Honey Nut Cheerios – Bob Cratchit Bee
I would have felt much less sympathy for Tiny Tim if he was lived in a wax cell/was a grub. Scrooge was probably in the right– quit mystery dying and get back to work, Bees!
Child World/Children’s Palace – I Couldn’t Find One For Child World/Children’s Palace
I couldn’t find the campaign I remembered for Child World / Children’s Palace where they super heavily featured the castle, but this instead! I actually collected these before he died, so– that’s two-ish!3
Wendys, Apparently – Indoor Tent Safari of World Wildlife Fund Stuffed Animals
The night of their hunt always felt so nightlike, even when watching this during the day, or in college 17 years later. I do miss the amateurishness of child actors circa before Home Alone / I could have sworn this was McDonald’s.
Fruity Pebbles – The Sharing Season
Every so often you should probably just yell at people, “YOUR Pebbles!?” Or say something more applicable but in that voice. “Did you get my enrollment forms I faxed? I really need eligibility so I can get my kids glasses” “YOUR kids!?” Eh. Let’s workshop it / wait for a natural bridge.
McDonald’s – This Star Thing
“We Own The Stars”- McDonald’s
I know I was there, and that I saw it, and that it did actually happen, but I’m still skeptical that Ronald McDonald was ever a thing. How? How come? Why? Why.
Toys R’ Us – I Remember There Being A Seemingly Rather Long Low-Key Version of Toys R’ Us Kid Where Geoffrey Was Wandering Through The Cavernous Halls Of A Toys R’ Us Or Maybe It Was A Dream Because I Can’t Find It
Halls – Of Medicine
This felt real convincing as an ‘other place’ in a time before Packard Bell desktops and when you were dumber than a box of cough drops.
Finally – This One I Didn’t Notice Until Much Later
When editing software gets sophisticated + easy to use enough = this + Tree of Life. Such a smug dance he does, eating them. Even Barry Obama was a sad jerk with an ill-advised halfro once.
YOUR (CHRISTMAS) LATERS!?!?
1. my favorite movie until Independence Day came along. Well, that and A Coal Miner’s Daughter (also taped off TV)
2. Only Buffoons Voice Inane… shit
3. Number one being (actually pretty nuts) guessing that Christopher Hitchens would die within the next 24 hours in the post I posted on the day Christopher Hitchens died.