Sing

Be My Guest, And Watch the Amazing Jerry Orbach Sing!

Be Our Guest is stuck in your head now, isn’t it?

Earworms, Disney Style

When I was nine years old, I loved watching Disney movies. One of those movies that I’ve seen as many times as most five-year-olds have seen Frozen is Beauty and the Beast. Combine those frequent viewings with ownership of the soundtrack on a cassette tape (which got frequent rotation in my Walkman), and yeah, I knew the songs. Kids now have Frozen (specifically, “Let it Go”); I had everything from Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and the song that is the subject of today’s earworm.

Being that it is Academy Awards weekend, I’d be remiss if I didn’t fish a clip out of my archives that fit the occasion perfectly. And since many of my archives are from the 1990s, I just happened to have something perfect and, well, 90s.

Before There was Lenny, There Was Lumiere!

Many younger 80s kids (myself included) probably remember Jerry Orbach from his years as Detective Lenny Briscoe on Law and Order, a role he played from 1993 until leaving the show in 2004. When he passed away that same year, a void was left behind, and I had a hard time watching the show and not missing his cracks of wise. But before I saw him on Law and Order, I knew Jerry Orbach’s amazing singing voice as Lumiere the Candelabra in the 1991 film Beauty and the Beast. And while I don’t actively watch Disney movies (aside from the Marvel Cinematic Universe), I do know a good Disney movie when I see one. More specifically, I know a good performance of a Disney movie song when I see one.

Sing

When I was working on the subject of my most recent Throwback Thursday article, there were a few snippets of the 64th Academy Awards that I left mixed in with the commercials, and for good reason. Witness the Disney movie emcee with the most, Jerry Orbach, as he asks you, the audience to be his guest.

Be my guest and click play to witness him sing and dance, because after all this is France!

Uploaded by…yours truly! :-)

Sheer amazement, isn’t it?!

So whether you watch the awards for the dresses, movies you like that got nominated, or because you happen to like award shows, enjoy this year’s Academy Awards. And if not, well…have a great weekend!

 

It (Allegedly) Stinks!: Exploring the Underappreciated Charm of “The Critic”

*Watching the “Readability monitor* (Sigh) Such a critic.

Not The Simpsons

Anyway, now that you know how I feel about that Readability monitor…

If you watched enough primetime cartoons in the 1990s (other than The Simpsons, of course), “it stinks!” may sound familiar to you. And many believe it to be a direct spinoff of The Simpsons (and they’re so wrong!).

This show it comes from, you ask?

The Critic!

Before There Was Family Guy

In the 1990s, one primetime cartoon was king, and that was The Simpsons. There was nothing quite like it at the time, and it ruffled quite a few feathers. Bart Simpson was every parents’ worst nightmare, and the example that moms used when they said “this is not how you will behave!” Because my mom allowed my brother and I to watch the show, I never understood why so many other kids could not, and why parents were in such a tizz over The Simpsons. And that show was supposed to be family-friendly – I can’t imagine what the people who got their panties in a bunch over The Simpsons felt when they saw Family Guy a few years later.

If you guessed they got their panties in a bunch AGAIN, you’re right. Pat yourself on the back, you’re so smart!

Picture it, a Brief Time in 1994 (and 1995)…

Between that time, in 1994, Al Jean and Mike Reiss, who were previously showrunners on The Simpsons, decided the time was right for another primetime sitcom, but not of the family variety. The premise, you ask? The life of a New York film critic named Jay Sherman. That’s it. He’s a film critic, he’s balding, fat, has a child, is divorced, and has a Siskel and Ebert type show (called with all originalness, Coming Attractions) where he watched trailers for upcoming films. The movies he reviews are spirited parodies of actual films that you’ll immediately figure out if you’re familiar with movies of the time.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiryercg53SAhUJQiYKHYL_DoQQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fthecritic.wikia.com%2Fwiki%2FComing_Attractions&bvm=bv.147448319,d.amc&psig=AFQjCNEqc-Ck9gcv4BGSDSuac4pQRP1bOA&ust=1487623536718562

And they were hilarious! Who didn’t want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Rabbi Cop, Clint Eastwood make another Dirty Harry movie, a Raptor smoke a pipe, or Dennis the Menace shoot up Mr. Wilson?

A Critic(al) Response

In theory, The Critic seemed like a great concept. It was funny, witty, and was floated as a “love letter to New York.” Plus, Jon Lovitz had name recognition and seemed like the perfect person to have his own series. So this should have been a hit, right?

Nope.

Like the tagline Jay Sherman used to describe the movies he was forced to watch and review, people were not fans. The Critic started off on ABC in January 1994, but moved to Fox in its second season. Despite improving ratings, the show was cancelled after two seasons, and twenty-three episodes. For several years in the mid-late ’90s through its Fox airing and later Comedy Central reruns, this was regular viewing for my brother and myself.

Since I had no idea (at least, initially) that this show began life on ABC, I assumed it was premiering on Fox because of the crossover episode of The Simpsons, when Jay hosts a film festival in Springfield. Oh, and he badmouths MacGyver. I’ve never forgotten that. :-D

Original Run

The show originally premiered on ABC in their Wednesday night lineup beginning on January 26, 1994, but was cancelled after 13 episodes.

Uploaded by VHSgoodiesWA…and proof that this show aired on ABC.

The show promptly moved to Fox for the 1994-1995 season (airing all those original episodes during the summer explains why I thought it only aired on Fox). It followed The Simpsons on Sunday nights (a respectable timeslot), but was cancelled after the second season. A move to UPN never happened, and with no network to pick it up for a third season, The Critic was officially done.

Old Soul Approved

Admittedly, I’ve always been an old soul. Don’t get me wrong – I was your typical kid when it came to toys and cartoons, but I loved primetime sitcoms growing up. As far back as I can remember, I watched many of the “important” ones that ’80s babies grew up on, and even at a younger age, I liked the humor. As an adult, I have not spotted one sitcom I liked as a kid and cringed over it. Ok, except for Small Wonder. I now see why my mom was so weirded out by that show.

Where The Simpsons was low-brow and played to the “everyone can relate” stance, The Critic took a satirical approach to humor, parodying movies by combining different movies, lightening up some, darkening others, and parodying high-profile stars of the time. The movie parodies were brilliant – the “clips” were movies any smartass would love to see. And then there was the Orson Welles parodies – Maurice LaMarche is brilliant. Just sayin’.

Uploaded by seinfan9

The feeling of audience commonality to The Simpsons was parodied in one episode. Jay Sherman was often depicted as elitist and smart, but it was his over-the-top dramatics that made him funny and endearing to this “old soul.” I always liked the humor of the show, even at 11-12 years old. The movie parodies were the highlight for me.

I sorta knew who Jon Lovitz was at the time (thanks to A League of Their Own). His is a voice you can’t forget, and his haminess works perfectly for Jay.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjNobH_gp3SAhVGRyYKHWlqBvUQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fvillains.wikia.com%2Fwiki%2FDuke_Phillips&psig=AFQjCNHrWIYFLd55U3_v78q0QVPqCH0u7Q&ust=1487623348012497

“All hail Duke, Duke is life!”

The only other character I laughed at as hard as I did at Jay was his boss, Duke Phillips, and while I knew who Charles Napier was (but not until much later), I didn’t think that was his real voice! Duke’s characterization was that of Ted Turner – a media conglomerate owner who rules with an iron fist.

And What About Those Movie Parodies?

Yeah, what about them?

Uploaded by Random Comment

There are many more amazing parodies, and this merely scratches the surface. There’s this…

Uploaded by KnightedFrog

This…

Uploaded by Kanaru2

And this!

Uploaded by YoKozo

These, and the many other parodies of the movies…not bogus!

Availability

The show aired in reruns on Comedy Central (where I watched it after Fox cancelled it), has been in syndication during the last decade, and made the trek to TV-on-DVD in one set with all 23 episodes, including the ten-episode Flash Animation webseries (2000-2001). The set is available on Amazon for a respectable price of $14.99. And yes, I own that DVD set.

And In Closing…

The Critic was one of those gems that lacked the proper respect in its time, but still holds up well despite its age. It had a great sense of humor that paved the way for the humor of Family Guy, and all of the shows that would follow in that vein. Ahead of its time? Maybe. Classic? Definitely!

How could anything with that distinction stink?

It is impossible!

Did You Know There Was a “Wayne’s World” Board Game?

Did you know said Wayne’s World game had a videocassette that was used for game play?

But First…

I never realized this, but the 1990s board game market was as crazy with videocassette-based games as the 1980s were. It seems there was a time before Scene It that we relied on the recordings of celebrities to guide us around a game board. And not only did we have that reliance, there were also many different VHS- guided games. Whether it was a haunted house mystery, a game of Clue, being able to get to a party on time, Star Wars, or Star Trek, there were so many different VHS board games to choose from. I even had a Chutes and Ladders VHS board game in the 1980s.

This is the only known video to exist on You Tube.

Uploaded by KidJuggalo

One minute and thirty-seven seconds, with torture by ice cream?! Why doesn’t anyone have the whole video posted?!

Wayne’s World, Rod Serling, and Tie-In Merchandise…

So this week, one of my all-time favorite films turned twenty-five, joining a list of movies I like having anniversaries that cover nearly my entire lifespan in the last few years. Last year, I saw Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for their 30th anniversary showings, so when I found out that Wayne’s World was having a 25th “Birthday” screening, you best believe I threw down money to see it. Let me just say that while the “reunion” video after the movie was a tad disappointing, seeing the movie as I originally saw it in 1992 (in a movie theater) was not.

I sang along.

In my years of geeking out over nostalgia, I’ve come to find out that the movie itself had quite a bit of merchandise attached to it – the obligatory shirts, hats, soundtrack, as well as video games, a board game…

A board game.

I kid you not.

I have to admit, the idea of this game’s existence actually excited me at 34 years old the way it would have at nine years old, if I knew it existed back then. Which I didn’t.

And then I saw the accompanying video and was wiser.

Evidence #1 That I Shouldn’t Have Been Excited: This declaration.

The game, released by Mattel in 1992 as an obvious tie-in to the movie, with an end goal of getting to Party Central. And if you can get past the awkward acting and obvious fact that Mike Myers and Dana Carvey may have shot this at separate times (or possibly in separate places?), then this video will be entertaining for you. Oh, and Rod Serling makes a cameo. It’s not really Rod Serling, just someone who Mattel thought Rod Serling would sound like. Which is an obvious insult to Rod Serling.

Seriously, peeps. Someone tried to tie The Twilight Zone to Wayne’s World, and felt this was a great idea for a board game!

I’d really hate to explain the actual details of the video, because it wouldn’t do justice to what actually unfolds once you hit play.

So do it. Hit play. Watch the um…I’d normally say “magic,” but I don’t think that’s the word for this. Oh, that’s right, “train wreck.”

Uploaded by LEE PETE

The video also advertises two other Wayne’s World games that involve 3-D, cards, and dice. And no videocassettes.

I heard the video games were pretty terrible (I’ve never played them, so I have no idea), but the board game (or at least, the video attached to it) may yet be worse.

Regardless of the game being or not being a “totally amazing, excellent discovery,” it still exists, and that still doesn’t make it right.

This one was truly a product of marketing taking things up a notch, and nothing more.

Uploaded by Jacob Stork

 

Indeed, that is just really sad.

Stick with the movies, folks. They hold up better.

Allison is a long-time (twenty-five years and counting!) fan of Wayne’s World, beginning with the movie in 1992, later moving on to its origins with the Saturday Night Live sketches when she first saw reruns in mid-1996. She doesn’t have any kind of collectibles for the movie, but she does have both films on VHS (and the original on DVD), and both soundtracks on cassette tape. If you like what you’ve seen here, you can find even more fun over at Allison’s blog. She’d also love if you followed her blog’s Facebook page. She is @AllisonGeeksOut on Twitter, and she lives up to that handle in every way possible.

Pssst…she also wrote a Wayne’s World tribute over at her own blog. 

Double The Nostalgia: Video/VCR Test #4 AND Tie-In Merchandise!

In case you’ve missed the other video and VCR tests I’ve done:

Video/VCR Test – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

Video/VCR Test #2 – “The Land Before Time”

Video/VCR Test #3 – “The Albert Achievement Awards”

And by tie-in merchandise, I’m not selling anything that I emblazoned the “Allison’s Written Words” logo on. But if Retroist were to ever decide to go the tie-in route, shut up and take my money, I’d buy that for a dollar, and any other “I’ll take it!” internet memes there are!

When I was in middle school and early high school (approximately 9th and 10th grades), I used to buy “Best Of” Saturday Night Live videocassettes from my local Suncoast video. At $4.99 each, they were bargain priced, and while the quality wasn’t the greatest, I still collected those things like they were going out of style, or print.

Eventually, videocassettes went out of style, these particular videocassettes went out of print, and the company that made them…was forced to stop making them.

And then my VCR broke. It was a good VCR. I wrote about it recently.

Those Saturday Night Live videocassettes were made by a company called Starmaker, which was one of those fun budget label home video companies from the late 1980s and early 1990s. I’ll talk about them a little more next time, as well as those Saturday Night Live videocassettes.

This article dedicates itself to yet another video and VCR test, as well as a tie-in merchandising segment on another Starmaker-released video you may or may not have seen or heard of.

You’re so excited, and you just can’t hide it! Well, you can, because I can’t see you reacting to what you’re reading.  For all I know, you already fell asleep from the excitement. Or not excitement.

Come on, this is a fun article!

Ok, so the point of the story:

Years ago, I was browsing a farmer’s market with a former boyfriend, and we came across used videocassettes for sale and found a Starmaker print of the 1988 comedy 18 Again!, and he told me how great this movie was, so we bought it.

18 Again! stars George Burns as 81-year-old grandfather Jack Watson, who switches bodies with his grandson David after a car accident, leaving the younger man trapped in grandpa’s body. Jack, meanwhile, gets this nice new lease on life, but finds out some things about his family that upset him. There is also that disturbing little fact that the family is ready to pull the plug on comatose Jack, who is actually a comatose David’s soul trapped in Jack’s body. 18 Again! is one of those dime-a-dozen body switch films from the late 1980s, but like the others, it is cute and sentimental.

Unlike the others, it is about a much older man getting a fresh start and not wreaking havoc on the younger man’s life. The younger man can’t defend himself, so it is only right.

Talking about the movie makes me want to see it again.  Hmmm…

New World Pictures released the movie to theaters in April 1988, was a critical and commercial failure, and Pauly Shore was in it.

I had to throw that one fact in there. Because if I didn’t, you wouldn’t know I actually wrote this article!

The copy that I have is the 1992 Starmaker print, which was likely copied from an a New World Home Video release. There was a very interesting tidbit to the video, but it required watching the movie past the closing credits. Since that is what I do for these Video/VCR tests, we’re following the instructions set forth by the movie.

Ok.

Ok, I heard ya the first time!!!!!!

After the logos and this important message (times two), the production company wanted us to partake in some tie-in merchandise for this movie. I’m not sure who felt the tie-in stuff was a great idea, but apparently they felt this movie needed black jackets emblazoned with the New World logo on the back.

But why tell you all about it, when you can watch it?!

Delight in the overly-enthusiastic cackling of two George Burns groupies and their excitement for…

MOVIE POSTERS!

T-shirts! Just $9!!!!!!

Sports shirts! The one lady says her husband always complains that he doesn’t have enough sports shirts! This one would be perfect for him!

And a – contain your excitement – JACKET!

Because you love Roger Corman and everything he stands for (which is usually bad movies), so why wouldn’t you want to wear this jacket! Only $60!!!!

If you’re dying to order this fabulous merchandise, you’ll need to follow these directions…

Of course, you can call the number, but it is 1988 and you only trust the mail, so you can do this instead…

Every Google search is a dead end for this “Watch and Wear” company, or if this was something New World Pictures did for their movies at the time. I’m not sure how successful the concept was or how much merchandise tied into this movie was actually sold because of the advertising. It seems cheesy, but if somebody bought a “sports shirt,” then hey, the marketing geniuses did their job and you look marvelous in your new shirt that looks like something video store employees wear to promote new releases.

I’m a former video store employee, I know from experience!

There you have it, another video/VCR test AND a fun segment from something from the good old days of movie tie-in merchandising.

This example, young watchers, is what life was like before every movie needed licensed merchandise to pad out the movie’s noticeably.

Allison has an interesting collection of old videocassettes, which she is working to transfer from her VCR. She recently replaced the VCR, but the fun keeps on going. If you like what you’ve seen here, then you’ll love what she has going on over at her blog, Allison’s Written Words. You can follow her blog and Retroist antics on her blog’s Facebook page, and over at Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

The movie plays on a hit song George Burns had in 1980 called “If I Was Eighteen Again.” Don’t ever say Allison doesn’t teach you something in each article!