MCI Mail

MCI Mail wanted to be the nation’s new postal system

MCI Mail was a commercial email and messaging. It was operated by MCI Communications from 1983 to 2003. Started on September 23, 1983, it was ahead of its time. Naturally being one of the first commercial email services in the United States, it was met with confusion by many. The commercials they released for MCI Mail didn’t really answer what they were all about.

Commercial for MCI Mail from 1983

Even though it was confusing to the non-technical person, it was a clever ad. A father and son, with comically over-sized should-pads visit a museum in the future. There they see a letter from 1983. The son has never seen one before and even mispronounces the word. Then he asked what did it “let” people do. Hilarious!

The evolution of MCI Mail seems pretty logical and tried to piggyback on the technological expectations of the times. First you used it just like a closed email system. Access to the initial MCI Mail service was provided using up to a 5600 baud modem. Which you connected to a standard telephone land line. Then you would dial-in on the toll-free access number at (800)444-Mail.

Read A $339 PCMCIA Modem is a Lot Like an Oreo?

Later it would be expanded to allow you to communicate with non-MCI customers. While at the same time, you could use a hybrid service which sent electronic mails to distant areas. There they would be printed out and could be delivered in under 4 hours.

In 1994 MCI stopped supporting the product, but remarkably the service persisted for almost another decade. By 2003, e-mail and other forms of electronic communications were ubiquitous. MCI Mail just couldn’t compete. So at 11:59 p.m. ET on June 30, 2003 it was officially decommissioned.

Want a more detailed breakdown of MCI Mail? This Promo video describes the MCI electronic mail process. It outlines the benefits and includes an overview of the prices associated with the service. It is a real gem.

Promotional Piece About MCI Mail

Before She Saved The Universe, Amanda Tapping Saved Product Placement!

And while Amanda Tapping was doing this, so was Scott Bakula!

Related: Before Scott Bakula Leaped Through Time, He Did Product Placements!

“The Woman From Stargate SG-1”

If you’re familiar with science fiction and have some passing knowledge of the Stargate franchise, then Amanda Tapping is a name you’ll know.

Known as Samantha “Sam” Carter, the second-in-command/astrophysicist/woman with all the technobabble is known for being the one to pave the way for all the woman who walked through the Stargate across three series and 14 years. From her beginnings as a Captain to her eventual promotion to Colonel, Samantha Carter saw her share of what the galaxy could throw at her. She also did it with a megawatt smile and a killer aim.

Uploaded by silvercomic

Bonus points if you can put Colonel O’Neill in his place via frustration. That always  means you are doing something right!

They All Make Commercials…

But before Amanda Tapping took on the role that undoubtedly pushed her career in the right direction, she appeared on different Canadian television series, and like most actors seeking out their big breaks, made commercials.

I know of three commercials in existence. One such advertisement actually aired in 1998 (after Stargate SG-1 premiered), but isn’t on You Tube anymore. However, two of those pre-SG-1 commercials are available, and yeah, they’re gold.

We All Are Tempted By Chocolate…

But does our chocolate talk to us?

Uploaded by RetroCapeBreton

It’s the unending battle of 3 pm chocolate cravings versus “Judy.” Except, in the real world, our chocolate doesn’t actually talk to us. Perhaps in our heads, but not…

Don’t judge me.

But before chocolate candy cravings, there was muffins. And Canadian doughnut shops.

And There Was That Time at Tim Horton’s…

I’m sure a few Stargate fans wanted to buy a muffin if Amanda Tapping sold it to them.

And in 1989, a delightfully Canadian man was lucky enough to!

Uploaded by robatsea2009

So much smiling and Canadian accents. And Oooht (not Oat) Bran!

I had Tim Horton’s when I was in Michigan last year, and proclaimed my status as an “Honorary Canadian.” Because why not?

Advil and a Smile

Of course, I’d love to show you the third commercial (for Advil Cold and Sinus), but it isn’t on You Tube anymore.

But that doesn’t mean screenshots of it aren’t circulating online!

She has to be the most chipper person to ever need Advil….unless this is a side effect. In that case, I’d want to know what’s in the stuff.

Everyone Starts Somewhere!

Actors pay their dues to get to the top of their craft, and if that means hocking medicine, chocolate, and Ooht Bran Muffins with a smile, then so be it.

Besides, she eventually wound up using that smile to her advantage…

I don’t think he always minded it either. Just sayin’.

Oh, and I totally met her in 2013. And that hair was inspired by her pixie cut from Stargate SG-1.

Again, don’t judge.

Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial

Art Direction in the Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial

I feel like we have revisited this famous Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial so often on the site that I could do a podcast on it. Why can’t I stop talking about it? It is one of the more memorable commercials from my youth for a few reasons. I loved pizza. The people in the ad kind of talked like people I knew. And it featured this amazing product that was sweeping the nation, string cheese.

Last night I was rewatching it yet again (maybe for a podcast) and I started noticing a few things that I wanted to share about the commercial’s art direction.

First the look of this pizza parlor. Pretty generic at first glance save for the neon sign, but some very interesting signage can be seen in almost every shot. Here you see a sign for “No Screaming.” This would have been a good sign to hang in our local pizzeria. We could get pretty obnoxious, especially if they had video games. We were constantly getting chastised by the people running the place. Also notice that guy in the corner. He appears in multiple shots and is completely unnecessary.

You can also see a little bit of pizza in this shot. To me, it does not look like very good pizza. At least not the type I grew up with. These kids are better off just ordering some cheese.

More details and more signage! Fred and Jimmy, the guys behind the counter, both have aprons with their names on them. Did they make those especially for this commercial? Did they name the characters after the aprons they had laying around? As for the signs, these are real gems. They are both sassy and believable for a pizza parlor. The one on the left says, “Be patient, meatball!” The one on the right offers “Week-Old Pizza Half Price.” Both are just throwaway gags in the background and are easy to miss. But as I continue to watch this commercial over the years, they have become my favorite part.

The final thing I want to comment on is this shot with the box of string cheese and Jimmy. I like they way they lay it out all lined up, but look to the right at Jimmy. It is a weird face right? Well, what makes it better is that he holds that pose for the entire shot. For that whole last shot that is how he looks for some reason. It is weird and short, but once you notice it, you will not be able to not see it.

I hope this short post gives you a greater appreciation for the Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial. Much like the cheese it advertises, you can continue to pull it apart and get more joy out of it. Now let’s watch it together in its entirety.

Watch the Famous Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial

Land Before Time VHS Pizza Hut Commercial

The Land Before Time VHS Pizza Hut Commercial

Working in video store over the years, certain things stick with you. Not just the quirkiness of customers or the ability to quote movies, but small things. Like the intros for certain film companies or advertisements that ran on VHS tapes. I have always been opposed to these ads, but that did not stop several of them from being burned into my memory. One such ad was the Land Before Time VHS Pizza Hut Commercial.

This commercial ran on every copy of The Land Before Time that I ever saw. Which, when it was released on VHS, was a pretty big deal. When we had copies in to sell, we merely needed to put it on the TVs that we had in the stores and in our windows. Shortly thereafter a flood of parents, often dragged in by their children, would come in and demand their copies. It was easy money. But not without sacrifice.

For every time that we fired up this beloved film we had to sit through this now famous Land Before Time VHS Pizza Hut Commercial. It is a pretty cute commercial the first time you see it. In it a young boy goes to a birthday party at Pizza Hut. While there he takes his Mom’s advice on how to behave with a twist. Soon he is the hit of the party. Beloved by all, he has what appears to be a great time and his Mother is very proud.

Watch Pizza Hut – Land Before Time Toy Premium Commercial

It is swell to see some vintage pizza hut footage and the commercial itself is pretty charming. But try watching this multiple times per day. Maybe even watching it a couple of times a week. At the time, it was driving me nuts.

Nowadays I look back on my time in the video store with fond memories. This advertising gem only makes me smile. While I am still not a fan of advertising in my home media, I guess I am glad to have seen it be a “thing.” So enjoy this commercial and remember how luck you are to live when you do. You have options to watch you films commercial free and if they do run ads, you can skip them much more easily.

Watch the Land Before Time VHS Pizza Hut Commercial

Okay, I got something else to add. Watching this again made me very happy. But if advertising is bad, how can I feel good about it? This is a real conundrum. I need to think on it. Perhaps I will come to a conclusion after watching this commercial just a couple of more times.

Deep Space 9 action figures

Quark selling Deep Space 9 action figures

During the nineties, my interest in action figures dwindled. Yes, we had a Star Wars resurgence, but it never captured my imagination. I still had all of my original toys, and to me the new figures just looked wrong. This decade should have put an end to my collecting of figures, but I briefly got really into collecting Deep Space 9 action figures.

DS9 was not a show that I was attracted to right away. I was not a gold star fan. Throughout season 1, I was conflicted. Star Trek is some of my favorite TV. Yet the pacing for this new series was just slightly off to me. As the season drew to a close, I decided I would not watch it anymore and during season 2, I was largely MIA. Then during season 3, things changed.

A friend of mine, who was also intro Trek, proceeded to wow me with tales of DS9. He was so animated about it, I could hardly believe it was the same show. So I resumed watching it and I am glad I did. DS9, as it matured, became one of the most solid shows in the entire trek-verse. Soon it was not enough to watch, I wanted to express my fandom in other ways. So I started looking for merchandise.

Read Did you buy your DS9 Commander Benjamin Sisko Collector’s Plate?

I found myself gravitating towards the Deep Space 9 action figures. This was unusual since I had not gone out of my way to collect any other Star Trek figures. Perhaps I felt that this show, at this time, was important. And that I was collecting these to help keep this amazing run of TV alive in my imagination. More likely I was just influenced by this commercial featuring Quark from the show.

I am a sucker for this type of advertising. A character from a franchise selling figures of themselves? Sign me up. It was a repeat of that Threepio Star Wars Cereal commercial all over again. Eventually I had all of them accept Odo. While I parted ways with most of Deep Space 9 action figures years ago, the very handsome Quark is still sitting in a box somewhere.

Watch this amazing Deep Space 9 action figures commercial