In the mid – late 80’s, professional wrestling, and the WWF in particular, was big business. A lot of the WWF superstars were becoming household names thanks to Vince McMahon and his traveling circus. Two of the better known superstars were “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. Piper had spent years as the biggest bad guy wrestler on the roster, while Ventura was well-known as one of the voices of the shows as color commentator. Each broke out of the WWF world to become moderate successes in Hollywood. Piper had starring roles in B – Movies like Body Slam, Hell Comes to Frogtown, and They Live. Meanwhile, Jesse was becoming a solid back up man in action flicks with Running Man and Predator. In 1991, they teamed up on the small screen in the pilot episode of Tag Team.
The shows premise was simple. These two wrestlers couldn’t wrestle for a living anymore, so they decide to become cops. That decision was made after they used their wrestling moves to stop a robbery at a grocery store. It was a simple idea, but one that a television series could conceivably be based around.
As the air date for the pilot episode drew closer, Vince McMahon was hyping the debut of the show on his wrestling shows, and as a 13-year-old wrestling fan, I was salivating. I marked the date and time on my calendar so I wouldn’t miss it. Here was another chance to inject more wrestling into my world, and I wasn’t going to miss it. Although I can’t recall what night of the week that this premiered on, I DO remember getting everything set up in my room for it. My chair was at the right angle, I had a frosty beverage at my side, and some sort of snack at the ready. I was pumped.
As I remember it, the episode was pretty good, and I thought it was really cool that these two wrestlers were going to be in a television show every week. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of just how exactly television worked at that time, and was quite disappointed when the show never aired again. The series wasn’t picked up, and the show was thrown into the huge pile of “could have been’s” with hundreds of other series that were never picked up.
I listened to a podcast featuring Ventura and Piper a while back just before Piper passed away, and Ventura explained why the series wasn’t picked up. The two companies who were producing the show together, Disney and Corelco, got into a lawsuit with each other over something not even remotely related to the Tag Team series, and while in litigation, the show was left in limbo since neither side was doing business with each other at the time. When the lawsuit dust settled, too much time had passed and the Tag Team series was abandoned.
It’s a real shame, because the two had great chemistry together in the pilot, the premise was solid for an action/comedy show, and would have probably drawn decent enough ratings to keep the 13 – episode first season on the air. Whether it would have been picked up beyond that is anyone’s guess, but I know one 13 year old who would have watched religiously.
Movie parodies (like music videos) made for fertile ground on In Living Color. I covered this in two previous posts (see related), but there is so much more to see. Besides, the truth is, I forgot some of these existed.
So I guess that makes them more worthy of mention!
Anyway, keep reading – you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Sitcom Flight Passengers, and Basic Instincts Gone Awry…
Uploaded by myworldisgettingdumber
First of all, two parodies for the price of one!
Perhaps I should just ask the important question: what happens when Sondra from 227 works airline security on a plane overrun with terrorists? Passenger 227, that’s what! In this parody, Sondra takes on the Wesley Snipes role AND the terrorists. She also insists to Mary (via phone) that she didn’t teach Mary’s daughter how to “do that thing with her tongue.”
(By the way, this is the parody I planned to write about!)
Meanwhile, in the second movie parody (same video), Basic Instinct gets the “Wanda The Ugly Girl” treatment. But instead of Michael Douglas, we have Tommy Davidson. And filling in for Sharon Stone…Ali Wentworth. But, filling in for her? Jamie Foxx as Wanda. Of course, if you’ve seen Wanda before, you know where this is going!
I still can’t believe she’s married to George Stephanopolous.
A Fatal Attraction…to Coffee?!
This parody crosses product placement with movie. In this case, coffee with Fatal Attraction. Faux Glenn Close is visited by a neighbor needing coffee for his party. Of course, she feels that instant spark, that connection that sharing a cup of coffee with a total stranger brings about. And because she is a bit unhinged, she can’t handle it when he doesn’t feel the same.
It was one moment, a chance encounter, and you’ve seen Fatal Attraction, so you know where this leads.
Mookie Does The Right Thing
We’re back in Brooklyn, where Sha-day is Sadie, Joie is Joy, and copies of School Daze are plentiful. Spike Lee owns “Spike’s Joint,” where he offers advice, offers up free copies of his movie, and fends off Damon Wayans.
Look for the Rosie Perez (the Fly Girls choreographer) in a cameo.
The Enterprise crew had not one, but two, adventures in the In Living Color movie parody world!
First up, that time Louis Farra-khan boarded the Enterprise…
Secondly, the journey that happened long past retirement…
So, it was a retirement home escape act after all?
Why wasn’t this movie actually made?!
There’s No Silencing These Lambs!
Clarice is back, and she’s hunting “The Gibberish Killer.” Her only hope? Oswald Bates, whose rather interesting grasp on the English language is both fascinating and terrifying.
Movie Parodies We’d Like To See!
I’m probably scratching the surface (especially since I’ve discussed this two other times), but if there was one thing this show knew how to do, it was add their established characters into their parodies of movies.
Wouldn’t you love to see one of these movies?
Related (More “In Living Color” Movie Parodies!)
Closing out this crazy train of Hollywood knock-offs, some of my previous In Living Color-style movie parody writings!
Teddy Ruxpin may have been the first of the tape deck talking dolls, but the legion following in his storytelling lead is an amazing tale in itself. It is a tale of the literal video tape, stored in the archives of our VHS collections.
Shall we take a journey through this land of talking dolls?
(Special thanks to Retroist reader Sailor Brite for her request, which inspired this follow up to my previous article on Cricket’s instruction tape!)
“You’re My Friend…”
1980s talking dolls were a world of amazingness. Ask any talking doll owner/watcher of You Tube archives.
Though technologically dated by today’s harsh standards, talking dolls were the thing of marvel in the mid 1980s. Pop in a tape/cartridge, press a button, and a whole world unfolds. In 20 minutes, you’ll hear a few songs, laugh at a few jokes, or be lulled into sleep by a bedtime story or song. We dressed them, colored with them, and probably wanted to feed them our peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For a young child of the 1980s, a talking doll was a first friend, even if most of them couldn’t talk back, they were still company.
There were also several “squeeze to talk” dolls mixed in with the tape (audio cassette) talkers. These didn’t tell stories, but they did ask you to do stuff…like kill family members…
Talky Tina, how did you get a hold of my keyboard?!
And once you brush off the creepiness of time, these dolls (even the creepy-looking ones) really start to look amazing all over again.
Dated, but amazing.
Worlds of Wonders (And Playmates Abound!)
Worlds of Wonder and Playmates dominated the 1980s talking doll market. They were at the forefront of the cassette tape-controlled talkers. You’ve likely heard of both companies and the their other toys (and if you like this kind of history, you know what happened to Worlds of Wonder). While Ideal and Coleco also made a minor dent at the time, the dominance truly belonged to Playmates and Worlds of Wonder.
The trend took off in 1985 with Worlds of Wonder’s Teddy Ruxpin, and while he was the first, he had some amazing company. Also in good company? The amount of nostalgic ’80s kids with massive archives of amazing commercials, and the select few who take to YouTube to actually show us their still-working dolls in action.
How about we take a look at some of these marvels of robotic technology?
Uploaded by RetroStatic
Uploaded by TELEVISIONARCHIVES
Uploaded by Beta Max
Teddy Ruxpin launched the “tape talkers” trend, and the very definition of a “first friend.” Launched in 1985, Teddy had a world of storybook-and-tape stories, clothes, a cartoon, and even an octopede named Grubby as a friend.
Uploaded by Jen Wolford
He was the “best friend” for your “best friend,” but you had to own Teddy in order to operate him. I didn’t have Grubby (just Teddy), but I love watching videos of them interacting. The 1980s just feel like a whole other time when this was what we played with.
“Come dream with me tonight…let’s go to far off places…”
(By the way, I wrote about the horrifying side of Teddy Ruxpin over on my blog.)
Uploaded by Peter
No lie – I’ve had this song stuck in my head since I worked on my Cricket instruction tape article (“You and me, me and you!”).
Picture it: New Jersey, sometime in 1986. I saw a deceptively-advertised Cricket skipping along a path, I knew I wanted her for Christmas. And in December, it happened. My four-year-old heart was in love immediately. She was my “first friend” of choice, and her stories were always fun to listen and interact with. I’m not above admitting my full-out, undivided, hardcore partcipation in anything Cricket commanded.
Cricket was loads of fun until an unfortunate “traumatic event” that involved leaving the Yellow Fast Forward Button pressed overnight and this motor noise (perhaps I needed an instructional tape refresher?) that terrified my seven-year-old self. I have since hated noises that sound like the low hummings of a motor, but it may have been moreso the sound of her voice when it was obvious the batteries were drained that scared me.
Let’s just say Cricket wasn’t “Talkin’ to me” for awhile.
I did eventually play with and grew to love her all over again, but by the time I was ten years old, she was more fun for hair styling than anything (don’t worry, her hair never got cut!). She eventually went to the donation bins with other toys when I was fourteen, and I really wish I kept her.
Oh, and that “skipping” commercial? It was found, but someone butchered it…
Uploaded (and horrifyingly dubbed over!) by Jon Runnfeldt
Uploaded by Teddy Ruxpin and Friends
Ah Cricket’s little brother, one of those Good Guys dolls…
I’m just kidding, this is not Chucky. But that is the “child” voice for the “Tommy” doll that would become Chucky.
Corky was the “spin off” off Cricket, a little brother who couldn’t interact with Cricket the way Grubby could with Teddy Ruxpin. But that was ok, because he had stories and adventures all his own.
My cousin (and I think one of my friends from hgh school) had both Cricket and Corky, so I had some interaction with him in the 1980s and beyond. I see lots of You Tube comments discussing his creepiness, but he’s actually kind of cute. He would have been a welcome addition in my house.
We’ll file him under “first boyfriend” material.
Uploaded by SpacedCobraTV
“Hi, my name is Jill. And I’m alot like you, alot like you!”
Yeah, I’m the blonde equivalent of a Chucky doll, with weird moving arms and head action that scream “I’m a cuddly android”, responding to simple “yes” and “no” commands and making her “story different,” like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book on crack.
You, my friend, are NOT alot like me.
Jill was the “older sister” of Cricket and Corky (though she didn’t have any kind of connection to them in the cannon of storytelling). Also a cassette talker type (but instead with cartridges), Julie had voice recognition capabilities, and your answer had her scroll through the catridge for the appropriate answer, changing the outcome of the “story” she told.
From what I’ve seen of Jill, she’s a motormouth. She’s a (stereo)typical teenager, but wow, she was interesting. The videos of her in action are a tad creepy, but I would have had alot of fun with this doll if I had her.
And like Cricket and Teddy Ruxpin, you’ll never get her theme song unstuck from your consciousness. You can hope for it not to enter your subconscious mind, but I’ve been woken up at 3 am because that part of my brain doesn’t shutup.
But it is so catchy!
Uploaded by spinlbl
Julie was Worlds of Wonder’s equivalent of Jill. Likely younger in represented age, Julie also used cartridges and responded to voices, but also to light changes, and had a sensor in her finger that allowed her to respond to her books by touch. She seemed ahead of her time, and decidedly less creepy than Jill.
It had to be the voice.
These Worlds of Wonder commercials had such a whimsical flair (must be the narrator, he did all of these Worlds of Wonder commercials), but this one had such a “Greatest Creation Ever” flair. This doll felt like God to the guy who wanted to scream her creation from the rooftops! Just let the little girl have her!
That guy should be aware of how God Complexes start…
Uploaded by UncleCathode
Uploaded by snoopsbme
Wow, Snoopy can talk!
I had no clue a Talking Snoopy was a thing until about 10 years ago. I would have expected Charlie Brown, but Worlds of Wonder really knew how to think out of the box. Snoopy’s voice conveys an infectious energy for what he usually only thinks about.
Someone buy me a Snoopy, this is too freakin’ cute!
Uploaded by balldlocks
“Come along and join the club that’s made for you and me…”
You know the song, so why bother finishing it?
Worlds of Wonder continues on their out-of-the-box thinking by creating a talking Mickey that is more than just squeezing a tummy or hand. He tells stories and connects to Goofy with the “animation cord” that Grubby and Charlie Brown also utilized.
Uploaded by Ads “R” Us
I almost owned one of these!
My mom had mentioned one time that considered buying me Mother Goose, but decided not to. I’m wondering if this was before Iexpressed interest in Cricket. Given the choice, I would rather have Cricket for the variety of games and stories she had.
I did eventually have the opportunity to play with Mother Goose when I was in kindergarten – one of my childhood friends from my dance class owned one, and yes, she was quite impressive. Not being much of a nursery rhyme/fairy tale type probably was a bigger factor in why this was probably not the best fit for me. Looking back, I would have loved this doll, but Cricket was much more my personality.
On some level, she still is.
Uploaded by Jason Harder
Ideal tried its hand at creating a tape talker with everyone’s favorite yellow bird. My friend from high school (who also had Cricket and Corky) told me she used to hold this while watching Follow That Bird. I love this commercial and how engaged the kids playing are. I know they’re paid for their enthusiasm, but I’m sure this toy could spark that in real life too.
Wisecracking ALF told the lucky children who squeezed his tummy a one-liner from his repertoire. He didn’t need tapes or cartridges, just batteries and a kid to squeeze his tummy.
I’m sure having a cat around didn’t hurt either. :-)
Coleco also manufactured this equally short-lived “tape talker” version…
Uploaded by retrontario
I could watch his ears move all day!
Uploaded by PhakeNam
Baby Heather, much like Wisecracking ALF, was a “squeeze to talk doll.” Made by Mattel, she needed her hand squeezed, and she said all the usual baby things that only a fake baby could. No deciphering cries, no screaming to find out what was wrong with the doll, just her addressing her needs to you.
So realistic, you know. As realistic as talking Alien Life Forms from Melmac.
Uploaded by Luigi Bastardo
This is one of those commercials that I always remembered, but could never figure out the name. I am convinced my one cousin (who had Cricket and Corky) had this one too. Baby Talk is a “squeeze to talk” baby, and like Baby Heather, can tell you exactly what it needs. I distinctly remember this doll would say that she was sleepy, and close her eyes, only to completely shut off after a short time. And she was one of those dolls that you didn’t have to keep pushing the hand – she would just talk until she was sick of you and wanted to “sleep.”
This was Galoob’s effort at a talker, but I’ve never seen any “tape talkers” among their efforts.
“Your Friend, What I’d Like To Be!”
I realize there’s alot of ground covered here, but when I was focusing on the main players of the the 1980s talking doll world, it was hard to figure out who the “main players” were. It’s obvious that there was some dominance of the “cassette talker” world, but some clearly held more ground than others.
I still find it amazing that dolls like Jill and Julie exist, and that Snoopy actually had a voice! My mom told me one time that she wanted to get me Mother Goose (and looking at it from a nostalgic point of view, that would have been so cool!). I hate that I was ever afraid of Cricket when I left her in Fast Forward button limbo, because she was such a fun doll. I’d also love to have her so I can listen to her silly stories (seriously, people of You Tube, allow me to live vicariously through you and put up some of those stories!).
As for the “Squeeze” talkers, these are classics. Lower tech in nature, but still loveable in large doses, these got plenty of attention from the happy children who got to play with them.
The advancements in technology make toys like this look silly and dated by the high standards of today’s children (so nitpicky!), but for us, they truly were a world of wonder.
I’ll be talkin’ to ya…about this again. Not this, but something similar to this.
Yogis Space Race was a short-lived 90-minute Saturday morning cartoon. It ran on NBC from September 9, 1978 to March 3, 1979. That short run resulted in just 13 episodes.
While it might have been epic to have a 90-minute cartoon, the show was divided into segments to make it easier to hold young kid’s attention. Eventually these segments would get divided up into shorter shows and any of you might have seen them on the USA Cartoon Express.
The 4 segments from the show were:
Yogis Space Race – A outer space remake of Wacky Races. This segment had old and new characters participating in intergalactic racing competitions.
Galaxy Goof-Ups – Yogi and his gang are intergalactic police officers.
The Buford Files – A sleepy bloodhound solves mysteries with the help of two kids.
The Galloping Ghost – The oddest of the lot. Galloping Ghost features the ghost of an old west prospector.
Almost immediately the show was broken up into segments that received their own branding. Yogis Space Race would get its own show, as would Galaxy Goof-Ups. The Buford Files and The Galloping Ghost would get combined into the aptly named Buford and the Galloping Ghost.
I have fond memories of watching Yogis Space Race on the Cartoon Express. Reading about the show, I was surprised that only 13 episodes were made. I am probably mixing the show up with Wacky Races. If you have not seen an episode, you might need to look around. While these shows used to be on YouTube often, recent reports have made them dry up quickly. Although if you want to get a taste of the show, people do seem to be allowed to post opening and closing credits.
Yogis Space Race Opening Credits
Over the intervening years, I have also come to enjoy Galaxy Goof-Ups. While not as an easy to find as Space Race and not as star-studded, it is worth tracking down for its originality.
It is hard to believe but Netflix’s Castlevania animated series has been unleashed. I can at the very least tell you, without giving away the entire plot of the series, that it stays true to the spirit of Konami’s video game series. As well as successfully adapting the Gothic and dark story line touched upon by the games for a most assuredly adult audience. Netflix’s Castlevania is delightfully gory and doesn’t shy from it’s horror roots.
I should probably mention that this first season of Netflix’s Castlevania is a mere four episodes. In all honesty I found that to be rather shocking. However I have found information that Adi Shankar, the producer, has said in all there will be two seasons. With the second and of course presumably longer season landing in 2018.
As I mentioned when sharing that awesome NES inspired teaser trailer just back in May. The series has been penned by none other than Warren Ellis. A writer I hold in very high regard as his Planetary comic series is hands down one of my favorite books. Ever.
The story itself while taking elements from the Castlevania game series, mostly seems focused on the cast of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Which was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1990.
Netflix’s Castlevania does something rather different indeed. Right off the bat we are shown a very different version of Dracula. Furthermore one quite different from the character we’ve become accustomed to in Konami’s games. Yes, this Vlad Dracula Tepes is still very much a vampire and dangerous. But he is also in fact reasonable and is convinced by a young woman to rejoin mankind.
I mention this, friends, as you will actually side with Dracula a bit. I say side because thanks to a religious zealot, tragedy turns Vlad into a terror of the night. His retribution however threatens the lives of every man, woman, and child. No one will be spared from his wrath.
It certainly looks like an undead tide of horror will sweep across the lands. Thankfully there is one man who will take up the challenge of halting Dracula’s bloody reign. Trevor Belmont, the last surviving Son of the Belmont clan.
Wait. Hold up a second. While Trevor is certainly an inspiring and dashing figure. The very last thing he wants to do is be a hero. His goal is pretty much to stay drunk as much as possible and keep his belly full. Now, I should add that through the four episodes we totally understand why Trevor is behaving this way. His family too has been subject to the whims of religious zealots.
Trevor crosses paths with a group of Speakers. One of which, Sypha Belnades, happens to be a magic-user. Her desire to protect mankind contrasts sharply with Trevor’s pragmatic nature.
While four episodes are short and to be honest, you will be left on something of a cliffhanger. The writing is top notch and the animation style as I have already mentioned is satisfyingly dark. The voice talent is also where Castlevania should be praised. Playing Trevor is Richard Armitage (The Hobbit), Matt Frewer (Max Headroom) plays the Bishop. In addition Graham McTavish (Preacher) lends his voice to the role of Dracula, with Alejandra Reynoso (G.I. Joe: Renegades) as Sypha. Rounding out the cast is Battlestar Galactica’s James Callis, Tony Amendola, as well as Emily Swallow (Supernatural).
Last but certainly not least is Trevor Morris’ powerful and haunting score. You don’t have to take my word on that though as you can in fact listen to the theme below!