1988 Countdown: Commercial Break #11

Onward through the 1988 MTV countdown! (If you’re just joining us and want to get up to speed, click here.)


The commercial break, as usual, starts with a spot for an MTV program: in this case, “The Year in Rock 88.” “Sixty minutes that took twelve months to make,” says Voiceover Guy. We see Kurt Loder, looking relatively young and with reasonably short hair. There’s a quick montage of Chuck D, Tracy Chapman, Keith Richards, and Billy Joel (hopping around and playing a guitar), the Tone Loc “Wild Thing” girls (swaying in place and playing guitar, somewhat more convincingly than Billy Joel). One more montage of famous people, including a peroxided Iggy Pop in a swimming pool, and we’re out.


Bud Bowl I again. “Hey, Bud, super idea,” says an animated bottle of Bud Light pushing a shopping cart. “Did you see the neck on that guy?” responds the animated bottle of Budweiser.


The Conductor “maximum music power” batteries again. “Being and nothingness,” says a college professor while his students fall asleep, clean their glasses, and click their pens. The one who ultimately puts on his Walkman is wearing a pristine white turtleneck.



Gillette again, the Euro-sports version of the ad. You notice small details in ads when you see them over and over: this time I’m focusing on the guy in an office in the middle of a phone call who gets a friendly touch on the shoulder and responds by clenching his fists in victory–I guess he was just waiting for that one moment of human contact. Maybe shaving off his beard is what made his coworkers willing to touch him again?


Coca-Cola Classic again, the bizarre Earth, Wind and Fire spot with silver robots that we’ve seen twice before. At the end of the video, the whole world folds in on itself, turning into a drop of condensation on a can of Coke. Wow, cosmic sweat.


A new ad! It’s for the video release of Short Circuit 2. “Greetings TV viewers, couch potatoes, and VCR owners!” says the robot Johnny Five. He touts a copy of Short Circuit 2 as being far superior to a “Generic Videocassette” featuring test patterns and static. I suppose this is true, but only narrowly. We see a clip of Michael McKean riding on the robot’s back. “Most humans prefer Short Circuit 2, now on videocassette,” pitches the robot. “Got that, bozo?”


The ads finish with a thirty-second MTV promo. This one feels like the sort of thing that got played on video screens at a club of the era: sliced-up old cartoons mashed up with bits of hip-hop records and an AC/DC sample.


Kevin Seal returns to promote the “Big Bang ’89” program, with the “thronging multitude” in New York and various musical acts in Los Angeles. “It’s very fun. Very fun for you. It’s fun,” he says, insincerely.

posted 7 January 2009 in 1988 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . 3 comments

3 Comments on 1988 Countdown: Commercial Break #11

  1. Chris M. Says:

    Why would Billy Joel feature in a review of 1988, I wonder? Dude was between albums. (Unless they were belatedly covering his Russian concert, but that happened in ’87.) Weird.

    I’m starting to think Kevin Seal was seminal in launching the ’90s irony/snark/I-don’t-actually-mean-anything-I-say fad.

    This whole trend would curdle into meaninglessness seven or eight years later, as shown by this exchange in the 1996 Simpsons episode “Homerpalooza”:

    Teen1: Oh, here comes that cannonball guy. He’s cool.
    Teen2: Are you being sarcastic, dude?
    Teen1: I don’t even know anymore.

  2. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    A better question would be, what was James Brown doing in a 1988 recap?

  3. Gavin Says:

    He was in a high-speed car chase through South Carolina and Georgia that ended with him being charged with multiple offenses and sentenced to six years in prison (he served a little over two). ’88 mug shot here.

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