(New to the countdown? Catch up here.)
Time to visit the Duke.
The ads kick off with the network’s frequently deployed spot (the seventh time on a once-per-hour schedule) for their “Big Bang ’89” program (the New Year’s Eve live program playing a few hours later). I’ve noted previously that Robert Plant had the best hair among the quick cuts of that evening’s performers–but who was wearing the best hat? We see Bret Michaels of Poison, who has selected a baseball cap with the brim flipped up. Cohost Sam Kinison is sporting a striped knit hat. But Larry Blackmon of Cameo is crowned by one of the great items of headgear in rock history: it’s white with black polka dots, and it looks like an art deco salad bowl is sitting on top of his head. I know everybody focuses on Cameo’s codpieces, and I understand why, but for my money, his hat is as good as the one Aretha Franklin wore to the presidential inauguration.
For the fourth time, we see the spot for Conductor batteries where a philosophy professor is making a lecture so boring that it sends his class to sleep–except for the maverick in a mock white turtleneck who drowns out the professor by listening to his Walkman. Wouldn’t he be better off just cutting class? I once met somebody who had lectured at West Point; he told me that by school rules, his students weren’t allowed to fall asleep in class. The accepted behavior if you found yourself nodding off was to stand up. So he always had a visual meter for the class’s level of engagement: if he was droning on, he might have a cluster of standing students, but if he cracked a joke and woke the class up, some of them would then sit down.
Budweiser runs their R&B road manager spot again (just the second time). Some of the unusual fashion choices in this ad: The lead singer is in a tuxedo, which appears to be solid pink. (That might be a trick of the stage lighting; it looks solid white in another shot, which seems more likely.) The woman in charge of the sound board is wearing a white jumpsuit. And there’s a nerdy gofer with a dark Members Only jacket over white overalls.
For the thirteenth time, MTV plays a one-minute commercial for The January Man. Toting up the time I’ve spent watching this ad, both in 1988 and while writing this countdown, I’m in serious jeopardy of getting up to the running time of the actual movie.
Our break concludes with a great “Ten Second Film,” titled “Girls.” We see two boys on bicycles, pedaling through a cold day in suburbia. The first one is in a red plaid jacket, and has a baseball glove on his handlebars. The second one, with a denim jacket and a Yankees cap, says, “Girls? You didn’t say there’d be girls!” And scene.