1988 Countdown: Commercial Break #16

(New to the countdown? Catch up here.)


We head to a commercial break with a fifteen-second MTV bumper: lots of revved-up stock footage from the early twentieth century, superimposed over what appears to be flickering pages from textbooks. There’s a director with a megaphone, an old gramophone, men in hats operating film cameras, an orchestra conductor. A portly black man with a polka-dot bow tie opens his mouth to sing into a microphone: out comes a tiny biplane.


The paying spots kick off with the fourth airing of the Coca-Cola Classic spot where the parents get surprised by an anniversary party at their own home. Weirdest detail on this viewing: the clip of two cars pulling up to the house, from opposite directions, at moderate speed, about to collide. The ad cuts away just before they crash and burst into flame.


For the eighth time, it’s the minute-long ad for The January Man. As a special treat this time around, let’s focus on the words: A serial killer has New York City by the throat. Eleven murders in eleven months. They need a tough cop. Ssshh. Listen. What? The wine–it’s breathing. Does anybody know this guy? Find it, superimpose it on the map, find it. How do we face the terrifying spectacle of Nick Starkey? What he may do, what he may not do? Whoop-de-doo and la-di-da. I don’t work for you, you work for me. No matter what the mayor says! Did you miss me? Did he agree without a fuss? No. I let him cook dinner for my wife tonight. What do you think? I hate it. I understand you had dinner with Nick. I think he’s much more interested right now in your daughter. What are you talking about? Just look at your cigar and think of your daughter. So we’re going to go to bed, and then tomorrow you’re going to catch the killer and save the girl. The January Man. I hate this job. Rated R. Starts Friday, January 13. Check local newspapers. Reading through that, I’m surprised by how much of the dialogue is interrogative–apparently the ad’s editor decided that the best way to create drama was to include as many questions as possible.


A repeat of the ad for the MTV-presented Bon Jovi “New Jersey” tour–‚Äúdebuting January 26th in Dallas,” says Voiceover Guy while the screen shows maps of New Jersey. The band appears in an MTV studio that looks like somebody’s basement den, with beige brick walls.


Again (fifth time), an ad for the WWF’s Royal Rumble. It includes footage of a free-for-all at a Wrestlemania. “No Partners / 30 Opponents” reads the on-screen graphic. We see eight shirtless dudes flailing around in a ring–and a crowd that’s so excited, some of them are literally jumping up and down.


The UA-Columbia staff waves to the camera while “Let It Snow” plays. Boy, eyeglass frames got really large in the 80s.


We conclude with another short-and-clever animated station ID: it could be Henry Selick again, or somebody working in a similar style. A door opens at the back of an empty room, and a large bald man approaches the camera. He’s wearing a red bowtie and a black mask. He smiles, and pulls off his head, revealing a cartoonish skull. He keeps changing heads, revealing a repertoire that includes a large rodent, a pharaoh, and a sardine can.

posted 2 December 2009 in 1988 and tagged , , , , , , . no comments yet

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