Category: Long Form

Nearly Forgotten TV Shows

Through the many years of television, there have been thousands of TV shows created.  Usually only the cream of the crop last for multiple seasons, and go on to live vividly in the memories of the people who enjoyed them.  There are also the shows that captured people’s imaginations, and even though they didn’t last too long, are still widely remembered.  Then there are those shows that only ran a few episodes or a short season or two, but were so good, they’ve not totally faded from memory yet.  These are the shows I’m talking about.  Shows that are worth seeking out if you’ve never watched them before.  Here’s five of these shows that are nearly lost to time.


Man From Atlantis

The Man From Atlantis

The Man From Atlantis only lasted for one season of 13 episodes, and ran on NBC during the 1977-1978 season.  The series actually began as a series of 4 made for television movies, and based on the ratings success of these movies, a TV series was given the green light.

The Man From Atlantis starred Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing on Dallas) as an amnesiac man who is given the name of Mark Harris, and he’s believed to be the only surviving citizen of the lost civilization of Atlantis.  He has extraordinary powers, such as the ability to breathe underwater, and endure extreme depth pressures.  He also has superhuman strength, and his hands and feet are webbed.  His weakness though is that his eyes are unusually sensitive to light.

Yesterdayland Archives | Man From Atlantis

 

Following his discovery, he is recruited by The Foundation of Oceanic Research, which is a government agency that conducts top-secret research and explores the depths of the ocean in a sophisticated submarine.

The Man From Atlantis was an early attempt at a superhero television show, coming along in the same time frame as Wonder Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman.  It enjoyed a few brief runs in syndication, but episodes of this show haven’t seen the light of day in years.


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GRUNT! The Wrestling Movie Review

 

I’ve always been a movie fan, but for just as long I’ve been fascinated by the world of professional wrestling. In fact, during my weekly visits to the video store I often stacked a copy of Royal Rumble 1991 or The WWF’s Most Unusual Matches on top of the latest Jim Carrey film.

 

 

There was just so much to love about intensely sweaty tough guys threatening each other and then backing up those threats with cartoonishly violent attacks in the squared circle. Let me put it this way, the day I inherited my teenage neighbor’s LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars figures and ring, it felt like I had won the lottery.

Getting back to my video rental history, while Hulk Hogan’s star vehicle No Holds Barred was a frequent watch, there was one wrestling tape I never dared to take home for fear of the horrors that were promised by the VHS box art. That film is the very subject of this review, I’m talking about GRUNT! The Wrestling Movie.

 

 

Just look at that masked psycho on the cover, clamping on a vice like headlock and forcing the veins on his opponent’s head to pulse to the point of bursting. That’s terrifying. Luckily I had a friend who was willing to help me face my fears, you know him as the Retro Rambler.

When Mick reached out to suggest the wrestling film Body Slam! as a possible subject for an episode of my podcast SequelQuest, I laughingly said, “Not GRUNT! The Wrestling Movie?”, fully unaware that I would soon be challenged to watch and review this seemingly nightmare inducing piece of celluloid.

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Construx – One of the Best Toys of the 80’s

In 1983, Fisher-Price rolled out it’s newest toy creation.  It was called Construx, and was possibly the most versatile building/construction toy since the erector set.  It featured plastic beams in various lengths, multi directional connectors, plates, axles, wheels, pulleys, and much more.  What you could make with Construx was really only limited to your imagination.

 

Construx

 

Next to Lego, Construx was the greatest building toy that I ever laid hands on, and in some ways, it surpassed Lego. The size of the pieces and the way they were designed allowed for larger projects than Lego could handle, which allowed for such projects as bridges, buildings, and any other thing you could dream up. These were awesome if you had a fertile imagination…which my brother and I did, and we used our Construx to build goose neck trailers for our Tonka trucks to pull along, fork lifts to load those trailers, and a host of other equipment to be used with them.

 

Construx

 

The first set that I had was the Bridges and Tower set that came out in 1983. I remember it not being exactly easy to follow the directions and complete the build, but not so hard that I had to have help either. I just had to take a little longer than my older brother did to complete it. But when it was done, oh my was it ever a fun thing to play with. He and I ended up using those Construx bridges to enhance the fun in our G.I. Joe adventures. As a matter of fact, just about everything we built with the Construx were to play with some other toy line we had. Rarely did we build anything just for the sake of playing with the Construx. I would put together swords and ninja stars when I would watch a martial arts movie and then let my imagination run wild. I would use them to construct obstacle courses and run my G.I. Joe men through their paces trying to re-enact the latest episode of American Gladiators. We used them to build tunnels and other things to go along with our Hotwheels fun.

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That Time When McDonald’s Tried to Sell McPasta

McPasta

 

McDonald’s has tried a lot of off the wall menu items in their time. Some are fondly remembered like the McD.L.T., and others are still scorned to this day (I’m looking at you here Arch Deluxe). But a few products have come along that most of the population totally missed out on, and McPasta was one of them.

In 1990, McDonald’s decided they would try to add some entrees to their menu that weren’t hamburgers or Chicken McNuggets. They dreamed up this concept of McPasta dishes and roasted chicken legs, and felt sure it would be a big hit. Before they released it to the masses though, they went the test market route.

A small area in New York was selected, as well as chain of franchise stores in Northeast Tennessee for this new line of McPasta products. Fortunately, I lived in a part of southern Virginia where that franchisee had two locations, and they put the product in those two stores as well.

You can check out the New York Post story on this test from 1991 here.

What they offered was a selection of Spaghetti, Spaghetti with Meatballs, Lasagna, and Fettuccine Alfredo. Each dish came with a garlic bread stick as well. They also decided to offer roasted chicken legs as a side item, as well as mashed potatoes. How those last two items fit in to the McPasta lineup I’ve yet to figure out.

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The Chrononaut Chronicles: NWA Clash of the Champions II: Miami Mayhem – June 8, 1988

 

The Chrononaut Chronicles
NWA Clash of the Champions II: Miami Mayhem – Wednesday, June 8, 1988

– It’s Mayhem in Miami as the Four Horsemen run wild at the second Clash of the Champions! Ric Flair and Lex Luger sign a contract for an NWA World Title bout at the 1988 Great American Bash, Sting & Dusty Rhodes challenge Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard for the NWA World Tag Team Title, Barry Windham defends the NWA US Title against Brad Armstrong, and much more!

 

Miami Mayhem

– LIVE from Miami, Florida! Jim Ross is stationed outside the James L. Knight Center as limousines arrive to the building eight years before the nWo made it their gimmick. JR claims that a host of celebrities and dignitaries will be in attendance, and the disappointment is immediate as the first limo contains Lyle Alzado, Frances Crockett, and a dude who has some affiliation with the ownership of the Chicago Blackhawks. The star power doesn’t stop there, though, as the next limo opens up and out come NWA promoters Gary Juster and Elliot Murnick. Somehow, this qualifies as a pretty big deal.

 

Lyle Alzado
Man, they’re really pulling out the big guns tonight!

 

– Tony Schiavone and Bob Caudle are on commentary. No offense to Bob, but is there some reason he can’t be standing around the parking garage while JR handles the play-by-play?

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Do You Remember Green Stamps?

Raise your hand if you remember S&H Green Stamps.  For those of you without telepathy, my hand is high in the air.  That’s because I certainly remember Green Stamps.  Now, for those of you who don’t remember them, or aren’t old enough to know about them, let me give you a brief summary of what they were.

I guess the easiest way to explain them would be to say that they were like bonus points you get when you use your credit card, or frequent flyer miles that you can rack up with the airlines, but for everyday things.  The most common place you would get them were at grocery stores.  How much you spent on your grocery shopping trip determined how many green stamps you earned.  

 

Green Stamps

 

There was a little machine next to the register, and the cashier would dial-up how many stamps you had earned and it would spit them out.  The actual green stamps themselves were about the size of a postage stamp, and worked in much the same way, as you had to lick the back of them to stick them in the green stamp books.

 

Green Stamps

 

Now those books, once they were filled, could be used to buy all sorts of stuff from the Green Stamps Catalog.  It was usually the type of merchandise you would find at a Dollar General store, but they also carried some nicer items as well.  So for just doing what you normally would by doing your weekly grocery shopping, you earned some free shopping spree money!  These things were so popular, that the grocery stores used them as a way to bring in folks.  They would often run “double stamp day” promotions where you would earn double the amount of green stamps that you normally would.  This was a big deal in my house, and shopping day always lined up with double stamp day.

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Heisenberg: My 80’s Contraband Life

Heisenberg

I read an article last week talking about the fact that cassette tapes were making a comeback. In fact, cassette tape sales were up over 130% in 2017. I used to love cassette tapes. They were my musical modus operandi all through junior high, high school and into college. While the renewed interest in this antiquated technology may be nothing but a passing fancy, reading the article brought back some fond, fond memories for me.

I was a late bloomer, musically. I didn’t really get into music till around the age of thirteen. Up to that point (and even after), my parents had tried to head the rock and roll devil off at the pass by pushing me towards Christian music. Early in 1984, though, I heard two songs that cemented my rock and roll fixation forever: “(You Can Still) Rock In America” and “The Reflex”. One day, while at a mall with my family, I spent some of my hard-earned lawn mowing money at Hastings Records and Tapes on two cassettes. I bought Midnight Madness by Night Ranger and Seven and The Ragged Tiger by Duran Duran. My parents promptly made me return them, opting instead to take me to the Christian book store where I plunked down my hard-earned cash on a couple of tapes from a little known Irish band called U2, October and War  (the jokes was on them with that purchase…but I digress).

 

Night Ranger

 

I didn’t matter though. I was hooked. I found a friend at school who had the album versions of both the tapes I tried, unsuccessfully, to purchase and paid him a dollar a tape to record them for me. I started recording everything. I had cassettes full of songs recorded off of the radio as well as television. I also soon discovered that a local radio station, KMOD in Tulsa, Oklahoma, would play albums from beginning to end in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. I started recording those as well. I would set a watch alarm under my pillow so I could wake up and change the tapes out when I needed to. On several occasions I scored the mother lode. One night, they played four Van Halen records back to back (I, II, Diver Down and 1984). Recorded them all. Another night, they played four Ozzy Osbourne records (Blizzard of Ozz, Diary of A Madman, Speak of The Devil and Bark at The Moon). Got them too. On and on and on.

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