Monthly Archives: April 2013

Nike with Michael Jordan & Looney Tunes

Here’s a series of commercials I never knew existed until a few years ago. Apparently these ads inspired the cult film “Space Jam” cause Michael Jordan is shown paired with some of the Looney Tunes characters. So for those wondering where the idea of Space Jam originated from it was from a series of Air Jordan commercials, where back in the day the shoes were the most commonly sold brand of shoes from Nike. Plus today’s generation may not understand this but keep in mind that back in the 90’s Jordan was at the height of his career and had a ton of collaborations with various companies like Nike. Thus came the invention of Air Jordan shoes, if a sports star has a product named after him then he’s considered a legend. And to this day he is a sport legend and has left a big impact on the 90’s culture. For those of you who are my age will feel nostalgic from these ads, but those of you born after the 90’s will be in for a good history lesson on the Looney Tunes involved with Nike.

The first commercial involves various basketball players practicing a few rounds at an auditorium. That auditorium happens to be above Bug’s home who is thrashed around on his bed due to the dribbling of the basket ball and the constant running. Out of annoyance, Bugs says “Can’t a rabbit get any sleep around here!”. So to put an end to the whole disturbance, he opens up a conveniently placed cover that happens to connect the entrance of his rabbit hole to the auditorium. Bugs shouts out “What up with the racket!?” Only to be ganged up by the tall B-Ball players in the same fashion as the Gashouse Gorillas did in “Baseball Bugs”. Bugs now knowing that the players are not meant to be provoked with so he gently says “Eh, What’s Up…” Only to get grabbed by the neck by one of the players and finished his line with a weak “Doc?” They twirl his ears around so that way it’ll make him fly off like a helicopter he says “I was only kidding” only to end up flying all over the auditorium. Screaming in pearl but pauses for a moment in mid-air with a “Gruesome, ain’t it?” like in the Tex Avery directed short films. And then proceeds to his screaming. Bugs lands inside a hoop, the bullying players laugh at him, Bugs however won’t sit idly while being mocked and says “Of course you know, this means war!” Always a classic to quote Groucho Marx from “Duck Soup”. So Bugs puts on a pair of Air Jordans and dubs them as “Hare Jordan” and gets some help from THE Michael Jordan himself. This made the bullying players shiver when Jordan goes “Who’d you expect? Elmer Fudd?” Then we’re cut to quick montages of Jordan beating the bullying players with ease, one point we see Bugs read a book called “Hare Care” while Jordan slam dunks and says “Nice Shot”. Jordan does the same thing when Bugs does a slam dunk. One of the players tries to make a shot only for Bugs to replace his ball with an anvil. He tells the audience “This falls them every time”. Then the player goes falling down to the floor leaving a body shape hole upon the impact of the anvil. Then Jordan & Bugs start throwing pies at the players, Bugs distracts the players by dressing in drag which they literally fall for it. I guess they’re turn on towards rabbits resembling blondes. Bugs hold ups a sign that says “Silly aren’t they?” More montages and Bugs pulls a guy’s short out and places a basket balls on the other end and says “Nice Shorts” as the ball is hurled towards the player in the same camera shot used in the boulder hurling scene from “Bully for Bugs” & “Bunny Hugged”. The players are all down and out leaving Jordan & Bugs the victors of the game. They both leave the auditorium with Bugs telling Jordan “That could be the start of a beautiful friendship” straight from the movie Casablanca. The ad ends with Jordan saying “That’s all folks” only to see Porky shouting “Hey that’s my line!”.

The second commercial has various news headlines about a mass theft of Air Jordan shoes. The announcer says “Across the universe people are asking: what fiend would steal Air Jordan?” And then we cut to Marvin the Martian’s observation tower on Mars. Marvin is spying the planet Earth with his telescope and after the last pair of Air Jordan shoes gets teleported to his station he says “Oh goodie! More Air Jordans for me!” While his dog K-9 says “Yeah me too!” Wow this is probably the first K-9 has ever spoken since “Haredevil Hare” cause he is usually silent in the other Looney Tune related cartoons. So Marvin & K-9 inspect the huge pile of Air Jordans they stole from Earth and upon gazing the pile Marvin says “Isn’t it lovely?” Why would Marvin need this many pairs of shoes? Maybe Mars was desperate for getting their own Air Jordans so the Martian council orders Marvin to steal all of Earth’s Air Jordans so that way the planet is set for life on shoes. Or maybe he wanted the shoes all for himself so that way he’ll never have to buy another pair of shoes again. Which ever case this ad should be nicknamed “Mars Needs Shoes” cause they need shoes more than moms. K-9 gets hurled into the air from the newly loosen soil on the Mars surface. Marvin inspects the newly dug hole only to get hurled into the air by a gold bag. Bugs comes out of the hole donning a stereotype golfer outfit and shouts “Pebble Beach!” who is also paired with Jordan on the trip. I guess they fell asleep on a satellite prop heading for Mars and then they started to dig their way out when the probe landed on Mars. That’s my guess cause it’s the only explanation I can come up with as to how they could possibly end up at Mars instead of Pebble Beach, CA. But when Bugs notices he’s not at Pebble Beach, he is surprised by the large pile of shoes. Marvin claims that they’re all his, but Jordan & Bugs know he’s responsible for the theft of the shoes in the first place. So they demand the shoes to be return only for Marvin to say no, and the it was yes, no, yes, no argument until Bugs and Jordan said no and made Marvin say yes and then says “Take these or else” while he did so he shows the shoe product close to the camera with K-9 holding a sign that says “Product Shot”. Marvin & K-9 now barefooted know they been duped with they briefly turn into “Suckers”. Marvin gets angry, Jordan & Bugs laugh at him. Marvin calls out his Martian birds from “Hare-Way to the Stars” short film by blowing his trumpet. The birds come hovering on a giant hover platform and all three of the birds are wearing their own Air Jordan shoes and they’re big. That’s what happens if you douse them with too much water. Jordan & Bugs are scared from the site of the giant birds as one of the bird picks them up with an angered look on his face. Bugs poke it in the eye sending him and Jordan falling down to the ground. The announcer states that this could be the end of the heroes and is about to end it on a cliffhanger.

However no cliffhanger occurred as Bugs tells the Announcer about some network agreement about not splattering on the floor from a great height so after a cheap edit. Jordan and Bugs appear n the galactic B-Ball court un harm and now donning their own Air Jordans in basket ball clothes. They compete against the giant birds in a game of B-Ball 3-2 which is uneven but Bugs and Jordan beat those odds by slam dunking the ball to the opponents hoop. Marvin tries to cheat by blasting them with a laser rifle. While bugs and Jordan cheat by erasing one of the giant birds with a giant pencil. However the birds are joined with two additional birds making the odds 4-2, but Bugs and Jordan put on popcorn vending outfits which contain dynamite and trick the birds into eating them. One of the bird is seen covered in smoke after eating the explosive popcorn. Jordan & Bugs ask for a doctor in the house in which we see the silhouette of a person saying I’m a doctor and then they said “Eh What’s up doc” straight from a scene from “Hare-Rising Hare” short. Then the climax has Bugs bowling the birds with a bomb exploding the galactic basketball court leaving Marvin hanging on the edge with the birds and K-9. While Bugs and Jordan flee from the hostile aliens on a flying saucer towing the stolen shoes back to Earth. The announcer says “That’s all folks” only for Porky again to get angry that someone else said the line instead of him and every shows his contract stating only he can do it. Ending the ad with the Nike logo.

The first ad was made back in 1992 while the other was made back in 1993. About three years before Space Jam was made, and had these ads never been made Space Jam would never have been a reality. There are other Nike commercials to talk about but I’ll do another Nike article another time cause there’s plenty of non-shoe commercials I’d love to do. Such as obscure Video Game consoles which will be for my five-part 100th article for next week!

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Jumanji Board Game

I am a huge fan of the movie, and always dream about actually owning a replica of the board game featured in the movie. Unfortunately no such replica ever got made even during the hype of the movie back in the mid 90’s. All us 90’s kids got was a basic board game inspired by the one from the movie. When I say “basic”, I’m saying that it’s ordinary and doesn’t look as unique as the one from the movie. I remember the commercial for the game would play constantly though out the same year the movie was in theaters and up till it came on video. The commercial was very short and consists of brief clips of the movie itself including the animals that appeared from the game and clips of the board game featured in the movie. I couldn’t help but notice that they spent more time showing footage of the movie board game and only a couple of seconds of the retail board game. It’s like the company that made the board game acknowledges the movie’s board game to be superior towards their own version.

While there’s not much to say about the commercial, let’s just talk about the product itself and discuss how it could have been better. The board game is made of cardboard and is decorated in the same design as the one from the movie. It’s gameplay is intended for ages 6 and up, requires at least two players to play but no more than four. Each player uses a colored pawn to go around on the board with the roll of a triangular dice. It includes a couple additional pieces not included in the movie version such as a rhino figurine, an hourglass, and additional dices. With the product looking 60% different from the movie version it appear to please the board game community according to some reviews on Amazon.com. Though I for one, didn’t dare buy it cause it just look like an imitation of the game from the movie. Which why I’m going to list what could have made this product better.

1. The board game not being made of wood or look wooden. I can understand it would be an environment issue if we cut down so many trees to make so many Jumanji board games. But plastic would have worked fine, at least it would have been a better material than cardboard cause it just makes the product look more cheap and less fancy.

2. The absence of the animal pawns. In the movie it was an elephant, crocodile, rhino, & a monkey I think, used as the pawn pieces for the game. However for this product it’s just multi colored pawns straight from the game “Sorry”. There’s no excuse for not making the pawns look like the ones from the movie. Those pieces are what make the game so memorable in the first place.

3. The center orb not being green or crystal like. Since it’s obvious that the words can’t appear magically inside the center orb, I’ll excuse the product for using cards for a substitute. But could they at least make the orb green like in the movie? Today we can make the green orb illuminate words magically thanks to the wonders of the digital age.

4. The product not looking like it’s a relic. The game is meant to look aged and appear to have been around for centuries. That’s one of the characteristics that make the game recognizable is the aged appearance of the game itself instead this product polishes it and makes it look clean loosing it’s old like look that gave it a mysterious presence.

5. Last but not least the un attention to make the game look like the real deal. If a board game designer couldn’t make a Jumanji game look like a folded crate then all hope is lost. It’s like making a replica of Mouse Trap without making it look like a trap.

The game has become scarce for some time and prices for the game goes as high as $177 on Amazon.com. Totally not worth anyone’s money, and as of today no attempt was ever made in making a true replica of the game from the movie. I’ve seen die-hard fans actually make a replica that is so genuine that it would pass as the actual prop from the movie. It’s been almost 20 years since the movie came out, isn’t time for that replica to get made so that way fans can truly own their own Jumanji board game? Until that day comes enjoy the brief commercial below.

Centipede Invasion

Here’s a classic game that is rarely parodied today. The game I’m talking about is Centipede, the 1981 Atari arcade(Atari 2600 version a year later)that has several remakes and revisions of it’s own. It’s also one of the first few video games to be design by a woman which is Dona Bailey. I can imagine it being tough for her cause she was the only woman employed at Atari at the time way before it became more common to see women working at a video game company. Unfortunately she left the company a year after completing Centipede way before the era when female gamers become more common. Luckily Dona left way before Jack showed up for his infomercial on the Jaguar. So despite the game development having a sexist issue to it, it was a meorible game for it’s time. It even had a cool commercial which I like to call it the Centipede Invasion for obvious reasons.

The first commercial starts with a guy playing the Atari 5200 version of Centipede on his TV, when all the sudden a giant Centipede arm bursts out of the TV screen and grabs the guy. And through out the rest of the commercial the song “Nowhere Girl” by B-Movie is played. Which believe it or not was a brand new song back then. We see a newspaper with the headline: Centipedes Invade which over shadows an article on “Budget Cuts” which may or may not have to do with centipedes invading. We then cut to a stock footage of people fleeing, a clip of a documentary on actual centipedes and explaining that there’s more than 3,000 species of centipedes. Next a shadow of the Centipede creeps by a brick wall and is about to feast on a bum who screams in terror. Clips of various silent films are shown, the Centipede starts to range in anger causing a clip of a stampede of fleeing citizens to be shown. A woman is about to sleep only to discover that a Centipede is sleeping right next to her. She screaming in terror which anyone else would do in the same situation. More clips of other silent films are shown, and another news paper reads “Marines battle Insects!” along with footage of platoons traveling through a swamp and a battleship firing out in sea. The Centipede is seen rampaging through town, and then a clip of a gun turret soldier is shown implying that he’s killing off some centipedes with a clip of actual game footage. Then there’s a clip of bombs dropping from a dive bomber. After that we see a centipede claw gently placing the game in front of an Atari 2600 console. With an announcer saying “Centipede from Atari, it could change your life”. Then we see the gamer from the first scene completely mutated into a centipede man and shouts out “Help! Somebody call an exterminator!” Bad call out cause I’m sure the exterminator will be killing off the gamer instead of the centipede in general.

The second commercial is similar to the first one, except more up beat. The commercial starts with a horror movie like title “Return of the Centipede!” Then we see a junkyard where an African American is seen transporting several mannequin legs with stripe socks. Does he work for a department store or are the legs for some night club. We never learn the reason at all from this commercial. A woman is seen putting on her stocking, and the bum from the last commercial returns as well. The leg transporter is then visited by the centipede when it gently taps him on the shoulder. Also note how he’s wearing an 80’s headphone that has an antennal to receive radio waves. There’s also other centipedes visiting the woman and bum while the leg transporter guy is drag into the sewers by the centipede. Then we see a neon sign with an announcer saying “Welcome to the Club Centipede!” with a centipede playing a saxophone. We then cut to stock footage of women dashing through a field, city civilians fleeing, and the angry mob from the 1925 Phantom of the Opera invading the Phantom’s catacombs was even shown. Then we cut to a shout of a showgirl and footage of the game itself, more shots of the sax playing centipede and footage of retro showgirls. Footage of a guy doing a front flip and back flip is shown. then the announcer says in the end “Atari presents Centipede!” It’s such an up beat commercial that we complete forget that giant centipedes are devouring innocent civilians.

These commercials are very well written and I like how they combined B-Movie genre and stock footage that was either cheap to purchase or is from public domain. Which is smart cause you don’t have to pay money to any one if you’re borrowing footage from a public domain film. A lot of other commercials use this same type of technique which I would love to talk about in later commercials such as one where Gatorade uses stock footage and other borrowed footage to show impossible stunts done by humans. For the next article it will be about the Jumanji board game commercial and I’ll discuss why it’s not as good as the one from the movie.

The Woody Woodpecker Show

The same situation with the Rudy and Gogo Show and Looney Tunes on Nick. This doesn’t count as an actual show since it consists of various Woody Woodpecker short films. As well as various other Walter Lantz related cartoons that are sometimes associated with Woody. The TV series in general first aired on TV back in October 3rd, 1957 on the ABC channel. The success of this show expanded the production of the theatrical Woody Woodpecker short films 10 years longer than Warner Bros.’s Looney tunes and Disney’s own short films in comparison. Keep in mind that watching cartoons on TV was starting to become more common by this time cause more Americans are starting to own a TV set. And due to the theatrical cartoon business suffering at this point every cartoon studio was getting on with the idea of having their own cartoons being aired on TV. Walter Lantz’s company was among the many studios that released new and old short films on TV. So with that brief history aside let me talk about the openings of this show rather than the cartoon since I’m sure everyone here knows who Woody Woodpecker is.

The first intro was used for the show when it was new which depicts of Woody pecking the words of his own show on a tree, falls through the roof of a house, has a brief conversation with Walter Lantz himself, Mr. Lantz tells the viewers to enjoy the show, then Woody takes it from there by showing viewers one of his films off of a film projector. In between segments involve Woody either singing or telling the viewers that another short film is coming right up. This intro was made before the second to last one which I remember cause they used that intro more when I was a kid than the old one. Though I was surprised that there was an older intro that predates the one I’m use to seeing during the 90’s. Thanks to Youtube, I was finally able to see this intro for the first time ever.

The second intro is the one I know best as a kid which was made back in 1987 when it was decided to revised the show with a new intro but still feature old cartoons of Woody Woodpecker. Anyways the opening starts with woody pecking a hole through a black screen and quoted his famous catch phrase “Guess who!” He pulls the next scene towards the right where we see Buzz Buzzard up to no good as he’s spying with his binocular in front of his gas station looking for customers to rip off. He spots Woody Woodpecker driving in his car with Chilly Willy on the passenger side and Andy Panda & Inspector Willoughby riding in the back seat. The buzzard spreads out a pile of tacks on the road and sneaks away to wait for the car to receive some flat tires which it did. The car starts swerving and Inspector Willoughby is seen flying out of the car(he should have put on his seat belt). Buzz Buzzard starts rolling a couple of new tires while thinking of the money he’s going to get out of the Woodpecker, penguin, panda, and Inspector. However Inspector Willoughby caught wind of the buzzard’s scam and stops the bird dead on his tracks and starts beating the bird up and walks away after showing the buzzard that he and his friends aren’t doing business with a charlatan. Woody laughs at Buzz for getting what he deserves only to be grab by Gabby Gator. Gabby is then seen wearing a toque and carrying Woody in a pan. He shoves the woodpecker in his stove without removing his feathers and dreams about that roasted woodpecker he’s been meaning to have for sometime now. But then the unexpected happen, his stove turns into a canon(I kid you not) Gabby gets frighten and flees as Woody gets fired out of the canon instead of becoming gator food. Looking back at this part, I find it random but also funny for the stove to turn into a canon for no logical reason. Woody is hurled into the air and goes right through the window of Wally Walrus’s house where he bounces on Wally while he’s asleep. Wally wakes to see who intruded his home only to find Woody watching a random Woodpecker cartoon on the TV set.  The bird even had time to cook up some popcorn, or was the popcorn prepared prior to Woody’s arrival. If so, Wally must have the habit of leaving unfinished popcorn in his house. The walrus grabs Woody by the neck and does a mannerism that suggest that he wants the woodpecker out of his house. Woody teases the walrus by honking his nose and flee only to stop by the front of a pet shop where he sees Chilly Willy trying to catch fish by swimming around in an aquarium. The penguin gets swoop out of the tank by Smedley the saint Bernard who doesn’t approve of the penguin stealing fish from a pet shop. Willy let’s go of the fish he caught and leaves. Then we see Buzz, Smedley, Andy, and the Inspector running to somewhere, willy notices that everyone is in a hurry for something so he grabs on to Smedley’s scarf in order to keep up with everyone. The last scene shows Woody pecking out the title of his show and the announcer says “The Woody Woodpecker Show!”. Ending with a still shot of Woody as a Knight with “A Walter Lantz Production” for the tagline.

The show aired on different channels overs the decades. One point it aired on NBC, syndication, Cartoon Network, and as of right now Canada’s Teletoon Retro. While not a commonly seen show in the US right now, it was the very show that introduced me to Woody Woodpecker, and I’m sure a lot of other people my age got familiar with the character the same way. During the past decade the only new material Woody had been in was an entirely original TV series called “The New Woody Woodpecker Show” which air on the now defunct Fox Kids. And there are plans for a CG movie coming soon, but I’ve yet to see if it’s going to be as good as the original cartoons. I’m more interested in seeing a Blu-ray release on the character’s short films which will happen eventually. Anyways that’s it for this article, please check out my next one on the Centipede game.