web analytics
Aug 312016

It’s nice to look back on old game shows on occasion. One I haven’t thought of in a long time was Remote Control (1987-1990), which was MTV’s first original non-musical show. It was hosted by Ken Ober and featured Colin Quinn as the announcer/sidekick. This was long before he became a cast member on Saturday Night Live.

The object of the game is simple. Three contestants sit in lounge chairs and select one of nine channels on a big screen TV answering questions about TV trivia from shows that were from the 60s and 70s. Looking back now, it feels outdated, unless you grew up watching shows like Bewitched, All in the Family, and Hogan’s Heroes.

Some categories were performance-driven with reoccurring characters. For instance, in the category Celebrity Square (Parody of Hollywood Squares), a celebrity (often played by John Ten Eyck) was asked a question and the contestants won points by agreeing or disagreeing. This version only used one square because MTV supposedly couldn’t afford all nine, as is always mentioned.

You might find this interesting. Adam Sandler used to be on Remote Control, before Saturday Night Live, as reoccurring character Stud Boy. He was a heartthrob who dated many famous women. As he describes one, it’s up to the contestants to guess who she is.

The most popular category is Sing Along with Colin, which focuses on music trivia. Colin Quinn would sing the lyrics to a song and once he stopped the contestants would guess the next line. It sounds awesome because what’s an MTV show without referencing music videos. However, you should keep in mind that Remote Control was from the late 80s, long before stars like Eminem, 50 Cent, and Britney Spears became a huge part of the music scene. So this would be more old school material.

Occasionally a contestant would run across a negative channel, which takes away points. Ones like Home Shopping Zone that sells useless products and reoccurring character Ranger Bob, who is a thickheaded park ranger offering camping safety tips. That is some funny stuff.

The part I remember best is Off the Air. After the two rounds end, the contestant with the lowest score is out of the game in a very elaborate setup. Each chair moves backward. The one on the left flipped upside down, the one in the center went through a brick wall leaving a hole, and the one on the right went through a revolving wall showing a garden hose hanging. There were times when the chair returned with a skeleton in place of the contestant, which freaked me out at first. Then I wondered what became of the contestant. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that they were riding back to the audience, like a Disney ride. That may not be entirely accurate, but one thing is for sure. The contestant was unharmed.

After a lightning round, the winner has a final challenge. The one I remember best was the Wheel of Jeopardy, when the contestant is strapped to a horizontal wheel with ten monitors all around. Each monitor has a TV question. Depending on how many questions are answered correctly increases the chances of winning the grand prize. When the wheel stops spinning, his/her head is the pointer. It’s so much better than identifying artists in nine different music videos playing simultaneously.

Like many game shows, after the series ends, the repeats are very hard to find. (There are some on YouTube.) However, I didn’t get the full grasp of the show until I found Remote Control the NES game. I’ll admit that it’s not as exciting as the game show itself, but for NES standards the game is quite good, even though there is no end round.

This was a good game show for its comedy and creativity. However, it was hard to keep track of since it never had a steady time slot. Looking back now, MTV programming has changed a lot since the 80s.

Mar 122013

That’s right. Spiderman has been around for a long time, but for the first time ever the franchise came to MTV with Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003-2004).

This show takes place after the events of the first Spiderman movie (2002). It mainly focuses on Peter Parker (voice of Neil Patrick Harris), Mary Jane Watson (voice of Lisa Loeb), and Harry Osborn (voice of Ian Ziering) as a group of friends in college, but each with personal struggles.

Peter, of course, has a difficult time balancing his responsibilities with his double life as a superhero. Mary Jane focuses on making it as an actress and has mixed feelings about Peter. Harry craves revenge on Spiderman for what happened to his father and is the new head of his father’s company Oscorp.

The superhero action is awesome. When Spiderman web slings through the city, it’s very smooth and fast, especially while chasing criminals. Spiderman is also slick in combat with fast moves and witty remarks. He even changes in and out of costume quicker than ever before.

Peter is also clever to contain his schoolbooks and change of clothes within a web and hidden on walls and rooftops. Even when he’s late for class, he can respond to a question the teacher throws at him with ease. Unfortunately, it never gets Peter off the hook for being tardy, even though he was only out saving people and can’t tell anyone about it.

Peter is a photographer at The Daily Bugle, but his employer J. Jonah Jameson (voice of J.K. Simmons) is hardly featured on the series. Unlike other versions of Spiderman, the only times that Jameson is featured is at his office when Peter turns in his photos, which inspire Jameson with possible headlines about Spiderman as a menace to society. It’s bad enough that the police are always after Spiderman, even though he’s a hero.

Unfortunately, Peter can barely make a living at The Daily Bugle, so he sets his standards a little higher by occasionally providing news footage for the Empire One TV studio. That’s where Peter meets aspiring reporter Indy Daimonji, who also becomes his love interest, despite his feeling for Mary Jane. Although, Mary Jane only wanted to be friends with Peter, or does she.

What’s also different about this series is that most of the criminals Spiderman faces are not his archenemies, but some do make an appearance or two. The most common was Electro. He was once an unpopular teen named Max Dillon, who was always picked on. After a freak accident, he becomes an electric monster and the first thing on his agenda is to take revenge on his tormentors. Electro succeeds, but still remains a killer, even though all he ever wanted was to be accepted. I always wandered what Electro’s back-story was.

Other known villains that make appearances are Craven the bounty hunter, the Kingpin, and the Lizard Man. Of course, you can’t have a Spiderman series without a Lizard Man episode.

I enjoyed this series for its smooth action and MTV style of humor. In addition to conveniently having a camera handy, I thought it was great that Spiderman had a camcorder while on patrol to videotape himself talking. It’s too bad he only used it in the first episode. That would’ve added to the humor even more.

Aug 032011

The Sifl and Olly Show (1997-1999) is another comedic MTV series from the 90s. My first impression about the show with all sock puppet characters meant that it was focused on a much younger audience, but it turns out that it isn’t.

This sketch comedy series features segments that are more on an adult level. Sifl and Olly are two friends that have misadventures and sometimes tell the stories like a comedy team, as well as performing songs about themselves. I admit, some of the songs are pretty catchy.

At times other characters join in. The only ones that are reoccurring include Chester who is slow witted, and Precious Roy who is loud and crazy.

Speaking of Precious Roy, he has his own reoccurring segment about silly products in a hilarious spoof on the Home Shopping Network. Things like Sasquatch feeders, Civil War corpses, Electric cigarettes, and Chicken flavored air conditioning.

Of course, what really makes the segment hilarious are the comments from various consumers who talk about how wonderful these products are. Then it ends with Precious Roy providing his own commentary, which is always completely off the subject. “Suckers!”

According to Wikipedia, the creators of the series (Liam Lynch and Matt Crocco, who also perform most of the various characters) have been friends for years and attended college together. I can tell that much of their material was inspired by their college days. It’s nice to know how creative a series can be when the creators write their own material.

I must confess that the only reason I remembered this show was because it was always on right before Celebrity Deathmatch. Looking back now, I find it both funny and creative. It’s another classic that’s old, but not forgotten.

Jan 312011

Another classic MTV animated series from the 90s was Aeon Flux – The Complete Animated Collection (1995-1996). Even though shows on MTV are well known for their brand of humor, this one is far from humorous. It’s more like a sci-fi drama.

Aeon Flux is a secret agent, who dresses like a dominatrix and has the cat-like skills of Violet from Ultraviolet. In a futuristic city, she engages in a never-ending struggle against the corruption of her arch nemesis/lover Trevor Goodchild.

Some of the situations involve some pretty sick stuff. Things like turning a man’s abdomen into a private bedroom and robotic consciences made of wire insert themselves into people’s navels. That almost makes me want to cringe. I don’t care if it’s only a cartoon.

Aside from Aeon and Trevor, it’s difficult to tell who is on which side. It tends to start with Aeon having an ally, then he/she suddenly turns on her, or kills other innocents. You never see it coming until near the end of the episode. There are even times when Aeon gets killed, but she somehow always manages to survive in the next episode.

This was a good series, even though it only lasted for a short time. It took me awhile to figure out that the Aeon Flux logo of the fly caught in eyelashes represents Aeon’s skill and quick reflexes. How clever that is.

Sep 012010

The clay animation series called Celebrity Deathmatch (1998-2002) is another great example of MTV’s brand of humor. Various celebrities battle each other in a wrestling ring and are featured in a parody manner. The celebrities are paired up, usually based on common talents most of the time. But what really makes this show different from pro-wrestling, is that the fighters use dialogue during the bout, expressing their hatred towards one another and even using movie titles and song titles as puns. That is so clever.

However, the story lines mainly focus on the two commentators, Nick Diamond and Johnny Gomez. Sometimes things that go on in their personal lives affect them on the job. It helps bring the show to a more adventurous level, don’t you think?

Sometimes Nick and Johnny use the movie and song puns as they call the fights. Not only that, but they have such unique names for the different fight moves like the Mormon munch, the Belgian helicopter, and the Winnipeg wax job. How do they come up with those?

Starting in the second season, the series added a time machine to bring back currently deceased celebrities to fight in the ring. That helps add to the educational level to the show. Celebrity Deathmatch was an excellent source of learning about celebrities that I knew very little about. However, this is a parody series, so the portrayal is never completely accurate.

I don’t really know how a winner is chosen for each bout. It could either be based on the personal issues between the fighters, or it could be about which celebrity is more popular or the least irritating. Heck, there were even times when both fighters lose… their lives. It’s always unpredictable.

The show abruptly ended after season four. A few years later, it was brought back. Only to be abruptly cancelled again after only a short time. I must admit though, that newer version wasn’t as good.

This was a very clever series. I liked it, even if it does seem like Nick and Johnny don’t care when anyone dies in the ring. “Somebody dies every night on this show. That’s part of the fun.”