THE FULL EXPERIENCE is a new Platypus Comix series that examines rare moments from television past...from tapes, not from what DVDs can't give...all the ads, promotions and bumpers, exactly as they aired. While obvious copyright reasons prevent this site from uploading the episodes themselves, you can probably go to YouTube to find the episodes, assuming the moderators' game of Whack-A-Mole hasn't scored a hit lately. To watch the ads, click on the pictures of them for pop-up videos.
In the future, look for FULL EXPERIENCE treatment on episodes of Batman, X-Men, Real Ghostbusters, Transformers, Beetlejuice, Dragonball Z and more....but today, for our inaugural trip, we'll be looking at KIDS WB'S FIRST AIRING OF POKEMON. (You may have read about this already; I decided to remake and update it. I promise I won't pull this stunt often.)
|This half-hour was the Gen-Y equivalent to the Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan---it was an immediate signal that the craze had begun after months of buildup. The show had been airing in syndication for a few months, building a bigger audience every week, but not in all areas. Buzz was high and when the WB announced three weeks prior that it would be running NEW episodes of Pokemon, every kid in America waited for this morning to come. The resulting ratings shot Kids WB well past its competitors for the first time and officially lit the firecracker that the Pokemon franchise was going to turn into. The trend changed the face of TV and shifted programming dramatically toward anime. The programming shift turned the small production/dubbing company 4Kids into a gigantic juggernaut, eventually growing powerful enough to buy out Fox Kids, create the greatest Turtles show ever, and ruin One Piece.|
Few events on TV are as big a watershed as this one turned out to be, and pretty much every kid was into the first season of Pokemon. If you were one of them, strap yourself in for THE FULL EXPERIENCE....
Announcer: "Hey kids, it's
party time at Kids WB!"
Announcer: "Join all your favorite cartoon stars as we welcome Ash, Misty, Brock, and all the new Pokemon! It's the POKEMON PREMIERE PARTY!"
Batman's butler Alfred: "What should I wear?"
He's saying this while Batman is typing the Pokerap into his high-tech computer. Loads of classic Kids WB characters dancing with the beast that killed them --- it's surreal, to be sure. And the coming months would bring more where that came from: Pinky and the Brain getting fried by Charmeleon, MIB agent Kay replacing Jay with Bulbasaur, and the gold-medal winner of them all: Batman trying to lull Robin to sleep by singing, "Jiigg-ly-puufff, Jigg-lyy-puuuffff..."
Before the episode started, Kids WB ran a short "primer" to make sure everyone knew what was going on. "THESE are POKEMON! They have various powers and abilities! Ash Ketchum is out to catch them all, along with his friends Brock and Misty, and his first Pokemon, the electrifying Pikachu! All the while, he must avoid evildoers, like TEAM ROCKET! Prepare for a boy on a quest! Prepare for POKEMON!!" *cue theme song, then all the ads I just went over*
They certainly spent a lot of time on the promotion for this. Of course, if it HADN'T worked, they could just as easily pretend the show never existed, and make everyone forget they ran it. Remember "Brats of the Lost Nebula"? Didn't think so.
And there you have it--the first episode of Pokemon that aired on network TV was episode #42, "The Problem with Paras." There are over 700 Pokemon episodes in existence now, so you might not remember this particular one. It's the one where they go somewhere and meet a Pokemon with a problem, and the gang tries to solve that problem, and Team Rocket tries to mess it up. It's that one.
I don't want to spend this page talking about the episode...I think it'll be far more interesting to examine who sponsored it. I mean, whoever paid to get their ad into THIS certainly got their money's worth---it was the Super Bowl of kidvid they didn't know about. Who got the maximum exposure? The VERY FIRST AD that paid for Pokemon was.....
Hoboy, here we go. A kid is sitting at a table declaring his love for Peanut Butter Crunch. His sister goes, "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" Instead of blowing her off, the kid thinks, "Hmmmm...." and fantasizes about marrying his box of Peanut Butter Crunch. First at a giant ceremony, where in attendance are several aliens and a guy in a chicken suit. Then we get scenes from the couple's fast life -- they're shown SURFING, as astronauts in SPACE, and living a quiet life as yak herders. Then he appears on a talk show(maybe Tom Snyder's), where the guy asks, "So how does it feel to be MARRIED to a bowl of Peanut Butter Crunch?" The kid yells happily, "I LOVE IT!" and takes a bite out of his wife.
Wow...well. I wanted something interesting, and...wow. I'm without words beyond "wow."
THIS was the first ad. The only other thing I can point out is the weak-looking cel-shaded CGI Cap'n Crunch they were experimenting with. He only appeared on one other ad besides this one. I think everyone who remembers this wants to strangle me now for bringing the memory back, so we'd better move on to Ad 2.
AD #2: the latest product in a rash of Play-Doh "make stuff that looks like food" sets. They came out with a lot of these over the years; I guess kids were pretty excited about the prospect of making food from their clay. There was always a small disclaimer where a guy quickly said, "Funtoplaywithnottoeat."
"NOW YOU CAN CATCH A SPECIAL SNEAK PREVIEW OF STAR WARS EPISODE ONE WITH THESE STAP ATTACK BATTLE DROIDS!!!" Holy cow! If we only knew then what we know now. This has plenty of nostalgia appeal, what with the naive "Episode 1 will be good" commercials and the kid marrying his cereal and all.
And you know what this is...this is the trippy "Pringles Thru Time" ad which ran for many years. Pringles had several ads like this, set to remixes of classic pop songs, and all included one appearance from the Loser who Learned to Regret Eating His Chips out of a Bag. Beat your Pringle cans against that monolith, kids!
Before we get back to the show, a Histeria promo. You might think a mention on this incredible spot of airtime would help it, but Histeria was already cancelled--they just weren't letting us know that. The order for 65 shows was reduced to 52 when the series went well over budget, and dismal ratings for its first few weeks sealed its fate. And of course, when Pokemon showed up, that was the dagger in Miss Information's back.
Unlike many of the excellent Warner Bros. 90's cartoons, Histeria has never been repeated on any channel, and that's weird. Most networks will put on anything as long as it scratches the FCC's "Three hours of educational TV" itch. ANYTHING. They'll put on moldy Littles reruns from 1983. Why not Histeria for once?
MOVE ON TO THE NEXT BREAK