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Generation Y - Part 4
Submitted by dream on November 25, 2010 - 23:48.
Continues from Part III
THE 90s WHEN EARLY MILLENNIALS WERE ADOLESCENTS WHILE LATE MILLENNIALS WERE CHILDREN OR IN THEIR EARLY PUBERTY
If you were a child of the 90s you must remember:
Millennials are the last one who played and enjoyed playing with most toys in their physical format without the need of converting them to a videogame or digital format. Nowadays Generation Z kids play with the same games and toys of the Generation Y children but in their virtual digital format, so today the basic idea is if no screen no deal.
In the 90s it is notable the influence in the Western World of toys originated from Japan, many of which were based on Anime TV series. It is also the transition decade between the era of toys in the 80s and before, and the era of toys adapted to video games in the 2000s. Nowadays, most children of Generation Z spend more time with consoles, computers, handheld consoles or even cell phones than with toys as children of previous generations who had to base their entertainment activities more on imagination, something that nowadays is perfectly depicted in the virtual worlds provided in video games.
|BARBIE: Two particularly impressive consumer flurries that were to sweep through doll shops and toy stores came in 1988, with the unpredictably successful Happy Holiday series, and later in 1994, when the first vintage reproduction Barbie and accompanying gift set made its debut on Miss Thing’s 35th Anniversary. The Official Barbie Collector’s Club was founded in 1997.
The early 80’s saw the first Barbie Convention; the brand new, boot-stomping Western Barbie and her high-steppin’ horse named Dallas; the Paint the Town Red Barbie, whose crimson gown was based on the one worn by the new First Lady, Nancy Reagan. In 1984, over a thousand revelers gathered for Barbie’s 25th Anniversary bash in New York. Andy Warhol was among the guests—his portrait of the doll icon, which would top the Barbie art exhibit that soon toured the nation, would be coming soon. In 1985 she even had her first computer game for Commodore 64.
In 1990, perhaps eager to outfit a lady who never complained and never gained weight, Bob Mackie designed his first Barbie gown, paving the road for many more to follow: Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Valentino, Perry Ellis, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, Byron Lars, Vera Wang and Donna Karan among others. Since Barbie’s best-selling years will often see the introduction of more than a hundred new outfits, the amount of cloth that Mattel tears through is no small at all. As a matter of fact it has become one of the largest makers of women’s clothes in the United States.
In July 1992 Mattel released Teen Talk Barbie, each doll was programmed to say 4 out of 270 possible phrases, so that no two dolls were likely to be the same.
Gorgeous lines like the Hollywood Legends Collection and the Children’s Collector Series (Barbie as fairy tale damsels like Rapunzel) were introduced in the mid-90’s. In 1995, Mattel celebrated its 50th year in business, becoming one of the biggest toy companies wordwide and in big part thanks to Barbie. Today, she’s the most collected doll in the world.
In 1997 Mattel joined forces with Nabisco to launch a cross-promotion of Barbie with Oreo cookies. The Oreo Fun Barbie was marketed as someone with whom little girls could play after class and share "America's favorite cookie."
In May 1997 Share a Smile Becky was introduced, a doll in a pink wheelchair. However Kjersti Johnson, a 17-year-old high school student in Tacoma, Washington, pointed out that the doll would not fit into the elevator of Barbie's $100 Dream House. So the company announced that it would redesign the house in the future to accommodate the doll.
There are Barbie magazines, books and newsletters. There are public museums and legendary private collections. There is unadulterated devotion, from all around the world.
|BEANIE BABIES: Introduced by Ty Warner Inc. in 1993, it was a toyline of animals stuffed with plastic pellets or "beans" instead of conventional PVC and Polyethyne. The first Beanie Babies were Legs the Frog, Squealer the Pig, Spot the Dog, Flash the Dolphin, Splash the Whale, Chocolate the Moose, Patti the Platypus, Brownie the Bear (later renamed Cubbie), and Punchers the Lobster (later renamed Pinchers).
It gained such a popularity in the late 90s becoming the biggest toy phenomenon since Cabbage Patch Kids. Ty Warner's toyline was introduced in 1993 when in created soft, understuffed animal beanbags, simply known as Beanie Babies. Kids loved the little creatures because they were attractive, small and inexpensive, but it would not be until 1996 that Beanie Babies created national hysteria.
At first, Beanie Babies were just another cute toy, but when Ty decided to ‘retire’ the original toyline in 1996, adults scrambled to collect them before they were gone. After that the discontinued toyline was highly sought-after collector’s items, which coerced Ty into releasing more and more Beanie Babies to capitalize on the overnight popularity. But like all clever companies, Ty distributed the animals in limited quantity, and created a scarcity by retiring animals before the market was saturated.
Suddenly Beanie Babies were sought after like gold, while new animals were being released at rapid rates to fan the flames of desire. Collectors hoarded the animals, creating a vast market of limited supply and high demand. The Beanie Babies lure went beyond children, and adults enticed as well to get the last remains on the shelf. Both kids and adults made it their life’s goal to complete the set, and collect what is now over 300 individual characters.
Based on the sales and revenue of this toy, Ty Warner Inc. made over $6 billion.
There are several styles of animals, but each new release differs in color, fabric, accessories and name. The classic Ty Teddy comes in purple, pink polka dotted, iridescent blue, rainbow striped and even emblazoned with a British flag, and each has its own name. And there are just as many variations of spiders, pelicans, sharks, monkeys, etc. Any animal you can see, or can’t (Pegasus and unicorn) comes to you via Ty.
Authentic Ty Beanies are carefully controlled, and priced at the affordable $5-$7 range, regardless of future rarity. However collectors' obsession made the Ty #1 Bear to go for over $8000 out on the collector’s market.
Beanie Babies expanded into Teenie Beanies, the ultra tiny toys that look like little brothers and sisters to the big Babies, as well as the more traditional stuffed animal style Beanie Buddies, and the doll-like Beanie Kids.
Fake Beanie Babies began to surface also in 1997. Early on, cheap knock-offs and fakes of commons were widely available at discount prices, but when the Beanie craze began to fade, counterfeiters started focusing on rarer releases and country exclusives.
Some fake versions of real beanies were made that had never been produced by Ty, such as some red fake Pinkies and mint green fake Quackers. Even the FBI was involved in the case, cracking down on counterfeit beanies in the late 90s, some people were prosecuted for direct known involvement in their commerce; like a couple from St. Louis Park, MN; who were sentenced to prison, probation, and fines for their involvement in smuggling counterfeit beanies. In the UK, in the city of York, authorities seized more than 6000 Princesses and Britanniae from a ring.
The released versions of this toyline are: Beanie Babies (1993), Teenie Beanies (1997), Beanie Buddies (1998), Beanie Kids (2000).
|DOMINO RALLY: Produced by Pressman Toys in the 1980s and early 1990s, this was no ordinary domino set.
Domino Rally came in many forms, but a few domino-activated features showed up in most sets: The starburst, triggered by a single domino, sent out five new rows of dominoes from a covered circle. there were domino-friendly bridges that raised up high enough to allow a perpendicular line of dominoes to pass underneath. Zig Zags also had a row of stairs leading up to the top, but once the top domino fell, it sent a steel ball back down a zig-zagging path to strike a new chain of dominoes. In many sets, the crucial point was the rocket launcher. Triggered by yet another falling steel ball, the launcher not only sent a craft flying off the ground, but the rocket’s fins also set off three more rows of dominoes to keep the chain reaction alive.
It was designed by Jason Carroll, a 16-year-old boy, assisted by his father; originally named Domino Track. The design was sent to American Idea Management (AIM). However due to lack of knowledge and finances of the original inventor, the idea was first patented by Universal Product Innovations, Inc. and manufactured by Pressman Toys Inc. The original idea was robust, with well-designed interlocking track and high quality solid dominoes, but to avoid patent issues they surmised that a less accurate version was designed.
Most sets had at least one section of “pivot track,” designed so that dominoes could be snapped into place, always staying in a perfect line and resetting with a simple tilt of the track (the bridges were designed with pivoting dominoes as well). For those with less time or less sure hands, Pressman Toys also sold Domino Dealers and Pathmakers. These wheeled, domino-carrying vehicles would do much of the set-up for the users, laying out perfectly-aligned dominoes in their wake as you rolled them across the kitchen floor.
In the 90’s, Pressman introduced even fancier sets, from glow-in-the-dark dominoes to whiling helicopters to the Extreme Action set (hang glider, flying surfboard and more) to the icky Mad Lab Set (complete with Bubbling Brains and bouncing Eerie Eyeball). However, soon Domino Rally was discontinued, yet not forgotten.
|FURBY: This hamster/owl-like creature toy was launched by Tiger Electronics in the holiday season of 1998 (its first public appearance was at the American International Toy Fair that same year) as The fuzzy Furbish-talking owl. With continual sales until 2000 it sold 1.8 million units in 1998, 14 million units in 1999, and altogether in its three years of original production, over 40 million units, and its speaking capabilities were translated into 24 languages.
Furby was a plush, animatronic little miracle. Each was only five inches tall, but he was packed with electronic gadgetry that allowed him to interact with the environment through sight, touch, sound and physical orientation. It danced, sang, slept, wiggled its ears, blinked its eyes, and best of all, moved its mouth and actually talked. His native tongue was the fantasy language Furbish, but, he would gradually learn the language of his new homeland. However, English is learned automatically, and no matter what culture they are nurtured in, they learn English.
Combined, Furby had a vocabulary of nearly 200 Furbish and English words, and with those, could speak up to 800 phrases. When putting his batteries in, the first thing Furby did was tell you his name in Furbish. When he woke up, he might chirp Dah/o-loh/u-tye, which means sun up, in case the owner was not yet handy with the Furbish dictionary that came with each of the six creatures.
Furby reacted to pats on the head, backstrokes, tummy tickles, and rotations that brought him upside down. Cover his eyes and he might answer with a no light! or the Furbish equivalent boo a-hoh. But when you covered his eyes the next time, you might get something entirely different, because Furby was programmed not to respond the same way to his stimuli every time. About the worst you’d hear from your little guy was that he was bored, and of course the best was that he loved you, all of that according to the kind of attention you gave him.
Furbies were also interactive, having the ability to tell when another was nearby, and they were able to communicate with each other via infrared signals, even teaching each other tricks and songs.
Furbies weren’t quite as high maintenance as a flesh-and-blood pet, though they were a whole lot needier than a regular plush.
In 2005, there was a revival of new Furbies, with voice-recognition and more complex facial movements, and other improvements. This revival gave birth to a number of Furby-oriented special interest groups. The most visible of these groups include Furbish-to-English translators and Furby adoption agencies.
|GAME BOY: An 8-bit handheld video game machine introduced by Nintendo in 1989, it followed the Game & Watch series introduced in 1980, and it combined features from both the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game & Watch.
It is a little gray battery-powered device completely portable, small and light. Unlike the Game and Watch, the Game Boy is a fully self-contained unit with changeable cartridges. With an ever-expanding library of game titles, like a portable arcade.
The Game Boy is 3.5" x 5.8" 1.3" or 90 mm x 148 mm x 32 mm (WxHxD), with a 4.19 MHz 8-bit Sharp microprocessor, 8 kB internal S-RAM, 8 kB Video RAM, a 2.6'' (66m) LCD 160 × 144 pixels screen.
In order to conserve battery power and keep costs down, the Game Boy was strictly a black-and-white (actually black-and-greenish), displaying its graphics on a small LCD screen. As a trade-off, however, the Game Boy came complete with a revolutionary new idea in home gaming: linked play. With an included linking cable, two Game Boys could be connected together to play the same game, with each player getting his or her own view of the action. With this one-on-one angle and added gameplay, the lack of color did not seem to bother gamers, outselling color competitors like Sega’s Game Gear and the Atari Lynx (the latter, supporting linked play too).
Perhaps the biggest reason for Game Boy’s success was in the games. The Game Boy was blessed with extraordinarily good timing in this regard. It also came with Tetris as its pack-in title, making both Game Boy and Tetris become video game superstars.
Tetris was clearly the first great game of Game Boy’s line, but it was just the beginning. Over the next decade, Game Boy became the best-selling game system of all time, and over 500 titles were produced for the portable dynamo.
Mario made his usual appearance in Super Mario Land and other titles, as did Link and the Zelda crew in Zelda: Link’s Adventure.
The linked play made for a series of highly competitive sports games like Tennis, Baseball and the later NBA Jam and NFL Quarterback Club series, while good old shoot-em-ups were represented by titles like Gradius. The Final Fantasy Legend series was one of the most successful RPG, and in the fighting genre Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat occupied the first place for Game Boy.
But the biggest boom of Game Boy came in 1998 when Pokémon egged on Game Boy gamers with the catchphrase, Gotta Catch ‘Em All, and as several new Pokémon cartridges were released (Red, Blue, Yellow, Silver, Gold and so on), Pokémon training became a sort of international sport of choice.
Game Boy remained virtually unchanged for most of its first nine years, but its list of accessories had a few standouts. A Super Game Boy add-on allowed Game Boy cartridges to be played in color on the Super NES, while a Game Boy Camera and Printer actually let users take snapshots and print them in pixilated black and white. A Game Boy Pocket shrank the size of the machine in the late 90s, but the real revolution arrived in time for the holiday season of 1998. Game Boy Color finally delivered full-color games to the classic system, even adding new color to old games.
With the long-awaited addition of color, the Game Boy entered its second decade. Featuring an entire library of new, exclusively Game Boy Color titles, as well as entering into the 32-bit world with 2001's Game Boy Advance.
The Game Boy and Game Boy Color combined have sold over 118 million units worldwide.
|HOT WHEELS: This scale-model die-cast toy car was introduced in 1968 by Mattel. Over 10,000 different models of Hot Wheel Cars have been produced over the years. Hot Wheel Vehicles are authorized by car makers like General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Motors, Ferrari, Mazda, and Toyota among others to make a scale model of their cars.
Mattel also offered as an accesory the Hot Wheels track system. A do-it-yourself kit of track sections, connectors, loops, curves, ramps, launchers, speedometers, and much, much more, the track system enabled Hot Wheels fanatics to build elaborate and ever-changing speedways. Even without the spring-loaded launchers and battery-run super charger power boosters, the cars could get rolling along the tracks pretty fast with the force of gravity.
As the years went on, the Hot Wheels line continued to expand. Cars rolled off the assembly line at a rate that eventually exceeded Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers combined. The track sets and other playsets got more and more elaborate, incorporating everything from the treacherous intersections of “Criss-Cross Crash” to the erupting leap of “Volcano Blowout.” A merger with Tyco in 1997 brought the Hot Wheels line into electric, slot-car-style racing, while the new X-V Racers line introduced motorized, chargeable cars that sped along without the aid of launchers and power boosters.
In 1981, Hot Ones wheels were introduced, which had gold-painted hubs, thinner axles for speed, and additional suspension that most production Hot Wheels lacked. Ultra Hots wheels, which looked like the wheels found on a Renault Fuego or a Mazda 626, were introduced in 1984 and had other speed improvements. It also offered models based on sports and economy cars of the 80s, like the Pontiac Fiero or Dodge Omni 024. In 1983, A new style of wheel called Real Riders were introduced, with real rubber tires. Despite the fact that they were very popular, the Real Riders line was short-lived, because of high production costs. In the late 80s, the Blue Card blister pack was introduced, becoming the basis of Hot Wheels cards of nowadays.
The Thermal Color Change paint, and rotating Crash Panel vehicles were also introduced. The former were able to change color on exposure to hot or cold water, and there were an initial release of 20 different cars, available as sets of three vehicles. The latter were vehicles with a panel that, on contact, would rotate to reveal a flip side which appeared to be heavily dented, including front, rear and side panels, the last of whose mechanism has proven to be the most durable.
In 1982, the Chevrolet Corvette ended the Mako Shark design that had been in production for almost 15 years, and GM announced that the Corvette would be redesigned. In 1983, Chevrolet did not produce the Corvette, but Hot Wheels already had seen what the Corvette was going to look like and they designed a die cast version of the 1984 Corvette. GM almost pulled its licensing with Mattel, but this controversy helped Corvette buffs see what the new Corvette was going to look like.
In 1995 the cars were split up into series. One was the 1995 Model Series, which included all of that year's new castings. In 1996, the Model Series was renamed to First Editions. That same year the Treasure Hunt Series was introduced. The rest of the series included four cars with paint schemes that followed a theme.
Sales for the Model Series were boosted by the Bonus Car program, causing stores across the United States to have shortages. Purchasing the four car sets and sending in the packaging backs plus a handling fee gave the customer the opportunity to collect the bonus cars, each one released for each quarter of the year starting in 1996 through at least 2000.
In 1997, Hot Wheels started making replicas of NASCAR race cars; and in 1999 Formula One car models.
In 1998, Mattel celebrated the 30th anniversary of Hot Wheels by replicating various cars and individual packaging from its 30-year history and packaging these replicated vehicles in special 30th Anniversary boxes.
After more than 30 years, Hot Wheels remain one of the fastest die-cast cars on the planet. Hot Wheels cars and track sets can still be found laid out on the bedroom carpet of many a young racing enthusiasts.
|KOOSH BALL: This is a ball made of rubber filaments (strings) attached to a soft rubber core. In the late 80s, when an engineer named Scott Stillinger was trying to teach his children how to catch a ball, an idea came to his mind. A ball made of soft rubbery strands that small hands could easily latch onto. Stillinger tied rubber bands together for his first creation, and came up with the name “Koosh” because that’s the sound it made as it landed in his hand.
The Koosh ball was one of 1988's most popular Christmas toys, and their popularity continued during the 90s.
Kooshes have approximately 2000 natural rubber filaments, and come in a variety of color combinations, they also come in a rainbow of colors and sizes. If your throwing arm doesn’t pack the wallop you’re looking for, there are slew of other ways to launch a Koosh Ball: Koosh Catchers and Koosh FlingShots among them.
Recently, there was a line of Koosh jewelry for pre-teeners and on up, a part of the Koosh Cosmic Club line. There are different colored Koosh Horoscope Balls, which reflect the changing emotions of owners.
They’re an alternative to regular old balls, they’re great for teaching kids how to catch, and they don’t hurt too much if your catch partner gets a bit zealous. Once you’ve got one in your palm, it’s hard not to toss it around a little.
|MAGIC: THE GATHERING: A collectible card game introduced in 1993 that can be played by two or more persons each using a deck of printed cards.
It was designed by a professor of Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington; Richard Garfield, when the CEO of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. games company told Garfield that he was looking for a portable game that could be played in the downtime that frequently occurs at gaming conventions. So Garfield returned and presented the idea of a Trading Card Game. Adkison immediately agreed to produce it and after two years of development it was released on 5 August 1993.
Magic was a card game steeped in the mythology of the imaginary world Dominia, thanks to the artwork and information on each card. The rules were simple: each player was a Plainswalker, a sort of wizard working for control of one magical plane of existence. Each began with twenty-five points and worked to drive his opponent down to zero, effectively expelling him from Dominia.
The Plainswalker’s first goal was to assemble a deck of at least forty cards, which acted as his spell book. After each player’s deck was shuffled, his opponent cut it, and the top cards from both decks were flipped over. These flipped cards served as the game’s ante, and the winner of the game, if the players weren’t just playing for fun, got to keep them both.
The most common cards featured the five types of different colored lands; swamp, islands, forest, mountains and plains. For every turn, each land provided one point of its color “mana,” the energy needed to cast a spell. Each color also shared a common theme—white cards for healing and protection; red cards for combat; blue for water/air magic, and for counteractions to opponents’ spells. The magic spells themselves included everything from summonings and sorceries to instants, interrupts and enchantments.
Usually, new players purchased one of the 60-card Starter Games, which eventually gave them a hankering for more and more cards. The more varied the deck of someone was, the more powerful his/her game potential, which made building one’s deck just as important as actually playing the game.
After the Starter Games, each with a random assortment of cards, players could move on to additional Starter Games or Booster Packs. Once the game caught on, and it did so very quickly, players clamored for the latest Boosters, and traded amongst themselves to fine tune their decks. With over a thousand cards out there, theories abounded over what the most effective deck should contain. After all that card purchasing, a player’s deck could become hefty, but not so portable anymore and harder to arrive at the colors someone wanted while playing. One option was to “cull” the deck, eliminating entire colors to help cast spells more quickly.
Some players preferred their decks packed with small creatures, and some fancy direct-damage spells. Others stacked their decks according to themes (flying creatures galore, or all green, all the time). Some liked to concentrate on one spell color, while others preferred the opposite option. Since the artwork on the cards came from top fantasy and sci-fi artists, some based their decks on their favorite illustrations.
|MICRO MACHINES: Introduced by Galoob (acquired by Hasbro) in 1988, licensed behind the idea of American toy inventor from Wisconsin, Clem Heeden, and promoted by the voice of fast-talker John Moschitta, Jr in an advertising campaign of TV commercials that ended with the slogan If it doesn't say Micro machines, it's not the real thing.
Micro Machines were about a tenth the size of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, and unlike their die-cast competitors, they were molded primarily from plastic. For 3 to 4 years Micro Machines was the largest selling toy car line in the US with total Micro Machine sales exceeding the total $ sales of the combined sales of Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Majorette the next top selling lines.
Cars were the backbone of the Micro Machines line, but there were also airplanes, motorcycles, trains, military vehicles and other people movers. Most were authentic scale-model replicas, but Galoob also went gonzo with prototype cars and other futuristic vehicles. Most came in multi-machine packs, often taking themes like “The 1930’s,” “Air Racers,” or “Corvettes.” Kids snatched up the pocket-sized vehicles, making Micro Machines an instant hit.
As the toys grew in popularity, they took on other themes from history and fiction—the Apollo 13 moon landing, or Star Wars among others. The chance to own an entire lineup of Tusken Raiders, a scale-model Death Star or a full Ice Planet Hoth playset was too much for young Star Wars fans to resist. Scale-model human (and non-human) figures began to appear as well, ready for action in the Micro Machines universe.
When acquired by Hasbro in 1999, the basic line was largely discontinued, and new packaging of the toys didn't catch on as well as expected, though some imitators continue to be sold in toy stores. In 2006, the brand name was visible only in the detail panel of the Star Wars and Transformers Titanium series die cast vehicles and figures of very good quality.
|PICTIONARY: Created in 1986 by Robert Angel a Canadian, then 24-year-old waiter in Seattle, who at parties would sketch words from the dictionary while his friends tried to guess what he was drawing.
Meanwhile Selchow & Righter Co. the games company that marketed Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit was making the big numbers selling about 15 million units of the latter just in 1986. Tom McGuire, the former manager of the company was looking for a new game.
Through friends, he learned of Angel and his game, who managed to sell in one year 6,000 copies in Seattle at $35 each. He visited the inventor and conducted a little market research, asking his three grown daughters to play it. As he watched, he said This is Trivial Pursuit all over again.
At the same time Selchow & Righter was acquired by Coleco Industries Ltd. So McGuire left the company and teamed up with another Trivial Pursuit alumnus, Joseph Cornacchia, to form The Games Gang and start marketing Pictionary in 1987. Cornacchia, who became president, had handled production of Trivial Pursuit. Doug McFadden, who later joined as marketing manager, had marketed the game abroad. The result: sales of almost $5 million in its first six months and $57 million in its next year selling about 3 million units (in comparison, its first year 800,000 units of Trivial Pursuit were shipped).
This game took the old charades concept and put it in writing. The premise is to get to the goal first, like many other games. Printed on the hundreds of individual Pictionary cards there are words and phrases of varying difficulty, and competing teams of players had to guess the words within the falling-sand time limit. There are two players on each team and one must guess the word that their teammate is trying to draw within a certain time limit. Once they guess the word right, they are able to move forward and progress to the goal. Pictionary requires at least four players, or two teams, but it can also move all the way up to four teams or any other way the players prefer.
The overall object is to work around the gameboard, which consists of spaces in six different colors. Each color corresponds to a different category—object, action, “difficult”, and so on. With a roll of the die, teams move along the board, tackling whatever category they land on. As an added pressure, some words and phrases have a mark beside them to signify that this would be a challenge match. In these nail-biting cases, each team’s artist enters a kind of draw-off, racing the other team to the answer. Whether challenge or normal, a correct answer means another roll of the die for the victors, who keep playing until a word is missed.
It became an immediate fad, but not only for parties,families or friends, it also inspired the 1987 debut of the TV game show Win, Lose or Draw (Pictionary got its own syndicated game show ten years later). Even after the fad stage passed, Pictionary remained a highly popular board game with all age groups, Pictionary Junior was released later for younger players.
|POKEMON: If there is something symbolic of the pop culture of the 90s, that is Pokemon. Almost no kid of the 90s missed any of the elements of this popular franchise; so if you are a late millennial who was a child in the 90s it is most probable that you either played the Game Boy version of the franchise, or collected the trading cards, or watched the anime or manga series, or had the toys; or did and had all the aforementioned.
This incredibly popular franchise was created in 1996 by Satoshi Tajiri, a guy who as a kid had two pastimes, one was insect collecting and the other one playing video games at the arcade. As an adult he founded a gaming magazine, and when discovered Nintendo's Game Boy spent six years designing the first game of the franchise.
In 1996, Nintendo bought the program, which was named Pokémon by its creator, short for "pocket monsters" and pronounced “poh-kay-mon.” It wasn’t too long before an international, multi-media craze ensued, from the Game Boy program to toys and trading cards and cartoon shows and movies.
The players of the games are designated as Pokémon Trainers, and their two general goals (in most games) are: to complete the Pokédex (an electronic device where data is added whenever a Pokémon is first captured) by collecting all of the available Pokémon species found in the fictional region where that game takes place; and to train a team of powerful Pokémon from the ones they have caught to compete against teams owned by other Trainers, and eventually become the strongest Trainer, the Pokémon Master. These activities of collecting, training, and battling are present in almost every version of the Pokémon franchise, including the video games, the anime and manga series, and the Pokémon Trading Card Game. The game also made use of the connectivity capabilities of the Game Boy.
The first games were RPGs with an element of strategy, created for the Game Boy. These role-playing games, and their sequels, remakes, and English language translations, are still considered the "main" Pokémon games, and the games which most fans of the series are referring to when they use the term "Pokémon games". All of the licensed Pokémon properties overseen by The Pokémon Company International are divided roughly by generation. The generations are denote chronological divisions by release; every several years, when an official sequel in the main RPG series is released that features new Pokémon, characters, and gameplay concepts, that sequel is considered the start of a new generation of the franchise. Every time a new generation is released, the main games and their spin-offs; the anime; manga; and trading card game are all updated too.
In the game, the player (or Trainer), leads a lone adventurer on a quest to join the revered Pokémon League. But between the start of the game and that League admission, there are lots of things that the Trainer has to accomplish. First, the wild Pokémon creatures have to be caught (there are now over 250 of them), and then they have to be tamed. Each little guy has special abilities—there are fire Pokémon, flying Pokémon, bug Pokémon, among others, and when they are properly trained, the Pokémon on your team begin to do battle against other Pokémon, one at a time. The more “experience levels” that the each Pokémon gains, the more abilities and strength he acquires.
There was also a little-seen monster known as Mew, who could only be caught when one Game Boy interacted with another via the link cord. The Mew mystery not only got early players talking excitedly amongst themselves, it also hooked new players into the Pokémon world. There were also four Pokémon creatures that reared their heads only when Trainers traded with other Trainers, and some Pokémon that didn’t evolve unless they were traded. All of these things were incentives to play with and against friends, making good on Tajiri’s wish that his game have a distinct multiplayer nature.
The Trainers include Brock , Misty and Ash, the latter being an infamously cute sidekick in the yellow thunder mouse Pikachu. There are helpful Trainers as well as some malicious. The game’s resident Pokémon expert is Professor Oak, who helps the newbies get started in the game. Other well-known Pokémon are Grimer, Squirtle Beedrill, Pidgeotto, Jigglypuff, Squirtle and Snorlax. In the same way that Trainers have different personalities.
Nintendo later added trading cards and comics to the franchise, then a Pokémon cartoon series in 1997. The following year, the game and the cartoon were brought to the United States. Both of these, as well as the Pokémon trading cards and related toy merchandise, including books and plush toys, became immediate huge hits. The only problem was, some parents didn’t understand the odd and sometimes militaristic language inherent to Pokémon. But it did help a bit when the games finally received approval from the National Parenting Center and the Vatican, which is indicative of how internationally popular the game had become.
Nintendo now has well over a hundred companies licensing more than a thousand Pokémon products, generating billions of dollars annually in revenues.
The trading cards became highly successful among fans of North America. The Trading Card Game's goal is similar to a Pokémon battle in the video game series. Players use cards, with individual strengths and weaknesses, in an attempt to defeat their opponent by "knocking out" his or her Pokémon cards. The game was first published in North America by Wizards of the Coast in 1999. However, with the release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Game Boy Advance video games, Nintendo USA took back the card gameand started publishing the cards themselves.
The Expedition expansion introduced the Pokémon-e Trading Card Game, where the cards (for the most part) were compatible with the Nintendo e-Reader. However the production of e-Reader compatible cards was discontinued with the release of EX FireRed & LeafGreen. In 1998, a Game Boy Color version of the trading card game in was released Japan; Pokémon Trading Card Game was subsequently released to the United States and Europe in 2000. The game included digital versions cards from the original set of cards and the first two expansions (Jungle and Fossil), as well as several cards exclusive to the game. A Japan-exclusive sequel was released in 2001.
By the time Pokémon became the second most successful and lucrative video game-based media franchise in the world, behind only Nintendo's own Mario series. It is much more than a Game Boy program or a stuffed monster at this point, actually it generated a whole new world that a kid, or a grown-up kid, can get immersed in, with full of quest possibilities, role-playing and interactive challenges.
Another symbol of the pop culture of the Generation Y and more specifically of the 90s.
|POLLY POCKET: The name of these miniature dolls and accessories comes from the fact that many of the original Polly Pocket dolls came in pocket-size cases. They were created by Chris Wiggs in 1983 for his daughter Kate. Using a powder compact, he designed a small house for the tiny doll.
Bluebird Toys, a British toy company, licensed the concept and the first Polly Pocket appeared in stores in 1989. Mattel had a distribution arrangement with Bluebird Toys for Polly Pocket items in the early 90s. In 1998, when Bluebird Toys had some hostile take-over attempts until Mattel finally bought up the Pocket license, and the it continues to manufacture them today.
They started out as compacts—so that little girls could simulate their cosmetic-wearing moms thanks to the sleek, plastic, flip-open containers. Instead of powder puffs and mirrors on the inside, there were entire, tiny “Pollyville” worlds. The residents of these worlds were even tinier little dolls—removable, bendable-at-the-waist, and utterly cute. Polly was the star of course, but she had a Lilliputian gang of friends to have her fun with (Becky, Dana, Billy and Stephanie, among others).
After the Polly Pocket compacts came a line of accesories like lockets and jewelry, hair accessories, stamp sets, and the endless playsets that a Pollyville patron could collect and arrange together to make a whole miniature community. There were houses, shops, zoos, carnivals, portable dinner and pool parties. Pollyville was no small-town, and this town could really bustle.
In 1999, Mattel redesigned Polly and created a new series of collectible items. The new Polly doll is larger and has a more life-like appearance than the older ones. That same year, Fashion Polly! was launched, which used the same characters from the new Polly Pocket (Polly, Lea, Shani, Lila, etc.), but they came in the form of 3 ¾ inch (9.5 cm) plastic jointed dolls.
These new lines instead of using traditional cloth clothing, they used unique "Polly Stretch" garments, created by Genie Toys, rubbery plastic clothes that could be put on the dolls and removed. Polly also has clip on clothes that are made of thin, hard plastic. They clip together using magnets embedded in the plastic. There are also some boy dolls too like Rick or Steven among others.
Mattel also made an unusual toys cross-pollination, when a handful of Barbies came with their own Polly Pockets.
There is no doubt that Polly Pockets are one more of the symbolic toys of the 90s.
|POWER RANGERS: Another top symbol of the pop culture of the 90s are the Power Rangers; a franchise built around a live action children's television series featuring teams of costumed heroes. The franchise is an American adaptation of the 1992 Japanese tokusatsu (live-action film or TV drama featuring superheroes, monsters and a considerable use of special effects) Super Sentai Series; launched on August 28, 1993 as a live-action TV series under the name Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The show became an overnight success, catapulting into pop culture within a few months. Along with the success of the series a line of action figures and other toys were introduced by the toy company Bandai.
A combination of robots, monsters, and super-heroes; Mighty Morphin Power Rangers featured a group of five teens chosen by an ancient wise man to protect the planet Earth from attacks by evil sorceress Rita Repulsa. To do this, the teens were granted special suits and masks that transformed them into warriors with special abilities and powers named Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The teens had also special battle vehicles known as Zords that could be linked to create a Megazord. They used these weapons to fight off an impressive, colorful array of creatures that looked like humanoid versions of pigs, spiders and other skin-crawling creatures.
The battles between the Power Rangers and the Space Aliens were the drawing ticket of the show, combining action scenes with flashy visual effects, making young viewers to want to create monster battles of their own, a fact that led Bandai produce a line of Power Rangers toys.
During season 1 of the show, the company produced a wide array of figures. Initially, there was a series of highquality 8-inch plastic figures for the Power Rangers and four Space Aliens (Squatt, Baboo, Goldar and King Sphinx). There were also 8-inch Karate Action Rangers that could throw powerful kung fu moves. Bandai also produced 5.5-inch figures of the Power Rangers that boasted head-flipping “morphing action” and came with unique weapons. They were matched by a series of 5.5-inch Space Aliens that consisted of twelve villains, including everyone from Slippery Shark to Knasty Knight. There was also a Red Claw vehicle for the Red Ranger.
Bandai also made life-size weapons to simulate the show’s action. The first weapons produced were the Dragon Dagger, which made electronic sounds, and the Power Gun Sword, which boasted both flashing lights and sound effects. Between these weapons and the figures, Bandai also created a number of toys for the fans to buy. No matter the theme, fans purchased anything they produced. Thus Bandai produced new toys for the next two seasons of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
During season 2 of toys several new Zords were introduced; like the Thunderzord Assault Team, a series of four Zords that could be joined together to form a Chariot, and the Red Dragon Thunderzord, which could transform from a warrior into a dragon. There were also Thunder Bikes that came with 4-inch Power Ranger figures.
New weapons were introduced also, like the Power Blaster, a handgun that shot plastic balls, and Saba, a sword that extended and made sound effects.There was also a new Power Ranger figure for the White Ranger as well as new 8-inch alien figures like Lord Zedd and Rhino Blaster.
During season 3 of the show the first Power Rangers motion picture was released, leading to the production of a big number of new Power Ranger items. There were new styles of items like tiny PVC figurines and Micro Playsets, as well as the usual 5.5- and 8-inch figures. The new 8-inch could each say a unique phrase, new villains were also added like Master Vile and Silent Knight. New 5.5-inch figures included Ninja Rangers and villains like Vampyrus and Steamy Meanie. New Zords were also added, like the Deluxe Ninja and Shogun Megazords that combined miniature zords into one big, impressive-looking warrior.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers ended after season 3 in 1995, but this was not the end of the Power Rangers. Actually the show continued on in new variations like Power Rangers Zeo (1996) and Power Rangers Turbo (1997), bringing out new powers, weapons and villains to carry on the adventures of the favorite super heroes of the 90's kids. The new shows also inspired new toys, most of which were made also by Bandai as usual. Meanwhile, the original show’s toys continue to be favored collector’s items for sci-fi fanatics and toy collectors.
Other series ensued, in 1998 Power Rangers in Space, in 1999 the Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy aired in 1999 and Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue in 2000 the latter featuring the first entirely American-produced Power Ranger, the Titanium Ranger.
The production of new series during each year of the 2000s continued; and thus the franchise stays alive and is still as successful as in its old days back in the 90s.
|POWER WHEELS: Battery-powered ride-on toy cars for kids, they are built with kid-sized, realistic features, including in some cases even real working features like FM radios, opening/closing doors and hoods, power lock brakes, and both forward and reverse motion.
Actually Power Wheels were pretty expensive belonging to the realm of rich kids of the 90s; so if you had one it is most probable that your parents were doing pretty well for themselves. It was like owning your very own car about a dozen or so years before you’d get your driver’s license.
Introduced in the 80s by Fisher Price, they came in several varieties. If you were adventurous, a Jeep or dune buggy would get you hauling across the perilous backyard grass. If you preferred something more sophisticated, a stylish luxury car or classic roadster was the car for you. But if speed was your business, there were sleek sports cars and motorcycle-like vehicles to go around. There were well over 100 models of Power Wheels ride-on cars, trucks and motorcycles.
The brand name dates back to 1984, when San Francisco-based toy company Kransco acquired Pines of America, makers of battery-powered vehicles for children. In 1986 Kransco renamed the line Power Wheels. By 1990 sales reached over 1,000,000 units per year.
In 1994, the line was purchased by Mattel. Following Mattel's acquisition of Kransco, the line became immediately part of Fisher-Price toys.
In 1999, Fisher-Price announced the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Ride-On – contributing to a year of record sales for the entire product line.
Power Wheels continued to expand during the 90s, as lucky kids were treated to everything from a replica Batmobile to an assortment of Barbie vehicles.
And the line continues to grow today; going bigger (the Chevy Silverado actually has room for two), cooler (you can design your own Harley) and nuttier (the Wild Thing looks like no other vehicle known to man). A new line was also introduced for younger kids; with Toddler vehicles like the Rock & Roll Ride-On Trike. The price is also more affordable helping break down the old stigmas and making them not just for rich kids any more.
The 12 volt battery models come with one 12-volt battery, 2 motors, 2 speeds and can achieve speeds of 2.5-5 mph (4-8 km/h). The Super 6 volt model comes with one battery, 2 motors, 1 speed and top speeds of 2.5 or 3.5 mph (4 or 6 km/h). The 6 volt models come with one 6-Volt battery, 1 motor, 1 speed and top speeds of 2 or 2.5 mph (3 or 4 km/h).
|SUPER SOAKER: Millennials were the first to have especially made toys to get somebody wet with some technology. Designed by Lonnie Johnson, introduced to the market in 1990, by Larami and now produced by Hasbro. The first Super Soaker, the Super Soaker 50, was originally named the Power Drencher. Later in 1991 it was renamed Super Soaker and promoted with a series of TV advertisements.
Initially it used manually pressurized air to shoot water with greater power, range, and accuracy than conventional squirt guns. Super Soakers became immediately popular and that popularity continued for years, so much that the brand name is sometimes used to refer to any type of toy pressurized water gun.
Designed by Alabama native Lonnie Johnson who earned degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering. He was an aerospace engineer in Los Angeles. In 1968, he won a science fair with his remote-controlled Linex robot, which he built with batteries, compressed air, and tape reels.
He also worked on the Voyager, the Mars Observer, and the Galileo probes for NASA. He has also dozens of patents. In the early 80s, while he was designing in his free time a new type of heat pump that would run on water instead of Freon, he connected one of his pump prototypes to his bathtub, and quickly realized what he had in his hands would make one heck of a water gun.
The prototype was named Pneumatic Water Gun, and he patented it in 1986. However due to the high costs its manufacture would wait a few years until he made some arrangements and a deal with the executives of Larami toy company. Thus the Power Drencher was patented in 1988, and in 1990, the water gun that was capable of firing up to fifty feet away hit the shelves. In 1993, the Drencher was re-named the Super Soaker, and this was its definitive name. Since then it became highly popular among children and not so young people as well.
The CPS-3000 includes a water-tank backpack and a pulsating jet stream. Over the years, there have been modifications and improvements that increase shooting distance and water pressure and tank capacity, and decrease overall weight and necessary fill-up time.
Today, more than 250 million Super Soakers have been sold; making them the best way, to get your friends and family wet.
|TAMAGOTCHI: One entertainment breakthrough of the 90s worth of mention is the Tamagotchi, a handheld digital pet introduced in the United States in 1997.
The ideal solution for a starter pet, based on the old method used by parents when their kids wanted a pet, that "if you can learn to take care of an ant farm or a gerbil, then maybe we’ll talk about a real pet". But instead of making innocent insects and rodents suffer at the hands of neglectful children this cyber-pet would take their place in this kind of experiment.
The idea of teaching kids the responsibilities of having a pet without any of the messy consequences of having a real one, belonged to a Japanese housewife named Aki Maita, as she got the idea for what would become Tamagotchi as she watched several bored children on a lengthy train journey. Maita decided to develop a tiny electronic device, small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, which would create a virtual reality version of a pet.
Maita presented her creation to Bandai toy company, which eagerly took the license for the toy, dubbing it Tamagotchi (which stands for "egg watch").
The finished toy was shipped in a colorful plastic shell. With a pull of a plastic tab on the side of the shell, a virtual pet was “hatched,” bringing a small, bird-like creature onto the tiny machine’s digital display screen. Depending on the care and the attention given by the owner to the pet, it could either become an attractive, well-behaved animal or a mutated, ill-mannered monster.
Like real life pets, it needed plenty of attention, with lots of needs that it made them known by beeping a sound, which grew louder when it was ignored by the owner; in case the sound was disabled, it got the attention of the owner by flashing a light. Once listened or seen the requests of the Tamagotchi, the the owner could fullfill the pet’s needs by means of a series of buttons, used to feed it, play with, teach it a few things or even reprimand it.
The Tamagotchi had its times and schedules, without caring of the owner's ones, and had requests at any time it felt like.
In case it was ignored it could become mischievous, ill or even die if neglected for too long.
The average lifespan was 10 to 18 days, depending on the care your pet received.
First introduced in Japan in 1996, were it became an immediate success among children and adults; it was introduced in the United States in the spring of 1997 where it also was an amazing market hit as children and adults alike became obsessed with the tiny electronic-pet.
For instance FAO Schwarz alone sold 80,000 units per week. They were everywhere and even got banned in certain public buildings like in some schools due to the distraction caused.
There were also imitators, including Gigapets by Tiger Electronics or licensed characters like a tiny digital Yoda.
As of 2009, there have been released over 44 versions of this toy and have been sold over 70 million units. However the fad of the 90s eventually slowed down its popularity worldwide, but still was adapted to other media and concepts, from computer games to Hasbro’s POX, which replaced adorable pets for infectious alien viruses.
If you think it well, Tamagotchis have been somewhat replaced by cell phones, which draw as much of our attention as these devices did back in the days, but instead of nurturing them we "feed" the companies that provide all the different services we can find on such electronic devices.
|TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: One of the most representative animated series of the 90s was based on the story of a team of four anthropomorphic turtles named after four Renaissance artists who in the series got out of their lair in the sewers of New York City to fight criminals, evil megalomaniacs, and other crazt villains who put lives of good citizens in danger. They initially appeared in comic books before being licensed for cartoons, toys, video games, films, among other merchandise.
Donatello, Leonardo, Michaelangelo and Raphael were first introduced in a black-and-white comic book by co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in the early 80s. The mutated turtles lived in sewers, loved pizza, partied hard, talked like surfer dudes, and studied ninjitsu under the guidance of an also mutated rat-man named Splinter. In 1987 they were brought to TV with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles syndicated cartoon, adding immediately millions of fans from all around the world.
In 1988 due to the big success of the TV animated series, they showed up in action figure form. Each of the four turtles was distinguished by his weapon, color of mask, and originally by skin tone), as were Splinter; there were other characters too, like the news reporter/turtle buddy April O’Neil and the Turtles' arch-nemesis, evil ninja Shredder, among others.
In 1990, the Turtles hit the big screen in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie (the first of three), and their popularity was boosted. Not only more figures were produced but the Turtles were given new features and accessories that ranged from the armored Party Wagon to a floating Sewer Party Tube. Figures from hockey-masked vigilante Casey Jones or mutant henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady were added.
The Turtles were re-imagined as “Sewer Sports All-Stars,” as “Rock Turtles” and even as big-haired Trolls. Beyond that, the four teen mutants and their co-stars could be seen everywhere from breakfast cereals to snack foods, sleeping bags, video games among other things.
The Ninja Turtles had a big success and remained one of the most popular franchises of the first half of the 90s; until the appearance on stage of Power Ranger. The Mutant Turtles attempted to hold onto the top spot with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation series of toys and cartoons, but their days of glory had already passed. However they are still loved by kids of the 90s who do not forget them and still watch their series in retro programs or sites.
|TICKLE ME ELMO: There is a fad of the 90s that should be rather be considered as a craze or mania, that is the case of Tickle Me Elmo, which caused a really crazy reaction from parents who literally struggled in toy stores to get one for Christmas.
Produced by Tyco-Preschool, a division of Tyco Toys it was released in 1996, becoming that year's top fad being the "must have" toy of that year. Moreover due to the unexpected high demand of the toy that could not be covered, toy stores were forced by the situation to increase the price of these dolls from the original U$S 28.99, in some cases to levels as crazy as the fad itself.
An example of the reaction caused on people is what happened on December 14, 1996, whe Robert Waller a clerk at a Wal-Mart store in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada was injured by customers during a Midnight Madness sale. A crowd of 300 stampeded down the aisle after spotting him being handed a box of the toys by another employee. According to People, the clerk "suffered a pulled hamstring, injuries to his back, jaw and knee, a broken rib and a concussion".
Thanks to the combination of different factors necessary to make a simple product entice and become one of the biggest desires of customers this toy was one of the most wildly-successful dolls since the Cabbage Patch Kids in the 80s.
It was invented by Ron Dubren, who saw in 1996 a couple of kids playing in the park. Watching the youngsters tickle each other until they erupted in giggle-fits, having the idea to create a stuffed animal that would react in a similar way when tickled by its owner. He created a stuffed monkey with an electronic computer chip housed in its stomach that produced a “giggle” when it was tickled.
Initially it was passed on by toy companies until it was seen by Tyco which liked the doll, however because they did not produce plush dolls they were forced to pass on it.
When Tyco got finally the license to make dolls based on Sesame Street characters, they tapped Dubren and his ticklish-doll idea. They applied the technology to Elmo, a childlike red puppet who was a favorite with young Sesame Street fans. The result was Tickle Me Elmo, a doll who presented a unique series of reactions according to the tickle-attack.
With the first tickle it giggled. The second tickle made him say “Oh, no! That tickles.” Finally the third tickle was the clincher, making the doll erupt into a flurry of infectious giggles.
It was released just in time for the holiday shopping season of 1996. Although Elmo dolls had been available long before Tickle Me Elmo, was something different.
The popularity of the toy was pushed even more when Rosie O’Donnell featured the doll in her TV program and sung its praises on.
The Tickle Me Elmo was over after the holiday season of 1996, but the mania it inspired lingers in the memory of many people. Tickle Me Elmo is not currently available at toy stores, but it remains a hot item at knick-knack emporiums and online auctions.
There are no doubts this toy of the 90s is one of the greatest toy crazes of all time.
|ZOIDS: This multi-media model-kit-based franchise introduced by toy company Tomy (now Takara-Tomy); featured various model kit series, mechanically driven 1/72th scale mecha model kits that resemble a wide range of robotic dinosaurs, animals and creatures.
They are fictional mechanical life-forms, from the planet Zi. A Zoid is a mechanical animal formed around a techno-organic 'core' known as a Zoid Core, which serves as its heart and mind. The Core is considered to be 'alive', making the Zoid a living creature. Otherwise, its body is an artificial mechanical construct like any other mecha.
These robotic dinosaurs, animals and insects could be knocked off in a few hours; they included assembly instructions; and they did not require the use of glue. Moreover, unlike other model toys, once completed they could even walk, instead of just standing still on the shelf.
though now produced by various companies through licenses. The majority of the franchise is built around and focused on the various model kit series released, traditionally mechanically driven 1/72th scale mecha model kits that resemble a wide range of animals and creatures. In recent years, the franchise has expanded from strictly motorized model kits to highly detailed and posable model kits, action figures and even PVC figurines. The various anime series, comics, manga books and video games all serve as tie-in media products for the franchise, to expand both consumer base and franchise recognition.
Initially the line was released in Japan in the early 80s where it became a big hit, however when introduced in the United States things were quite different and by early 90s sales in Japan had declined too. But it was just a matter of time for them to hit the toys' hall of fame.
The Zoids came back to the toy and model scene, and aided by a cartoon series in Japan, they became a big hit in both the Japanese and Western markets.
Zoids come from the planet Zoid, which looks like the Earth but has a whole lot more exposed metal veins in the landscape. The animals, therefore, had high metal ion densities as they evolved, and so the creatures possessed metal cell structure.
There were humans on Zoid too, who were divided into the Republic and the Imperial sides, and they trained their robotic animals to fight.
There are different kind of Zoids; good and bad, some are warfare-ready, but some just want to eat, try not to be eaten, and take the occasional afternoon nap just like any animal.
By the late 90s Zoids had added weaponry, sleeker armor plating, cooler color schemes and names. They came in different sizes from the 4-inch wind-up Godos to the 12½-inch tall, 18-inch long Death Saurer, which required batteries.
Since they were, in essence, animal machines that were operated by humans, there were tiny pilot figures sitting in hidden gold cockpits. The assembly process was usually quick and easy compared to other models, but given the complex looks of finished models, they made other people think you required lots of days to finish them.
Lots of lines were released during the 90s, the toy company Kenner acquired the rights to release Zoids in North America, and launched the Technozoids (aka. TZ) line in 1995. They were all recolours of earlier Zoids released in the Original Japanese Release, although some were directly imported from the Zoids2 line. There were no distinct factions for the Zoids, and no backstory was given.
The Technozoids line was a failure, lasting less than a year before being discontinued. A number of Zoids were left unreleased at the end of the line.
Zoids 2 (aka Z2) were released by TOMY in 1996, the figures featured very bright colour schemes, with all the Zoids having at least some chromed parts; however they were soon discontinued
In 1999, TOMY relaunched the Zoids line in Japan. Initially, the line consisted of recoloured re-releases of older Zoids, but soon new designs were produced. They were divided into Helic and Guylos factions, with the Zenebas Empire returning later. The Original Japanese Release story was continued on this new line, with the Zoids Anime and Manga drawing on alternate versions of the New Battle Story's events. It was discontinued 2004.
During the 2000s several other lines were released.
TV SHOWS AND SERIES OF THE 1990s:
From the most famous family of the world in the Simpsons to the story and misadventures of a neurotic New York stand-up comedian, Jerry Seinfeld; to the loves and lives of six Friends from New York; and the favorite stories of teens and young adults first in Beverly Hills 90210 and later in Dawson's Creek. Meanwhile there were other people with less normal lives, like Buffy a teenager who spends most of her free time fighting vampires; or other people who must deal with the paranormal world of the X-Files. And of course, there was time for more serious stories such as on ER.
There are no doubts, the 90s are for sure the decade that gave birth to that trend, that continues to our days, of making a TV series about anything, any profession, any story, everything fits perfectly in the formula; from lawyers, to doctors, to detectives, politicians, groups of friends, comedians, everyone can be represented or reflected on the television series of the 90s and 2000s.
Maybe the 80s were focused too much on family sitcoms or sci-fi/fantastic stories, where a car or a helicopter can do incredible things, or a fusion of both elements where an alien from say, the planet Melmac, is adopted by a family. On the other hand the series of the 90s are somewhat more realistic; depicting everyday life through the stories of their characters.
|The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.: A short-lived television series aired on FOX from August 27, 1993 to May 20, 1994 for only 27 episodes of 45 minutes each. It was one of the few Western series of the 90s; but for sure it was not the most successful.
A combination of Sci-Fi Western and steampunk genres, this short lived TV show was starred by Bruce Campbell who played the title character, a Harvard-educated lawyer turned bounty hunter. Brisco took on this profession when his father was murdered by John Bly and the ‘Gang of 12.’
Seeking revenge, Brisco worked for the Westerfield Club, a group of robber barons who hired him to round up the rogues responsible for his father’s death out of fear that they might be next. Brisco’s connection with the club was their legal counselor Socrates Poole, who often played an unwilling role in Brisco’s adventures. Lord Bowler, another bounty hunter, helped Brisco on his hunt for the purpose of being cut in on the many bounties involved.
John Bly was obsessed with obtaining the Orbs, spherical objects created by aliens that gave their owners mystical powers. However, the Orbs could do terrible things in the hands of the wrong people, giving Brisco a secondary mission: trying to keep Bly from obtaining the Orbs.
But this was not the only paranormal feature of the story; there was, Brisco’s horse Comet who could talk and thought it was a person. Also, some episodes regularly included such offbeat elements as time travel and UFO’s.
Other secondary characters of the show included professor Albert Wickwire, an inventor; saloon singer Dixie Cousins, Brisco’s love interest. She was a strong character somewhat stubborn as well as tough-minded as any man in the cast.
There were also guest villains like the down-and-dirty Swill brothers, a quartet of inbred roughnecks who posed a memorable challenge to Brisco in the episode “No Man’s Land.”
An original colorful story which did not catch so deeply in the hearts of the audience, but still worth of being added to this list.
|Ally McBeal: Is a comedy-drama tv series created by David E. Kelley which aired on the Fox network from September 8, 1997 to May 20, 2002 for 112 episodes of 45-48 minutes each and 5 seasons.
The series was focused on Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart) a young lawyer working in the fictional Boston law firm Cage and Fish with other young lawyers whose lives and loves were eccentric, humorous and dramatic.
Ally McBeal initially went to law school while following the love of her life, attending Harvard Law School with Billy Thomas (Gil Bellows), with whom she had had a relationship since they were eight years old. Billy, however, left Harvard to go to University of Michigan Law School, breaking Ally's heart.
After the breakup, and an unsuccessful stint at her first job as a lawyer, she ended up at her new job where coincidentally, her missing ex boyfriend Billy had also found employment. However things were not that simple, and Billy was now married, setting up a situation where all kinds of crazy sparks were sure to fly. This was compounded by Ally’s vivid imagination that would manifest in the form of a fantasy world accessible to viewers but invisible to anyone in her immediate surroundings.
The show was single, quirky and empowered, Ally dressed the part of a fashion plate and led a powerful ensemble cast of equally offbeat friends, including seemingly unbeatable lawyer John Cage (Peter MacNicol).
Despite the show attracted its share of criticism from women’s groups who felt that the main character merely represented the idea of independence and that the program frequently portrayed its female characters as weak, needy and in search of a man to fix all of their problems; in many aspects it still was ground breaking, allowing writers to treat reality with a little less respect than was previously allowed, ushering in the freedom that would allow for the success of less ambitious comedies to come in the decade that followed.
|Anything but Love: This sitcom aired on ABC from March 7, 1989 to June 3, 1992 for 56 episodes of 24 minutes each divided into 4 season. It was the story of Marty Gold (Richard Lewis) and Hannah Miller (Jamie Lee Curtis), coworkers at a Chicago magazine with a mutual romantic attraction to each other, who tried to keep their relationship as professional as possible.
Hannah Miller was an earthy and aspiring writer who met reporter Marty Gold when she soothed his patented anxiety on a plane ride. She lived in the woods at first, but since the woods aren’t a very strategic place for a print career, she packed up for Chicago after Marty got her a job at the magazine where he worked.
As a researcher, Hannah sat right across from Marty at the magazine’s offices, and though they were “just friends” for a long time, they finally consummated their affections in season 3. The show went off the air in the spring of 1989, and when it came back later that year, the magazine had a new editor, Catherine, while Hannah had been promoted to a writer position.
Hanna's confident was Robin (the second “Mrs. Schmenkman,” an old and running joke between the two friends), while Marty's was the writer Mike Urbanek. Between career ups and downs, the funny staff at the magazine, the drama of a new relationship, and all those ‘hands to forehead’ moments that Marty’s anxiety sparked, the story evolved from a friendship to a story of love, always with a comedy background.
|Beverly Hills 90210: This TV series are one of those rare exceptions in which a teen-themed series survives for a long time, since usually when the original audience grows up and gets older moves on to other kind of programs. Aired from October 4, 1990 to May 17, 2000 on Fox in the United States as well as dozens of networks worldwide, for 296 episodes divided into 10 seasons. It is the by far the most popular teen-themed series of the decade.
Named after the ZIP code of Beverly Hills (90210). The show was focused on the lives of a group of teenagers living in the aforementioned upscale community of Los Angeles area, who attended West Beverly High School and later the California University after graduation (both fictitious institutions).
The show began with the move of the Walsh family from Minneapolis to Beverly Hills. The parents of the family, Jim (James Eckhouse) and Cindy (Carol Potter), the old-fashioned heads of family; while he was the breadwinner, she was the faithful housewife. Their children, fraternal twins Brenda (Shaneen Doherty) and Brandon (Jason Priestley), had it tougher as they had to fit in this new environment of West Beverly Hills High.
Brenda became best friends with the gorgeous but vain Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), and the insecure Donna Martin (Tori Spelling). Steve Snaders (Ian Ziering) was Kelly’s often-arrogant ex-boyfriend and the adopted son of a TV star. Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) was the moody surfer-type of guy that Brenda fell for, and freshman David Silver (Brian Austin Green) just wanted everybody to like him. Fellow student Scott Scanlon (Douglas Emerson) was another early regular, but he died in a handgun mishap not far into the show’s run. The only other major character at the series' start was Nat Bussichio (Joe E. Tat), an adult who owned the local student hangout the Peach Pit.
Other characters would be added to the show as the students of West Beverly Hills High finished their secondary education and moved on to college. Brenda left the show after the 1993-94 season and was replaced by Valerie Malone (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), the daughter of the Walshes' family friends from Minnesota. She became the bad girl of the show. Dylan eventually also left the show after the 1995-96 season.
The show was so popular with teens because it was one of the few programs dealing with relevant teen social topics in its stories. Over the years, the show tackled issues as diverse as alcoholism, domestic violence, gay rights, gay parenting, drugs abuse, date rape, teenage suicide, AIDS, teenage pregnancy, bulimia, racism, child abuse, obsessive relationships and abortion among other.
However it was not a heavy show for viewers as it touched such problems by times and as in every episode the scenes focusing on certain characters had a duration of just a few minutes, then changing the focus towards other characters with less troubles or even showing funny scenes until the loop was finished and the story returned back to the dramatic lives of more troubled characters and so on. The mixture of melodrama, fantasy and funny scenes appealed to an ever-growing cult of non-teen viewers who approached the show. It wasn’t uncommon for a teen fan of the show to grow older and cross the line into the show’s following of kitsch devotees. This guaranteed the show a long life.
During its run all throughout the decade, it spawned a noticeable spin-off success in the long-running Melrose Place. They may not have been dreamy teens any more (actually, most weren't really teens when the show started), but their topical stories still catched on the hearts of the young audience of the 90s.
|Blossom: Created by Don Reo this was a family-themed sitcom aired from July 5, 1990 to May 11, 1995 on NBC for 114 episodes of 22-24 minutes each divided into 5 seasons. It featured the life of Blossom Russo, a teenage girl living with her father and two brothers.
Unlike most family sitcoms of this type which usually present an idealized vision of the perfect family life, this one was focused on a rather dysfunctional TV family, the Russos.
Blossom was the youngest, a 13-year old girl in the first season, but often seemed to be the smartest and most mature of the group. She had two brothers: Anthony was a recovering drug addict, and Joey was a sweet-natured, not-so-smart but quite funny baseball player and ladies man. Nick was their father, a session musician who was reeling from his recent divorce with their mother. Not officially a member of the family but just as close was Six, Blossom’s fast-talking best friend. Later additions to the cast included Buzz, the family’s grandfather, and Carol, a love interest for Nick who would eventually become his wife.
Blossom kept a video ‘diary,’ adding her thoughts and feelings to a home video camera as she pondered the life lessons she and her family learned. An early gimmick in the show involved Blossom's fantasies, during which she would get advice from celebrities including Little Richard, Phil Donahue, and even Alf. But later with the progress of the show this element was abandoned.
The pilot episode in season 1 set the concept for the show's classic opening sequences; featuring Blossom on home videotape, showing her through the camera's viewfinder with a REC icon; in her bedroom doing mimed performances like dancing, doing aerobics, pretending to talk on the phone, making silly faces, etc.
Beginning in season 3, most segments of the show opened and close with the first frame of a scene being frozen in a multi-colored watercolor effect.
The program often dealt with relevant teen social issues like teen sexuality, drug abuse, and peer pressure, and this angle made the show a big hit with pre-teen and teen girls.
The theme music was My Opinionation written by Mike Post and Steve Geyer and performed by artist Dr. John.
Blossom was cancelled in June of 1995 after a five-season run on NBC. By this time, the star herself had blossomed into a mature young woman.
|Boy Meets World: A comedy-drama series originally run from September 10, 1993 to May 5, 2000 on ABC for 158 episodes of 22-24 minutes each divided into 7 seasons.
It featured the events and everyday life lessons of Cory Matthews (Ben Savage), who grows up from a young boy to a married man.
Unlike other shows of the type, the show only depicted the character's life as he aged, following its star from childhood to young adulthood without missing a beat but as soon as he was a grown up it was canceled. But during the its run, it became an important member of ABC’s TGIF programming lineup.
It was the story of the intelligent and often mischievous Cory Matthews. When the show began, he was an 11-year old just trying to get along in school, something tough for most kids, but for Cory it was a double tough one as his teacher, Mr. Feeny (William Daniels), also happened to be his next door neighbor. Mr. Feeny never hesitated to give advice and squelch any of Cory's mischievous ideas. To make things even more complicated later in the show, he also had to deal with bullies like Harley, Joey and Frankie.
Cory’s family included parents Alan (William Russ) and Amy (Betsy Randle), big brother Eric (Will Friedle) and little sister Morgan (Lily Nicksay, seasons 1-2; Lindsay Ridgeway, guest star, season 3; regular, seasons 4-7). Shawn Patrick Hunter (Rider Strong) who lived in a trailer park was Cory’s best friend and a frequent co-conspirator in his schemes. Another important character was Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel), a free-thinking female classmate who would become a very big part of this boy's world.
As the young stars grew older, the show started replacing Cory’s schemes with stories about the attraction between Cory and Topanga. They eventually became boyfriend and girlfriend in season 3, and in a sign of how far Cory had come in his TV years, he and Topanga got married in November of 1999. By that time, the two childhood sweethearts had gone through middle school and high school and were struggling through college.
After seven seasons the series had done just about all the growing up it could handle and finally the boy met life. Cory and Topanga had come a long way. The show left the air at the end of the season in May 2000. Finally the boy would continue meeting other aspects of life but now with his new bride and in a new century.
This TV series was a good example of a millennial growing up and entering the 2000s as a young adult.
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer: This particular TV series in every aspect, written by writer-director Joss Whedon, aired from March 10, 1997 to May 20, 2003 on smaller TV networks The WB (1997–2001) and UPN (2001–2003) for 144 episodes of 44 minutes each divided into seven seasons.
Inspired by the not so successful 1992 movie, also written by Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer starred by Kristy Swanson;
this is a rare example of a film based upon a less successful film to become such a hit. However, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was an exception to the rule.
Unlike most of movies and series of this type following the formula of "the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie." Whedon wanted to subvert that concept and show a powerful woman showing and using her female powers.
Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) seemed to be an average 16 year old, but she was much more than that In the show's debut episode, Buffy learned that she was a Vampire Slayer, something chosen by fate, destined to hunt down and slay vampires and other creatures of the night. She was the latest in a line of young women with this title.
As she tried to keep up the appearance of an ordinary high school student, she tracked down and fought evil creatures wherever they congregated. She was observed and guided by Rupert Giles (Anthony Head), a ‘Watcher’ who worked as a librarian at the school Buffy attended in the town of Sunnydale. At the same time, Buffy tries to keep her mission a secret, even from her mother Joyce.
Sunnydale, just like Buffy and Rupert, was not what it seemed. The hip California town was overflowing with all manner of things that went bump in the night, and fate had sent Buffy there to do battle with them to prevent them from overtaking the world. Buffy’s new allies in her ongoing struggle included Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), a shy but intelligent fellow student who also was an aspiring witch, and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), a would-be vampire hunter continually eclipsed by the strong women of the story.
Daniel "Oz" Osbourne (Seth Green) was Willow’s boyfriend and had the ability to transform into a werewolf. Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) was Xander’s ex, a snob who looked down on Buffy’s ‘nerdish’ clique.
There was also Angel, a 243 year-old vampire who had become a demon hunter and who also happened to be in love with Buffy, a love that was also corresponded by her.
Every week, Buffy had to fight against a wide array of supernatural villains, many of them the henchmen of Master (Mark Metcalf), a vampire trapped in a dimensional prison. Other threats included the theatrical vampire Spike (James Marsters), his space-cadet girlfriend Drusill (Juliet Landau), the powerful demon Judge, and Ted, a homicidal robot who masqueraded as a man.
Each show usually had Buffy struggling against a new menace, while interaction among the ongoing characters added subplots to each episode.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer became an almost instant success with teen and college viewers who made up the majority of the audience.
The show's success led to a spin-off series for Angel titled simply Angel.
The show had very positive reviews among critics and has been included in many top lists, including being ranked 41st on the list of TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, 2nd on Empire's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, 3rd in TV Guide's Top 25 Cult TV Shows of All Time and listed in Time magazine's 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME.
It was also nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe awards, winning a total of 3 Emmys.
|Dawson's Creek: This TV show aired from January 20, 1998 to May 14, 2003, on The WB Television Network and was produced by Sony Pictures Television for 128 episodes of 45 minutes each divided into 6 seasons. The show was set in the fictional town of Capeside, Massachusetts and in Boston, Massachusetts during the later seasons.
Dawson’s Creek was a different kind of teen show as it did not focus on moralistic drama or silly comedy. It simply pushed its characters to the forefront, just building the stories around them.
A combination of soap opera and teen coming-of-age story, Dawson's Creek was focused on a quartet of teens living in the idyllic small town of Capeside, Massachusetts. Dawson (James Van Der Beek) was an angst-ridden but intelligent teen who loved anything related to filmmaking and Steven Spielberg. When he wasn’t agonizing over his life and relationships, he spent much of his time trying to get closer to his dream of becoming a great filmmaker.
Dawson's best friend was Joey (Katie Holmes). She had known Dawson since childhood, and despite the fact that they were like brother and sister, she eventually realized that she was falling in love with him.
However, things became complicated for Joey with the arrival of Jen (Michelle Williams), a sophisticated girl who came to live with her grandparents in Capeside. As the new kid in town, she both tried to adapt with Capeside’s small-town mentality and tried to forget the mistakes that caused her to leave her old home in New York City.
Pacey (Joshua Jackson) was the group's resident ‘outsider.’ He somehow managed to be even more angst-ridden than Dawson, and his need to follow his heart at all costs often got him into trouble.
Created by Kevin Williamson, famous for being the creator of hits like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, he took a completely different approach with this TV show. The program, was a clear depiction of the late 90s, the trends and mentality of teens and young adults of the time, 100% millennials of Generation Y.
Though it has never been a big hit in the ratings, perhaps due to its place on the still-fledgling WB network, Dawson's Creek has maintained consistent popularity via a cult of teen and young adult viewers.
Another key element of the show’s continuing popularity is its ability to take a realistic sense of what it’s like to be a teen and place it in a fictional context that represents what people wish their teen years could have been like. On this story, the people are attractive and intelligent, they always know how to translate their thoughts and feelings into words, the town is the perfect place to live in; so as long as there are people who dream about having lives like this, there will always be a place on television for this show and the I don't want to wait main intro theme, by Paula Cole, will keep playing on TVs.
|Dinosaurs: This peculiar sitcom produced by Michael Jacobs Productions and Jim Henson Television in association with Walt Disney Television and Buena Vista Television was originally aired on ABC from April 26, 1991 to July 20, 1994 for 65 episodes of 23 minutes each divided into 4 seasons. It was about a family of anthropomorphic dinosaurs.
This was a sitcom show with puppets using the animatronics processes, actors with a full-body suit, and actors providing the vice. The main story was about a family, the Sinclairs (in reference to Sinclair Oil Corporation which uses a dinosaur as its logo), that happened to be composed of dinosaurs set in the year 60,000,003 BC counting toward zero.
The Creature Shop of Henson Productions developed huge, lifelike puppets that could be operated from inside by puppeteers. Jim Henson's son, Brian, devised a process called ‘audio animatronics’ to bring the facial expressions of these puppets to life.
The show mixed elements of The Flintstones and The Simpsons, focusing on a blue-collar family of dinosaurs. Something that was referenced in the 21st episode of the 3rd season of the Simpsons:
Lisa: These talking dinosaurs are more real than most real families on TV!
Homer: Look Maggie, they have a baby too!
Bart: It's like they saw our lives and put it right up on screen.
Earl (in reference to Earl Holding, Sinclair Oil's principal owner), the father, worked for the Wesayso Corporation leveling trees to make way for tract homes. His thick-headed and very suggestible personality was balanced out by his even-tempered wife Fran. The family had three children:
Robbie, a 15-year-old (he is 14 years old in the first 4 episodes) very intelligent, who often questions old dinosaur traditions for which he sees no reason and is the voice of wisdom when other dinosaurs show ignorance.
Charlene, a 13-year-old fashionable, shopaholic and very materialistic pre-teen.
Baby, the youngest of the clan, who was hatched in the first episode, a smart infant who loves Fran, whom he calls The Mama, but gives Earl, whom he calls Not the Mama, a hard time and will usually hit him with a frying pan and refuse to openly declare his love for him, even though he does genuinely love Earl.
Rounding out the family was Grandma Ethyl, who always seemed to be locked in a battle of wills with Earl. Other characters included B. P. Richfield, Earl’s fearsome boss, and Roy Hess, a pre-historic swinger buddy of Earl’s.
The series depicted a dinosaurs life being very similar to human life: they worked, they watched television, had sports, shopped at supermarkets, etc. This allowed the show to tackle relevant social concerns in their stories like environmentalism, women's rights, sexual harassment, objectification of women, censorship, civil rights, body image, steroid use, drug abuse, racism, rights of indigenous peoples, corporate crime, government interference of parenting, and allusions to homosexuality and communism (disguised as herbivorism).
Just like modern humans, the dinosaurs of the show wasted their natural resources and allowed themselves to stay bound to outmoded ways of thinking when they could turn things around by trying out more progressive ways of thinking, something that was noted, as mentioned before, repeatedly by Robbie, thus raising some kind of consciousness.
Dinosaurs was canceled in July of 1994 after 65 episodes that managed through the use of technology, a good script, good humor and a pure 90's style build a memorable TV show that made history.
|Doogie Howser: This comedy-drama show created by Steven Bochco and David E. Kelley, aired on ABC from September 19, 1989 to March 24, 1993 for 97 episodes of 21–23 minutes each divided into 4 seasons.
This was the story of a 16-year-old child genius who breezed through high school, college and medical school, becoming a doctor who was younger than most of his patients.
Dr. Douglas "Doogie" Howser (Neil Patrick Harris) worked as a second-year resident at Eastman Medical Center. The structure of the show was unusual in its day, because it mixed both drama and comedy in a half-hour format with no laugh track. Doogie lived at home with his parents, Katherine (Belinda Montgomery) and David (James Sikking) who happened to be also a doctor.
Because Doogie spent most of his time working and interacting with adults, he relied on his best friend Vinnie Delpino (Max Casella) and girlfriend Wanda (Lisa Dean Ryan) (Seasons 1-2, recurring in season 3), to keep him in touch with his inner teenager. Doogie had to deal with intense life and death situations in his work, but he also had to deal with sex, relationships, and coming of age as a young man in his own life. The show covered all of these subjects in a humorous and realistic way.
The story of Doogie was very believable as he wasn't a superhuman or geek; he was just a normal kid with a high I.Q. making thus the audience relate him as a normal person. What also helped make Doogie into such a credible character was the journal entry he made into his computer at the end of each episode. Sometimes he could have an incredible insight about the value of life and other times, he could be dealing with more normal issues for a teenager of Generation Y.
|ER: This popular TV show of the 90s created by novelist and M.D. Dr. Michael Crichton, that surpassed the limits of the decade reaching to our days aired on NBC from September 19, 1994 to April 2, 2009 for 331 episodes of 45 minutes each divided into 15 seasons.
It is set primarily in the emergency room (ER) of fictional County General Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. It was the longest-running primetime medical drama in American television history. It won 23 Emmy Awards, including the 1996 Outstanding Drama Series award. It received 124 Emmy nominations, the second most of any television show in history after Saturday Night Live.
Michael Crichton first wrote a feature film screenplay in 1974 called EW (for ‘Emergency Ward,’ as emergency rooms were called back then). Years later he developed the idea of creating an emergency room TV series; lots of networks and production companies became interested, but were wary of its technical language, the huge number of characters with speaking parts, and the way the short, abrupt scenes jumped around and didn’t flow with each other assuming the audience did not have the capacity of dealing with more than a few storylines.
Years later, executives at Spielberg’s film and TV company held meetings with Crichton and producer John Wells. This time, the take on the ER script was to use its stories as a basis for a dramatic hour-long television show—reality-based, woven with multiple storylines, and shot with a documentary feel and a very fast pace.
It debuted on September 19, 1994, opposite another medical drama hour-long called Chicago Hope (aired on CBS) which was released one day earlier. But from the beginning, the emergency room at Cook County General Hospital was the place more viewers wanted to spend time in.
Original casting included Dr. Doug Ross (George Clooney), a pediatrician who was known for his prowess with the ladies and his frequent rebellion against hospital bureaucracy; chief resident Mark Green (Anthony Edwards), the soon-to-be divorced husband and father whose utter devotion to medicine led to some personal life difficulties and troubles; resident John Carter (Noah Wyle), a young medical student who was constantly dressed down by Dr. Peter Benton (Eriq La Salle), a very skilled doctor who was often devoid of human emotion; Dr. Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield), compassionate and a good listener to everyone; Nurse Carol Hathaway, who died from a drug overdose in the original pilot script, was made into a regular cast member; and Dr. Morgenstern, the acid-tongued head of the emergency room.
After those early days, the cast continued to evolve, though several characters remained for a long time, which grounded the show while the doctors and nurses around them paraded in for a season or two and then back out again.
One notable point of the show was its dizzying ‘follow the gurney’ camera work becoming a trademark of the program, as doctors and nurses performed their tasks, giving the impression of a reality show rathen than a fiction.
During the 90s until 2002 it remained in the top 5 positions of viewer rank, reaching the 1st place in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th seasons. In the 2002-2003 season it went down to the 7th place, and in the 2003-2004 season to the 8th. From the 2004 and on it was out of the top 10, finishing the story with an average 36th place in 2009.
Thus by the mid-90s, ER entered the team of the NBC's "Must-See TV" that has included also winners like Seinfeld, Friends and Frasier. This was an innovative and original TV series which can be considered as one of the most popular of the 90s.
|Family Matters: This sitcom, a spin-off of Perfect Strangers, was about a middle-class family, the Winslows, living in Chicago. It was aired on ABC from September 22, 1989 to September 19, 1997 and on CBS from September 19, 1997 to July 17, 1998 for 215 episodes of 22-25 minutes each divided into 9 seasons.
This is the second-longest-running U.S. sitcom with a predominantly African-American cast, surpassed only by The Jeffersons.
Midway through season 1, the Winslows' nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) was introduced, soon becoming its breakout character and eventually a main character. He wore thick glasses. He stalked Laura Winslow. He turned “Did I do that?” into a national catchphrase. Actually Steve Urkel, was essencial for Family Matters. He is probably the reason that makes Family Matters still exist in syndication today.
The show was generated from TV's Perfect Strangers, which for a time featured a very memorable elevator operator named Harriette Winslow. When that "new series" time of the year arrived in 1989, Mrs. Winslow found herself with her very own show, Family Matters.
Originally it was just focused on the lives of a middle-class African-American family living in Chicago: Harriette (Jo Marie Payton), Carl (Reginald VelJohnson ) who was a cop, and their three kids: girl crazy 15-year-old Eddie (Darius McCrary), boy crazy 13-year-old Laura (Kellie Shanygne Williams) and 9-year-old Judy (Valerie Jones). Also living in the house were Carl’s mother Estelle (Rosetta LeNoire), Harriette’s widowed sister Rachel (Telma Hopkins) and Rachel’s son Richie (Joseph and Julius Wright).
But Urkel wasn’t introduced until the 9th episode and was never intended to be a recurring character, but his funny style, the nasal-voiced nuisance, who annoyed the Winslows to no end, catched on immediately with the public. It was immediately decided that Urkel and his crush on Laura would be a fixture of the show; soon becoming the most recognizable character of the show. With the high-waisted pants he used to wear, large glasses and snorting laugh, was almost like a cartoon character. It was so notable the effect caused by him on the show, that the theme song even changed from Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World in season 1 to the bouncier As Days Go By.
During the 1992-93 season, the character playing Rachel, left to star in her own show, Getting By, while the character of her son Richie remained with the Winslows. Even the, youngest daughter Judy mysteriously disappeared after four seasons without explanation. But what kept the show strong actually was Urkel. By 1994, Urkel realized that Laura would never love him and instead settled for the brainy and beautiful Myra Monkhouse (Michelle Thomas).
Eventually the show became so strange that Urkel could transform himself into a suave ladies' man (Stefan Urquelle, the object of Laura's affection), a karate expert (Bruce Lee Urkel) and a musical genius (Elvis Urkel). Also he eventually created a cloning device, making the suave Urquelle a separate person. Other incarnations of Urkel included his southern belle cousin Myrtle Urkel and his rapper cousin Original Gangsta Dawg.
But as of 1997 the show started to wear off and ABC canceled it. By the time CBS picked up the series, Jo Marie Payton left Harriette's role and Judyann Elder took over her part. Also in this new and last season aired on CBS, Urkel’s parents (who were never seen) moved to Russia, and finally Urkel moved in with the Winslows.
Running an impressive nine seasons, it was the second longest-running sitcom featuring an almost exclusive African-American cast, surpassed only by The Jeffersons' 11 seasons run, leaving a mark in the television history of the 90s.
|Frasier: A spin-off sitcom from Cheers, created and produced by David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee in association with Grammnet (2004) and Paramount Network Television that was aired on NBC from September 16, 1993 to May 13, 2004 for 264 episodes of 24 minutes each and 11 seasons.
The story revolved around a psychiatrist, Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), the character from the popular sitcom Cheers; who returned to Seattle, Washington, after the end of his marriage and his life in Boston and planned to live a bachelor's life.
But his plans got frustrated because he also had to take care of his omnipresent father, retired police officer Martin Crane (John Mahoney), who was unable to live by himself after being shot in the line of duty. To help his father, Frasier hired Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves), an eccentric English physical therapist and caretaker.
Frasier had a younger brother, Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce), who also was a psychiatrist and visited frequently their apartment, maybe with more frequency because of hs interests with Daphne, feelings which he did not confess to her openly until the final episode of season 7.
He hosted a popular radio talk show on KACL, where he worked with Roz Doyle (Gilpin), the producer of the program, and very different from Frasier in taste and temperament, but who over time became very close friends.
They all used to visit the local coffee shop Café Nervosa, the scene of many of their comic adventures.
Kelsey Grammer who played the role of Frasier for twenty years straight won 8 awards for that same character, including four Emmys as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1994, 1995, 1998, 2004), two American Comedy Awards as Funniest Male Performer in a TV Series (1995, 1996) and two Golden Globes for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series Comedy/Musical (1996, 2001).
The show won 37 Emmy awards during its 11 year run. Frasier was one of the most successful spin-off series in television history and one of the most critically acclaimed comedy series of all time.
|The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: This popular sitcom of the 90s originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990 to May 20, 1996 for 148 episodes of 23 minutes each divided into 6 seasons. This show starred by Will Smith in which he played a fictionalized version of himself pushed his performing career to unimaginable levels, to the point of becoming one of the top actors of Hollywood; and the only actor in history to have eight consecutive films grossing over $100 million in the domestic box office, as well as being the only actor to have eight consecutive films in which he starred open at the first spot in the domestic box office tally.
As mentioned before he played a fictionalized version of himself, a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to live with his wealthy relatives in a Bel Air mansion. His lifestyle often clashed with that of his relatives there.
During the late 80s and early 90s when rap music and hip-hop were in the process of becoming part of the mass musical culture of the United States, one of the most popular rap groups to cross over during this time was D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. A key part of their appeal lay in their music videos, where charismatic Will Smith was able to put his charisma and comedy skills into practice.
Will Smith played Will, a teen from Philadelphia who was sent off by his parents to live with relatives in Bel-Air, California when his old neighborhood got a little too intense.
His new home was a mansion where he lived with his lawyer Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian Banks. The wealthy Bankses had three children: aspiring preppy Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro ), the selfish and pampered Hilary (Karyn Parsons), and the youngest daughter, Ashley (Tatyana M. Ali). There was also the buttler of the family, Geoffrey (Joseph Marcell).
Will quickly made friends with the unpretentious Ashley, but otherwise he used to feel out of his world in this new home and its surroundings, as well as with the family. Their attitudes, beliefs, and behavior were completely different to his, so the only tool he had to fit in was humor.
His favorite targets were Carlton’s shortness and Phil’s large appetite. Surprisingly, he found an ally in Geoffrey, who had a tart sense of humor and could be every bit as sarcastic as Will but in a rather refined way.
Plot lines usually revolved around Will’s struggles to blend into his new surroundings, or his streetwise influence showing up in situations that made him appear out of context. Despite all the aforementiones, the show could also be convincingly dramatic on certain occasions.
The show was an immediate hit and despite it ended its network run in May of 1996 after six seasons; it immediately went into re-runs and is still very popular today.
|Friends: One of the most popular and representative sitcoms of the 90s created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which aired on NBC from September 22, 1994 to May 6, 2004 for 236 episodes of 20-22 minutes each divided into 10 seasons.
The story was focused around a group of friends from Manhattan, New York City. This is an example of niche programming that became a phenomenon. Originally designed to appeal to young adults, but as the audience grew it started encompassing all age groups, the show became the lead-off hitter for NBC's "Must-See TV" Thursday night lineup.
The main structure of the story was about six friends, all in their late 20s and living in New York, and all in various stages of romance troubles.
Professionally-trained chef Monica had to settle for a job as a cook in a 50’s-styled diner. Her roommate, Rachel was a ‘rich kid and runaway bride who left a husband at the altar and was trying to figure out what to do with her life.
In the apartment across the hall was Chandler, a numbercruncher who was brimming with sarcasm, and his roommate Joey, a macho aspiring actor who idolized Al Pacino.
Ross was Monica’s brother, a paleontologist who eventually became Rachel’s boyfriend. Finally, there was Phoebe, a daft but good-hearted friend of Monica and Rachel’s, who was a masseuse and an occasional folk songstress.
The episodes followed the lives of these six characters, their adventures as well as disadventures. In the meantime, they all managed to find a lot of time to hang out at their favorite place, the Central Perk Café.
The episodic storylines included several guest characters each week. Once the show became a success, these bit roles became a magnet for high-profile stars, from minor stars to Julia Roberts and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The random-character bits were balanced with ongoing subplots like the relationship between Ross and his ex-wife, who left him after deciding she was gay. Adding complexity to this state of affairs was the fact that she had Ross’ child after they divorced.
Together with the clever writing there was also a solid acting, strong enough to sell the quirky storylines. Each of the six main cast members have an acting career in film, in addition to the ongoing television work. They also won a Screen Actors Guild award for Best Ensemble Performance in a television show.
It was an immediate success and managed to hit the Nielsen Ratings Top-10 in its very first season. As a result, a lot of shows that came out the next season tried to emulate the Friends format.
So far it has been the last sitcom to reach the first place spot on television, as its successors were CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and American Idol.
The show also influenced trends among its core audience of twenty-somethings. For instance, coffee bars all over the country experienced a surge in popularity in the wake of cast’s habit of hanging out at a coffee shop.
It also has influenced some costums of Americans, the series also impacted the English language, according to a study by a linguistics professor at the University of Toronto. The professor found that the characters used the word "so" to modify adjectives more often than other intensifiers, such as "very" and "really". Although the preference had already made its way into the American vernacular, usage on the series may have accelerated the change.
The show was nominated for 63 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning 6. It won the 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, with nominations in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2003. It also won 1 Golden Globe Award, 1 American Comedy Award, 3 Logie Awards, 6 People's Choice Awards, 1 Satellite Award, 1 GLAAD Media Award, and 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
The impact of the show was so big that even numerous psychologists investigated that cultural impact during the series' run.
No matter if you followed the show, it must be recognized that it became one of the symbols of the pop culture of the 90s as well as the early 2000s.
|Get a Life: This sitcom originally aired on Fox from September 23, 1990 to March 8, 1992 for 35 episodes of 30 minutes each divided into 2 seasons. The main character Chris Peterson (Chris Elliott) a 30-year-old paperboy named who lived in an apartment above his parents' garage (played by Elinor Donahue and his real life father, comedian Bob Elliott).
The concept of the story was about the lack-of-life story of Chris Peterson. His best friend was Larry Potter (Sam Robards), an executive married to a successful woman named Sharon (Robin Riker), who despised Chris and his negative influence on her whipped husband. Chris’ perennially bathrobed parents, Gladys and Fred were supportive, if not always understanding of their son’s unwillingness to accept adulthood.
The opening credits depicted Chris delivering newspapers on his bike to the show's theme song, Stand by R.E.M.
After the first season, Chris moved up in the world, from his parents' garage to the garage of a retired cop named Gus (Brian Doyle-Murray who is Bill Murray's brother). The always bitter Gus, was like a father figure to Chris, even though he was usually just as dumbfounded by Chris’ simplicity and childishness as Fred was. However, their contrasting personalities worked to the show’s advantage, turning Chris and Gus into a veritable comic tag team.
Although the show’s material was cleverly written, most of the series’ humor came from the absurd plotlines. In a rare move on network TV, Chris died at the end of almost one-third of the show’s 35 episodes. Some of the more interesting ways in which Chris met his maker were by getting blown up, having a giant boulder crush him, being ripped apart by Paperboy 2000, and having his head ripped off and used as a soccer ball by Gus and Sharon.
Despite the show’s poor reviews and ratings, it garnered a huge cult following who felt comfortable with the peculiar type of humor featured. The show was canceled after only two seasons.
|Hangin' with Mr. Cooper: This show originally aired on ABC from September 22, 1992 to August 30, 1997 for 101 episodes of 21-24 minutes each divided into 5 seasons.
Produced by Jeff Franklin Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television (it was produced by Lorimar Television for the first season only, and was the last sitcom produced by Lorimar before it was absorbed by Warner Bros) and also became produced by Bickley-Warren Productions by the third season.
Mark Curry was working as a pharmacist in his home town of Oakland, California, when his customers talked him into trying out his routine onstage at a local comedy club. He was a hit and soon became a popular stand-up comic. Later he was offered a role in a sitcom.
So this was the story of Mark Cooper (Mark Curry) a former basketball-player who returned to Oakland to teach at his old high school. Although he would rather have been the school’s coach, Cooper occupied himself with teaching classes like science and driver’s education.
As a former class clown who still loved practical jokes, Cooper was uniquely qualified to deal with the many would-be jokers of the classroom. The biggest challenge in this area was the wisecracking Earvin Rodman. Another child character on the show was Jesse, a neighborhood boy who often ended up in the middle of one of Cooper’s adventures. A later addition to the school was P.J.(Nell Carter).
Cooper lived with two women. Robin (Dawnn Lewis) was a music teacher, and Vanessa (Holly Robinson) was her attractive and intelligent friend. After some time, Vanessa and Cooper developed a love and got married.
After the end of the first season Dawnn Lewis, left the show but two new characters were added. Geneva, Mark’s outspoken cousin, and Nicole (Raven-Symone) who was Geneva’s daughter, who confounded Mark’s attempts at surrogate parenting with her free-thinking tendencies and sense of humor.
The show featured Mark’s attempts to balance his school career with his home life. The show also periodically embraced serious themes.
Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper was part of ABC’s early 90's TGIF lineup and quickly became a hit with viewers. At one point, Mark Curry was declared one of TV Guide’s “favorite people on television.”
This popular sitcom of the 90s is still widely viewed in syndication, remaining memorable not only for Curry’s comedic skills, but also for its pro-education slant. Curry himself was a college graduate and made sure the show presented learning in a positive light. This series is of enduring value even today for both its humorous and social value.
|Home Improvement: This sitcom created by Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra and David MacFadzean aired originally on ABC from September 17, 1991 to May 25, 1999, for 204 episodes of 22 minutes each, divided into 8 seasons.
This show was one of the most watched sitcoms of the 90s, reaching the first place in ratings during the 1993-1994 season, and winning many awards.
The series launched Tim Allen's acting career and also was the start of the television career of Pamela Anderson, who was part of the cast for the first two seasons.
The show's title is a pun: it refers to physical improvement of houses, as well as to improving life with family, friends, work, and school.
Tim Taylor (Tim Allen), was the host of a very popular local cable show called Tool Time in his native Detroit. On the show, “The Toolman” dispensed fix-it tips and proposed ideas for home-improving projects. More often than not, his suggestion for any problem was to give the tool/device in question “more power!” Tim also added spice to the show with a “Tool Time Girl,” a role initially played Pamela Anderson.
However, at home he was completely the opposite; in fact, it was revealed that the repair skills he displayed on the show were a television creation, and he was more than a bit clumsy when trying to do repairs around the house. Usually, he destroyed tools by trying to rewire them or boost their power.
He had not better skills dealing with the outside world, especially the subjects of women and children. Thus, his smart and ever patient wife Jill had to keep him out of trouble and be the one in charge. The couple also had three sons: Brad (the eldest), Randy (the middle), and Mark (the youngest). All of them with plenty of growing pains, forcing Tim to give them the advice they needed or helping them, even when he was not that good on that task either.
Other characters of the show included Al Borland, Tim’s assistant on Tool Time, and Wilson, Tim’s wise next-door neighbor. Al often found his role on Tim’s show frustrating, because he actually knew how to do repairs but was always overshadowed on camera by Tim. Wilson was always there to give an advise to Tim when he needed it. This was always done from behind Wilson’s backyard fence, which obscured the lower portion of his face. Wilson’s full face was never shown until the final episode of the show, forcing the show’s makers to find clever ways to obscure his face.
Tim usually tried to learn how to be a better husband and father while keeping up the success of Tool Time. Allen’s comedy skills were the glue that held the show together, the show moved mostly on comedic levels, but every now and then there was a dramatic storyline for variety.
Midway throughout its run, it was competing against the highly-rated sitcom, Frasier, which slightly dropped the ratings. However it remained a Top 10 show. The final episode aired on May 25, 1999 with a 90-minute finale, which was the 4th highest rated comedy series finale of the decade, behind Cheers, The Cosby Show and Seinfeld.
The show also went into syndication in the middle of its network run, thus becoming popular as both a first-run and a second-run attraction.
|Life Goes On: A TV series that aired on ABC from September 12, 1989 to May 23, 1993 for 83 episodes of 60 minutes, divided into four seasons.
The program was focused on a suburban Chicago family, the Thatchers; made up of Drew and his wife Elizabeth and their children Rebecca and Charles, known as Corky.
This family drama was the first television series to have a major character with Down syndrome in real life, Corky (Christopher Burke). The show chronicled the lives of Corky and his family as he tried to make the transition from special education classes to become a freshman at a traditional high school.
Corky’s parents were restaurant owner Drew and ad exec/former singer Libby (Patti LuPone). Corky also had a sister, 14 year-old Becca, and a stepsister, Paige, who returned home after dropping out of college.
Stories focused on family situations of daily life such as Corky’s ongoing struggle to be accepted as normal by his new classmates, Becca’s attempts to resolve her desire to popular with her responsibility to look out for Corky, and Libby’s discovering she was pregnant at the age of 41.
Later additions to the show would include Gina, Libby’s younger sister, who arrived to help run the house when Libby became pregnant, and Zoe, Gina’s daughter.
The show had good critics for its emphasis on positive family values and its responsible handling of social issues of different kind. It also won several awards, including an Emmy for Christopher Burke’s portrayal of Corky.
The show’s theme song was the classic Beatles tune “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, performed by Patti LuPone and the rest of the cast. This 90's series showed that despite the problems people have life goes on.
|Married... With Children: A popular sitcom (which originally was going to be called Not The Cosbys) created by Michael G. Moye and Ron Leavitt about a dysfunctional family living in Chicago that aired from April 5, 1987 to June 9, 1997 for 262 episodes of 22 minutes each divided into 11 seasons on Fox. The program's famous theme song is Love and Marriage by Frank Sinatra from the 1955 television production Our Town. It was the longest-lasting live-action sitcom of the Fox Network.
Al Bundy (Ed O'Neill), a shoe salesman as well as the husband and father of the dysfunctional family. His undersexed wife Peggy (Katey Sagal), their oversexed teenage daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate) and desperately-wants-to-be-oversexed adolescent son Bud (David Faustino).
Unlike other TV family dads, Al was negative in almost every aspect, he used to say “Bundys are losers, not quitters.” Al, a self-described former football star, was certain his best days were behind him, so he resigned himself to selling shoes, barely providing for his family, and rejecting the constant sexual propositions of his bored housewife. Actually Al's only dream would have been having the house to himself, sitting on the couch with his hand resting inside the waistband of his pants, drinking a beer, and watching football, occasionally getting up to use the bathroom.
Peg Bundy was a brunette (and sometimes redhead) with a lot of free time on her hands since despite the family’s less-than-ideal economic situation, she did not work. She spent all the time watching daytime TV, eating bon-bons, getting her hair and nails done, and spending Al’s money excessively. Moreover due to her aversion to household chores, she would rather buy new clothes than wash the old ones. But her biggest problem was that Al did not satisfy Peg. But despite the lack of intimate life in their relationship, and the constant dissatisfaction of Al with his life nd family, they remained surprisingly together.
Kelly Bundy wasn't the smartest girl, actually she wasn't smart at all, but she was very beautiful. Kelly never had a problem getting dates, and she usually used her attractive and sexy look to advance in life and get what she wanted. She also seemed to fall in love with a new guy each week.
Things for her younger brother Bud were completely different, whose efforts to lose his virginity were perpetually in vain. Although he was intelligent and funny, Bud was hardly a ladies’ man. Towards the end of the series, he had moderate success, but in the earlier seasons his rare opportunities with girls were always ruined one way or another.
The family also had a dog, Buck (Michael), a Briard; with a voice-over by Kevin Curran, on special episodes Buck was voiced by Cheech Marin and from season 8 on, the voice was provided by Kim Weiskopf. He was often heard by the audience through voice-overs that told what was on his mind. He was just as lazy and sarcastic to the rest of the family, usually making remarks about Kelly's intelligence and Bud's inability to find a date.
The dog was retired in 1995, making the character Buck die at one point in the series. In the story, Buck went to animals heaven and reincarnated as Lucky an American Cocker Spaniel. Lucky would occasionally serve as the narrator in the second half of a two-part episode, recapping the events of the first part.
The Bundy’s neighbors played a significant supporting role throughout the evolution of the show. During the first four seasons Marcy and Steve (David Garrison) were their neighbors. Marcy was a heavy-feminist, who pitied Peg and always got into quarrels with Al. Steve, was a banker, with a more laid back personality than his wife. The two added a humorous touch to the series, as well as an element of tension, since the two enjoyed an active, and much discussed, sex life.
Later in the middle of the fourth season David Garrison left the show to pursue a career on Broadway; in the story, his character Steve left Marcy to become a ranger at Yosemite National Park. He was quickly replaced by Ted McGinley who played Marcy’s new husband, Jefferson D’Arcy, a gigolo in every sense of the word.
Married…With Children featured a big contrast from the standard sitcom perfect families of the 80s (like the Keatons of Family Ties or The Cosbys), but the 90s became somewhat more realistic in this aspect and showed things a little more like in real life
Although it was not an instant success soon the show became one of the first hits for the fledgling Fox network, setting a pattern for later dysfunctional Fox families like The Simpsons, making it last for eleven seasons while featuring a storyline out of the usual emotive family sitcoms, where dysfunctionality was the key of success.
|Melrose Place: A spin-off show from Beverly Hills 90210, created by Darren Star for Fox network and executive produced by Aaron Spelling for Spelling Television that aired on Fox from July 8, 1992 to May 24, 1999 for 226 episodes of 44 minutes each and seven seasons. It was the second series in the Beverly Hills, 90210 franchise.
Since the debut it was an instant hit, debuting at #19 on the Nielsen ratings with a 10.3/19 share.
Set in a small apartment courtyard complex in the West Hollywood district of Los Angeles, home of several young individuals, each with their own dreams and lifestyles. Originally the show would have minor stories concluding in every episode, but when that formula proved unpopular, the writers started developing long-term storylines to evolve during the season.
Season 1 featured eight main characters: Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro), a physician who worked at Wilshire Memorial Hospital and transformed from being a kind person and devoted husband in the fist seson to mean-spirited, adulterous villain from season 2 on. His wife Jane Mancini (Josie Bissett), was a fashion designer.
Jane's younger sister Sydney Andrews (Laura Leighton) a troublemaking, spoiled person, was upgraded to series regular for season two.
Billy Campbell (Andrew Shue), was a would-be writer adapting to life out of his parents' control.
Alison Parker (Courtney Thorne-Smith), was a receptionist at D&D Advertising.
Jake Hanson (Grant Show), a manual laborer and bad-boy biker.
Matt Fielding (Doug Savant), a gay social worker.
Rhonda Blair (Vanessa A. Williams), an aerobics instructor who left the show in the second season because her character got engaged to a wealthy restaurant businessman.
Sandy Harling (Amy Locane), a Southern belle and struggling actress who moonlights as a waitress at a bar called Shooters, the group's hangout; however Amy Locane was replaced by Daphne Zuniga as Jo Reynolds, a photographer running away from her abusive husband.
Alison's ambitious and merciless boss Amanda Woodward (Heather Locklear), was promoted to series regular status in the second season, although she was always billed as a "special guest star," she remained with the show through the end of the series.
Recurring Dr. Kimberly Shaw (Marcia Cross), became a series regular by the end of the second season.
The show had many more cast changes during the run and Thomas Calabro was the only original cast member to remain on the series throughout its entire run.
When the initial formula of looking at the lives of a group of well-meaning, attractive young people failed to get high ratings, writers introduced conflict in the form of less moral characters and more outrageous storylines, resulting in ratings improvements. If in the early seasons unusual things like characters coming back from the dead, multiple personalities, a bomb destroying the apartment complex; by the end of Season 4, storylines started being more grounded and realistic.
Maybe not as popular as its parent show, Beverly Hills 90210, however this series have their part in the history of television of the 90s.
|The Nanny: This highly popular television sitcom of the 90s co-produced by Sternin & Fraser Ink, Inc. and Highschool Sweethearts in association with TriStar Television aired on CBS from November 3, 1993 to May 12, 1999 for 146 episodes of 22-24 minutes each divided into 6 seasons.
It featured Fran Fine (Fran Drescher), a Queens native who casually becomes the nanny of three children of the New York City upper class.
Fran was a sexy, sassy spitfire whose unconventional wisdom and blunt outlook on life touched the hearts and minds of all those around her—whether they wanted to be touched or not.
In the first episode of the series Fran lost her job at the bridal shop that her boyfriend owned in Queens,and as if that weren't enough, he also dumped her. So she temporarily took a job selling cosmetics door to door, until she happened upon the upscale residence of new widower Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy). Always a good (and uniquely-pitched) talker, Fran got the available nanny position for Sheffield's three children, Margaret "Maggie" (Nicholle Tom), Brighton (Benjamin Salisbury) and Grace (Madeline Zima), despite the fact her qualifications were quite less than the required.
Maxwell was a rather sophisticated man as well as handsome, but he spent too much time on the job as a Broadway theater producer, a fact that Fran knew all too well and noted him that he wasn't spending enough time with his children.
The family's butler was prim and proper, but he and the new nanny immediately became friends. He eventually would suggest and do all kind of things to make Fran and Maxwell realize that they loved each other.
Maxwell’s had also a work associate, C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane), an arrogant and affected socialite who competed with Fran for his affections. And in addition to the Max-competition with Fran, C.C. was also Niles' nemesis, they used to get engaged in competitions, heavy jokes to each other, as well as quarrels that always remained within a funny context for the audience.
Maggie, the eldest child, looked to Fran for motherly guidance. Brighton, The quick-witted and mischievous middle child, had an offbeat knack for humor but eventually as he grew up would mature and replace his childish pranks with adolescents activities like looking for girls; Fran would help him quite a lot on that task, with adivises that sometimes worked and sometime not so much. The youngest of the family, Grace was the polar opposite of Fran, but because of that, the two had the most to teach each other and indeed that is what happened as their relationship evolved, to the point of finding a maternal figure on Fran becoming almost like a second-mother to her as well as to Maggie and Brighton.
The main structure of the show was made up of conflicting elements of each character's own comedy which were usually played off against one another, like Fran and Maxwell, Niles and C.C., Maggie and Brighton.
Eventually as the series continued the relationship of Maxwell and Fran grew to the point of falling in love, getting married and having birth to twins. So throughout the six seasons we see how a dumped and destitute cosmetics saleswoman became a nanny and then an uptown mother and wife.
The opening catchy theme song, The Nanny Named Fran, written and performed by Ann Hampton Callaway, also reminded and described shortly to the audience what was the story of the series about; going like this:
She was working in a bridal shop in Flushing, Queens,
'Til her boyfriend kicked her out in one of those crushing scenes,
What was she to do?
Where was she to go?
She was out on her fanny..."
"Now the father finds her beguiling (watch out C.C.)!
And the kids are actually smiling (such joie de vivre)!
She's the lady in red when everybody else is wearing tan...
The flashy girl from Flushing, the Nanny named Fran!"
|Parker Lewis Can't Lose: This teen situation comedy, produced by Columbia Pictures Television and strongly influenced by the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, originally aired on the Fox from September 2, 1990 to June 13, 1993 for 73 episodes of 22-24 minutes divided into 3 seasons. During the last season, the series title was simplified to Parker Lewis.
Capturing the structure of the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and making it work in a television format, it resulted in a successful funny teen comedy that also added the 90's trends to the formula.
It took place at Santo Domingo High School and was focused on the title character Parker Lewis (Corin Nemec), a smart who used his devious wit and connections to skip the system at every opportunity. He was excessively positive and his motto was “not a problem,” with no situations or issues he could not handle. He had a penchant for garish shirts and cutting classes teen.
Parker’s partners included his best friend, Mikey Randall (Billy Jayne), a super-cool guy and Rock n' Roll rebel, and Jerry Steiner (Tony Slaten), an archetypal nerdy who idolized Parker Lewis and who addressed everyone by last name, or collectively as "sirs".
Parker’s arch-nemesis in his quest to bend the rules was Principal Grace Musso (Melanie Chartoff), a cold-hearted authority figure who wanted nothing more than to make an example of him, and her dream was to get Parker expelled. She said to be in her mid thirties but actually she was older. She Often got the glass on her office door broken when she made her distinctive "thumb swoosh" gesture. Her turn-ons included large hands and beards.
Assisting Musso in this quest was Frank Lemmer (Taj Johnson), an ultra-conservative student who acted as her “special obedience officer.” He also had a not-so-secret crush on his benefactor, which led to plenty of cringe-inducing flirtation.
Another obstacle for Parker was his sister Shelly (Maia Brewton), a manipulative girl who took sadistic delight in trying to trip Parker up.
Parker Lewis Can’t Lose was launched the same season that NBC released its TV sitcom version of Ferris Bueller, that leading to some critics dismiss the Fox sitcom as a clone show, but it quickly proved to have its own style and energy; it also included a combination of slick computerized opticals with complex, cinematic camerawork.
By the time the show ended, it was highly popular and still is; popping up periodically in reruns and winning new fans even today in the 21st century when its original teen fans (millennial) are already young adults.
|Quantum Leap: A TV show created by Donald Bellisario that originally aired on NBC from March 26, 1989 to May 5, 1993 for 96 episodes of 45 minutes each divided into 5 seasons.
It was focused on Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), a scientist who becomes lost in time following a time travel experiment, temporarily taking the places of other people to solve problems that once went wrong. He had a friend and sidekick Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) a womanizing, cigar-smoking guy, who appeared as a hologram that only Sam could see and hear.
The structure of the series mixed comedy, drama and melodrama elements, social commentary, nostalgia and science fiction. One of its trademarks is that at the end of each episode, Sam "leaps" into the setting for the next episode, usually uttering a dismayed "Oh, boy!"
The leaping started back in 1995 (which was actually the near future when the show debuted in 1989), when Sam Beckett built a machine that would allow anyone to “leap” into different times within his or her lifespan. But the testing process went awry when Sam, ignoring the advice of supercomputer “Ziggy,” stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator… and vanished.
To make things even more interesting he not only leapt through time (the first time to 1956), he leapt into the body of another person. To leap back out, Sam had to right some historical wrong. Al had communication with “Ziggy” back at the project lab, but that process only gave probabilities, not absolute fact.
Others saw Sam as the person whose life he had leapt into, but animals and small children could see further and were harder to fool.
When Sam did right the wrong, he leaped on to a new body, nearly always stuck in some awkward situation. It was like some sort of divine power controlled him. These suspicions were confirmed in the 1993 series finale, an open-ended mystery that baffled some fans and left others begging for more.
Despite being a good show it did not achieve the big numbers of other series and had never been a Top-20 smash, but critical praise and a very loyal following group of fans had kept Quantum Leap running for four seasons and later in syndication. But one thing is for sure, this was one more TV show of the 90s with a unique flavor of originality addictive storyline, at least for those who love time travel or sci-fi programs.
|Roseanne: A highly popular sitcom, produced by Roseanne Barr and Matt Williams, that aired originally on ABC from October 18, 1988 to May 21, 1997 for 222 episodes of 22 minutes each divided into 9 seasons.
Its level of popularity made it reach the first place in Nielsen ratings during the 1989-1990 season and remain in the top-4 places for six seasons, and in the top-20 for eight seasons.
The program was focused on an American working class family of reduced income, from a fictional suburb of Chicago, Landford, Illinois; the Conners.
The family characters included Roseanne Harris Conner (Roseanne Barr), a dominant, loud and caustic woman who constantly tries to control the lives of her family, friends and co-workers; but who nevertheless is a beloved mother who works hard and makes as much time for her kids as possible. Dan Conner (John Goodman) the husband of Roseanne and father of Darlene, Becky, D.J. and Jerry.
Roseanne Conner worked at a plastics factory, Dan was a building contractor, and with their combined incomes, they just could survive. Their home was often messy and the decor wasn't appealing at ll. Their three children, had streaks of cuteness, but only streaks they were more frequently given to sarcasm and good old-fashioned teen angst.
There was also Roseanne's sister, Jackie, who would be confounded by a number of men, finally get married to Fred, and then, as the show's twists and turns became more frequent and endlessly more twisty, Roseanne announced that Jackie was gay all along. Roseanne’s diner boss Martin Mull was also gay, and plenty more that came out of the closet as the show progressed. For instance, in 1994, television’s first on-air, same-sex kiss was aired; and it was between Roseanne and Mariel Hemingway.
The series depicted things of the daily grind in a realistic way; there was teenage sex, pregnancy, elopement; the adults didn’t come home from work with a spring in their step, they actually used to come home exhausted and grumbling about their various incompetent bosses.
Roseanne went from the plastics factory to a brief gig in a beauty salon to waitressing at a coffee shop, but no job paid well. Life wasn’t easy for the family an life also wasn’t pretty, well-mannered, or in the least bit predictable.
The series became an immediate hit, and stayed at the top rating levels all throughout the decade, for the way it combined all that was tough and all that was reassuringly wonderful in the course of a typical family’s days.
|Seinfeld: Another sitcom of the 90s that made history is Seinfeld, originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989 to May 14, 1998, for 180 episodes of 22 minutes each divided into 9 seasons. Created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, and produced by Castle Rock Entertainment and distributed in association with Columbia Pictures Television and Columbia TriStar Television; since 2002 it was distributed by Sony Pictures Television.
Set mostly in an apartment block of New York City on Manhattan's Upper West Side, the show features a host of Jerry's friends and acquaintances, including George Costanza, Elaine Benes and Cosmo Kramer.
It was focused on everyday life's little things and subjects like sex, parents, the buttons on your shirt, baked goods, cold cereal, etc. The audience would not see a very special episode about drugs or childbirth, and nobody ever gave hugs.
Seinfeld did not really have a family, not even a workplace surrogate one. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld (playing a fictionalized version of himself) was the title star, and the other leads were a childhood friend, a neighbor, and an ex-lover.
His childhood friend, George Costanza (Jason Alexander), was a perpetual loser, and not really the loveable kind. At the beginning of the show, he was a realtor, but a succession of jobs followed, each hampered by George’s desires to get paid as much as possible for doing as little as possible.
Seinfeld's neighbor, Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards), never worked but always had plenty of money and plenty of inexplicable relationships with beautiful women, this was the kind of life George dreamed about.
Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), the ex-lover, was now just a good friend, but she was every bit as shallow and petty.
Other characters included mailman Newman (Jerry’s arch-nemesis), Jerry’s parents, George’s parents, Uncle Leo, catalog magnate J. Peterman, thickwit boyfriend Puddy, lawyer Jackie Chiles and others; but the show was mainly focused on the four starring characters.
These four characters experienced the pitfalls of blind dates, rental cars, bad parties, parking spaces, impotence, and anything else that the writers found funny.
In the beginning the series had been only a marginal success, but a few episodes later and a move to Thursday nights—following Cheers and later replacing it—sent Seinfeld's popularity to levels never imagined. By the 1994-95 season, it was the top-ranked show on television, the one everyone would be talking about come Friday morning.
Seinfeld remained a ratings success throughout the decade, reaching to an end only when the cast decided to call it quits after the 1997-98 season with a two-hour special in the summer of ’98, culminating in a two-part episode. Fans have kept the show alive with tribute and clubs, and the show is still everywhere in syndication and still a representative show of the 90s.
|The Simpsons: If there is one TV show that must be mentioned is The Simpsons, created in the late 80s, it became one of the top shows of the 90s and 2000s; and by far the longest running prime time animated series in history.
The Simpsons depict like no other TV show the transition of trends throughout the last two decades, a great reflection of our modern society and the changes experienced since the late 80s to our days.
Created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company it started airing on December 17, 1989 on Fox and it still stands as one of the top TV shows for over 20 years, 21 seasons and over 460 episodes of 22-24 minutes each and many more to come.
The series is about an 'average' American family, parents Marge and Homer, their children, Bart, Lisa and Maggie and their pets Snowball and Santa’s Little Helper. All of them never seem to age, so almost all throughout the 90s, Bart and Lisa could be considered as millennials who had all the characteristics of children of the Generation Y but in the seasons produced after the 2000s they could be considered as children of the 2000s belonging to Generation Z with the characteristics of children of that generation; thus for instance when Bart used to spend more time playing outside in the episodes produced in the 90s, or at the penny arcades now that was replaced by modern game-consoles, online games or surfing the Internet.
The family lives in a make-believe average American town called Springfield.
Actually, the origins of The Simpsons stretch back much earlier than the series’ debut. Cartoonist Matt Groening, whose Life in Hell comic strip had been around since 1977, introduced the Simpson family to television audiences in 1987. Groening had been hired to create animated shorts for Fox’s The Tracey Ullman Show, which would serve as transitions between Ullman’s live-action comedy segments.
Marge and Homer are parents like any other who try to provide parental control over their children. Homer tends to be a little on the childish side himself but with that, Bart’s trouble making, Lisa’s genius and Maggie’s quiet humour it all adds up to a lot of fun and a lot of comedy, which is probably what makes it so popular.
Irreverence is one of the show's keys. In fact, some episodes take jabs at Fox, such as in one opening sequence when Bart sees the Fox logo, begins stomping on it and the family joins in.
The Simpsons show is also in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest running prime time animated series, and also for the most celebrities featured in an animated series.
Not only does it have the family, but it has probably more than 100 secondary characters. There are few if not sitcoms that have more than 100 secondary characters, like Burns and Smithers and Chief Wiggums and the Comic Book Guy and Sideshow Mel. Everyone one of them has his own individual quirks, and they allow the series to mine more material.
The show has such a place in culture that Homer’s phrase "D’oh" made it into the 2001 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. The Simpsons also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
If you want to learn much more about the Simpsons you should visit the extensive article about The Simpsons, where you can learn everything about the history, production, secrets and more aspects of the show and its creators.
By far this emblematic show can be considered as the one that made most history on television, transcendings the barriers of generations and the differences between them, making it a favorite equally for Baby Boomers, Generation X'ers, Millennials or Generation Z'ers.
|The X Files: Part of The X-Files franchise and created by screenwriter Chris Carter, this sci-fi series originally aired on Fox from September 10, 1993 to May 19, 2002 for 202 episodes of 44-48 minutes each divided into 9 seasons.
The show was a hit for the Fox network, it covered subjects like the public mistrust of governments and large institutions, embracing conspiracy theories and spirituality as it centered on efforts to uncover the existence of extraterrestrial life.
Although the FBI denies their existence, it has long been rumored that the Bureau had a name for cases which, due to the involvement of unexplainable phenomena, could not be solved. Until a lucky break or reasonable explanation came around, those cases were filed away under the letter “X.” So in 1992, Chris Carter, sensing a renewed curiosity in paranormal entertainment, used the legendary FBI paranormal investigation department as a springboard for the new series.
Carter combined his obsession for conspiracy with his love of the cult favorite 1970’s series Kolchak: The Night Stalker in making his long-running series.
Carter, banking on his audience’s obsession for unsolvable mysteries and complex conspiracies, immediately teased viewers in the opening sequence of every show with one of two enigmatic taglines, “The Truth Is Out There,” and “Trust No One,” phrases that soon would be adopted by the public to be used in everyday life.
Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), a young FBI agent forensics specialist and super-cynic, was assigned to work with maverick agent Fox "Spooky" Mulder (David Duchovny), on a series of unsolvable cases. To Mulder, Scully was an interloper, sent by the forces-that-be to debunk his work.
The FBI hierarchy, afraid of what Mulder might discover, sent Scully in to keep watch over and hamper the progress of Mulder's investigations. Slowly but surely, however, Scully was won over by Mulder, due to episode after episode of evidence that suggested the paranormal did in fact exist and that Mulder might not be crazy after all.
Also believing his sister to have been abducted by aliens, Mulder was obsessed with finding her, and had to investigate the paranormal to achieve that goal.
Standing in the path of Mulder’s quest was the ever-present Cigarette-Smoking Man (William Bruce Davis), named like that for the ubiquitous presence of cigarettes in his possession. His pan-optic surveillance of Mulder’s activities gave him dominion over every investigation. If Mulder got too close to discovering something that made his bosses feel uncomfortable, Cigarette-Smoking Man simply made his part to stop Mulder.
Mulder and Scully made nice foils for each other, a right-brain and left-brain combination of personalities that made them perfectly complementary, and it wasn’t long before the characters developed a deep friendship and even a subtle romantic tension.
They had occasional help from Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), who always was able to garner obscure information from a trio of high-tech computer geeks known as The Lone Gunmen, who seemed to be available day or night, ready to go with conspiracy info.
Season 1 moved from episode to episode with little in the way of common story threads connecting them; but by season 2 and 3 most episodes contained threads that were all connected to a common web of conspiracy.
After six seasons (and one X-Files movie) of shocks, enigmas and conspiracies, star David Duchovny (Mulder) decided to leave his The X-Files role. In the fall of 2000, Mulder was abducted himself, and though he would make occasional appearances in later episodes, Scully needed a new partner.
Robert Patrick, took that place as Special Agent John Dogget, now partly consumed with the search for Mulder.
A series that taught us that "The Truth Is Out There," and that you must "Trust No One" even when you say to yourself "I Want to Believe."
Continues in Part V
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Submitted by dream on June 23, 2010 - 19:30.