Entertainment Industry Nostalgia: February 1994

Viacom acquired 50.1% of Paramount Communications Inc. for $9.75 billion, following a five-month battle with QVC. Eddie Van Halen, Chris Isaak, and B.B. King attend the ground breaking ceremony for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino takes place in Paradise, Nevada. President Bill Clinton lifts US trade embargo against Vietnam. 10th Soap Opera Digest Awards – Days of Our Lives wins. Medgar Evers’ murderer Byron de la Beckwith sentenced to life, in Jackson, Mississippi, 30 years after the crime (1963). 21st American Music Awards: Whitney Houston wins. Howard Stern stops a would-be jumper on the George Washington Bridge. Jack Nicholson uses a golf club to attack a car. “The Scream” by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1893 pastel version) is stolen in Oslo. Model Anna Nicole Smith hospitalized for drug overdose. Brady Law, imposing a wait-period to buy a hand gun in the USA, comes into effect. American cartoonist Jack Kirby (X-Men; Spider-Man; Hulk; Captain America), dies at 76. During the opening monologue on Saturday Night Live, guest host Martin Lawrence makes sexually explicit jokes about female genitalia and feminine hygiene, which results in NBC banning him from appearing on the network (for the next year) and SNL (for life). Sony Pictures Entertainment merged Columbia Pictures Television and TriStar Television into Columbia TriStar Television.



Honorable mentions:

  • Fugees: Blunted on Reality
  • Jawbreaker: 24 Hour Revenge Therapy
  • Cake: Motorcade of Generosity
  • Jawbox: For Your Own Special Sweetheart
  • Animal Bag: Offering
  • Ben Harper: Welcome to the Cruel World
  • The Grays: Ro Sham Bo
  • Beck: Stereopathetic Soulmanure
  • Bark Psychosis: Hex

Green Day: Dookie (1)

Their third album, and they finally made it big. Longview is one of their biggest hit singles. There’s also Welcome to Paradise, and Basket Case, and When I Come Around.

Honestly, I think this is one of the definitive 90s albums that really helped set the tone that defined the music for the decade, at least in the punk rock and alternative rock genre (grunge, rap, and hip hop were still their own thing that had their own 90s tone). This album was so big, and had such a cultural impact, I don’t know if anything else this month is going to top this album of the year contender. What a hell of a way to start the month.

Marillion: Brave (7)

Not bad. Living with the Big Lie got my interest, Goodbye to All That won me over. This is my kind of rock. Very good album.

Therapy?: Troublegum (7)

Trigger Inside is a fun little music video.

Stratovarius: Dreamspace (9)

So far this band hasn’t done anything I would consider outstanding, though they really do try. But they are consistently solid, with nary a weak track to be found.

Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (14)

The only reason I’m giving this a highlight is because of how much of a hit the track Cut Your Hair was. Because other than that, this is a meh band for me; but I imagine there are others into this kind of alternative rock.

Angelfish: Angelfish (15)

One and done album. As in, this is the only album this band ever made.

Zhané: Pronounced Jah-Nay (15)


Ungod: Stabbing Westward (15)

I like them.


Honorable mentions:

  • My Girl 2. The only reason this exists is to give the girl another love interest whom she gets kissed by at the end. Otherwise, while this film has its fans, I dislike this pointless existence of a sequel that ruins certain aspects of the first film that should’ve remained more on the mysterious side (the mystery of the mother).
  • On Deadly Ground. This marked the beginning of the end of Seagal’s career as a solid (enough) action headliner. A passion project of his that’s just pitiful. We get it, oil corporations are run by assholes. Doesn’t mean you have to take it out on the blue collar workers.
  • Gunmen. It has a few entertaining moments, but it’s otherwise a bit too much on the bland and forgettable side. Lambert and Peebles aren’t good enough actors to carry this film far enough to where it needed to be go to be great. On the other hand, the director didn’t know how to make best use of them either (though for Peebles I think that’s impossible). Stewart is mostly wasted, but Leary makes the best out of what he’s got (it’s almost as if the film didn’t deserve him). Such a pity. Could’ve been a B+ lighthearted action-comedy film instead of a B- at best.
  • Blank Check. A bit of a hit with the kids of the day (though I missed out on this one back then), but this film hasn’t aged well, and honestly wasn’t that great to begin with. A kid’s power-trip fantasy where he gets rich and buys stuff with money, and is only able to do so because he’s a prick (and honestly, so is his dad and brothers). At least it manages to have those necessary moments of sadness with the isolation of having all this stuff he bought, but not being around any kids his own age to socialize and play with. And it has a moment where he gets deliberately kissed on the lips by a grown woman. You know, at this point, I should start keeping count of how often these sexual moments happen in 90s films, between a minor and an adult. The Man in the Moon (1991), Rambling Rose (1991), The Sandlot (1993), and this movie makes it at least 4 occasions in major 90s flicks so far.
  • State of Emergency (12; HBO). I want to see this movie, but have been unable to find a (free) copy; at least not in English. So for now, it’s just an honorable mention until a future date. It’s about the terrible state hospitals are generally in.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (4)

Jim Carrey’s major breakout role. His over-the-top acting he utilized in SNL is on full display here. My favorite part being when he’s talking with his ass (I’d seriously like to know how they pulled that sequence off without busting up). This is worth watching; it more or less set the standard of the type of comedy that would dominate the 90s (Jim Carrey being front and center for much of it).

I’ll Do Anything (4)

It’s fine for what it is, mostly. It’s one of those meta-actor type films where Nolte is an actor struggling to find work, and his daughter winds up being an aspiring actress. Plus there’s this moment where his daughter kisses Joely Richardson full-on the lips, and holds it for a couple seconds (well, now the count just increased to 5). At that point, some malicious “thinking outside the box” thoughts started entering my head, especially when they decide to give this a happy ending demonstrating how much of a wonderful thing being a successful actor is. You know, considering how Hollywood actually is, and what tends to happen to actors in the business (let alone child actors, on average). Not to mention the daughter’s “acting” moment involves saying she loves black people, which is honestly unintentionally hilarious if you think about it (she doesn’t really mean it); but at the same time it also (unintentionally) acknowledges the white-guilt brainwashing that’s been going on in films and shows. But if you don’t think about any of that (shame on you), this is a typical harmless one-and-done B movie.

My Father the Hero (4)

It’s another typical harmless one-and-done B movie, but with less indication of “outside the box” malice, in spite of that (admittedly hilarious), “Thank heaven for little girls,” bit that also pokes fun at Gigi. Also in spite of the daughter’s demands being as stupid as they are unreasonable; but I guess that’s why the father is considered a hero, that ho goes about fulfilling her demands in spite of all that. Some of the stuntwork during this boat segment is better than this film deserves.

Romeo Is Bleeding (4)

Bit of a noir-style film, with this crooked cop who cheats on his wife all the time being the main character, played by Gary Oldman, before his role in The Professional. I did like the finale. The film did wind up ending the way I thought it would, though that’s not difficult to predict given that it has one of those intros that sort of shows the ending.

Naked (4; limited release December 1993; foreign film from UK)

Not my kind of movie, but it’s a cult classic worth mentioning. Primarily something to focus on the dialogue for.

The Getaway (11)

In all honesty, it’s not that bad of a remake. Sure it did the typical (at this point expected) modern trend of empowering the female more than she was in the original, and that got particularly annoying during the finale. But other than that, this is a fairly entertaining adaptation.

The Piano (11; foreign film from Australia and France)

Blue Chips (18)

Now this is a superior Nick Nolte starring film. The sports film that is similar to The Program, and the one I personally prefer. What it’s like acquiring basketball talent at the college level, and the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. It focuses more on shenanigans done at the corporate level than it does at the student level (unlike The Program which basically covered all the bases), but at least that makes this film more focused as a result. Also helps that it’s based on a true story. Plus it actually has a legit moral lesson to it all, while The Program is more along the lines of, “This is just how things are, and how they will continue to be.” Film of the month.

Reality Bites (18)

It’s a decent (somewhat satirical) time capsule film about the 90s generation (X). It’s good for the most part, but I’m conflicted about the ending. I’m still trying to decide if the ending is more on the bad side, or if it’s secretly a good one, depending how you look at it.

8 Seconds (25)

I was strongly tempted to not include this. I mean, as far as films go, it’s fine, and has some good bull-riding scenes. But when it comes to the real life characters being portrayed, this gets rather insulting. That affairs were going on that caused a breakup, when that wasn’t the case in reality. It didn’t have to be this way. It could’ve just done the whole, “work before loved ones,” routine for having conflict in the story; but no, it wants to denigrate the real-life bull rider (and his wife) in this way. It pissed me off.

But if you put that aside, the movie isn’t bad. Plus there’s those ending credits.

Sugar Hill (25)

This movie wants very badly to be better than it is. But it’s so mediocre in its execution. I mean, I’ll at least say that it has more going for it than New Jack City, even if it’s more preachy. Wesley Snipe fans will probably be interested, and those who really want a crime/drama fix. And it does have one solid acting moment with a father about to OD. Only reason I’m giving this a highlight is because it just wouldn’t feel right putting this by the wayside when I gave New Jack City a mention from 1991 (I’m kind of regretting that now).


Honorable mentions:

  • Alfred Chicken (NES)
  • Barkley Shut Up and Jam! (February/April; Genesis, SNES [June])
  • Crystal’s Pony Tale (Genesis). Worth mentioning just for the name alone.
  • Pro Sport Hockey (SNES)
  • Super Troll Islands (SNES). They made a game about the trolls, heheh.
  • Winter Olympic Games: Lillehammer ’94 (SNES)
  • X-Kaliber 2097 (SNES)
  • Cannon Fodder 2 (1994: PC)

Super Street Fighter II Turbo (23; Arcade)

The Turbo edition became the definitive way to play this game, at least as far as tournaments and competition is concerned. Also came with some new fighters, including the infamous (because he’s broken, so they say) Akuma.

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (7 [or March 13]; Game Boy)

You get to play the guy who a villain in previous Mario games. And it’s actually pretty good. One of the best games on the Game Boy.

Bubba ‘n’ Stix (February?; Genesis)

Better on the Amiga, but we never got that version stateside.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (2; Genesis)

I would almost say this is the definitive Genesis Sonic game. Not quite. While this game is very fun, and a bit easier than Sonic 2 (which is still probably the most well-made and solid of the Sonic games, objectively-speaking), this isn’t a complete game. That wouldn’t happen until Sonic & Knuckles gets released. That being said, I enjoy the boss music, and the Knuckles music, and the invincibility music, and the main menu music, in this game; and a part of me wishes they didn’t replace it in the sequel, and least not when it came to replaying the levels from this game. Because this game was made with the intention of locking on to the sequel, in what is probably the only time in gaming history something like this had been done.

Anyway, this is a friggin’ awesome Sonic game. With a damn good storyline too (if you read the instruction manual to catch on to what it is). Game of the month.

Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2 (22?; Genesis)

Every bit as good as the original classic, more or less.

Mansion of Hidden Souls (February; Sega-CD)

It’s just so-so for what it is, and better games of this genre have come out before and since then (walking simulators with puzzle elements, like Myst). That being said, for a console game, it’s impressive for the time.

Turn and Burn: No-Fly Zone (February; SNES)

Pretty good for an SNES flight combat game.

Ardy Lightfoot (1; SNES)

Passable platformer.

Bugs Bunny Rabbit Rampage (15; SNES)

One of the better (looking) Looney Tunes games. The visuals are great, which is a good thing since that’s the main thing the game has going for it.

Ninja Warriors (15; SNES)

Fun beat-em-up.

A.S.P. Air Strike Patrol (18; SNES)

Jungle/Desert Strike’s competitor.

The Legend of Kyrandia Book 3: Malcolm’s Revenge (1994; PC)

That opening music though…

Ishar 3: The Seven Gates of Infinity (1994: PC, Amiga)

The U.S. never got the first two games in the series back then.

Al-Qadim: The Genie’s Curse (1994; PC)

Magic Carpet (1994; PC)

A unique type of flying FPS that isn’t set in space, or WWI or WWII.

NASCAR Racing (1994; PC)

The first major NASCAR racing game that felt real and immersive, and set a standard for racing games.

Robinson’s Requiem (1994; PC, 3DO [1996])

This survival game was too ambitious for the time. Needed better graphics and a better engine (and a better UI) to have its potential fulfilled. Still, games this ambitious tend to be interesting enough for a brief try, plus it has a small cult following. Not my kind of game, but still neat that it exists.

Superhero League of Hoboken (1994; PC)

Goofy fun. I mean… just that box art. And the game lives up to it and then some.

Ravenloft: Strahd’s Possession (1994; PC)

Ravenloft, a famous location in the D&D setting.


Honorable mentions:

  • Trashed (MTV). Amusing albeit quaint game show where the loser’s belongings get smashed to pieces. What’s particularly amusing is that Chris Hardwick is on this show, one of his earliest stints.
  • North and South: Book III (27; ABC, miniseries). Long story short, not as good as the first two entries. Of course, there’s the whole issue on whether or not just the first two “books” aged all that well to begin with, let alone book III.

So here’s something that’s worth a mention:

American pay television channel Encore launches seven new themed multiplex channels (Westerns, True Stories, Love Stories, WAM!: America’s Kidz Network, Action and Mystery), primarily on TCI cable systems, becoming the first premium service to offer a suite of thematic channels. Starz, which features more recent movie fare than its parent channel, also debuts on this date as part of the Encore multiplex and would eventually become a rival to HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and The Movie Channel.

Where on Earth is Carmen San Diego? (5; Fox)

The natural progression of where this franchise would go. From a game, to a game show, to an actual animated tv series (that makes no effort to disguise that the whole show concept originated from a game). And you know what? This is probably the definitive way to experience the Carmen San Diego experience. And this show went on for a while, to my amazement. And why not? It’s one of the better ones (by 90s animated kid show standards). Show of the month.

Disney’s Aladdin the series (6; The Disney Channel -> Syndication)

Oh yeah. This is a show I grew up with. It’s probably the best of the Disney shows based on their renaissance era films. It’s still fun to watch, even if it takes liberties with a bunch of things in terms of character relationships after the first film. Then again, that Return of Jafar straight to video film did enough retconning of its own (and that film basically exists so this series can exist). All that aside, the series is fun.

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