Entertainment Industry Nostalgia: March 1990

March 1990, the sequel to February 1990.  An interesting month to be sure for that year.  Steve Jackson Games gets raided by the U.S. Secret Service; a case that would evolve years later into something establishing the legalities of online speech still equating to speech; as in free speech.  Carole Gist becomes the 1st African American to be crowned Miss USAHeriberto Seda becomes a New York City Zodiac Killer copycat.  Janet Jackson wins a Soul Train Music Award.  The first world ice hockey tournament for women is held in Ottowa.  The LA Lakers retire Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Star Trek V wins the Golden Raspberry Award.  Akira Kurosawa wins the Lifetime Achievement Award.  The United States begins broadcasting TV Martí to Cuba in an effort to bridge the information blackout imposed by the Castro regime.  The final episode of the cancelled series Alf aired on the 24th.  And Michael Jordon is still hot in basketball.

 

Music

Ok, some disclosure before proceeding here.  I’m generally not a fan of rap and hip-hop, but I can’t ignore something that reached platinum status (and later quadruple platinum; that’s not a joke in case you were wondering, that’s a real thing apparently).  So Bill Biv DeVoe released an album titled Poison that was a huge hit.  Not my kind of music, but for those who are curious to know and are interested in that style of music.  I’ll be sticking with my metal and rock.  Also worth mentioning is Salt-N-Pepa: Black’s Magic, Digital Underground: Sex Packets, Above the Law: Livin’ Like Hustlers, Urban Dance Squad: Mental Floss for the Globe.  The rap and hip-hop wave was out in full force.  For those electronic lovers, there’s also The Beloved: Happiness.  As for the rock & roll genre, I’ll give an honorable mention to The Fall – Extricate, and to Nitzer Ebb: Showtime.

Tribe: Here at the Home

The song “Outside” would later be featured in the game Rock Band.  Personally, I’m more akin to the song “Rescue Me.”  The band never made it big and only released 3 albums and disbanded in 1994.  It had its fans; I wasn’t one of them (a casual listener at best).  But the songs are decent enough.  Plus I’m a bit biased with this particular selection, considering some band members would go on to get involved with the creation of the videogame Thief II: The Metal Age.  And System Shock 2.

 

Borghesia – Resistance

So this is an electronic band, which usually isn’t my thing.  But I have to admit, I really dig the beats on this album.  It sounds epic, yet not overdone.  I mean, just the opening track is incredible.  The downside is that it’s in a foreign language that us English speakers won’t be able to understand, but that’s ok, because I usually have a hard time listening to lyrics in general anyway.

 

Robert Plant: Manic Nirvana

Interesting rock n’roll stuff.  It’s groovy.  Stand outs for me were Tie Dye on the Highway, Anniversary, Watching You.

 

Depeche Mode: Violator

You know this band from the song Personal Jesus.

 

Heart: Brigade

Definitely one of the best female bands that has ever existed.  But there’s only one song for me on this album.  Wild Child.

 

Social Distortion: Social Distortion

It’s one of the most famous rock bands with their debut album.  I have to include this just on principle alone, even if these guys are pricks.  You’ve heard the songs “Ball and Chain” and “Story of my Life.”  I think the band is just ok, but one can’t ignore their fame.

 

Movies

I’ll give an honorable mention for a film called Side Out.  The film itself is just so-so at best, but it does have, “that’s so 90s” feel to it, and many do consider it the greatest beach volleyball movie ever made (some competition that genre’s got; I still say Top Gun is the best one, and it’s not even a beach volleyball movie).  So, with that out of the way, there were some fairly good picks for this month.

Lambada

A film to capitalize and promote the lambada dance craze, which never really took off as well as many hoped it would.  In fact, in the same month, another lambada film was released titled The Forbidden Dance.  Let’s just say it’s not even in the same league as this film.  But whatever, this is a prime guilty pleasure film, with great cheese and ridiculous moments.  Such a guilty pleasure for me that I enjoy it more than Dirty Dancing (you can’t hit me, I’ll lambada dodge all those beer bottles and bullets coming my way).  This is one of the definitive, “that’s so 90s” films.  Though I have to admit, that chick in the poster is a bit of a bitch in the movie, in ways that, well, just don’t happen in movies anymore, at least not in the context of this movie.

 

Joe Versus the Volcano

First it’s a dystopian future film about a guy who hates his desk job.  Then it turns into a road-travel-romance flick.  It’s interesting, and a bit of a cult classic (this month’s films have plenty of those).  What would you do if you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal disease and only had a few months to live?

 

Last of the Finest

So it’s mainly a so-so cop action-thriller, but I’m a bit of a sucker for this movie.  Especially because of the bitchin’ shootout during the finale.  Also known as Blue Heat in the UK, which is a better title.

 

The Ambulance

This is a pretty damn fun thriller that moves along at a brisk pace which never lets up once you get about 30 minutes in.  James Earl Jones literally chews the scenery, Stan Lee makes a cameo, and there’s some fun stunts served with a decent dose of cheese.  This film flies under the radar of many, but it’s a great under-appreciated popcorn flick worth checking out.

 

Blind Fury

A cult classic.  It’s no Zatoichi, but it’s the best American-made blind swordsman movie we’re ever going to get.

 

House Party

House Party movie posters at movie poster warehouse ...

Found it difficult to get into until the 2nd half kicked in (though I do believe I should give that portion a second chance).  That second half alone makes the film worth seeing.  Great down-to-earth characters and moments; some good laughs; and one of the best endings ever.  A true cult classic, the kind that Superbad wishes it could be.

 

Pretty Woman

This was the #1 highest grossing film of the year.  It also skyrocketed Julia Roberts film career.  And… it’s not bad, for a dream scenario of a rich guy going out with a hooker and making her life better and saving her from it (I’ll take it over 50 Shades anyday).  Richard Gere and Julia Roberts work well together, and would team up again in a future romantic comedy film.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Come on, you know this movie!  You know this franchise!  The most financially successful independent film of that decade.  And you bet your ass it’s the best live action TMNT film ever made.

 

The Hunt for Red October

Arguably the best film of the month, at least as far as popularity from today’s perspective goes.  Also arguably the most famous Tom Clancy novel-to-film adaptation ever done (though not my personal favorite; that one comes later on).

Games

I’ll give brief mention to Kid Kool and the Quest for the Seven Wonder Herbs, just because the Kid Kool franchise  was known well-enough during the time period.  But this game is too fucking irritating to recommend playing.  Fuck you, and your Mario Bros. rip-offs.

Baseball Simulator 1.000 (NES)

No, I’m not a fan of sports games.  But this one is remembered by anyone who played it during that time period.  That’s all I’ll say.

 

Burai Fighter (NES)

Now this is more like my kind of side-scroller shooter.  This is fun, but like most of them, hard as hell.

 

Abadox: The Deadly Inner War (NES)

Yep, another fun side-scroller.  Just look at those levels.  Aren’t the graphics great?  It’s like you’re flying through intestines.

 

Adventures of Lolo 2 (NES)

Finally.  Something that is neither a sports game nor a shooter.  A puzzle-like game.

 

Conflict (NES)

Well what-do-ya-know?  Another one that stands out.  This time it’s more of a tabletop wargame than it is a puzzle game or shooter.  Basically think of it as one of those Avalon Hill wargames from the 70s and 80s put into videogame format, and this is basically what you get.  If we had an NES back in the day (I was a Sega Genesis person, didn’t hop over to Nintendo until the N64 came out), I’d imagine my dad would’ve played the hell out of this.  He’s a sucker for stuff like this.

 

 

Code Name: Viper (NES)

Another side-scrolling shooter, but this time it’s a shameless rip-off of the arcade game (also ported to the NES) Rolling Thunder.  However, they did improve on the gameplay, letting it be a bit more forgiving (ie fair).

 

Al Unser’s Jr. Turbo Racing (NES)

That racing music.  The immersion this manages to bring for an NES title.  Have to admit, despite racing games not being my thing, there’s something alluring and addictive about this one.

 

Astyanax (NES)

Good luck pronouncing the name of this hack-and-slash side-scroller.  Another port of an arcade game (most NES games were).

 

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle (Game Boy)

Well…  Ok, so this game isn’t regarded as good.  But it does have a reputation that made it well-known.  The first videogame released to feature Bugs Bunny.  Puzzle elements.  And gameplay that infuriated gamers; including the inability to fucking jump, while you played as a fucking bunny!

 

Kwirk (Game Boy)

So this is when I usually throw the Game Boy a bone here, because their games aren’t on par with those from the NES and PC.  But when the games emphasize puzzle-solving rather than action, then it’s not bad.  The hand-held systems weren’t capable of making any decent real-time action games yet.  But every now and then…  But this is no masterpiece.  It gets monotonous.  But the fact that there’s a Game Boy game that’s fun which isn’t Pokemon…

 

Revenge of the ‘Gator (Game Boy)

And what-do-ya-know?  Another decent title for the Game Boy.  Another pinball game.  Quite polished for a Game Boy title.

Shows

Well, there were at least 2 memorable ones that go a bit beyond being just cult favorites.  Makes it better than last month’s offerings then.

NewsWatch TV (March 1990 – present; AMC Network, Ion Television)

You can pretty much tell what this is from the description.  A news series.  Well, considering it’s still ongoing; kinda worth mentioning.
H.E.L.P. (March 3, 1990 – April 14, 1990; ABC)

I honestly can’t say I know much about this series.  What I do know is that some consider it to be ahead of its time, and cancelled as a result.  To quote a youtuber: “it was basically Third Watch…but a decade earlier, with some really big names in it.” Also came out before Law & Order, though that would be coming soon.  Only ran for one season (6 episodes), and was intended to be a simple mid-season replacement for Mission Impossible.  Mainly mentioning the show because it may have inspired others that came after it, particularly Third Watch (which wouldn’t come out until near the end of the decade).

 

Sydney (March 21 – June 25, 1990; CBS)

A show that was hyped and sort of popular, likely because it starred Valerie Bertinelli.  But it was short lived and didn’t go past 13 episodes for 1 season.  Never saw it, but I’m aware of the brief popularity it had at the time.

 

The Outsiders (March 25, 1990 – July 22, 1990; Fox)

There are a lot of mixed opinions about this show.  On the one hand, the pilot episode ended up being one of the highest watched and rated series premieres of all time during that time period.  On the other hand, the ratings fell sharply after that, thanks to 60 Minutes and Married With Children.  Some revere the show, others think it is a borderline disgrace to the famous film it acts as a sequel to.  Main reason it has its haters is largely due to the cast, which many felt were inferior to those who were cast in the 1980s movie.  The show only ran for one season and was cancelled, but from what I understand it didn’t end on a cliffhanger either; so it can be considered more-or-less complete.  You be the judge, if you ever decide to watch it.

 

Equal Justice (March 27, 1990 – July 3, 1991; ABC)

The show had its cult following, which were outraged when the show got cancelled after 2 seasons.  From what I understand, just about everyone who watched the show loved it.  Great cast and writing.  But it never built up a big enough audience (like others); probably because many dismissed it as an LA Law ripoff.  Plus the early 90s was loaded with courtroom drama and police drama shows already, and Law & Order hadn’t even aired yet.  So if you like your Pittsburgh D.A. shows, well here’s another you might like.
Bagdad Cafe (March 30, 1990 – July 27, 1991; CBS)

As if The Outsiders wasn’t enough, now we have another series made that is based on a film (and may more or less act as a sequel to it).  I wouldn’t have given this sitcom much thought if not for one thing.  It stars Whoopi Goldberg.  That should be enough to convince some to give it a watch, even if it did get cancelled midway through season 2.

 

Carol & Company (March 31, 1990 – July 20, 1991; NBC)

Only ran for one season, then got cancelled (though there was some sort of spin-off which some would consider season 2, which also didn’t last long).  An anthology series without any ongoing character development or storyline.  So it didn’t leave any threads dangling when it got off the air.  Anyway, some people love the show.  I was never a watcher.

 

Alright, so enough with the petty shows only some fanatical fans remember.  Now for the 2 big tamales.

 

Tribes (March 5 – July 13, 1990; Fox)

Ah, this show.  One of the High School soap operas that made its mark alongside other shows like Degrassi and Edgemont (the latter of which would show up during the next decade).  It was created precisely for the timeslot it occupied, so that high schoolers could catch an episode when they got home before doing their homework.  Unfortunately, despite the popularity and cult following this series had, it was cancelled after 1 season of 95 episodes.  Fox hoped the series would reach Syndication, but it never happened.  Oh well.  Thanks for the memories.

 

Road to Avonlea (March 5, 1990 – March 31, 1996; The Disney Channel)

Heard good things about this Emmy Award winning series from Canada.  Ran for 7 seasons.  Technically, the series started airing in Canada in January 1990, but made it’s way to American televisions for this month.  But watch out for those alternate titles and versions.  To quote Wikipedia, “In the United States, its title was shortened to simply Avonlea, and a number of episodes were retitled and reordered. When the series was released on VHS and DVD in the United States, the title changed from Road to Avonlea to Tales from Avonlea.”  It’s a family show that takes place during the very early 1900s.  And this could very well be the top show of March 1990, and one of those series many hold in high reverence.  I should check it out sometime.

 

 

Entertainment Industry Nostalgia: February 1990

Ok, finally finished up February 1990.  Going lighter on the “Cultural Etc.” stuff because, well, I was too lazy to methodically track down ads and clothing styles and stuff from that month.  So here it is, the noteworthy music, movies, and shows from February 1990.

 

Music

Last month was just a warm-up compared to what was unleashed this month in the music industry.

MC Hammer: Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em

Everyone knows U Can’t Touch This, even if it is a rip-off of Super Freak by Rick James (bitch) .

KLF: Chill Out

Relaxation music.

Primus: Frizzle Fry

Too Many Puppies, and John the Fisherman were the big album hits.  I can only listen to this album in small bursts, like 2 songs at a time tops before I’ve had enough.

Damn Yankees: Damn Yankees

High Enough, Coming of Age, and Come Again were among the big hits, and this album was known for reviving the career of Ted Nugent.  Despite what they say the big hits were, my personal favorite song from this song is “Tell Me How You Want It.”

The Cramps: Stay Sick

Garage Band with several songs that take a big nod to other songs (God Damn Rock & Roll is a heavy nod to Old Time Rock & Roll by Bob Seger).  UK band.

Riot: The Privilege of Power

Decent rock n’ roll album, though I find the intermissions between songs questionable.  Upon a listen, didn’t find any notable standouts, but I didn’t hear any weak songs either, so it’s an all around solid album.

Peter Wolf: Up to No Good

Not bad.  The best song is a toss-up between Up to No Good, and Shades of Red-Shades of Blue.

Gamma Ray: Heading for Tomorrow

Would’ve been my favorite of the month if only it didn’t have several weak songs stacked atop the few excellent songs (the standouts are Lust for Life, Free Time, and Heading for Tomorrow).  First studio album of the German metal band.  I strongly recommend the original version as opposed to the remastered version.  Best song on the album is the one the album is named after, which runs at a vast 14 minutes (though there are various versions of this song, one of which is the live version which runs at an insane 20+ minutes).

Oingo Boingo: Dark at the End of the Tunnel

Arguably their last good album.

 

Eric Johnson: Ah Via Musicom

The way he plays that guitar, especially in Cliffs of Dover.

Movies

While the music album selection improved this month, it’s debate-able as to whether or not the film quality improved or worsened or stayed the same compared to January 1990.  None of the films were as good as Tremors (in my opinion), but some of the others sure gave last month’s top films a run for their money.

Mountains of the Moon

Think of this as The Lost City of Z, except better.  While the locations may not involve tropical rainforests, it’s still an adventure film where two men form a common bond over exploring the unknown (to England) locations, yet become torn apart due to semi-political conflicts at home.  Sure doesn’t hold back on the violent moments (as brief as they are), nor the harshness of the environments confronted during exploration.

 

Hard to Kill

Not one of the better Steven Seagal films in my opinion, yet for some reason a lot of Seagal fans hold this film in high regard.  I’m only including it here for that reason, otherwise it’s forgettable to me.

 

Nightbreed

Fun film.  Great practical effects work, an adrenaline-filled finale, music that sounds like a Batman-rip-off (understandable considering both films were conducted by Danny Elfman), and David Cronenberg playing the villain.  Be sure you see the director’s cut.

 

Cinema Paradiso

I reviewed this movie.  TL;DR: a fun drama film that’s all about nostalgia and love for films and how they can shape one’s life and one’s community.  Likely the film of the month (while last month, in my opinion, it was Tremors).

 

 

Video Games

More or less about as decent as last month’s selections, except that this month would get a game release on the NES that would go down as an all-time classic.
Rollerball (NES)

Fun little pinball game, which weren’t all that common on the NES, or in general as far as I know for back then.

 

Super Spike V’Ball (NES)

Well, I guess the NES just wouldn’t let Sega get away with being the only console to release a beach volleyball game, so they had to take their shot at it, even if they had to port it from the arcade to do it!  And they did a decent job from what I’ve seen.

 

Golf (Game Boy)

Gotta give the Game Boy something just out of pity, like the last episode.  Don’t get me wrong, this game has its fans back in the day, and it’s decent, but it’s not anything I would ever want to play today.

 

Batman (NES)

One of the big NES classics in the same vane as Ninja Gaiden (and probably just as difficult; hard as hell).  Need I say more other than the 90s knew how to make a solid film-to-game adaptation?  Sega would follow suit in the months to come.  And as great as this game is, while it should have by all right been the best game of the month, something else came out that would top it, and practically every other NES game ever made.  And I’m not so sure I have the willpower today to get good enough to beat this thing.  But it is fun, so long as I don’t get pissed enough to throw the controller and the console out the fucking window.

 

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

Well, it’s Super Mario Bros. 3.  Nothing else is going to top this for game of the month.  Was definitely a contender (if not winner) for Game of the Year.  A game so hyped up (and lived up to it), that there was an entire movie created for the sole purpose of being a glorified advertisement for it.

To bad this was in 1989, kinda hoped to dig into it a bit for the 90s nostalgia, especially since I watched it in the 90s.

Television Shows

I could only find 3 shows that were halfway decent, though none of them lasted the year, let alone half the year.  These are mostly sympathy picks, key word being “mostly.”

Rodeo Drive (February 5, 1990 – May 4, 1990; Lifetime Television)

A so-so game show that was never going to be popular, but the host made it entertaining.

 

Elvis (February 6 – May 19, 1990; ABC)

Show didn’t gain enough ratings, so it was cancelled, and re-released along with the unaired episodes as a 4 hour miniseries.  Honestly, the show seemed ok to me.  Maybe audiences got Elvis fatigue during this time period, or the show wasn’t advertised enough.  Then again, a lot of great shows got cancelled before their prime from the late 80s to about 2010 (seriously, fuck you people for cancelling Firefly, Surface and Deadwood).  It is what it is.

 

Nasty Boys (February 19 – July 20, 1990; NBC)

“Is this College Boy?”

“No, this is Donald Trump.”

Ok, now this show was so fucking fun in the way only the 90s could be (well ok, late 80s too).  What the early 90s crowd thought awesome cops were like (more gangster than cop, but in all the right ways).  Entertaining for the cheese and the awesomeness.  Seriously, fuck you people for cancelling Nasty Boys!

 

Edit (11-18-2018): Well, looks like I may have overlooked one.  There was this made for TV movie which ended up acting as a pilot for a series that would show up next month.  The series is a bit different from this made-for-tv film, which itself is a glorified series pilot.  But it’s worth mentioning, mainly just for the pilot/movie.

 

A Family For Joe (February 25, 1990 for pilot/film; March 24 – August 19, 1990 for series)

So the film itself has some fans who like it.  The show has less fans, but worth mentioning.  And that’s all I’ll really do here, give an honorable mention.  It’s about some foster kids who don’t want to get separated, so they get some bum off the street to act as their father.

 

Other Cultural Stuff