Holiday Triumphs: Christmas Ads from 1985, Pt. 1

Let the record show I don’t hate everything about the holidays. When I was a kid, I had a VHS tape of holiday specials and other stuff recorded around Christmastime, 1985. I rediscovered it years later and loved to watch it over and over for the old ads, plus a truly awesome special about the 50th Anniversary of Loony Tunes.

This special featured various celebrities speaking about the beloved cartoon characters as if they were real people with whom they’d worked. It’s a bizarre panoply of famous folks, from Chevy Chase to Danny Thomas to David Bowie, who pretends to not know Bugs Bunny, then admits “we might be doing an album together”.

But the best clips come from Bill Murray, who, as always, was pure genius. I’ve actually made mp3s of some of his improv dialogue and put it on my iPod; whenever it pops up on shuffle, I am always delighted. You can view this special, in chunks, on the Loony Tunes Golden Collection Volume 2, but I just had to share a few of Mr. Murray’s best bits, even if it’s not the best quality video. In this first bit, Murray reveals a few behind the scene glimpses of the working relationship between Friz Freleng and Yosemite Sam.

In this second clip, Murray talks about the Loony Tunes characters he does and does not respect.

Billy Dee Williams also knows how to bring the funny. Here, he reveals the music he puts on when he wants to get a lady in just the right mood: Carl Stalling. His little gestures, as if saying, “ah yes, that’s lovely” as cacophanous cartoon music plays, are priceless.

Now, for the ads. What would Christmas be without toys? Much cheaper, for one thing. But of course, there will always be some anthropomorphic something or other to tell you what you need for Christmas, In this case, it’s Geoffrey the Giraffe, Toys R Us spokes-thing, and he says you want Cabbage Patch Kids, kids. He also has a mysterious mustachioed adult friend in the background, whose presence is not explained.

Gobots: Transformers’ poor cousins from the bad side of town. In this ads, these kids have some pretty convincing dialogue for their imaginary robots.

“Oh crap, it’s Christmas. We need new Masters of the Universe figures, don’t we? Fuck…I dunno, just put a water gun on Skeletor’s back. And make a new…robot guy or something. Those dumb little kids are gonna buy it anyway. Alright, problem solved. I’m heading out for lunch and Mulcahy’s.”

This Hallmark ad announces the exciting debut of Rodney Reindeer. I’m actually kind of impressed by the “animation” employed here.

I had no idea that Pound Puppies were literally rescued from a pound. Frankly, that bums me out.

Here’s a cute little ad from AT&T, with a grampa reading to his grandson over the phone. And no sign of the “Can you hear me now?” guy.

Here’s another cute ad, with adorable little tykes trying to play hockey. if they shot this ad nowadays, I have a feeling they might use a different narrator than Marv Albert. Just a hunch.

This M&Ms ad ran, unchanged, for years and years (you probably can’t see it too well, but the copyright date at the very beginning says 1983). Amazingly, it did not feature any stupid talking M&MS.

Similarly, this McDonalds Christmas ad ran virtually unaltered for at least ten years. Only the music would change, to reflect whatever slogan McDonalds had at the time. This dates from the “It’s a Good Time for the Great Taste” era.

In this shorter ad, kids practice saying thanks their Aunt Martha, then they don’t have to feign enthusiasm because they got McDonalds gift certificates for Christmas. I get it! What I don’t get is the weird ending. Seriously, this is the best take they had?

I could recite the entire song from this Toll House Cookie ad. I have no idea why. Perhaps as a child, I was captivated by its operatic tenor.

Here’s an odd crossover ad that aired after the aforementioned Loony Tunes 50th anniversary special. In the tradition of Marvel meets DC and The Jetsons meet The Flinstones, here is Trix Rabbit meets Bubs Bunny.

This isn’t strictly holiday related, but I would be remiss if I passed up an opportunity to share a Shop Rite Can Can sale ad.

There were also many network promos on this tape. Here’s a collection of CBS promos. There’s a sad number of failed sitcoms in this video, weird specials, and an odd made-for-TV movie starring Sally Field, Jeff Bridges, and James Caan as a ghost. But there’s also an ad for The Equalizer, which was one bad ass show (RIP Edward Woodward).

This collection of NBC promos has much more successful shows like The Cosby Show and Family Ties, plus ads for two shows I used to love: Amazing Stories and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Finally, here’s an anti-drug PSA. And who else to warn you off the dope than Bob Newhart? Yes, Bob Newhart is well acquainted with the horrors of drug abuse. I love his stand-up bit where he has an imaginary phone conversation with the inner demons that drove him to his crippling heroin addiction.