The articles at Platypus Comix
boast so many tropes that they now have their own page.
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History Channel Department
Peter Paltridge records the history of stuff.
- Chickification: Discussed in "Superman's Hall of Super-Shame!" The "Stepford Lois" section laments how The Fifties eliminated Lois Lane's strong-willed personality to make her a Damsel in Distress who dreamed only of marrying Superman.
- Dork Age: Peter claims in "The Boxcar Children (with colorful commentary)" that The Boxcar Children became less exciting after Gertrude Chandler Warner made the children grow up, and that he appreciated her successors de-aging them.
- Grandfather Paradox: In "Why I Don't Want to Travel Back in Time", Peter theorizes that if Marty McFly from Back to the Future had indeed failed to make his parents fall in love, he would cease to exist, and therefore never prevent his parents' meeting in the first place, which means they would get married and give birth to Marty, who would eventually go back in time and make himself cease to exist...
- On the last page, he realizes Stimpy from The Ren & Stimpy Show also caused one after he pushed the History Eraser Button, and appeared to erase his own birth, raising the question of how Stimpy would push that button...
- Hilarious in Hindsight: When reviewing a TV special about Bugs Bunny's 50th birthday in "Dr. Ruth and Chuck Norris: Together At Last", Peter notices Raven-Symoné wishing a happy birthday to Mickey Mouse and Donald Ducknote , even though this special aired several years before Raven started appearing in Disney Channel movies and shows.
- I Warned You: In "Superman's Hall of Super-Shame!," Peter comments, "The Superman concept is bizarre in nature, and it's certainly resulted in a lot of bizarre literature. (Scroll down the page to see Superman as a tree.)" After the reader sees that cover◊, he quips, "Told ya."
- Kids Are Cruel: "Kellogg Middle School: The Happiest Place on Earth" epitomizes this trope completely. As such, it's one of the darker articles on the site.
- Phlebotinum Induced Stupidity: "Magazine Alley" warns that Highlights For Children can cause this if you read it too often.
- Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Discussed in "Superman's Hall of Super-Shame!", using Superman and Doom as examples. They both launched new genres in their respective mediums (Superman the superhero comic, Doom the first person shooter video game), and both became perceived as quaint by fans of later entries in those genres.
- So Bad, It's Good: What Peter says about George Schlatters Comedy Club and DC Follies in "On Beyond Yeller!"
- Start My Own: Peter recalls in "The Boxcar Children (with colorful commentary)" that while he enjoyed reading about the Boxcar Children embark on adventures without adult supervision, he found the writing style so condescending, he wrote his own series of Boxcar Children comics.
- What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: In "The Boxcar Children (with colorful commentary)", Peter designates The Deserted Library Mystery as his favorite Boxcar Children book, since it had more life-threatening stakes than any before or after it.
Unlike any other book in the series, this had real
danger and suspense; [the villain] could have killed them at any time and came close once
. So, naturally, this never happened again. The editor must have been furious: "You can't put actual peril in a novel for children; they might get entertained and therefore corrupted!" All future books would deal with the likes of stolen paintings and soft sabotage.
Interactive Entertainment Celebration Section
Hollywoodland/The Island of Misfit Christmas Specials
Dark TV Vault
Peter Paltridge reviews some short-lived TV shows and rare TV specials.
- Anti-Shipping Goggles: Peter objects to Winnie and Thomas from Free Spirit becoming a couple, due to Thomas having a blander personality than any of the other main characters.
I just can't support it. Sticking the best character in the series and the worst character in the series together is a terrible idea.
- Bad Bad Acting: In Peter's coverage of the Free Spirit Halloween special, he admits that his first article about the show didn't include any clips of the now-most famous cast member, Alyson Hannigan, because he didn't think she'd want people to see how unprofessionally she acted back then. However, since the Halloween special marks the only time the sitcom gave Hannigan's character A Day in the Limelight, he shares some footage of her anyway. Afterward, he tries to imitate her as best as he can through typing.
"Winnie! This is GREAT!" You have to wonder at several points what kind of medication fog she was under.
- Crazy Awesome: The Free Spirit review praises Magical Nanny/Blithe Spirit Winnie Goodwin's unwillingness to enforce limitations on her magical abilities.
- '80s Hair: Peter takes time in his article about the Free Spirit Halloween special to admire Winnie's unruly hairstyle:
I even loved her character design, which is an odd thing to say about a real person — but I'm referring to her bird's nest of a hairstyle, which is your only visual clue that something is off about her, but not enough to raise suspicion. And the thing is......given eighties fashion, I'm not sure if that was intentional or not. Winnie really picked the right era to hide on Earth in.
- Later, he comments that the breeze from broomstick-flying caused Winnie's and Jessie's hair to look "..even more 80's than before."
- I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: Peter admitted that he expected to find Free Spirit as lame as most ABC sitcoms from The Eighties, but Winnie Goodwin enchanted him so strongly, he plowed through all the episodes he received just to see more of her. After he finished, he even decided to write some comics about Winnie and her friends.
- Nerds Are Virgins: When discussing the Free Spirit Halloween special, the sight of Winnie using her witchcraft to perform stage magic prompts Peter to recount which comic marked the debut of Zatanna's father, Zatara the Magician ("...Action Comics #1, right after Superman."), since the two of them also used that shtick. He then offhandedly admits that he doesn't have a girlfriend yet.
- Seasonal Rot: Referenced in the first Free Spirit article, saying the disappearance of the show without giving any closure robs us of "The really weak final season after Winnie and Thomas have gotten married, Alyson Hannigan has left the series, and an annoying little child has been adopted".
- Special Effect Failure:
- Spiritual Successor: Peter wrote a few for X-Entertainment's recaps of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
- Super Bowl Special: Peter explains in "Super Bowl Past-Blast: 1994" that he watches the Super Bowl live mostly to watch all of the commercials, and eventually decided to write annual articles covering ads shown during a past game.
- Take That, Audience!:
- What Were They Selling Again?: Peter comments in "Super Bowl Past-Blast: 1994" that he only remembers an ad for the 1994 Isuzu Rodeo just for the "Gut-Be-Gone" the man in the commercial recieves for his birthday.
- Zeerust: Regarding an ad in "The 1980 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" for Bell Laboratories:
Stupid Kid Show Area
Peter Paltridge helps you learn about the past of children's pop culture, mostly cartoons from the 1980s and '90s.
- Clueless Aesop: The review of Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams points out some hypocrisy behind the creators of Disney's cheap and pandering direct-to-video sequels making shorts that try to teach little girls not to take the easy way out of their tasks.
- Forced Meme: Errors in Corporate Judgement included several failed attempts for entertainment materials to appear relevant to late '80s-early '90s children. Among them, a Magic Eye puzzle using "Froggy" as a synonym for "awesome." Peter subsequently decided to close the article by declaring "Froggy" official slang for his website.
- Mary Sue: When Peter reviews Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams in "When Disney Magic Goes Wrong: The New Adventures of Aurora and Jasmine", he becomes aggravated at how Aurora has gone from a princess with literally no personality, to a princess with no fatal flaws. He deems her Enchanted Tale uneventful as a result, except for the final act.
- Popularity Polynomial: " Can Batman survive without Scooby-Doo?" comments that during the '90s, Spider-Man had become less popular than Batman, who had Batman: The Animated Series to bolster his popularity. However, Batman & Robin eventually killed Bats' reputation, while Spidey regained fame through Sam Raimi's movies.
- Time Marches On: "Why you may never see some of your favorite childhood shows on DVD" originally included The Real Ghostbusters among the shows whose fans needed to Keep Circulating the Tapes. After Time Life went and released all the episodes on DVD, Nicktoons and ReBoot took its spot on the list. Later, Shout! Factory managed to release DVDs of those, so they got removed from Paltridge's article, later replaced by KaBlam!.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Discussed in "Five Best 'Aladdin' Episodes", when four Aladdin: The Series episodes with Dark Magical Girl Sadira share a slot.
The Full Experience
- Actually Pretty Funny: The Jabberjaw review makes the series seem dull and unoriginal, until Jabberjaw tries to distract a villain by donning a Paper-Thin Disguise of an exotic dancer.
- Catch Phrase: Ever since the third installment, Peter has begun each article by putting the show into historic context, then pointing out today, one could enjoy the episodes on DVD. Then, he segues into the rest of the article with, "That's all well and good. But it's not the FULL EXPERIENCE..."
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The series consists of reviews of the first episodes of Saturday morning cartoons from the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, accompanied by videos of some of the commercials and bumpers that played during the cartoon's premiere. The first article recaps the day Pokémon began airing on Kids' WB!, but Peter decided not to review the episodenote because the series seemed Strictly Formula. Also note that article has three pages, while others (such as the Beetlejuice review) only have one.
- For even more weirdness, the original version of the Pokémon installment only had one video. The rest of the commercials simply got written descriptions and pictures.
- Fanon Discontinuity: Peter has confessed that for him, Beetlejuice begins and ends with the cartoon. He didn't see the movie Beetlejuice until after he saw the show. When he did, he felt disappointed that, among other things, Beetlejuice was a seldom-appearing villain instead of the star, and that he and Lydia were enemies instead of friends.
- Late to the Punchline: Peter admits in the Beetlejuice review that he didn't notice Beetlejuice and Lydia blowing snakes instead of noisemakers until after he took a screenshot of the scene.
- Misaimed Marketing: Peter closes the Animaniacs article by wondering why his local Fox Kids station showed a commercial for a wine-tasting event during each episode from the first season.
- Oddball in the Series: The second installment, covering the premiere of The Pink Panther Show, was written on Peter's Toon Zone blog instead of at his website. Unfortunately, this inadvertently led to the videos ceasing to work after a site update.
- Take That: From the page about Animaniacs:
Those cheesy Power Rangers
could go jump in a lake; Animaniacs was 1993 to me.
Educational Rockin' Fun Zone
Surfin' The Web Section
Things To Do When You're Bored Division/The Ancient Lost Art of TV Guide Advertising
Peter Paltridge has gathered a random selection of things to do when you're bored.
- Call Back: Part 2 of the ABC Afterschool Special ad gallery references one of the oldest specials when Peter jokingly remarks that the 100th special, The Gift of Amazing Grace, could have benefited from Timer the Cheese Guy exploring Tempest Bledsoe's brain.
- In Fall 1982, after Peter explains that a show he discovered in TV Guide inspired him to create a comic series based on it, he asked, "Could it happen again? What in this new batch of scans could potentially be resurrected THIS time?" He immediately dismisses the first advertised show, Tuckers Witch. This wasn't brought up again until a scan advertising the Laverne and Shirley episode "The Mummy's Bride" appears.
Maybe I should start a comic series based on this one Laverne and Shirley episode? ....You know, I think I will. Look for it January 2015!
- Couch Gag: Volumes 11 onward each use a different font for the volume numbers in their respective introductions.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: In response to a Ryan's Hope ad in "Spring 1980/Pink Lady and Jeff" featuring Delia getting carried off by a gorilla:
It's my sincere hope that this isn't some kind of weird metaphor and that there was an actual giant gorilla on this soap opera.
- Follow the Leader: When showing ads for Fish Police and Capitol Critters:
The early years of success surrounding The Simpsons
led to some bizarre greenlights the like of which we'll never see again...the kind that said, "I'm an executive in his fifties who has no idea why a grown person would watch a cartoon, but whatever, just put Saturday Morning material on prime time." CBS
did that literally with "Toon Nite" in the spring of 1991. For a brief period of time, their Tuesday evenings were filled with Bugs Bunny
specials and Ninja Turtle
episodes. It attracted me at least, but probably not many thirtysomethings.
- Genre Savvy: In Fall 1982, when Peter mentions Pandamonium, he posts a YouTube video of its opening sequence, because "I can't describe [the show] as well as it can describe itself". He then describes the show anyway "Just in case that video disappears like I know it will".
- Hilarious In Flashback:
Not sure what this is. Something about a cheerleader? I'm sure there's something about it in a couple places on the Internet. I think there was a 1992 film by the same name, and then the guy who wrote it didn't like how it turned out and made it as a series instead.....who knows how it'll go. Maybe the geeks will get into it?
- Harsher in Hindsight: Lampshaded:
- One of the pictures in "Spring 1984" promotes a Love Boat episode, in which several Miss America winners gather to honor the then-newest Miss America, Vanessa Williams. Peter subsequently asks, "Why do I get the feeling this episode was going to live in infamy for a while?"note
- The Neil Goldschmidt quote in one of the TV special ads included in "1988 Writer's Strike" mentions giving teens "special attention." Below the ad, Peter comments, "...Neil Goldschmidt really meant it..."note
- In Name Only: "Winter 1992" comments that the animated series Fish Police had almost nothing in common with the comic of the same name. Peter theorizes that after Hanna-Barbera finished coming up with the concept for the show, they found out It's Been Done by an independent cartoonist, and subsequently paid him to use the title so that he wouldn't sue them for using a similar premise.
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: "V-The Final Battle" ends with some intriguing advertisements for various movies playing that year-Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown.
- Mistaken for Gay: "Spring 1980/Pink Lady and Jeff" includes a link to a website containing further information about Pink Lady And Jeff, but marks it as NSFW on the grounds that no working man would want the other employees to see him visit a website with so much pink.
- Mood Whiplash: Happens in the installment about ABC Afterschool Specials, as ABC's fluffy children's specials give way to Darker and Edgier, teen-oriented stories.
- Older than You Think: " 1988 Writer's Strike" includes a cover promoting a 1988 TV movie of the novel The Bourne Identity, prompting Peter to remark, "Everything's a remake these days."
- Popularity Polynomial: "Bicentennial", written in 2008, comments on the then-current domination of live-action over animation in popular children's television by pointing out that live-action shows dominate the ads for children's television in 1976, suggesting that "history is cyclical". Indeed, just as the '80s brought an abundance of new children's cartoons, so would the 2010s a few years after that article's publication. Part of "Winter 1992" recalls how animation went from becoming popular enough to get its own network, to almost disappearing from that channel in favor of live-action programming, to becoming a large draw for it once again.
- Quote Mine: In reference to an ad in "Dallas" for CBS' miniseries Master of the Game:
TV Guide reviewed it as "a masterpiece of incoherence and bad acting," which was undoubtedly edited in the network promos to read as "A masterpiece! —TV Guide."
- Retroactive Recognition: When discussing an ad in "V-The Final Battle" for The Duck Factory, Peter points out that the man making goofy faces looks familiar-it's Jim Carrey.
- Self Plagiarism: The ABC Afterschool Special gallery calls Summer Switch, "...the one that teaches you not to plagiarize!", since the plot sounds nearly identical to that of Freaky Friday. Plus, the books that inspired Freaky Friday and Summer Switch both have the same author, Mary Rodgers.
- Something Completely Different: "Parents' Guide to Kids TV" does not show any retro ads. Instead, it comments on how the Moral Guardians writing the children's television previews sometimes had overly strict standards, and also incorrectly predicted which shows would become successes and which ones would never catch on.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: After "Spring 1980-Pink Lady and Jeff" features an ad for The Stockard Channing Show, starring Stockard Channing as an undercover TV reporter, Peter wonders why such shows as Pepper Dennis and Anchorwoman couldn't mine all the comedic and dramatic potential that could arise from a reporter on a gimmicky news program hunting down criminals.
- This Is Going To Suck: "Fall 1982" ends with a two-page ad for a sitcom from The Eighties. The first consists almost entirely of "Ha!"'s written in Dom Casual and urging you to turn the page to find out what's so funny, making Peter comment, "Whenever I see something like this, I groan. There's no way what's on the other side of the page is anything but a painfully unfunny, rightfully forgotten show---" The second page reveals the ad as a Cheers promo, eliciting the response, "---well, I think I'll shut up now."
- Unusual Chapter Numbers:
- Volumes 8 and 9, which contain slideshows of ABC Afterschool Special ads, have a drawing of a computer mouse instead of a number at the start, possibly to reference how much more clicking the reader has to do compared to previous volumes.
- Volume 10, a slideshow of ads for the first two seasons of The Simpsons, begins with the awesome smiley replacing the number 10.
- "Parents' Guide to Kids' TV" does not have a number at all.
- Viral Marketing: "V-The Final Battle" shows how NBC used this during May 1984 sweeps to promote the second V miniseries.
- Wolverine Publicity: Discussed in the Simpsons slideshow, regarding episodes promoted with ads that make Bart Simpson appear to have a larger role than he actually does.
- The first ad in "V-The Final Battle" features a special promoting EPCOT Center by featuring then-developing technologies that could revolutionize the future. Peter points out that among the seven predictions listed in the ad, three or four of them had failed to come true by the time EPCOT turned 25.
- "Spring 1980/Pink Lady And Jeff" kicks off with a wildly exaggerated description of how the Intellivision could change the TV-viewing experience.
The Section Only I Will Care About Reading
Thing Where The Totally Rad Videos Go
Peter Paltridge posts some rare and interesting videos, including plenty of music videos.
- Amazon Chaser: In "The Top 10 Best Videos from MTV'S First Day", regarding his rules for what makes a good song in his opinion:
#5: I really, really, really, really like it when a woman sings about how she's going to kick my butt. And number 5 is 90% of Pat Benatar
's repertoire, so it's no wonder.
- Big "WHAT?!": Peter's reaction when the biggest song on the 1984 edition of MTV's Year End Countdown turned out not to be "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, as he anticipated, but "Missing You" by John Waite instead. It's so big, it's imprinted on a screenshot of◊ Van Halen (whose song, "Jump", made it in at #2).
- Blatant Lies: He claims that the videos in "The Ads of the Star Wars Holiday Special" look blurry and distorted because he "applied a special filter" to protect readers from the cheesiness of The Seventies.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: One part of "Starship HBO" warns that if the HBO logo has aliens inside, they might want to subject people who enter their ship to a Sex and the City marathon, which he calls, "...worse than an Anal Probe."
- Incredibly Lame Fun: Peter claims in "The Ads of the Star Wars Holiday Special" that if Kenner still sold the Trailtracker during his childhood, he and each of his friends would have wanted one. He even wishes to buy one now. All this amazement for a toy truck that traces lines drawn with a crayon.
- Lyrics/Video Mismatch: On Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time":
I'd always thought 'Time After Time' was a beautiful song about a couple looking forward to their future together. But according to Cyndi, it's about that one time she was living in a tin trailer hugging a plastic dog and watching old Bette Davis movies. Oh Cyndi, you're so unusual!
- Network Decay: Discussed in "MTV's Top 20 Videos of 1984" as part of an conversation he imagines having with a cable man in the present day.
- Significant Anagram: "The Ads of the Star Wars Holiday Special" has two, both of which involve spelling a word backwards (riffing on the TOBOR commercial saying that TOBOR is ROBOT spelled backwards):
HSUBL is BLUSH spelled backwards!
There were a TON of undergarment ads during the Star Wars Holiday Special. And by TON I mean NOT. Because NOT is TON spelled backwards.
- Take That:
#12 is Billy Idol with "Why did people ever think I was cool?"
- Take That, Audience!: Played for Laughs in "Cynical Ad Campaigns of the 90's.
- Think of the Children!: Regarding the Sheer Indulgence pantyhose commercial in "The Ads of the Star Wars Holiday Special":
I would say they should have thought of the multitudes of children watching that night, but the part with the Wookiee watching the erotic video had already aired, and that was WAY more traumatizing
- Totally Radical: Mentioned in the section's title.
- We're Still Relevant, Dammit: Discussed in these pages:
Where did all those pills go? 73% of the OTC products mentioned here are either no longer in production or just don't advertise. Are they recycled under new names, like when "Ecto-Cooler
" became "Bieber
Bloom County County
Lair of Alternate Projects/For Portlanders Only
Peter Paltridge takes you to see his other endeavors.
The biggest is For Portlanders Only
, a selection of advertisements, newspaper scans, and other emphemera pertaining to his hometown of Portland, Oregon
What Powell's Throws Out
- Accidental Innuendo: In Part Six, Peter shows a Sponge Bob Square Pants story from an anthology book written by first graders:
Book: "This party is cool. I like Sponge Bob's party. I like Sponge Bob's juice," said Patrick.
Peter: Any other website would have leapt at the chance to point out what Patrick said, but I don't work blue.
- Continuity Lockout: He experiences this in Part Six with ElfQuest, saying that his troubles with fantasy tropes as a whole (elaborated below) prevent him from understanding a single sentence of the work.
- Fan Disillusionment: Part Two expresses his disllusionment with reading as a whole:
When I was a small kid, I read books all the time. I would go to the library about every other day, come out with several juvenile fiction tomes, and read each one within an hour. I read a book about a kid who has to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days
for $50. The writing was pure off-the-wall anarchy, and I loved it (read it again, it's even better when you're grown up). I read a book about a school that is thirty stories tall
and full of weird kids, clever wordplay and living dead rats — it's still my favorite book of all time. I read a book about a kid with unusual talents
who united a racially divided town and spent a summer with a poor old illiterate man. It was better than chocolate. But as I got older, books aimed at my age level started getting less imaginative, less humorous, and less fun.[…]Reading books became a chore, not an enjoyment. And when I finally graduated and had the free will to stop, I quit 'em cold turkey. These days, I look at the rack of books for adults and feel massive boredom. They take themselves too seriously, are way way more wordy than they need to be, and are sorted by machine. If you want a crime drama, you go to the Crime Drama section and pick from 6,500 Crime Dramas with very similar covers and very similar plots. If you want a Murder Mystery Starring a Psychic Dwarf, you go to the Psychic Dwarf Murder Mysteries Section and choose from 7,352 of those. It feels so...cold.
- Faux Horrific: When discussing From a Buick 8 in Part Two:
The truth is, not everything Stephen
writes is intended to be scary and this is one of his 'others.' It's just dressed up by the publisher to fool you into believing it's the next Shining
, at least until you've paid for it.
- Mind Screw: Peter declares Wezens die je toch nooit zietnote from Part Four "The Weirdest Book of All Time".
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Peter's disgust in Part Six with the drawing style of some 2004 Cricket comics makes him (and King Leonidas from 300) exclaim, "This! Is! Zoot!"
- Sincerity Mode: In a part that we won't link to from here, Peter admits that he recently bought a Webcomic Print Collection, but didn't find it funny at all. However, he refuses to refer to the comic or its author by name, to lessen the chances of him getting his feelings hurt.
- Strictly Formula: From Part Six:
Through the thousands of books I've now sorted, I've noticed a popular trend among the fiction variety. Most mass paperback novels I've run across have the following things in common: 1) They're part of a series (even though I never find any other book in said "series"); 2) They have a female protagonist; 3) Said female protagonist is a massive Mary Sue
with an attitude who wields weapons, fires off karate kicks, and has every lead male fall for her instantly; 3) They contain supernatural elements, usually garden-variety cliches dressed up by calling them different names
. For example, if there are fairies, they won't call them fairies, they'll call them "Fae." At the very least, they'll spell "magic" with a K
; 4) They all (without exception, they ALL) have a subtitle like "A Kit Gunwielder Mystery!" or "A Sasha Spunkmeyer Adventure!"
- Take That: In Part One, he boasts that he could find a way to make a FernGully: The Last Rainforest book seem marketable in 2010. Cue a crude alteration of the cover to include Avatar characters.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In Part Two, he mentions how he dislikes fantasy novels because "they often get so bogged down in their own world they forget how to relate to the real one, where I am, trying to understand it." He points out that Worldweavers: Spellspam actually has a good premise (about e-mail spam that has magical powers), but that a third of the way through, it gets bogged down in the fantasy tropes that he hates so much.
- Unintentional Period Piece: In Part Six, regarding some books about designing a website in The Nineties:
They're not complete rubbish, though....now they serve as historical documents. To me, they were worth keeping as nostalgic picture books. You can't find this kind of web anymore.
"Other People's Cartoons" Area/Worst Comix Ever!
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