Web Video: Oddity Archive

"And welcome to the Oddity Archive, the show that reawakens nostalgia for things you didn't even know you had."
-Ben "That Shmuck With The Cardboard Box" Minnotte

In April 2012, Colorado resident and former indie folk musician Ben Minnotte suffered a car crash that left him without wheels, without a job and with a damaged ribcage. Trying to think less about his pain, he decided to look back on his childhood curiosity with technology and make an article about the Max Headroom incident in June 2012. However, he discovered that his humor barely made any sense written, so he decided to make a one-off podcast. But then that was scrapped as well since there's a whole video component to the whole thing. So what did he do? He decided to try his hands out at being an internet Caustic Critic towards this stuff. And, thus, the Oddity Archive was born.

Oddity Archive is basically what would happen if The Nostalgia Critic met Mystery Science Theater 3000. It discusses the odder, often scarier, parts of film, TV, music and technology, and makes riffs on certain things. Although the official Oddity Archive YouTube channel has currently over 10,000 subscribers, it is still relatively obscure and really Needs More Love.

In June 2015, the fandom entered into a collective panic following the season three finale, wherein Ben claimed the higher-ups in the geek community got Archive cancelled, as it was "obsolete". Ben soon took to social media to assure fans that the show was not, in fact, ending, and that regular episodes would resume sometime mid-July. (Guess you could say that Ben made the fanbase Archive panic! Ehh? Ehhh?) Sure enough, normal "broadcasting" resumed on July 16, 2015... only for the Season Four premiere to be pulled a few days later, after it was flagged for allegedly promoting illegal activities. YouTube restored the video on July 20, 2015, rendering all well in the fandom.

"Aaaand welcome to the Tropes Related to the Series Archive."

  • Abusive Parents / Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Ben (as a character, at least) is implied to have these.
  • Adorkable: Ben, particularly when he's getting nostalgic.
  • Atomic Hate: Several episodes deal with this.
  • Badass Boast: Foul-mouthed Caustic Critic Geno Cuddy's break-in during "Public Domain VHS Distributors" is one.
  • Berserk Button: Ben, at the end of "Copy Protection Vol. 2 (odds and ends)", rants about companies, like the one that made the Cat Sitter video, who underestimate people's competence and who overestimate their own clout. It's a Tranquil Fury, but Ben does seem legitimately upset over it.
  • Brown Note: Janet Greene's "Fascist Threat" is used twice as a method of forcing people to join the Republican Party, because it is just that bad. note 
    • This is also the case with the "Italian Dance Party" record's rendition of "Arrivederci Roma". It leads Ben to do some... unpleasant-sounding things before redacting his prior panning of the album.
  • Call Back: Max Headroom pops up in "Format Wars" when Ben describes a damaged, skipping CED like watching Max Headroom even when you didn't want to.
    Max Headroom: He's a FRICKIN' nerd!
    Ben: NO, NOT YOU, THE GOOD ONE!
    • When he sees that the Clue II: Murder in Disguise VCR game has no logos at the start...
    Ben: What, no scary logo?!?! Rip-off!
    • The EAS Zombie Hoax video starts with the opening joke from the Max Headroom incident, and the commercial is the 'Max Headroom for Preparation H' gag.
    Ben: I swear, I keep having all these flashbacks lately...
    • And another one in the 2014 Halloween Special/Archive Wares debut episode.
    • When one of the clips from "Intermission" starts playing "Pop Goes The Weasel", Ben is reminded of one of the programs from "Local TV Vol. 2 (Kiddie Show Hosts)".
    Ben: Great, now I'm having flashbacks to "The Magic Garden".
    • Lampshaded in "Number Stations (And Other Radio Oddities)" when Ben makes a joke about the Backwards Music Station being a whale aphrodisiac, harkening back to the duck joke in "Emergency Broadcast Salute".
    Ben: That joke seems familiar....
    • In "Public Domain VHS Distributors", there's a reference to the end of "Copy Protection Vol. 2 (odds and ends)" when Ben explains the conditions of Trans-Atlantic Video Inc.'s warranty, claiming the warranty wasn't good if you smeared peanut butter on the tape.
  • Canada, Eh?: Ben puts on a Canadian accent as part of a shoutout to the McKenzie Brothers in "Christmas Special 2014".
  • Catapult Nightmare: A rare audio example appears at the start of "Halloween Special 2013", where, after enduring a nightmare mix of Max Headroom, scary logos, Emergency Broadcast System beeps and the Happy Hamster, we hear Ben rise out of bed and a good plenty of creaking.
  • Caustic Critic: Ben. The caustic persona would later be toned down quickly.
    • Another Caustic Critic drops in on the "Public Domain VHS Distributors" with a....unique take on the UAV VHS distribution house.
  • Characterisation Marches On: In earlier Archives, Ben was a lot more irritable and shouted more often. Now he's more laid back, only shouting if something really makes him annoyed.
  • Cold Open: Some episodes open with these.
  • Comically Missing the Point: At the end of "Weather Warnings", warning sirens go off as a funnel cloud approaches Archive HQ. Ben sees this as an opportunity to capture the entire event on tape.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Averted with Ben, who usually tries to find rational explanations for unexplained phenomena. However, conspiracy theorists (and their theories) are discussed (and mocked) in a few episodes.
  • Content Warnings: Ben notes in "American EXXXtacy (and Other C-Band Nastiness)" that guys with girlfriends shouldn't watch it.
    • He issues a more serious one at the beginning of "Protect and Survive" due to its discussion of nuclear war and its Gallows Humor.
    • Ben will also sometimes insert these into the middle of episodes before potentially offensive or upsetting segments, such as in "Prehistoric Television", where he advises people who are sensitive to Nazi imagery to skip the following part of the episode.
  • Couch Gag: The "production company" at the very end of each episode.
  • Cowboy Bebop at His Computerinvoked: A claim from Hell's Bells is put to the test in, well, "Hell's Bells". Ben decides to see if vibrations from a speaker playing loud rock music can hard-boil an egg by having a speaker play the entirety of AC/DC's Black Ice next to an egg. To put it bluntly, it doesn't.
    • Ben does a series of tests to see if the "KTC" substance on the Cat Sitter VHS really does damage VCRs. It doesn't.
  • Credits Gag: Can be found in several episodes. Especially notable in "Teknikel Diffikultees", where a good chunk of the credits are misspelled.
  • Cute Kitten: Shown on the Cat Sitter VHS in "Copy Protection Vol. 2 (odds and ends)". Ben notes in the description that he expects the appears of kitties to boost his views.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first two (regular) episodes don't feature Ben on camera, and Episode 2.5 features Ben hiding behind a mic instead of his now-signature cardboard box. They also show Ben taking on an angry-Caustic Critic persona, instead of the laid-back personality he's known for.
    • As well, the series' theme tune, "Pavanned", doesn't show up until the sixth (regular) episode. Until that point, the theme song was XTC's "Senses Working Overtime".
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: It's not very pronounced, but when Ben says the phrase "Beautiful Downtown Aurora", the r's in "Aurora" come out sounding like w's.
  • The Faceless: Ben is almost always shown with a cardboard box covering the lower half of his face. He claims that whenever his full face is shown the camera breaks, and he doesn't want to have to buy a new one.
    • The only times his full face can be glimpsed at are second-long clips in the Oddity Archive Promo (where he immediately covers the camera lens with his hand), the demonic video tape in Episode 9, and the first "Ask the Archive". note 
  • Female Gaze: Ben goes to great lengths to unearth an example of this in "Philips CD-I (Compact Disc Interactive)".
  • Foreshadowing: During the "Local Commerical Break" for "Scary Logos (and other Nostalgic Video Terrors)", an Amvest Video clip of Grampa is used, followed by Ed saying, "We might have to revisit that one. ;)" Sure enough, Amvest Video was profiled three episodes later.
  • Gallows Humor: Used often, especially in episodes pertaining to Atomic Hate in a significant way. Ben says in "Duck and Cover" that this kind of "comes with the territory". He'll usually issue some sort of warning prior to its use.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The shadowy screen while Ben is doing whatever it is that "Arrivederci Roma" drives him to do in "Halloween Special 2013 (Part 1 - Italian Dance Party)" can be read as this.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In "Halloween Special 2013 (Part 1 - Italian Dance Party)", Ben condemns the "Italian Dance Party" for being disrespectful toward Italian music. Deciding he needed to bring "ethnic authenticity" note  to the show, he then begins a rendition of "Arrivederci Roma"... before fumbling on the words and crapping out.
    Ben: I could never remember the words to that damn song, anyway.
    • As revealed in "Conservative Folk Music", the Archive strongly believes in civil discourse. And if you disagree, they'll break your kneecaps.
  • Ludd Was Right: Invoked in several episodes, most prominently in "Going Analog".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Ben's original song in "Industrial Musicals (or, The Archive Sells Out!)" is a fairly upbeat song about how Ben would prostitute himself out to corporate sponsors in order to get out of his poor financial situation.
    • This is discussed in "Conservative Folk Music", where Ben points out that the promotion of Mutually Assured Destruction in the Spokesmen's "The Dawn of Correction" goes against the song's allegedly "comforting" nature.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: In "Emergency Broadcast Salute", Ben cuts to a clip from SCTV of five guys singing "Who Made The Egg Salad Sandwiches". If you watch the original sketch, the song is just as much of a non-sequitur as it is here.
  • Male Gaze: Most of the sexual oddities use this.
  • Moral Guardians: Mocked mercilessly in "Hell's Bells".
  • Motor Mouth: The voiceover on the Cat Sitter FBI warning bumper.
    Voiceover: TheprogramportionofthistapehasbeencoatedwithanewsubstancecalledKTCtopreventillegalcopying. KTConlyreactswhensubjectedtothemagneticheadfluctationcasuedbytherecordmode. Ifyouhavealreadystartedtorecordthistape, wearerequiredbylawtoinformyouthattheKTCprocessmaydamageyourVCR. KTCwillnotaffectyourVCRintheplaymode. ThetapecoatedwithKTCdoesnotbeginforanotherfifteenseconds. Stop. Recording. Now. Thankyouforpurchasingthisvideo. Enjoytheshow.
    Ben: I guess John Moschitta wasn't available.
  • Misplaced-Names Poster: An accidental one occurs in "VHS Vault Vol. 4 (VCR Games)", when a caption reading "billiard room" appears in front of a character.
    Inspector Pride: My name is Inspector Pride.
    Ben: No, it's not, i-it's "Billiard Room", I could see it there right on the screen!
  • MST: Very much so.
  • Noodle Incident: In "Number Stations (And Other Radio Oddities)", we're not told exactly what Ben did at the previous year's Oktoberfest, other than that it involved wooden clogs.
    • The audience is also never shown what Ben does after going to bed with "Arrivederci Roma" stuck in his head during the 2013 Halloween special. All the viewers are given is the sound of some kind of metallic weapon, the sound of footsteps on grass, and what sounds like the dumping of a dead body.
    • The "Urinal Cake Thing" from "Local TV Vol. 3 (Public Access)". A Blip exec named George, a New York subway station, the previous summer, and 10,000 urinal cakes. That's all George needs to hear to return Oddity Archive to Blip. note 
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Sometimes used with the more absurd oddities.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: The Cat Sitter video from "Copy-Protection Vol. 2 (odds and ends)" opens with one of these, claiming the company that made the tape was required by law to warn viewers that duplicating the tape could damage their VCRs. After Ben debunks the copy protection (see Cowboy Bebop at His Computer above), the warning comes across as an attempt at a Badass Boast more than anything.
  • Punny Name: "Interstitials" features the (fake) book "Don't Mime If I Do", written by "R. Wirst Nitemayer"note , and published by "Munnee, Hungree & Bastards Inc." note .
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Episodes 1-6 use XTC's '"Senses Working Overtime", before being replaced by Ben's original composition "Pavanned".
  • Running Gag: The picture on the cardboard box varies between episode.
    • "Aaaand welcome to the Oddity Archive, the show that [does a verb]."
    • "Join us next time when we [do something interesting]."
    • The Max Headroom hijacker has become a running gag throughout the series.
    • Connie Francis is also used as a semi-reccurent gag, starting with "Emergency Broadcast Salute".
    • "Beautiful Downtown Aurora".
    • A semi-recurrent gag is Ed the Editor reacting negatively to one of Ben's "history lessons."
    Ben: That means...
    Ed: NO!
    Ben: ...it's time for another one of my history lessons.
    ED: YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO US!
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Ben discusses this tactic in "PSA's (or, The More You Know, The Less You Understand)".
  • Screamer Prank: Used in "Protect and Survive" as The Stinger.
  • Series Fauxnale: "The Death of Analog TV" is set up as one of these. note 
  • Silent Credits: Used in "Protect and Survive", "Prehistoric Television", and "Weather Warnings", in all cases to amp up some Nightmare Fuel.
  • Spoof Aesop: "TV Sign-Offs" features a mock PSA that shows Ben shedding a single tear before dumping trash on a clean floor. The message? "If it feels good... why not?"
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In the 'Scary Logos' video, Ben refers to this as "Protect and Survive Syndrome."
  • The Stinger
  • Surreal Humor: Full of this, especially during the episode about the Max Headroom incident.
  • Take That: In "Valentine's Day Special (Dating Services)", Ben taped a paper reading "HAPPY NOW, BLIP???" onto the cardboard box. This is credited in the next episode to having led to the series' suspension from Blip. note 
  • Take That, Audience!: After issuing the aforementioned Content Warning in "American EXXXtacy", Ben says that people watching Oddity Archive probably don't have girlfriends.
    • In "Local TV Vol. 2 (Kiddie Show Hosts)", Ben spends a good while at the beginning cursing the viewer(s) who requested the episode's topic.
    • The Box in the first Halloween Special has the words "SCREW YOU" written on it as an irritated Ben mutters about filming at night.
  • Take That, Us: Some of the opening "show that [x]" lines are this.
    Ben: Welcome to the Oddity Archive, the show that metaphorically embodies circling the drain.
    • The official website credits Ben as "Ben (That Shmuck With The Cardboard Box) Minnotte".
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Used in "PSA's (or, The More You Know, The Less You Understand)" during Ben's rant at a child abuse PSA.
    Woman in ad: You can't be my kid!
    Ben: You're right... I'm your worst nightmare. ...Bitch!
  • Toilet Humor: The discussion of the WOWO Emergency Broadcast incident is followed by an underwear commercial, because you'll need new underwear after hearing that broadcast.
  • Vague Age: Ben's age is deliberately kept vague, with the only certain thing being that he was born in the 80s. note 
  • Verbal Tic: Ben uses the word "indeed" a lot, sometimes inserting the word several times into a single thought.
  • Visual Pun: Ben makes one at the end of "Captain Midnight/Vrillon" about signal jamming.
  • Waxing Lyrical: From "Archive Riffs: Cigarette Commercials", Ben jokingly quotes "Wonderwall" by Oasis when riffing a cigarette ad from a company of the same name.
    Commercial Narrator: Oasis.
    Ben: 'Cause today's gonna be the day that they throw it all back to you.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: "Teknikel Diffikultees" revolved around this.
    • Also used in "PSA's (or, The More You Know, The Less You Understand)" to interrupt Ben's rant at a PSA about child abuse.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: In "Number Stations (And Other Radio Oddities)", Ben wins the lottery, and declares that this episode of the Archive will be the last. Of course, he says this with a good eight minutes left in the episode, so it's no surprise when it turns out he's blown it all and must continue making the Archive.
  • You Wanna Get Sued?: When The Walt Disney Corporation or Chicago's WGN channel are mentioned, Ben often bleeps them out to avoid invoking them directly, and their names are usually blanked out when they appear on screen. Justified in that, as Ben notes in an episode of "Ask the Archive", Disney and WGN can be a bit litigious when it comes to copyright, and referencing either entity directly could result in the offending episode being pulled from YouTube.