Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Saga of 1001 Commercials

Walmart has these $5 DVDs. We actually have bought a few including a collection of old Alfred Hitchcock movies and TV episodes as well as five discs containing several hundred cartoons--mostly crappy ones like Caspar the Friendly Ghost and the Three Stooges, but mixed in there are some gems like some Betty Boops and Hoppity Hooper, a follow-up to the brilliant Rocky and Bullwinkle. We also got four military movies in one collection incl. Grey Lady Down with a very young Christopher Reeve and Battle Hymn with Rock Hudson and Marlon Brando's wife, directed by Douglas Sirk.

So they have this big bin where they toss all the $5 DVDs and my partner found a three-disc set called 1001 Commercials, advertising itself as showing a history of pop culture in its most simple form--TV ads from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. I do enjoy trash from other eras, so I plunked down the fiver. The anthology included political films promoting Eisenhower's reelection in 1956, a training film for Kodak camera salesmen, a short documenting how tobacco is a major industry and the health concerns aren't really anything to worry about. My favorites including spots for products no one consumes anymore. Like, when was the last time you heard anyone ask for a 7up? And what happened to Ipana toothpaste? That was hawked by this beaver who fought a gruesome caveman representing tooth decay.

But after viewing a bunch of Chesterfield cigarette commercials, I wanted to see the toy ads, but the TV gave me a signal I'd never seen before: SCRATCH OR STAIN ON DISC. I ejected the disc and there was a small scratch. Rats! I could access the food commercials on this disc, but the toys and PSAs did not show up.

The next day I took it back to Walmart and they said I could return it for the same DVD or one of equal value. That meant searching through the $5 bin again. Of course I couldn't find it, but I did come across the sixth season of Weeds amidst the debris. (I've seen the first four episodes of season one, but that's it.) I took it back to customer service, but they said "Sorry, this is $20."

"But it was in the $5 bin."

They didn't budge. So I said, "Well the other two discs in the set are fine. How about giving me $2 back and we'll call it a day." That didn't fly either. I had to return the whole set or I could go back and scrounge through more crappy DVDs. I decided to keep the set. When I feel in the mood, I give reviews of the commercials.

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