HINT: A buncha Super Nintendo/Gameboy stuff because Rik Mayall is dead and forever awesome!
STOP SCROLLING: In Guess the Game Commercial, we invite you to guess which game is being radically advertised based solely on a single out-of-context retro screen grab. The video below will feature the commercial and generally a short sizzle of our own making with the game in question. Scroll no further than the video below unless you’re stumped and ready to spoil the answer for yourself…
…wait for it…
ANSWER: A whole buncha early Nintendo stuff
Star Fox (Starwing for our fellow Britos)
Super Mario All-Stars
Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Kirby’s Dream Land
Nigel Something Or Other’s Euro-centric Racing
Street Fighter II Turbo
Look: This was actually supposed to be this week’s Guess The Game Commercial, but since so few of you seem to care about any game information beyond the scope of some event in LA, why not hip the remaining few of you to the glory of Rik Mayall?!
I won’t pretend to know a lot about the dude, nor do I have a broad knowledge of his work. I’ve never seen Bottom, and I may’ve seen the entirety of Drop Dead Fred if I bothered to piece together the many disjointed cable viewings I’ve endured. But I do know I fucking love The Young Ones, the early ’80s BBC show that Mayall is most (from an American’s perspective) famous for co-creating.
There’s nothing else in the universe like The Young Ones, and I sincerely doubt any channel would ever broadcast it again despite its seemingly substantial cult status. Bootleg VHS tapes circulated around my high school, likely recorded from its stateside MTV airing in 1985, and in the mid-90s I remember full-page ads in Rolling Stone announcing its debut on Comedy Central. Why? Because it’s fucking insane, and the only comparable thing I’ve ever seen exists solely in the realm of animation.
It’s easy to say that The Young Ones is to comedy what punk is to music, however, I think it’s even more punk than that. It’s ugly, nasty, gleefully disgusting, usually vile just to look upon… and those 1980s BBC PAL masters certainly don’t help in that regard. All four of the main characters are beyond unlikeable, and much like some mythic Sex Pistols set, episodes often ended with the complete destruction of the set and one or more of the characters mutilated.
While the show probably still functions as a clever parody of the traditional Britcom, there’s also a Portlandia-esque skewering of youthful hipster types that I can’t imagine still exist. However, my favorite quality of The Young Ones is that it seems like the angriest thing I’ve ever seen on television. What were the fellas so pissed about? Hell if I know! I hadn’t even started kindergarten by the time the show aired its final episode (where all the main characters die, of course) so certain cultural specifics, when I can understand them through the heavily accented screaming, elude me today as a much wiser, worldly man.
I probably couldn’t accurately decipher everything being said on this show with an Oxford historian and 16 tabs of Wikipedia open, but through the violent slapstick, a message rings clear: Everybody, and everything, kinda sucks. Yet through the chaos and the anarchy, it all comes off as pretty playful. Sort of like if Tyler Durden had adopted the methods of a Bugs Bunny (“We will totally pants Wall Street!”)
Oh my God, the commercials! So sorry… Having not lived in England during the early 90s tragically, and unfairly, denied me the ability to see the commercials you can watch in the compilation above. Either they’re proof of Mayall’s celebrity status over there, or Nintendo UK’s sense of humor, because I don’t know of any nonfictional human spokesman doing this many spots for a single company, let alone Nintendo.
Furthermore, these spots are genuinely fucking funny! No shit, while The States were getting broadsided with in-your-face marketing ‘tude, the UK got this incredibly well-paced, comedic pieces that I have to assume remain memorable to those who saw them. There’s so many things to love! Fake mustaches, Kirby ribbing, nutshots, the FX chip powered SNES masterpiece “Starwing”, and my absolute favorite tidbit, a Super Mario All-Stars commercial proudly acknowledging the absurd difficulty of The Lost Levels (Americans got to find out accidentally or as lazy trivia from two decades worth of games journalists.)
My biggest takeaway? I’m pissed. Seeing these Nintendo commercials grouped together proves what I already knew: America was being denied more Rik Mayall. I tried seeking out Bottom and Filthy Rich & Catflap, although sadly, in the days before YouTube and Pirate Bay with no success. Even his more notable works, Drop Dead Fred and The Young Ones are out-of-print stateside (guessing due to the live performances by Motorhead, Madness, and Dexy’s Midnight Runners), and thus ridiculously priced. His sudden death at the age of 56 serves as a painful reminder of why I remembered his face and name for so long despite seeing him in so very little (please don’t ask me to name any other Young Ones star), and how bitter I deserve to be for not getting more time with this comic personality. If anybody’s got an Mayall recommendations, let me know in the comments.