The Big Picture: "Depth of a Salesman"

In which we say goodbye to “Nintendo Power.”

8 thoughts on “The Big Picture: "Depth of a Salesman"

  1. Anonymous says:

    You know I’ve always thought one of the most insidiously commercial things from my childhood was Sesame Street. What exactly was the purpose behind those fake commercial breaks scatted through the program, where the story would get interrupted for a couple of minutes of short educational clips. Yeah these clips teach you commendable things like how to count and the letters of the alphabet and whatnot. But at the same time isn’t the show conditioning you to watch ads and to take what they say as gospel. Food for thought.


  2. Anonymous says:

    The Transformers thing failed because they were using art to sell to kids, narrative storytelling in TV programs and movies. The line between art and marketing blurred, and as assumed, kids recognized the story more than the advertising.

    Go kids.


  3. John M Osborne says:

    Oddly enough – Bob – and this would make a great Big Picture…

    The think about Hasbro produced children's TV is that they had one directive – showcase a single character per episode. Why? Every kid had their favorite toy. It would be wrong to make that kid feel like their favorite is excluded.

    The result was more sophisticated storytelling, to the point that many on those staffs went on to notable television where focusing on characters is key – you know, Lost, BSG, Babylon 5, etc?

    Incidentally, this was another cause of the reaction to the Transformers movie / Death of Optimus Prime, and the subsequent rewriting of the GI Joe movie to have Duke in a Coma rather than die. Further, GI Joe planned on killing off Duke first, and the neighboring room at Transformers stole the idea.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Maybe there's a Big Picture episode about pre-80s glorified marketing towards children. Off the top of my head, there's the Stratemeyer Syndicate canon (Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, etc.) and the Little Orphan Annie radio show where the “be sure to drink your Ovaltine” myth comes from.


  5. Lord Slithor says:

    Seeing as how I feel I totally bypassed the Nintendo era somehow (I never owned an NES or SNES, being a PC gamer for much of the '90s), the loss of Nintendo Power doesn't strike me as such a great loss as it would be for others. However, I did feel the same way when the magazine Starlog folded during that time. Much like Nintendo Power did for video games with Bob, Starlog for me covered many Science Fiction movies and TV shows, big and small, as well as did pieces on special effects techniques, and interviews with many directors and scriptwriters. Their photo guidebooks devoted to subjects like Robots, Aliens, Spaceships, and Fantastic Worlds I read extensively, and I still have them to this day. I feel I owe Starlog as much about my knowledge of Science Fiction cinema as Bob does games with Nintendo Power. And both magazines interestingly enough succumbed to the internet for similar reasons.

    Even though Bob did a good job defending the cartoons of the '80s, I still look down my nose at them largely because I still felt that they were 30-minute long toy commercials. Maybe everything's relative, but with few exceptions, they really couldn't hold a candle in terms of quality to the stuff I watched as a kid in the '70s like Speed Racer, Marine Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Herculoids, Ultraman, Jonny Sokko and His Flying Robot, Star Blazers and Space Giants. Many of those shows were made before ACT got involved and ruined everything. So it was normal to see people get killed-off or gunned down on those shows. I always felt the '80s shows largely wimped-out on the violence, and as such a lot of their dramatic impact was lost. That's why I probably liked Robotech and Transformers: The Movie so much, becuase they weren;t afraid to kill of the characters when the story called for it (although as Bob mentioned in Transformers' case, that was more due to marketing).

    This is why I prefer, say, the new Thundercats show to the old one, as it takes itself more seriously, and as such, doesn't need to be written-down to a kids level neutered of violence. So while I understand his fondness for those shows, I still consider them inferior to what's come on both before and since.


  6. Saarai'ari says:

    @ Lord Slithor: I'll second that I preferred the new Thundercats show to the old one. For that it's story to me seems better to me. Well, that and what they've done to Cheetara. <3

    Will say the same for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon that aired last decade than the one in the 80's. Granted the one from the 80's is enjoyable a bit still, but the latest one seems far better since all the turtles have much difference in their personalities.

    Back on Topic: I will miss the Nintendo Power magazine. Had a few issues too, but obtaining cheat codes and strategies from it as well as other gaming magazines have greatly lessened thanks to websites like Gamefaqs that provide the same if not greater details on such things. Still do get issues of Gameinformer, but it might be just a matter of time before it too fades into the past as much of today's tangible material is made obsolete by digital media.


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