Come with me, children. Peer back through the dim veil of time to those heady days of the mid-1990s. Clinton was president, your house was still worth more than you paid for it, and the government was running at a SURPLUS. Sounds kinda like Adventures in Fantasyland now, doesn't it? Way back in October 1996, VH1 debuted a show called "Pop-Up Video." The concept was fairly simple: play music videos punctuated by little bubbles full of irreverent, wise-ass factoids that popped up with a "BLOOP!" For a generation who still knew what a music video was, it was great fun — equal parts Trivial Pursuit and Friday Night Videos (if you're too young to know about either of those things, let me just be the first to say: Get off my lawn, you damn fool kids!). It was always must-see TV around the smellier, much drunker household of my 20s. The problem with VH1's new reboot of "Pop-Up Video," which first aired last week with the video of some song I never heard of from Britney Spears (BLOOP! The video was shot in an L.A. basement that had to be hosed out beforehand because of copious amounts of bum poop), seems to be twofold. First, does anybody watch music videos anymore? I'm not talking about some fan-made cut-and-paste job of Bella Swan and her sparkly vampire beau set to a Taylor Swift song. I'm talking about purpose-made music videos, featuring lip-syncing artists, costume changes and high-concept concepts (the Britney video, for example, was about a bunch of artfully-dressed club kids having an Apocalypse Dance Party in a bunker during the end of the world). The second problem with a revived Pop Up Video is the same thing that has swallowed everything from the newspaper industry to the attention spans of a whole generation: the Internet. If you want corny trivia about some random music video, there's a dozen-dozen places to find that info online, and you don't have to wait for some show to come on. All that said, I'm willing to give the new "Pop-Up Video" a shot, if only for nostalgia's sake. I'll be watching the new, forthcoming reboot of "Beavis and Butthead" too, probably while wearing my Nirvana T-shirt and drinking that six pack of OK Soda I've had squirreled back. Who says you can't go home again?
GUY ON A BUFFALO
And speaking of music videos: I know this column is called The Televisionist, but I've always tried to capture the whole scope of visual entertainment here, including Netflix movies and things seen online. With that in mind, I've got to share something that made me laugh quite a bit last week: the epic, tender, touching "Guy on a Buffalo." My kid, who is 11, showed it to me last week. While it takes a certain sense of humor to find it funny, mine is just twisted enough to find "Guy on a Buffalo" hilarious. There are two "episodes" on YouTube at this point. They're easy to find just by searching for "Guy on a Buffalo." Basically, it's a series of clips from a 1978 feature film called "Buffalo Rider" (plot: a scruffy dude named Buffalo Jones rides a tamed buffalo around the frontier, righting wrongs and fist-fighting cougars), all set to original music (sample lyric: "Hey! What's that in the weeds? It's a baby! AWESOME!") Yeah, a lot of you who go check it out are going to be solidly in the WTF category. Whatever you think, though, I'll guarantee you'll have a hard time getting the song out of your head.