This is Michael Thomasson comin’ at you with a historical pop-culture article, and if you’re not careful, you may learn something before it’s done. So let’s get ready, OK? Hey, hey, hey!
Despite your current feelings about Bill Cosby, he was a major influence on many of those reading the pages of Old School Gamer Magazine. Whether you watched him as the first African American with a starring role on a weekly dramatic television series on I Spy in 1965, as a guest host on NBC’s The Tonight Show, on the PBS series The Electric Company, in the original Cosby Show, or as Cliff Huxtable the second time around; he made an impression. Perhaps he tried to sell you Jell-O brand pudding and gelatin, Texas Instrument computers, Kodak film, and even New Coke… which probably left a bad taste in your mouth.
My most cherished Bill Cosby memory was when he hosted Filmation’s Emmy-nominated Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, a show about urban teens learning life lessons. Each episode featured a community problem, ranging from coming-of-age stage fright to the seriousness of child abuse. One particular episode that aired on November 24, 1984, titled “Video Mania,” really struck a chord with me. It dealt with video games and obsession.
Following the junkyard’s first annual worm race, Weird Harold forgets all about his harp made of bedsprings when he chances upon a lost wallet in the alley behind the Videoland Arcade. Initially Harold declares that he is rich and plans on purchasing the world’s loudest cassette player. However, after a squabble between his conscience counterparts on his shoulder, portrayed by Fat Albert as an angel and his friend Rudy as the devil, Harold decides to “do the right thing.” He returns the hundred dollars to the arcade operator, Mr. Sherman, who rewards him with a handful of quarters and tells him to enjoy himself in the arcade.
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