Okay, here's one of the best moments from any Macy's Parade. Stepfanie Kramer has the honor of introducing John Ratzenberger -- for reasons still unbeknownst to the crowd -- and ol' Cliffy seems to be a bit down this morning. Not just "down," actually -- comatose. He answers Stepf's questions with the energy level of a slaughtered whale, and just as you begin to wonder if his mother just died or something, he confirms that he recently got married. Oh, so that's it. So, the interview continues, with Cliff rapidly turning to stone, and when it seems like a higher power is going to grace the world by pulling the plug, Stepf makes a chilling announcement: Cliff Claven is gong to sing.

And by God, it's the most depressing thing I've ever seen. Having just concluded a live interview, the audience was firmly familiar with Ratzenberger's real voice. The song he's lip-synching to is sung by someone who sounds completely different, and even Cliff himself is rolling his eyes about it. Though not shown in the clip below, the song even has a terrible climax moment. After finishing up, Pat Sajak waltzes up to our favorite mailman for some quick words. Evidently depressed over the pitiful performance he just threw at the world, Ratzenberger literally walks away from Sajak, in mid-sentence, leaving the game show host to stand around basically apologizing to television watchers across the nation for letting such a downer ruin the Macy's Parade. Brutal -- just seeing it unfold on the video twenty years later makes me cringe. The only thing worse would be watching him go through this torment naked with his nipples painted green.

Watch and you'll agree: this experience still gives Cliff nightmares. (5.9 MB)

Not every float was accompanied by a song and dance number -- the "Get Along Gang," one of the swishier of the 80s toy lines, appeared only for a brief moment in their famous caboose. There were shitloads of costumed characters from the series found within, but for whatever reason, the cameramen chose not to focus in on 'em. I blame the low sales of Get Along Gang dolls entirely on this incident. And so does that big giant squirrel in roller-skates. You can't see him, but he's there. And that's my point!

Oh no, not her again. Some of you may remember the hideous live-action Rainbow Brite from this review, where the bitch visited the San Diego Zoo. I had hoped and prayed that I'd never see this scary creature again, and probably sacrificied a number of chickens to ensure it. Well, she's back, and she's more frightening than ever. I'm not sure how this beast was supposed to inspire little girls into buying Rainbow Brite dolls, unless she was supposed to be a sort of role model for ugly children everywhere. The insanely creepy monster only stays on camera for a brief moment, riding a horse that keeps its eyes tightly shut to avoid seeing the horror sitting on top of it.

Could Rainbow Brite possibly look any scarier? (800 KB)

Soleil Moon Frye, better known as "Punky Brewster," made a quick appearance to sing a song that may or may not have been about bologna. John Ratzenberger should be ashamed -- this kid did a much better job at appearing to be actually singing. And she didn't go dissin' Pat Sajak, either.

Incidentally, I never really got into Punky Brewster. My only memory of anything having to do with the show is from the second grade, where my normally straightforward and "just the facts" teacher entered the Twilight Zone by indulging in a ten-minute tirade to the class about what terrible parents Soleil Moon Frye must have had to name their child something like that. I promise, this actually happened. In the sixth grade, I found out that my photography teacher -- a guy who spent virtually the entire semester teaching the class how to create half-working cameras out of oatmeal containers -- was married to her. Then everything made sense.

The citizens of Sesame Street had a quiet arrival with no accompanying theme song or much fanfare. You can very visibly see the guy dressed as "Bert" give up on waving to the kids, realizing that nobody in the crowd was even looking in their general direction. Man, Big Bird went through the trouble of wearing a tie for this? Sesame Street's pre-Elmo days were sadly hit-or-miss. They should've included a Snuffleluffagus puppet with Dionne Warwick straddling its trunk.

Oh, Dom DeLuise was there, too. He threw paper at the crowd for five seconds before disappearing completely. I've heard that this is exactly how he wanted his involvement in the parade worded in NBC's contract. Dom's a fucker.


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