Movies & TV Shows

TV Moments That You Were Sure Were a Dream

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Do you have a TV memory that you only partially recall and others seem to have no recollection of? Don’t worry, my friend, you are not alone in this.

It may be hard to believe, but in the pre-internet era, it was possible for media to disappear entirely. At that time, television seemed even more ephemeral than other forms of media. While films were preserved on reels, books were in print, and music was on vinyl, television was simply a signal that transmitted into your home. Like a ghost, it could appear in front of you one moment and vanish the next. Without the obsessive cataloging of the world wide web, so much of television felt like a one-time experience. For those of us of a certain age (i.e. the people running this website who are ancient), this often resulted in having surreal TV memories that we were convinced only we had ever witnessed…until the internet arrived to prove us wrong.

Whether it was a scary TV movie watched during a sleepover or a live TV moment gone wrong, some TV experiences feel as if they were just a dream. Who knows, maybe they were! Even though uncovering “lost media” has become a popular internet pastime, with numerous subreddits, forums, and social media accounts dedicated to discovering forgotten gems, many strange TV moments still remain as little more than half-remembered anecdotes.

At one of Spot Monster’s recent TV meetings, we discussed mysterious TV moments, episodes, and specials that seemed to exist solely for us. In most cases, we were able to find evidence that these TV events had actually occurred, although not necessarily in the way we remembered them. So, we decided to bring our research to you. The following are several strange TV moments that we were certain were just a figment of our imagination…but apparently were not.

A cartoon mouse finds itself trapped in a hell reminiscent of Christopher Nolan’s style

I carried a dark secret for years: witnessing a mouse trapped outside of time, yet failing to intervene. One of my strongest pop culture memories was watching a peculiar episode of an animated series while staying home from school due to illness. I remembered the episode featuring a cute white mouse character and his friend discovering that time had stopped, except for themselves. Father Time later explained that he paused time for a vacation, and the mouse’s resistance to the time-stop effect was due to eating pickle sandwiches.

After a long time of searching for answers, I finally turned to Google and typed in “cartoon bear time stops father time PBS pickles.” Surprisingly, this search led me to the truth – the episode was from Rupert, an early 1990s animated series based on the British children’s comic strip character, Rupert Bear. Although I mistakenly recalled the character as a white mouse instead of a white bear, many of my other memories of the episode were astonishingly accurate.

The episode, “Rupert in Timeland,” aired on October 4, 1992. It does feature Rupert and Podgy trapped outside of time because Father Time wanted a vacation – a vacation that lasted for 75 years. My memory about the reason why Rupert and Podgy were not affected by the time stop was also partially correct; the characters were eating peppered pickles in a tent and sneezed simultaneously, which caused Father Time’s chrono-magical powers to halt.

However, the episode was even more bizarre than what I remembered. Rupert and Podgy go through a journey of their own timelines, reminiscent of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and witness themselves aging. If I had recalled this detail, I would have felt even worse for not intervening to help the bear. Apologies for referring to Rupert as a mouse earlier. – Alec Bojalad

On live television, a renowned magician passes away while executing a magic trick

When I was eight years old, I witnessed what I believed to be the death of a celebrity on live TV. It was Halloween night in 1987, and I had tuned into the BBC to watch UK magician Paul Daniels perform some eerie tricks. Little did I know, I was in for more than just some spooky entertainment. As Daniels was preparing for his final trick – an audacious escape from the spikes of an Iron Maiden – the door of the Maiden suddenly shut, the room fell silent, the lights dimmed, and an announcer instructed the audience to leave before the credits rolled. I sat there, completely shocked. Had this man just died in a horrific accident right before my very eyes?

A few days following the incident, Paul Daniels wrote a letter to The Times where he declared his existence and expressed his annoyance at the backlash he received for the performance. He referred to it as “black theater” reminiscent of Orson Welles and mentioned that the outcome would have been even more impressive if he had been able to execute his original vision. Unfortunately, being eight years old, I was not a regular reader of The Times, and it took me quite some time to grasp that Daniels had not actually passed away. To make matters worse, none of my acquaintances had seen the program, and I was accused of “fabricating stories for attention,” which, to be honest, was one of my favorite pastimes at the time. – Kirsten Howard

Murun Buchstansangur

Do you know what a Murun Buchstansangur is? I’m not sure, but I remember something with that name existing. It was an animation featuring a peculiar grey-brown blob that wasn’t human or a specific animal. The character appeared sad and anxious, and the overall tone of the show was gloomy. The character was naked, and his butt was visible. This show had a melancholy vibe that was reminiscent of other ’90s animations like Agrippina and Stressed Eric. After doing a quick search, I found out that Murun was a creature that lived in a crack under a kitchen cabinet. Channel 4 commissioned 52 shorts featuring Murun, which were shown to fill scheduling gaps.

According to Rosie Fletcher, Murun doesn’t follow a scheduled program. Instead, he appears unexpectedly. The show doesn’t offer light-hearted entertainment but presents Murun with various dilemmas. In the first episode, he receives invitations to a play and a party, both of which he doesn’t want to attend. Throughout the episode, he struggles to choose which event to skip and whom to disappoint. In the end, he decides not to go to either event. It’s quite a story for a cartoon about a blob who chooses not to attend a party.

A Truly Bonkers Animated Anti-Smoking PSA

When I was a child in the New York metro area, I used to enjoy watching an early morning anti-smoking ad with a unique animation style. The commercial featured different characters performing rhyming actions, such as a child on a swing for “Swing,” followed by a woman singing opera for “Sing.” The ad ended on an animation of someone coughing, accompanied by the word “choke,” and a brief message of “but don’t smoke,” with a gravesite in the background.

The animation in the ad closely resembled several Canadian PSAs that ran in our area during the early 1970s. The voice-over was serious and delivered with gravitas, sounding very similar to the voice in another commercial created by the American Heart Association. The ad was initially longer but was cut as the season progressed and was shown before morning cartoons.

Although the ad exists, it is challenging to find. I have searched internet archives and YouTube, but to no avail. I would love to see it again.

Tony Sokol wondered where the ad could be and decided to give it one last chance after being assigned by Alec to find it. Fortunately, he found it at the 30-minute and 27-second mark in the compilation mentioned above.

Tim Curry has been characterized as an attractive devil

After years of thinking she had dreamt it, Louisa Mellor discovered that her minor obsession with an early 1990s ITV series, where a devil played by Tim Curry tricked a group of schoolgirls into making monkeypaw-style wishes that led them to sorting guts at a chicken factory, was a real memory but flawed. Despite having no success with Google or IMDb and Curry not responding to her fanmail, she eventually fact-checked the memory over 30 years later to realize that it was actually former Spandau Ballet bassist and future EastEnders bad boy Martin Kemp who played the devil in Fay Weldon’s six-part 1992 drama Growing Rich. However, both men had made the same erotic impact on her 11-year-old brain, which had saved them under the same mental category: devils, hot. As a result, she concluded that no further investigation was needed.

ALF Ends On the Promise of Alien Torture

As a youngster, I found nothing more amusing than ALF, a sitcom featuring a sarcastic extraterrestrial life form living clandestinely with a typical suburban household. Rather than studying the technicalities of puppetry in a human-dominated show, my focus was on emulating the quick-witted humor of the titular character.

However, as I grew older, my interest in the series waned and I missed most of the final season until a sick day at home provided an opportunity to catch up on ALF reruns airing on USA Network. To my surprise, instead of the usual jokes involving feline consumption, I witnessed the Tanners delivering ALF to a deserted field for a reunion with a spaceship from his home planet Melmac. Yet, the joyful moment was interrupted when government officials arrived, apprehended ALF, and confiscated the ship, leaving the fate of the lovable alien unclear.

During the early 90s, I wasn’t certain if I had imagined the ending of ALF, as I was in a feverish state and the internet was not yet widely available. It was hard for me to accept that a show as endearing as ALF could have such a bleak ending. I doubted its existence until the release of the 1996 TV movie Project ALF, which included members of the Home Improvement cast, another show I enjoyed. The film showed ALF being held in government custody, proving me right about the show’s ending. However, my joy at being vindicated was dampened by the realization that my perception of ALF’s humor and charm was entirely misguided.

When The X-Files Met The Simpsons

As a young child, I distinctly remember being terrified by an episode of The Simpsons called “The Springfield Files.” While I can’t recall the details of the episode or my exact age at the time, I do remember that it left me with nightmares for days. The culprit of my terror was an alien that Homer encounters in the forest – its glowing eyes and eerie presence left me questioning everything I thought I knew about the show. Instead of the usual comedic antics, I was faced with a creature that seemed to peer into the depths of my soul. Even after it was revealed that the alien was just a product of Mr. Burns’ radiation exposure and a questionable wellness ritual, my fears remained. The idea of encountering a similar creature in my own life suddenly seemed more possible. The grounding of the episode in Simpsons reality only made it feel more likely that something with giant eyes and glowing green skin could appear in my own backyard.

Even though “The Springfield Files” episode of The Simpsons has connections to The X-Files, I have yet to revisit it as an adult because of how deeply the alien character traumatized me as a child. Despite its claims of peaceful intentions, the nightmares it caused me to have are a testament to the true horror it inspired in me. – Brynna Arens

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