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Test Pattern: ‘Dreams’ cast moves on

Plus: Video trivia; Blondie & Dagwood; book spoilers; Mike Nelson returns; living dolls. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

‘Dreams’ cast moves on; Five-link Friday

I had yesterday off (ah, sweet random vacation days), so we'll catch up on your comments about songs used in ads on Monday. Before we get to the five-link Friday, I wanted to share these comments from a reader named Kim: "Just discovered this and I'm a little late to the party, but my 16 year old daughter and I have been mourning the too. We just loved watching it together. How do I find your column/blog? I just stumbled on it through Love reading about TV stuff."

I wanted to let Kim, and all other "American Dreams" fans, know that I've now seen the pilot for the new fall show that will star Will Estes (JJ Pryor, the young Vietnam vet on "Dreams"). He plays Will (so he won't be able to forget his character's name, I guess) on the new FOX drama "Reunion." "Reunion" has an unusual plot -- it follows a group of six high-school friends, flashing between 2006 and the years after their 1986 graduation, taking on a different year from the past each episode. I watched the pilot, and I'm already hooked -- Estes has an especially juicy role. The actress who played Pryor matriarch Helen, the lovely Gail O'Grady, also has a new show this fall, ABC's "Hot Properties.

And as to Kim's other question, I forget that people don't know -- you can bookmark Test Pattern at , and that will always take you to the latest updates.

On to another Five-link Friday:

• We all know that the first-ever video played on MTV was the oh-so-perfectly named "Video Killed the Radio Star," by the Buggles. But I'll be the first to admit, I didn't know offhand the name of the second-ever video MTV aired. ?

• Apparently Blondie and Dagwood of comic-strip fame will be on Sept. 4. But as points out, the (click on strip to enlarge) actually is dated February 17, 1933. No matter how you do the math, that doesn't seem to add up to 75!

• Some folks flee from spoilers of all kinds, others actively seek them out. I admit to sometimes turning to to find out the ending of a movie I just know I'm never going to see. But I didn't know until recently that there are also several spoiler sites for books, including . So if you're just dying to know who Harry Potter's "Half-Blood Prince" is without reading all 652 pages, spoil away.

• I know I'm not the only fan out there still mourning the demise of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," so for you other MSTies: Mike Nelson has a humorous commentary on a new edition of the Vincent Prince horror classic "House on Haunted Hill." You can order ; I already have mine.

• Running short of reader-submitted links, so check those favorites and send them in! Reader Toni presents: ": dolls posed as real people. Some are creepy (doll in straitjacket)." Hey, those are Blythe dolls, the dolls who had changeable eye color. I loved mine as a kid, and now they seem to be making a comeback.

Send your nominations for five-link Friday, your comments on commercials, or other pop-culture thoughts to:

Sing, sing an ad

Who doesn't love music? It's easy to see why the makers of TV commercials believe a catchy tune will set their ad apart. And sometimes it does — the ORIGINAL "I'd like to teach the world to sing" Coke ad was a classic, unlike its sad modern copycat. I've about how I like the use of the Five for Fighting song "100 Years" ("I'm 22, for a moment...") in the Chase Manhattan ad. And as I said Monday, I get a kick out of the Maxwell House commercial with firefighters singing a coffee-themed version of Madness' "Our House."

But music can wreck an ad, too. I kind of like the DirecTV Sunday Ticket guys singing "I've Got a Sunday Ticket" to the tune of "I've Got a Golden Ticket," but others hate, hate, HATE that song, and also that ad.

And perhaps the ultimate problem with using songs in commercials is the fact that the songs have lyrics beyond what is often heard in a short ad, and they have history and meaning that has nothing to do with hawking a product. Viewers know that, and when they see an ad featuring a song about heroin use, they know it's about heroin use, and they wonder what the ad agency was thinking at the time.

One of the ads that made me laugh was the car commercial using the Dandy Warhols' "Bohemian Like Me." They sang the lyrics "You've got a great car," but cut the song off there. Being a Dandys fan, I couldn't help but mentally finish the line, which continues with "What's wrong with it today?" The Sir Mix-A-Lot classic "Baby Got Back" is of course about his love for ladies with large rear ends, but yet Target is using it to sell school supplies (" and I cannot lie!")

While I think it's fun to discuss the use and misuse of music, it amazes me how personally offended some people are when it's even suggested that a song was perhaps not the right choice. I wrote not too long ago about how odd I found it that the Salt-N-Pepa song "Push It" was being used in a GM ad. Some folks wrote in and agreed with me, others disagreed with good reasons, but still others were furious that a corporate choice could even be questioned. I got some of the most scathing mail from people who dubbed me a prude (usually IN ALL CAPS) and angrily defended the ads. I don't think they were all people who were related to either Salt-N-Pepa or GM executives, either.

So send in your e-mails about music in commercials -- the ones you like, the ones you hate, and the ones where someone really should have read all of the lyrics before choosing a song to use. You can write in too, Salt. You too, Pepa.

Tiger, Tiger, in an ad

Good and bad ads seem to come in waves. For a while there, every commercial that came on was making me jump for the MUTE button (or the TiVo fast-forward). But recently, I’m actually seeing some commercials that are fun.

(And speaking of good ads: Our corporate friends at NBC have discovered the HP ad you and I have been discussing. Check out their writeup here,

Another one I liked recently: A Maxwell House coffee ad featuring a firehouse full of firefighters singing a coffee-themed version of I like the song, and that always helps, and the firefighters are endearing. But I’m still not drinking that coffee, bleah. My Seattle address would surely be revoked.

You’ve been seeing ads you like, too. Here are some of your favorites:

“The new Tiger Woods Nike ad is phenomenal. Watching him golf as a five year old superimposed onto the Old Course at St. Andrews is creative, charming, inspiring, and unforgettable. Great stuff!”    --Joe

“This ad is not cute but I still love it. It is an American Express ad featuring Robert DeNiro talking about his city, New York City. I love it because it is real, urban and hip without trying. Living in a large urban city which I love, (Chicago) I knew exactly what he was feeling.”    --Anonymous

“The ad for Jif peanut butter, with the little girl and her daddy, who folds his bread, because he wanted to do everything “just like his dad.” This ad give me a nice, warm, family fuzzy.”    --Everett

“Some of my favorites are the ones aired on PBS. … A father reading ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ to his young daughter [with various PBS stars in the room]. The father says, ‘and Little Red Riding Hood went to her grandmother’s house.’ Norm Abrams says ‘and if she had had a good sturdy deadbolt on the door the wolf wouldn’t have gotten in,’ and Lara Spencer (‘Antiques Roadshow’) says ‘And the grandmother was lying on her brass waterbed that was worth $6,000,’ and so on.”    --Charlyne

“I thought the BMW car commercial where a dog owner is going to take his sad faced hesitant dog for a walk is absolutely great. The dog is hesitant but then comes along for the walk wearing a helmet. It turns out that the ‘dog walk’ is in the BMW car and as soon as the owner starts the car and drives off, the dog hits his head on the rear windshield, hence the helmet. I laughed out loud!”    --G

“I like the new Orkin commercials. The Orkin man tells the kids about the bugs and how they live, answers questions from adults....he’s got a friendly face and acts like everybody’s wonderful neighbor.”    --Stephanie

“My favorite is about (Pella?) windows/blinds. It shows a man in the background with a dog and is lighting a BBQ grill, and his wife inside showing her neighbor the new windows/blinds. The dog knocks over the grill, the blinds go down. When the blinds are raised, you see the man falling down with a garden hose trying to put out the fire, but runs out of water, blinds go down. When the blinds are raised, you see the man standing there with a dripping garden hose in his looking up, following the smoke trail of the grill that just launched in the air, and landing behind them on the dog’s house. VERY FUNNY and imaginative.”    --Mike