Picks and Pans Review: Mighty Minutes

by Jim Hall

Some of the most memorable personalities in the history of TV have never even been part of a show: the Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Charlie the Tuna, Mr. Whipple, the dancing Old Gold packs, Rodney Danger field. Hall, the writer-producer who created NBC’s TV’s Greatest Commercials special, exploits that appeal in this informal history. He spends too much time recounting the details of famous commercials and not enough discussing the phenomenon of TV advertising. He doesn’t even mention such successful movie directors as Adrian (Flashdance) Lyne and Alan (Midnight Express) Parker, who honed their skills on commercials before turning to feature-length films. And he devotes too little space to the thoughts of such experts as Stan Freberg, the satirist-commercial producer. But it’s fun seeing stills from a lot of the old campaigns and reading the reminiscences Hall has collected from such people as Dick Wilson, who has played Mr. Whipple since 1965. In one commercial, Wilson recalls, a St. Bernard was supposed to bark whenever someone squeezed Mr. Whipple’s favorite brand of toilet paper. “The dog wouldn’t bark,” says Wilson. “I got it to bark, though. I stepped on his tail. But don’t tell the ASPCA.” (Harmony, $9.95)

Related Articles