Ah, the early 1990’s: post-1980’s fads, but pre-90’s-grunge. Pop Culturally speaking, this was a weird time, with Hypercolor shirts and hats, Zoobas pants, and rat tail hairstyles. Pauly Shore was a household name. EMF, Jesus Jones, and Fine Young Cannibals were ruling the airwaves, and people were actually enjoying listening to Vanilla Ice in a non-ironic way as well. The NES was still a powerhouse and the new Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were gearing up for battle and ready to suck the life out of our piggy banks. As far as video game based TV shows were concerned, there were a good number to choose from. One little gem comes to mind that appeared to mix the cartoon charm of Captain N with the live action hosting of The Super Mario Brother Super Show. That gem was Video Power.
Beginning in 1990, produced by Bohbot Entertainment and Saban Entertainment, and filmed in the Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York City, Video Power had originally started out as a cartoon show with host segments. The host was “Johnny Arcade”, played by actor Stivi Paskoski. This brunette Zack Morris would preview games, give hints and tips and answer snail mail letters from kids.
Mr. Arcade (it could be a stage name)
Within each episode was a cartoon by Acclaim Entertainment called The Power Team. As a sort of N Team knock off, it combined a motley crew of characters from various video games including Max Force from NARC, Tyrone from Arch Rivals, Kwirk from Kwirk, Kuros from Wizards and Warriors and last but not least, Bigfoot from Bigfoot. Like Max Force, the villains also originated from NARC – Mr.Big and several of his thug henchmen.
At least there’s no talking GameBoy
It was fairly entertaining at the time and had a refreshing blend of game characters. It can be fun to come up with your own motley crew, mine’s Arkista, Weird Ed, LoLo, Rygar, and Kirby – !
Dang it, Kirby!!
Come the Fall of 1991 and there was a less-than-subtle revamping of the show. Gone was the Power Team and solo hosting duties of Johnny Arcade. The whole format for season 2 was shifted to that of a game show. Programs such as Fun House and Double Dare seemed to be the muses for this rebranding, sans the slime and goo. Breathing new life in Video Power and straight from his work on the Nintendo World Championships, Terry Lee Torok was brought on as co-host along with another new addition to the show, a house band fronted by musician Steve Treccase from MTV’s Remote Control.
Steve’s look says, “Ya gotta roll up both sleeves on that jacket, bro.”
Only partially scripted, Video Power’s second season would offer the studio audience chances to stump Johnny Arcade with video game questions as well as receiving game hints and previews (segments rolled over and revamped from season one). Later rounds would borrow from Jeopardy with quizzing the contestants or have a score-rated competition between the kids as they played short portions of games over less-than-standard time limits (2 minutes and 2 seconds, etc.). If the show has a strong feeling of caffeinated, organized chaos to it, that’s because they would shoot four individual shows per shoot and had to keep the energy, fun, and levity going strong the whole time.
Johnny’s got his hands on some “Power 3×5 note cards”
For the last part of the show, the kids were suited up in “Power Vests” and “Power Helmets” – just protective padding covered in Velcro (I like Velcro as much as the next person, but adding “power” to the name doesn’t really make it badass or anything). When it was down to one winner, the lucky kid – and envy of children everywhere – got to run through a maze of Velcro covered games and slap them on to himself before jumping down a tube and landing to victory.
Who would win in a fight to the death, Terry Lee Torok or Howard Phillips?
Sadly, Video Power didn’t get to spread its wings into a third season. Its 1992 demise would seem to cement its status as a product of its time as it screams “early 90’s.” Happily, Stivi and Terry are both doing extremely well post-Video Power…
Stivi, Past and Present
Stivi Paskoski is still acting and most recently had a small, yet powerful and disturbing role in the independent film Cash Only that I watched solely for this review. In the movie, Paskoski plays Dino, the film’s violent antagonist. I have to say, I love that mild shock you can get when you realize two or more characters are played by the same actor. I know that’s the whole point of acting, but when it’s done well, it’s done really well (Daniel Day Lewis, Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Tim Curry, etc.).
Dino’s scenes are uncomfortable to say the least, but Paskoski knocks it out of the park. Put Johnny Arcade and Dino in the same room and you’d never know they were both played by the same person…
… plus, Johnny would be murdered, .. so there’s that.
Terry Lee Torok redirected his media savvy and promotional/producing skills after 9/11 to focus on humanitarian causes. He currently travels the globe advocating for ENACTUS.org, which holds friendly competitions for young people to create businesses where the goal is to aid various regions on the world. In an interview he gave The Brian and Lee Radio Show in February 2016, Torok stated the Video Power run was full of fond memories for him and had a manic energy to it.
Terry, Past and Present
Don’t hold your breath for a DVD release of Video Power, but check out some of both season episodes on YouTube.
….and try not to feel too old.
Michael A. Jones firstname.lastname@example.org www.nerdsintheburbs.com
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