These spots are the best viewing of rerun season

By Brian M. Raftery
Updated July 17, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Surgeon General’s Warning: Watch too much summer TV, and you may start seeing spots. That’s because rerun season — when viewers pine for anything different — is the perfect time for advertisers to break out their quirkiest clips. A brief guide to some of dog days’ more daring commercial entries.

MR. YOSHIDA’S FINE SAUCES A workout-gear-clad imp named Mr. Yoshida — the most oddly endearing food flack since the late Clara Peller — sits atop a heap of grocery store produce, distracting customers and munching a carrot. The tag line for the marinade is a smart play on words — ”Mr. Yoshida on your favorite vegetables” — and the ad acknowledges Yoshida’s ethnicity (boasting of ”unique and exciting sauces…from a unique and exciting Asian man”) without being in bad taste. A

SNAPPLE ELEMENTS To hype its new energy drink, Snapple sends a cartoon crew of sex-addled critters to the big city for a series of spots. The most memorable bit finds ”Grumpy Gopher” bragging about his skin-flick past while the others take in soft-core cable programming. The scratchy animation and sardonic humor of this ”South Park”-meets-Central Park concept fits the youth-targeted product, but one can’t help but ask: What’s up with the gopher’s oddly sized man-boobs? B

DASANI Though a certain rhyme-bustin’ granny nearly played out the hip-hop standard ”Rapper’s Delight” joke in ”The Wedding Singer,” both the song and the Sugarhill Gang are resurrected for this bottled-water spot, as a game of driveway hoops suddenly turns into an impromptu house party. It’s a festive clip, but it would have been nice to give the old-school band (and their oversize gold chains) some more screen time. B

VERIZON The oft-satirized Lassie gets another modern-age makeover, as young Timmy’s troubles escalate from being trapped in a burning barn to being kidnapped by circus folk — all of which forces the pooped pooch to search online for a less calamity-prone adoptive family. While a dog surfing the Web is a nice step up from the days of poker-playing canines, the cheeky gimmick is almost as timeworn as the original show. B

SNICKERS Bagpipe players! Yuppies! Alien-themed solicitors! All of them face the wrath of a frustrated subway driver who mashes the train’s more annoying passengers between the doors. Commuters (and Scottish musicians) may find this ad a tad too realistic, while everyone else will find its quick-cut, cacophonic style more jarring than enjoyable. C+