Okay, yes, I realize that might be a somewhat bold statement. I don’t think the kids TV station Nickelodeon ever ruled the airwaves, let alone the world. But back in the day Nickelodeon was pretty much the only channel devoted strictly to kids, making it super important to borderline Gen-Xers and Gen Yers like myself. This was before The Disney Channel was available in every cable package, before Noggin was even a blip on the radar. If you were between the ages of 6 and 16 in the early 90s and had cable TV (hey, not everyone did back in the day), you probably watched a good dose of Nickelodeon shows.
I know this may sound bad to some people, but I was an avid TV-watcher when I was a kid. I’m not saying I had a horrible upbringing – I also read and wrote everyday and did all my homework and played sports – but I did probably watch more TV than the average kid. And a lot of the shows I watched were on Nickelodeon. At the time I thought these were the best shows in the world. But looking back…well…some of them are questionable. Let’s reflect.
The World of David the Gnome
This show was about tiny gnomes who lived in the woods and had all sorts of fun and dangerous adventures. The main character, David, was voiced by Mr. Cunningham from Happy Days, narrated by Captain Von Trapp, and the theme song was an awesome 80s synth-pop masterpiece. Seriously, I think I watched the show just to hear the theme song. Well, that and the cute gnomes and their cute house in the woods and their only means of transportation, a red fox named Swift, who got his leg caught in a trap at least once per episode. So yes, I guess you could say that I watched the show because it was kind of awesome. And still is.
This is one of those shows that if I were to watch it now I’d probably wonder what was wrong with me when I was 13 years old. It’s a show about teens who work on a dude ranch and all the troubles and tribulations that come with that job. And even know I’ve seen every episode about twelve times each, the show wasn’t very good. The acting wasn’t very good (sometimes painful to watch), the plotlines were embarrassingly predictable, and there were ZERO cute guys on the show. So why did I watch the show so much????
I’m still puzzled as to what the hell this show was all about. Straight from Japan, this anime show was about a girl named Sandy and her alien koala friends Pinky and Blinky who hailed all the way from Koalawalla Land, aka outer space. For those of you who want to know everything there is to know about Noozles, there is a VERY detailed summary about it on Wikipedia. I, however, will just give you the basics. When Sandy wanted to play with Pinky and Blinky, she would give them “Noozles”, or something like an Eskimo Kiss, by rubbing her nose against theirs. They traveled back and forth from Earth to Koalawalla Land and had all sorts of crazy fun. The end. Still confused.
Salute Your Shorts
Unlike Hey Dude, this show was actually good. It’s theme song was the BEST (“Camp Anawana, we hold you in our hearts”), and it was funny. It was about kids at a summer camp, but not your typical summer camp that you usually see on kids shows. This camp actually looks kind of crappy, and the characters on the show are just one motley crew of weirdos. It’s the characters that separated this show from the others, showing people that kids can be unique and different and far from all stereotypes. Oh, and there was a cute guy on the show – Blake Soper (who’s name is actually Blake Sennett and is currently a member of the awesome band Rilo Kiley) – which gave this 14-year-old even more reason to watch the hilarious summer show.
This show came onto the scene right around the same time that Beverly Hills, 90210 hit its prime, and it’s obvious that the Nickelodeon producers were after the same viewers. It was a supposed “teen drama” – and oh, was it full of drama. These Canadian kids were having problems like alcoholism, divorce, and dating. Heavy shiz, man. It was hard to take the show seriously, though. Sometimes it felt like it was trying way to hard to compete with 90210, and I found myself laughing during the episodes because it was so ridiculous. But you know what? I loved the show. I loved it because it was so ridiculous (unlike Hey Dude). It was entertaining to watch these kids try to pretend that they had these problems, and it was fun making fun of their Canadian accents. (“Ashley, what are you talking aboot? I don’t have a drinking problem, eh.”). AWESOME.*
*For more on this show, check out this hilarious post from Nostomanic.
This was probably the best show Nickelodeon ever did, and probably one of the most unknown. It’s format was similar to that of The Mickey Mouse Club, where a bunch of uber-talented teens perform skits and songs in variety show style in front of a live studio audience. The main reason why I started watching the show was because there was some Newsies alumni on the cast, and then I just grew to love the whole show. It was edgier than The Mickey Mouse Club, dealing with more issues that teens have to deal with, but in an extremely entertaining and even funny way. And damn, were these teens talented. I even found this article from Huffington Post from 2009 that tells me I’m not alone…
So even though Nickelodeon has hits like iCarly, Victorious and The Legend of Korra, it just can’t compare to the days when NICK was all you got. And it was pretty damn great.
…and don’t forget these guys:
- Clarissa Explains It All (the fourth wall!)
- You Can’t Do That on Television (Alanis!)
- Are You Afraid of the Dark? (the campfire!)
- The Adventures of Pete and Pete (Petunia!)
- G.U.T.S. (the Agro-Crag!)