Friday, August 31, 2012

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: U to U/Nick in the Afternoon

To conclude the year 1994, Nickelodeon debuted a new TV series that had fan interaction, fan art, fan animation, and fan mail. That show was called U to U.

The show was hosted by Ali Rivera and Setrone Starks. It consisted of them reading and displaying fan mail, videos, and animation from Nickelodeon fans from all over the world. This was the first show on Nickelodeon that showed off a brand new technology when it came to reading fan mail. It was called the Internet. U to U had a official bulletin board in the Prodigy Internet where kids who had access it would send them an email consisting of stories or letters. In today's standards, it's pretty common for every TV show or movie to have an official website. But back then, it was a rarity. The show also consisted of asking questions to celebrities, songs that would be made into music videos, comic strips that would be made into animated shorts, and playing 3D video games.

They would interact with Nickelodeon fans via video or phone about their loves and interests in art, movies, music, or video games. One person in particular was a kid named Paul Hubans who dreamed of being a cartoonist. Today he's an artist and indie video game designer who has worked on games such as World of Goo, MADHOUSE, and Dark Void Zero.

The show lasted for only 20 episodes ending its run in 1996. Overall, it was the first show on Nickelodeon that focused on the fans and their love for art, video, animation, and such. It was a neat idea that would continue on in other segments throughout the years. Speaking of which, one year later at June 1995, a programming block debuted around the afternoons and pretty much overshadowed U to U. It is still remembered to this day among 90's Nickelodeon fans as something that they would see while watching their favorite shows. That block was called Nick in the Afternoon starring Stick Stickly.


The show consisted of a Popsicle stick named Stick Stickly who would read fan mail, interview kids and celebrities, and have skits before every Nick show.  He would sing the address to send him fan mail and the website when the Internet grew in popularity.

There was also a segment called "U Pick" in which fans would be giving two shows to choose from and the most votes would be the one that they would air. There was even a storyline in which Stick had to find his long lost brother in New York City.

The person who controlled Stick Stickly was a puppeteer named Rick Lyon. He has worked on other shows for puppeteering such as Sesame Street, Bear in the Big Blue House, Crank Yankers, and Avenue Q. The voice of the character was Paul Christie, who today is the voice of the Nick Jr. mascot Moose A. Moose. Many people who grew up in 90's Nickelodeon loved Stick Stickly and had always looked forward to Nick in the Afternoon to see what kind of trouble he would get himself into.

The show lasted for 3 years ending its run on December 1998. It was far superior that U to U was. It had more fan interaction, more celebrities, more skits, and a memorable character. At the time, Stick Stickly was the official mascot of Nickelodeon. People who saw Nick in the Afternoon would grab Popsicle sticks and make their own Stick Sticklys. I sure did when I was 10. 

Around October 7, 2011, Stick Stickly made a comeback and returned on TV for the 90's Are All That segments. It was so nice seeing him hosting, answering fan mail, and doing funny skits again. It was updated to the 21st century with him now having a Twitter and Facebook account. While he hasn't changed a bit, he has a more of an adult humor referencing things like flat screen TVs and Jersey Shore for the late night viewers and for the people who grew up with him. Welcome back, old friend.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we go into the year 1996 and review the sci-fi series Space Cases.


Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.


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