Friday, October 5, 2012

90's Nickelodeon Shows: Classic or Overrated?

When Kevin and I decided to do a whole tribute to Nickelodeon, we knew that it was going to be a lot of work. However, it wasn't going to be hard for us because we LOVED Nickelodeon growing up. Everyday, whether it would be weekday afternoons after school or on Saturday night, we would tune in and see our favorite shows like Doug, Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, etc. So when working on every single article discussing and giving a small retrospect on all these shows, there were so many things that I had learned along the way. For example: I didn't know that there was another anthology series before Are You Afraid of the Dark? I didn't know that Jim Jinkens, the creator of Doug, worked on pre-school Nickleodeon shows of the 80's. I never heard of shows such as America Goes Bananaz, Livewire, Standby: Lights, Camera, Action!! and Out of Control. I didn't know that Salute Your Shorts was based on a book. It was such a blast not only learning about interesting facts about the shows you grew up with, but sharing it with people who feel the same nostalgic connection of these shows. For that, I must tell you: thank you.

But there was something else that I learned over the last 6 months. After posting up a review, I would do research on what people nowadays think of the 90's Nickelodeon. What I found were pictures such as this:




and this

Also, I can't even tell you how many "I miss 90's Nickelodeon shows" tributes I've seen on YouTube. Look it up, there's so many of them!

Not to mention all the articles at RetroJunk, blogs, and other websites that seem to praise the 90's Nickelodeon shows and saying that the shows from the 2000's up to today are complete garbage and that kids today don't know what they're missing. However, there was one comment from someone that made me see something I haven't even though of.

"The reason why you praise the 90's Nickelodeon shows is because you grew up with them. When you're saying that today's shows are terrible because they're not the same shows you watched as a kid, you have to understand that you are not a kid anymore. Today's kids are completely different compared to kids from 10 or 20 years ago. Kids are surrounded by different media, they're raised differently, and their tastes of shows are different. If you were a kid in the 90's, I'm sure you wouldn't like it if they didn't show programs like Hey Arnold or Rugrats and instead aired programs such as Facts of Life, Charlie's Angels, or The Cosby Show. You didn't care for your parents' show then and the kids of today don't care about your shows now."

You know what? The person who wrote this comment made a really good point. As you recall from my review of Welcome Freshmen/Fifteen, I had mentioned that the people who grew up with Nickelodeon from the 80's hated the 90's Nickelodeon shows because most of their favorite shows were gone and were replaced by others. But you don't see people doing "I miss 80's Nick" videos with shows such as Pinwheel, Livewire, The Third Eye, America Goes Bananaz, Today's Special, etc. Now it's gone full circle with people who grew up with Nickelodeon from the 90's saying they hated the 00's Nickelodeon because most of their favorite shows are gone and were replace by others.

When reading and watching these "I miss 90's Nick" videos, it got me thinking:

I mean, seriously? It seems that the people who have created these videos and had written these articles has most likely haven't seen these shows in years. Now I'm not talking about when The 90's Are All That debuted last year, no! I'm talking about looking at now outdated websites gushing about how the 90's Nickelodeon shows were the best ever giving out detail in why it was so good and the new shows are crap. A few years ago, I would have been in that group. I would have fought to the death saying that shows of today are garbage and the older shows were the best. But maybe now is not the case anymore. Maybe my rose colored glasses were on for so many years that I haven't admited the fact that many of the shows that I saw as a kid have not held up at all. Is this true? Well, sit back and relax as we talk about the pros and cons of 90's Nickelodeon shows. Here we go.


When said that the 90's was the most important year for Nickelodeon, I completely agree. As you know, back in the 80's, the majority of their programs were acquired from other networks and even countries such as Canada and Great Britain. While there were original shows exclusively from Nickelodeon such as Pinwheel, Popclips, Livewire, America Goes Bananaz, Out of Control, all the game shows, Nick Rocks, and Hey Dude, all of the kids' shows and cartoons were from other sources such as Danger Mouse, Count Duckula, Banana Man, The Adventures of the Little Prince, David the Gnome, etc. Not to mention You Can't Do That on Television, which put Nickelodeon on the map, was a Canadian sketch comedy show.

When the 90's came, Nickelodeon had at that point created its own identity. Nickelodeon Studios was open in 1990, they were the #1 kids' network, and now they could animate and create their own shows. As I've mentioned before, 1991 was the most important year of Nickelodeon. Shows like Doug, Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, What Would You Do?, Clarissa Explains it All, and Are You Afraid of the Dark were debuted. Almost all of those shows were innovated and groundbreaking when they first came out. Ren and Stimpy showed us that cartoons can have adult humor and paved the way for shows such as Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Cow and Chicken, Rocko's Modern Life, South Park, Beavis and Butthead, and Adventure Time. Rugrats had an interesting European animation and had created a show that both kids and adults could like. The kids got into the characters and their perspective of the adults while the adults loved the modern pop culture jokes. Clarissa Explains it All was one of the first teen shows that starred a female and had shown us a view of what a typical teenage girl goes through.

Not to mention that the 90's was a huge revival and gave a modern spin to Hanna Barbera, Disney, and Warner Bros. cartoons such as Tiny Toon Adventures, Darkwing Duck, Ducktales, Talespin, 2 Stupid Dogs, Pirates of the Dark Water, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Swat Kats, and Freakazoid. Also there were fantastic comic book animated series such as Batman, Superman, X-Men, and Spiderman. So you see, today's shows such as Phineas and Ferb, Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, The Regular Show, and Young Justice wouldn't have been possible without the groundbreaking work that the animators from the 90's could do. In a time in which cartoons were nothing more than 30 minute commercials hyping up the latest toy, the 90's set the standard of what a cartoon could do.

Now let's talk about the live action shows. As you've been noticing from the tribute, no two teen series were the same. Each one of them were different and unique. Clarissa Explains it All was not like The Adventures of Pete and Pete. My Brother and Me was not like The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was not like Salute Your Shorts. Each show had its own identity, setting, and characters to set it apart from the other shows. This is what today's teen shows are missing: they are all one and the same. It's about a group of teenagers who either go to school or at home or just hang out and they do pretty much nothing. The characters are pretty stupid and cliche, there's no plot, and everything just seems unrealistic. I feel like I'm seeing the same show over and over when I change the channel and I see iCarly, Victorious, Austin and Ally, Hannah Montana, The Wizards in Waverly Place, and Big Time Rush. There is absolutely no variety in any of these shows. It's like what D.J. McHale said in our interview with him "I can't tell the difference between the shows on Nick and Disney. I like to call it Disneolodeon". I completely agree.

Another thing that Nickelodeon in the 90's did well were the special events. I mean, don't tell me you didn't want to be in the Nickelodeon Super Toy Run when you were a kid. I mean, you had 5 minutes to get any toy you wanted and you didn't have to pay for it? Yes please! I want to get a Super Nintendo and a Sega Genesis! Sign me up!

Overall, the 90's were indeed a great decade for Nickelodeon. That can never be debated. It was truly a privilege if you were a kid in the 90's.

Now, uncover your eyes and take off your nostalgic rose colored glasses. Here is the major con! While it may be one, it's a really important one.


The majority of the shows on Nickelodeon have not held up well at all, especially the teen shows. Welcome Freshmen and Fifteen were blantant ripoffs of Saved by the Bell and Degrassi. My Brother and Me and Space Cases are extremely corny and almost unwatchable, Roundhouse was an awful excuse for a improv show having terrible jokes, the majority of the game shows have poorly aged due to their crappy prizes, uncreativity, goofy hosts, cinematography, and idiotic contestants, Cousin Skeeter and 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd were unbelievably bland and boring, and shows such as The Secret World of Alex Mack and The Journey of Allen Strange fell short of what could have been a great show. More than half of the shows Kevin and I reviewed were not recommended to check out, so why do people still talk great about them? Because I think that the people who praise them have not seen them lately. They're so protected of their childhoods that they wish to not see them again due to them watching it as a kid gave them a warm feeling inside. For this reason, people are more than willing to post that the 90's Nickelodeon shows were the best. News flash: more than half of them are not!

I just feel that many of the 20 and 30-year-olds are constantly saying that their childhoods are awesome and to tell you the truth, I'm already getting burned out on it. The reason that our childhoods were great was not only because there were great shows to see, but because our lives were simpler and filled with less responsibility. When we see shows and movies today that are different from the ones we grew up with or being remade, we get angry because we had seen "better" shows when we were kids or fear that they'll change the original source material that we grew up with up. But mostly, we don't want to admit the complete honest truth: we're getting old!

Similar to when the baby boomers were complaining that there were no good quality programs in the 80's compared to the 50's, we are complaining that there are no good quality programs today compared to the 80's and 90's. Well, guess what? The majority of our favorite shows are out on DVD or online. Go watch those if you want to get your nostalgic fix. Problem solved!

Also, last time I checked, there are some great shows on TV right now. If you want to watch a great animated show, watch Adventure Time, Regular Show, Gravity Falls, Phineas and Ferb, Young Justice, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Legend of Korra, and so much more. Not to mention funny sitcoms and TV series like Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Mike and Molly, Girls, Two Broke Girls, 30 Rock, and more. Not to mention the adult animated shows like Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show, Robot Chicken, Aqua Union Patrol Squad, and so much more. There are so many great shows today: you just have to be open minded and look around. You'll find a gem that will be just as treasured as some of the shows you grew up with. There are even some Nickelodeon shows from the 2000's that aren't bad. In fact, there are some really good ones!

In concluding this article, I do agree that the 90's were a huge important milestone for Nickelodeon and had a great run with their shows. It was truly the "golden era" for the #1 kids' network. But that was then and this is now. For today's standards, most of the shows have aged poorly and not as good as it once was. It's 2012. Time to look ahead, not look back. You can do so from time to time, but don't stay there. You won't get very far in your life doing so.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we go into the year 2000 with Double Dare 2000.

Also, it's time to return to the Tim Burton tribute with the 1988 classic Beetlejuice.

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



  1. Nice article. I agree with most of it.
    Hey Arnold! is my all time fave.

  2. Every channel has its good and bad. It had some amazing shows and some were not that good. But I guess every show works out because kids have different choices and even the not so good ones were kids’ favourite. Now days, I am watching some shows on Netflix. My kids are in love with it. I have to say Andy Yeatman has done a fabulous work with the content.