Thursday, November 29, 2012

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Interview with Peggy Sue Clay

When it comes to classic Nickelodeon shows, people mostly look back fondly at the 90’s with shows such as Doug, Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, Clarissa Explains it All, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, All That, Rocko’s Modern Life,etc. Finding people who gush 90’s Nickelodeon shows isn’t hard: check on my blog post “90’s Nickelodeon Shows: Classic or Overrated” and “Casual Chats” episode 1 on YouTube.

However, looking for fans of 80’s Nickelodeon shows wasn't that easy. In fact, most people don’t even remember Nickelodeon shows from the 80’s at all. The earliest show that most people remember on Nickelodeon from the 80’s is Double Dare. Kevin and I decided to look for anyone who can tell us fond memories of Nickelodeon shows that date back even before Double Dare.

Little did we know that there was an entire blog that talks about 80’s Nickelodeon shows such as Pinwheel, Kids Writes, Today’s Special, Special Delivery, You Can’t Do That on Television, The Third Eye, The Tomorrow People, The Adventures of Black Beauty, and much more. The blog “Classic Nickelodeon Fan Blog” dedicates itself of discussing these now forgotten Nickelodeon shows from the 80’s.

Kevin and I interviewed the founder and blogger of the site Peggy Sue Clay. I hope you enjoy it.

Patricia- What were your favorite shows growing up?

Peggy- The Tomorrow People – both the original Series (OS) and the Big Finish Audio Dramas (AD) which were a continuation of the OS, The Adventures of Black Beauty, Kids’ Writes, Nick Rocks Video to Go, Today’s Special, The Third Eye, Spread Your Wings, The Monkees, Matt & Jenny, Standby...Lights! Camera! Action!, Studio See, Vegetable Soup and Hocus Focus.

Kevin- What was the first Nickelodeon show you ever saw?

Peggy- I don’t know that I specifically remember what show I saw but some of my earliest memories are of Vegetable Soup, The Adventures of Black Beauty, Spread Your Wings and Adventures in Rainbow Country. But I can tell you about another early memory that I have.

Back in the very early 80’s Nickelodeon would sometimes show music videos in between shows, along with their commercials, not the regular commercials like you see now. One cold winter’s day I came home from school and turned on the TV and they showed either “Get Up And Go” by the Go Gos or “Shoppin’ From A to Z” by Toni Basil. I can’t remember which one it was, or perhaps it was both but since they were two of my favorites anyway it didn’t really matter and maybe that’s why I remember that so vividly.

Kevin- What are your favorite and least favorite Nickelodeon shows?

Peggy- My favorite was The Tomorrow People; I had such a big crush on Peter Vaughn-Clarke who played Stephen Jameson. I think I had two least favorites, Against the Odds because I’ve never liked history (still don’t) although looking back I can see how educational it was. The other was Reggie Jackson's World of Sports only because I’ve never been into sports.

Patricia- What made you decide to start your blog discussing about late 70's, 80's Nickelodeon shows? 

Peggy- The blog grew out of my Yahoo group called A NewBeginning For Classic Nickelodeon. I knew that with a blog I could reach a different audience than I could with a Yahoo group and it was that thinking which ultimately let me to create my Facebook pages and groups in honor of Classic (80’s) Nickelodeon. (See links and Google “A New Beginning For Classic Nickelodeon”, everything that comes up under that name is mine.) And it was another way to advertise that I was going to (attempt) to host the very first Classic Nickelodeon Fan Meet. I posted my very first blog on Monday, April 20, 2009 about the fan meet, which was to be scheduled for July 31 - Aug 2, 2009, but unfortunately due to lack of interest it was canceled. I kept trying and trying and finally last year one guy showed up and for me that was a huge victory.

Patricia- What, in your opinion, is the difference between Nickelodeon from the 70's, 80's, 90's, and today?

Peggy- 70’s – When Nickelodeon first launched on December 1, 1977 as The Pinwheel Network on QUBE in Columbus, Ohio it was more or less a basic cable channel. They showed programs like Pinwheel, Video Comic Books, Children’s Classics, America Goes Bananaz, Hocus Focus, First Row Features, Nickel Flicks and By the Way. It wasn’t until their national relaunch on April 1, 1979 as Nickelodeon that they really became a household name. Then in 1980, new shows were added to the lineup, including Dusty's Treehouse, First Row Features, Special Delivery, What Will They Think Of Next?, Pop Clips and Livewire.

The 70’s and 80’s were both about fun and education. One good example of this was The Adventures Of Black Beauty, which taught us all how to respect our elders and others around us. They taught us about helping our neighbors and to show kindness both towards our fellow man and to animals. They taught us to always tell the truth no matter what the consequences would be. They taught us how to work hard for what we want and to stand up for the things we believe in. But all of these concepts were lost in the 1990’s show and has continued right on though today’s programming on all networks not jut Nickelodeon.

Kids’ Writes taught children how to use their imaginations, how to write and how to spell because after all, as it says in their title song, “We don’t change a word you write, we do just what ya say. And if ya hear a funny word, well, ya spelled it that way.” Mr. Wizard's World and What Will They Think Of Next? taught kids about science and Against the Odds taught kids about historical figures.

By the end of the 1980’s Nickelodeon started airing “outside commercials” as I call them. These were regular commercials like you see on your favorite television shows every night of the week but the reason this is so significant for Nickelodeon is because it meant that the network was gradually beginning to change. They were no longer a simple local network, they were beginning to make their presents known on a national level and by the end of the 1990’s Nickelodeon had started to drift away from their live action format by introducing “Nicktoons” such as: Doug, Rugrats, The Ren & Stimpy Show (a vile program in my opinion), Rocko's Modern Life, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and many, many more.

Not only were they leaving behind the live action programs they had come known for they were also digressing in the quality of their programs. Now while you may research their history and find that it was during that time when they really became a national household name the 80’s children such as myself were reeling. (Perhaps this doesn’t apply to everyone but it certainly did for me.)

Sadly today’s Nickelodeon looks NOTHING like it use to, in fact I would go as far as to say that it should now be called “The SpongeBob Network” since that is the only show they seem to focus on. I can find nothing redeeming about the regular Nickelodeon channel (save House of Anubis and Victorious) since it is dominated by SpongeBob and The Fairly OddParents, both of which have been flagged by the Parents Television Council as having sexual references, bullying, swearing and much more. (See Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing – A Content Analysis of Children’sTelevision from March 2, 2006 )

In January 2012 my city’s CableOne upgraded and they added roughly ten new channels with Teen Nick being one of them and for the first time I got to see some of the 90’s shows that (some of) my members grew up on. I didn’t like all of them but the ones that I didn’t mind sitting though are Kenan & Kel, Doug, and I had already seen Legends of the Hidden Temple so I knew I liked it. Currently I watch House of Anubis (I’m sooo excited for the third season!!!), Drake & Josh, Victorious, H2O Just Add Water and sometimes I watch Alien Surf Girls although I can’t seem to get into it.

Patricia- What shows from Nickelodeon have poorly aged? Which shows aged the best?

Peggy- I think a show is measured, or aged, by how well the fans remember it. Certainly shows like Double Dare, You Can’t Do That On Television, The Tomorrow People, Today’s Special and Legends of the Hidden Temple will be around for a very long since their fandoms are still very strong. But then here are other shows like Against the Odds and Going Great that both scored very low viewer scores in the 80’s which led to both of them being canceled. I think shows that lasted only one season are the ones that have aged poorly.

Patricia- What are the most underrated and overrated shows on Nickelodeon?

Peggy-  Probably the most underrated show would have to be Pinwheel. So many people try to compare it to Sesame Street just because it had both human actors and puppets but really that’s where the comparison should end. Sesame Street was, and still is, very much a “teaching mode” type program were children learn their alphabet and how to count. They also deal with issues such as death and other current situations. Pinwheel taught children how to use their imagination, they learned how to respect each other’s different tastes in music and how to have fun and be children. (Or at least that’s what the six remaining hours of the show have helped me to remember.)

But by far the most overrated show on Nickelodeon today is SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS!!! I’m sorry if this offends anyone who reads this but I BLOODY HATE THAT SHOW!!! I mentioned above that the Parents Television Council has already sited it for using swear words, sexual references and a lot more. Trust me, read the article you’ll learn a lot about the different programs that were on when the study was conducted and that are still on the air.

Back to Bob. Nickelodeon didn’t even celebrate their 30th anniversary because they were too worried about celebrating Bob’s 10th anniversary. In my opinion both the 80’s and the 90’s fans were robbed because of Bob!

Patricia- I did a podcast of the top 20 Nickelodeon shows that need to be remade. What shows from Nickelodeon do you want to see remade?

Peggy- This is such a great question because I had already started thinking about this around 2008 when I first saw H2O Just Add Water. Now these are in no particular order so here we go.

The Third Eye

I totally agreed with you on this one. I think they should either remake the original shows that aired on it or add new ones or both. That being said did you know that Under the Mountain has been remade into a new movie? I’ve seen it; I own it and I love it! It’s a little different than the original with the twins being older and Sam Neill now plays the mysterious “Mr. Jones”. The Wilberforces are back in full force and just for us Classic Fans, Kirsty Wilkinson, who portrayed Rachel Matheson from the original "Under the Mountain" on television, made a cameo appearance in the film as Mr. Jones' Neighbor and Bill Johnson, who portrayed the original Mr. Wilberforce also made a cameo appearance in the film as Mr. Carpenter. I have to admit that even I had to go back and check that one. LOL The one, and pretty much only, problem I have with this new film is that almost every scene with the male cousin he was all over his girlfriend! And I don’t care if it is an update, that kind of behavior was totally uncalled for in this movie especially when it was supposed to be (more or less) a kids movie!!!

I love the charm of The Haunting of Cassie Palmer and Children Of The Stones; I don’t have a problem with bad acting or perhaps a few moments of thin scripting because that’s what makes them classics. I own all four of the original stories, including the Under the Mountain remake and except for Into the Labyrinth, which I didn’t care, for I love them but I do think that with today’s technology they could all be updated and made even creepier than the originals.

Now here’s my twist to this, I would also like to add new programs to this line up. I think H2O Just Add Water, House of Anubis, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Alien Surf Girls would all fit very well into the creepy style of The Third Eye. In fact that was the very statement I made to my mom when we started watching all of these shows. (Yes she watches all of the same shows I do and she loves them all just as I do. I have such a cool Mom!!!)

Also one quick note, The Witches and the Grinnygog was announced as part of The Third Eye lineup but never aired, it was actually shown as part of the Special Delivery program.


This long time favorite is a perfect candidate for an update, but not just an update, I think it should be a continuation of the original series. I think all of the new characters should be related to all of the original characters but with one small change. Defiantly bring back an “Aurelia” type character to run Pinwheel House; perhaps her great niece except that she should be a human character not a puppet.

Jake and Kim’s nieces, cousins or even their children could come to stay at Pinwheel house just like their family members before them. (Not have Jake and Kim married to each other but to different people and their children come back.) Just the same as Sal and Smitty’s son with is new wife could come back and revive the old “Daily Noodle” that his parents use to run.

Puppeteers Craig Marin and Olga Felgemacher could easily reimagine new puppets for the show and could recommend others to fill in the other characters. But I think The Muppets should be left completely out of it; this needs to be totally separate from The Muppets organization. 

I also think that the cartoon / stop-motion shorts could all be updated and refreshed. I would still want to see traditional animation, very few computer cartoons, and we should defiantly keep all of the various stop-motion animations, “puppettoons”, claymations and all of the building block sequences. They all have such a charm to them and it would be ashamed for a new generation of children to loose out on them.

Today’s Special

Just think of how many new things Jeff could lean in the world today!!! 

You Can't Do That On Television

This show screams “update” because again, like Jeff, think about how many new things they’d have to talk about these days! But stick to the “real kids” cast like the original cast was. One of the things I didn’t like about the 1990’s version of The Mickey Mouse Club was that the kids were all singers and dancers and I would HATE to see that happen to YCDTOTV. Also, keep the slime thick and lumpy!!! None of that neon green oil that they try to pass off as “slime” these days! – WE WANT OUT REAL SLIME!!!!!

Double Dare & Legends of the Hidden Temple are both perfect for updating but yes keep the “bare bones” of the shows. Update the rooms and the giant props and of course the stories and questions. Find a great host and they’d have it made. Both are still awesome even to this day but they could also stand a little refreshing.

Kids’ Writes

I would LOVE to see Mr. Mairs bring back this show on any network. It was so innovative and creative and it really helped children to learn how to use not only their imagination but also their writing and spelling skills. Have the exact same type of set, bring back Mr. Mairs and have a new cast. This show could ABSOLUTELY work for today’s kids and now that we have the Internet kids would be able to email their stories in as well as physically mail them in.

An Out Of Control movie would be fun. The cast could get word that their old studio is about to be torn down so they go back to save it? Hummm, I’ll have to email this to Marty (Schiff who played “Hern Burford”) and see what he and Dave (Coulier) think about it.

The Tomorrow People

Now this is a tricky one since there have already been two updates to this show and a third one has now been scheduled.

The first update came in 1992 and was very unsuccessful. The show had none of the charm of the Original Series (OS) and indeed seemed to go in a totally new direction. The characters were flat and undeveloped, there was no Lab, no Jaunting Belts or Bands, nothing that tied it to the original show and it was canceled after three years. 

Big Finish did the second update in a series of Audio Dramas (AD) that were, in my opinion, very successful. They returned to the roots of the show, brought back several of the original characters, brought us new characters and brought us storylines that were thought provoking. When I listen to my ADs I can “see” the story in my mind and it’s so brilliant. Yes they are a bit edgier but they are so very well written and because of that I didn’t mind it. If you are a fan of the OS TP, and if you can find them, I would highly recommend this series.
Now the CW Network has announced another update of this series and it both excites me and terrifies me. I’m excited because if the producers are true fans as they claim to be and will cater to both an old and new audience and if they stay true to the basic story, I think it will be wonderful. However the idea of an American network taking over is that they will try to turn it into another teenage soap opera with slutty teenagers (male and female) with no morals, no values and who do nothing more than sleep around and back talk their elders. If the CW follows this route, the show will be an epic failure; or at least in my eyes it will be.

Patricia- Why do you think that Nickelodeon shows from the 70's and 80's aren't as highly regarded as the ones from the 90's?

Peggy- Well unfortunately it all comes down to demographics. The simple fact is that the 90’s Kids (Generation Y) far outnumber the 80’s Children (Generation X) and therefore we, the 80’s Children, have been sadly overlooked; and the fact that most, not all, 90’s Kids won’t even acknowledge us doesn’t help. Most of them have never seen “our” Nickelodeon so they think we should be forgotten and I’m sorry to say that even the Nickelodeon executives agree with them.

I once read that they, the executives, have called their 80’s programs, “their green vegetable time” (that was the just of the quote). So when the executives won’t even acknowledge us, then what chance do we really have? And I think that’s why the early to mid 80’s shows have been overlooked so the fans need to keep them alive. There are so few Generation Xers left out there so we need to stoke rekindle that fire and stoke it so that it will always burn strong. And we need to let Nickelodeon know that even though they have forgotten about us we have not forgotten about them, after all, it if wasn’t for them we wouldn’t all be who we are today.

Patricia- What was the nicest feedback you received from a fan or follower on your blog?

Peggy- Occasionally people will find my blog or Facebook pages / groups and email me to ask if I can help them remember a show that they only have vague memories of. That always makes me feel good but by far the most wonderful thing that has come from my blog was y’all asking me to do this interview. Now I am NOT a kiss-up person and I never say things to people just to make them feel good so I mean this from the bottom of my heart.

In every fandom there is a “go to person” that everyone turns to with their questions about that show. (For Tomorrow People everyone turns to Jackie Clark, for Fame TV show and movies everyone turns to Pam.) When I first realized that I wanted to go “full time” with the preservation of these (usually) long forgotten 80’s shows I told my Mom that I wanted to be the “go to person” for Classic Nickelodeon fans and that dream is really coming true with fans emailing me about shows and then with you and Kevin asking me for this interview. Y’all have truly touched my heart, thank you.

Patricia-What are your upcoming projects?

Peggy- I plan to keep updating my website and blog in hopes that Classic Nickelodeon fans everywhere can reconnect with their favorite childhood memories. The idea of a fan meet is still in the back of my head although I have no idea how I’d do it. I was thinking about changing the name from “Classic Nickelodeon Fan Meet” to “NickCon” in hopes that it would attract more fans. The only small problem I can find with that is I want it to be an 80’s fan meet, not a 90’s fan meet and I would still want to host it here in my home town in Oklahoma. I have no idea how I’ll do it but Marty Schiff and Davie Coulier have already promised me that if / when I finally get it off the ground that they would be happy to be my special guest. J I would also like to star a Nickelodeon Fan Club here in my hometown in hopes of building up a local base to help kick off the fan meets / cons.
Then one of my Moderators from New Beginning thinks I should do an online radio show for CN but at this point in my life I don’t see how I’d ever fit it into my schedule. Also on that “on of these days” list is a book I want to write about CN. I already have the title and the outline I’m just not sure how to exactly get started with it since it is so unlike anything I’ve ever written before.

I have written (put together) a “Book of Slime” and a “Nickelodeon Songbook” both of which I was going to sell at the fan meet but since it never got off the ground… The Slime book is a collection of slime recopies that I’ve collected from all over the Internet and the songbook contains the lyrics from several CN shows as well as many songs from the six remaining hours of Pinwheel and the Pinwheel Songbook video. I hand transcribed many of the songs in that book and a few lyrics I found online, which I also posted the links. Both were a labor of love and devotion however no one outside of my family has seen them. Sad. And the only other thing I can think of at the moment is that I’ve been considering a web show featuring all of the shows I write about in my blogs.

Patricia- Alright then. Peggy, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.
Peggy- Thank you so much! I'm beyond honored!
To learn more about the blogs and websites, here are the following links:

Also if you look up “A New Beginning For Classic Nickelodeon” on F/B you will find a page and a group by the same name and she owns both of them.

That's all for now! Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading!

-Patricia and Kevin


  1. I emailed that part of this interview to Jim Mairs from Kids’ Writes (he was the blond guy who played the guitar) and imagine my surprise when I checked my email the next day and found this email from Mr. Mairs.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2012 09:25:46 -0700
    Subject: Re: Classic Nickelodeon Wednesday – 13 From: Jim Mairs

    Well, this took me by surprise. Lots of good ideas and memories. I will be curious to read what other folks think. All the best for the holidays. Jm

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    He’s very interested in hearing what other Classic Nick fans think about my interview with me so I’m asking all of you to PLEASE comment about that interview here so that I can send your comments to him.

    Yall, THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Mr. Mairs is a very good link to 80’s Nickelodeon and it’s important that if he’s asking for feedback that we all give it to him. After you’ve read this interview please comment to this blog or email me so that I can pass on your comments to Mr. Mairs. ~ Thank you.

  2. I have a ton of classic nick memories to share.
    I used to enjoy watching Pinwheel for the entire 5-6 hours it was on, until my older sister often told me that she wanted to watch her show. I was at the VCR hoping that they would play my favorite cartoon short, as I would know they would play it, when they aired clips about that subject. Like Eating, Clocks, Pencils, Birthdays.
    I vaguely remember Magic Coco, as I developed a crush on her when they showed a video clip of Coco getting ready for the Summer and she gets dressed in fast motion within her winter clothes, and after the narrator corrects her, she then gets undressed and puts on the summer clothes. Of course she was wearing a full black tights type of thing. My favorite cartoons were Krtech (the little mole) Charlie and his climbing tree, and the Czech cartoon about a cat and dog. But the most memorable were the animated stories of puppets made out of string, as a boy and a girl attempted to get a flower that rang like a bell. I would love to see it again, but don't know what it was called. Maybe "The runaway bell?" One other cool animated movie I saw was a woman reading a poem about colors, as she started out by asking "What is White?"
    Of course the movies showing how cuckoo clocks and pencils were made were fascinating to me. Oh I almost forgot about Hattytown tales. I loved that show, but especially loved the organ song used when Sancho fell asleep trying to use his magic hat to grant everyone's wishes.
    Nickelodeon did show short films to fill time inbetween shows called "Breakaway." Mostly I remember Robert Swarthe's animated movie Kick me playing, the animated film to Fatts Waller song "Your Feets to Big."
    Other shows I enjoyed was the Little Koala, and my favorite episode was called the Mood Godess, as they played a song I think was called Arizona Sunset as Diana the moon goddess danced in the moonlight, which in reality was the daughter of a new neighbor that just moved in.
    Do you remember these shows, Kidsworld, Beyond Belief, that's amazing, nick arcade, U to U? I loved it when Beyond belief showed the inside of the clock tower of Big Ben, and the musical silver swan. Kidsworld had an amazing report on the melody bells, which I remember to this very day. More memories to come.

  3. The 4 80s Nick shows I remember the best were "You Cant Do That On TV," "The Third Eye," "Out of Control" and "Turkey TV (you guys forgot to mention this one)." The drunken Dad in YCDTOTV was crazy gross so it was ahead of its time seeing that most kids at the time were still watching Leave it to Beaver or the Brady Bunch. The Third Eye was just creepy (I remember hiding at the beginning or when Mr. Wilderforce starts to sweat and his face melts off..or when Ms. Crabtree turns into a stone.. Remember the skeleton lady during the opening credits..."PERISSHHH ROTHGO!) Anyone else want to find the original actors to see if they want to remake other series in the 3rd Eye please let me know. Mr. Wilberforce could use a facelift.