Thursday, March 6, 2014

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Wayside

As we've noticed from the tribute thus far, Nickelodeon doesn't have a stellar reputation for adapting books into TV. Salute Your Shorts was a book about the knowledge and guidelines about how to survive summer camp. While the premise was adapted well in the TV series, it's aged poorly nowadays due to its characters portrayed as one dimensional stereotypes like most kids and teen shows in the 80's and 90's. Also, the less said about the Animorphs TV series, the better. That show was an absolute train wreck with changing plot points and characters' personalities from the original source material that made little to no sense. The Animorphs TV show is mostly forgotten by today's casual Nickelodeon fans and for good reason. With that, Nickelodeon focused on original content. That is until June 25, 2007 when Nickelodeon decided to take the popular children's book series Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar and adapted to a TV series with Wayside.

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The series of books focuses on multiple stories with a total of over 30 characters and their stories on the Wayside School. The Wayside School is a 30 story tower with one room per story. Each book contains 30 chapters told from the different characters each with different, quirky personalities. While I haven't read all the books, I'm well aware of the basic details on what the series is about. With that said, has Nickelodeon finally adapted a well known book series into a well crafted cartoon? Let's find out.

The show begins with our main protagonist Todd, a new student who is sent to Mrs. Jewls' class and sees the strangeness of the school. However, as he struggles to get himself adapted to his new school, he's always sent home early in the kindergarten bus almost every day. Along the way, he meets up with his teacher and classmates such as Mrs. Jewls, the nicest teacher in the world who has a kooky personality and little knowledge on academics, Maurecia, a tough, mean tomboy who teases Todd, but secretly loves him, Myron, a stuck up kid who wants to be class president, Myron's best friend Dana who is always obeying the rules, John, who loves being upside down and walking with his hands, a cheerful obese girl named Rondi, Shari who is constantly sleeping in class, the 3 Erics, and many more. The plot of the show focuses on the kids dealing with everyday life throughout the school and Todd trying to adjust the strangeness of Wayside.

The show was created by John Derevlany, who previously wrote numerous episodes of The Angry Beavers, the 2005 reboot of Gerald McBoing Boing, and is the co-creator of the Lego: Legends of Chima TV series. It started out as a TV movie released in 2005 on Teletoon before reaching over to Nickelodeon as a TV series a few years later. The show lasted for only 2 seasons and ended its run on September 13, 2008. The show had received mixed reactions when it first came out with most people saying that it was a terrible representation of the book series.

With me knowing a tiny bit on the book and watching this show, I whole heartily agree 100% that Wayside is a horrible adaptation to the series. Most of the characters' portrayals are super different from the books. First of all, Todd is not a new student in the book series. The kids who are portrayed as new students are Sammy, Benjamin, and Sue. Neither of the kids appear in the series. Also, Maurecia is not a tomboy who has a crush on Todd. She's a normal girl who is obsessed with ice cream and hangs out with her best friend Joy. Joy doesn't appear in the series. Dana is not Myron's best friend and a rule follower, she's a girl who is afraid of having a crush on John and is afraid of being confused as a boy due to her short hair and unisex name. John doesn't walk on his hands to be upside down. He stands on his head because that's the only way he can read books.

But with that said and having an understanding that they couldn't fit all 27 kids in the cartoon, is Wayside good on its own? Not really. It's pretty mediocre with very ugly animation, generic characters, and forgettable storylines. It had the potential to be decent, but too many changes to the source material and nothing new or interesting could keep anyone from watching this show, especially fans of the book series. I don't recommend checking it out.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we review Nickelodeon's first TV series based on a video game series Tak and the Power of Juju.

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


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