- By Bailey DuBois
- Mar 19 2011
- Volume/Issue: 2/28
’90s Nick shows are back this fall
Nickelodeon is caving. The people have asked for it, and so they shall receive. This fall, Nickelodeon will rerun a handful of popular shows from the ’90s in a two-hour time block between midnight and 2 a.m.. Huge social networking groups on Facebook, like “Nickelodeon should bring back the old shows from 1995-2005,” which has 145,689 fans, prompted the station to dig up these 90s favorites listed below (numbers represent the fan-base of each show’s official Facebook group):
1. Rugrats 1,177,984
2. Rocket Power 467,694
3. All That 433,302
4. The Amanda Show 87,510
5. Clarissa Explains it All 54,245
6. The Adventures of Pete & Pete 38,697
7. Salute Your Shorts 32,335
8. Kenan & Kel 16,757
And those numbers don’t even account for all the interested 20-somethings that don’t “Like” these groups on Facebook.
To understand what all this whoopee is about, I sampled one episode from each returning show. I was born in the early 90s, and I’m not familiar with many of these titles. My observations are entirely nostalgia-free. And that’s the point. Many here at BRsq are 20-something and really excited for the comeback, but only because they grew up with the shows not that they’re actually good.
So, what’s the big appeal of these shows? I asked myself. To my generation, or to children, or most importantly, to (grown-up) 10-year-olds?
Some obvious comparisons can be drawn between today’s popular Nickelodeon programs and these “classics.”
It’s not as if today’s programs are canon either.
All That, a live-action variety show, opens with children bouncing on trampolines in slow motion. No really, they do that before every show. All That relies on assorted characters in shamelessly manic performances of amusing but predictable mini-plots. It’s no surprise that Kenan Thompson went on to SNL—he’s hilarious. The appeal of All That is definitely in the enthusiasm of the young actors, who are earnest and energetic, devoid of the skepticism that’s apparent in their older roles (many go on to star in the other shows listed above).
The case is such with The Amanda Show. Amanda’s main Facebook page has 87,510 fans. Now this is one show I remember watching. Unfortunately, I picked a really creepy episode with claymation. And I forgot about Penelope, Amanda’s ultimate fan played by Amanda. 87,510 people may disagree with me, but Amanda strikes me as that girl you politely but firmly ignore in public encounters. Her musical guests seem embarrassed for her. I may have enjoyed this pre-teen posturing once upon a time, but I suspect my peers won’t have the (non)sense to now.
Drake and Josh is Kenan and Kel with white guys. All four boys have slick lines, an affection of perfect confidence, and laugh tracks. (Laugh tracks. Who are we trying to convince, here?) The “laughter” maintains a certain feeling that you are stuck in a studio box with these characters, and nobody gets to leave until they get their act together. Literally.
Clarissa Explains It All is as sincere as Nick’s Declassified but without its slapstick. The humor is understated, the funny lines presented in a convincing way. The orchestral sound effects are…neat. As a whole it feels a little more intelligent than its fellows. But there’s no avoiding the fact that it is fraught with clichés and stereotypes. In the words of one reviewer, “That is one white family.”
Salute Your Shorts. Well, I think my 12-year-old brother could relate to this camp soap opera. His life is full of similar angst. Just the other day I lied to him about the last carton of ice cream. But Shorts isn’t all drama. Minutes after the ice-cream debacle, the two boys involved were jazzing it up to a five minute guitar solo played over the scene.
“I hate being stuck here,” says one camper. I feel you, buddy.
Mutilation! Dismemberment insurance! A man with a hook hand! The Adventures of Pete & Pete is one show I just might watch. Its narrator, Pete, and his little brother, Pete (inexplicably), carry the show’s smart and somewhat surreal plots. It is satirical but serious, like A Christmas Story arranged in seasons and episodes. Kids could get into this one.
The only two cartoons on the list so far sport the largest fan-bases. Rugrats has over 1.1 million fans, and Rocket Power has 467,694—remarkable, considering that the phrase “that bizarre cartoon with the Hawaiian skateboarders” is a better identifier than its actual title. And a misleadingly interesting hook. Rugrats is sure to receive the largest viewership, and I think that’s fair. Everyone likes babies.
I’ll let my reviews speak for themselves, but I can’t help but doubt that this new block will get much attention from audiences of my generation.