Free-For-All Friday: Why The 90s Are All That: 5 Fave 90s Nick Shows
Anyone who has been paying attention to the television over the last few weeks has probably noticed by now that TeenNick one of Nickelodeon’s affiliated tv channels has begun a midnight programming block called The 90’s Are All That. In an enormous surge of nostalgia, Nickelodeon has begun to air a rotating selection of their best 1990’s television shows, both animated and live-action. This decision is largely in response to an overwhelming demand from the 20 and 30-somethings demographic for a return to the “good stuff,” ie, the tv shows we literally grew up on in the 90’s a sign that we 20 and 30-somethings refuse to give up our childhoods quite so easily as all that.
I’m 26 years old, which puts my elementary and middle school years squarely in the 1990’s. So you can imagine my enthusiastic response to this development. My brother is a few years younger than me, and the two of us watched quite a lot of television together when we were younger (hell, who I am kidding, we still do), so we were both extremely happy for the chance to see some of our 90’s favorites again.
In honor of The 90’s Are All That block, here are my top 5 favorite 90’s Nickelodeon tv shows:
Doug: Okay, seriously. If you’re over the age of 18 and under the age of like, 50, you loved Doug – right? (Don’t destroy my illusions, please.) Doug was funny, quirky, and so identifiable for every middle-school-aged kid ever. As Doug Funnie dealt with being the new kid in school, first crushes, bullying, babysitting, and bad grades, so were we. Some of the best segments, of course, were when Doug imagined his life as the alter-egos superhero Quailman, secret agent Smash Adams, and explorer Race Canyon (just to name a few). However, my personal favorite character wasn’t Doug, but Skeeter. Crazy, off-the-wall, blue-skinned Skeeter. He was just too damn hilarious!
Clarissa Explains It All: Not only was Clarissa Explains It All the first Nickelodeon show to star a girl, it also had a large following of both boys and girls, dispelling once and for all the belief that shows starring girls would turn off male audiences. On top of that, Clarissa Explains It All dealt with quite a few serious teenage issues in ways that were more lighthearted than many other shows at the time (such as Full House). Clarissa was a spunky, intelligent girl who dealt with school, bullying, getting her driver’s license, even issues of alcohol and sex, without chasing off male audiences, or causing a stir among censors or parents. One of the more interesting elements of the show was the way it broke the fourth wall, allowing Clarissa to speak directly to the audience. This was one of my favorite shows, because it showed that a girl could be tough, intelligent, and friends with boys (with no romantic undertones), all while still being a GIRL.
Hey Arnold!: Like Doug, Hey Arnold! was a cartoon about a boy dealing with school, friends, bullies, etc. But Hey Arnold! was also different. For one thing, Hey Arnold! portrayed a main character with a non-traditional family: Arnold lived with his paternal grandparents who were the proprietors of a boarding house, and the other tenants of the house were as much family to Arnold as his grandparents were. For another thing, while Doug remained mostly within the realms of reality (despite Doug’s constant daydreaming), Hey Arnold! often spun out into the completely bizarre. Superheroes and headless horsemen were as likely to appear in the show as any “normal” school situation. This is part of what made the show so much fun. Also, the opera episode “What’s Opera, Arnold?” is an absolutely riot, and by far my favorite episode.
Legends of the Hidden Temple: Nickelodeon was home to my two favorite game shows of all time: Legends of the Hidden Temple and GUTS. Both were great, but of the two Legends of the Hidden Temple was definitely my favorite. A game show that pitted 6 teams of 2 against each other in a number of physical and trivia challenges, Legends of the Hidden Temple was all-around-fun. And it was also one of the most difficult game shows for children EVER. I can probably list the number of times a team won the final challenge on one hand. My brother and I watched this show fanatically. We wanted to be on it so badly, and we were fairly-well convinced we could have won it if we had been on. Actually, I STILL think my brother and I could have won the game if we’d be on it. We always wanted to be the Blue Barracudas what was your favorite team?
GUTS: Last, but not least, GUTS. The competition show for athletic types, full of increasingly difficult physical challenges the likes of which no children’s game show has ever seen again. The final challenge of GUTS was the Aggro Crag – a gigantic fabricated mountain that the two final contestants had to climb, being the first to the top after activating several lighted targets. This was NOT an easy challenge, but man, was it fun to watch. When GUTS was later changed to Global GUTS, the format remained essentially the same, except that the contestants now came from all over the world rather just the U.S., and the Aggro Crag was made even more difficult and changed to the Mega Crag, and finally the Super Aggro Crag. I would never ever ever have survived that show, but I have no doubt my brother would have been awesome on it. I bet he could have won too.
All of these shows are specifically Nickelodeon shows fro the 90’s. Now, if Disney brought back it’s 90’s programming too, this favorites list would like significantly different. Anyone else remember the Disney Afternoon programming block? ‘Cause that is still one of my favorite grouping of tv shows ever. But I’ll save that gush of praise for another day.
So, what’s your favorite Nickelodeon show from the 1990’s? Is your favorite missing from my list? Let me know!