watch your step
by Andrew “Chew” Barker
I made a list of the thirty two 90’s Nickelodeon shows that I remembered. I went through one by one and placed each show in front of whatever show I decided it was better than. Eventually, I had a list from 1-32 and ultimately… I had a top 10! However, before I get into the top ten I would like to reflect on some of the hit shows that just barely missed the cut. I call them:
THE HONORABLE MENTIONS: “Kenan and Kel”, you guys would have made the list if every episode wasn’t based on Kenan coming up with a get rich quick scheme and then Kel completely demolishing it with stupidity. “Pete and Pete”, you were so close, but while I’m sure many of us remember the show and how Danny Tamberelli starred in it… I just don’t really remember many more things about it. “The Angry Beavers”, a classic indeed, just not influential enough for me. “Figure It Out”, we all loved watching our favorite celebs get slimed and we loved Lori Beth Denberg miraculously solving the secret and demolishing the child’s hopes at a Vermont ski trip with her final guess even more! Oh, and “Ren and Stimpy” didn’t make the top ten because it was pretty disturbing… anyway here we go.
#10: ROCKET POWER
If you look back on Rocket Power at an older age it can seem very lame. There is no way fourth and fifth graders could pull off stunts like that. There is no way these kids could get a halfpipe at MadTown all to themselves on a daily basis. There is no way in real life a guy like Raymundo would get the entire beach named after him just to frivolously name his restaurant “The Shore Shack.” Regardless of all that, we all know we flocked to the TV to see these extreme episodes. Otto, Reggie, Twister (Maurice lol), and Sam were so cool and agile and we couldn’t help but cheer on their hockey team. “Rocket Power”… amazing. That’s the spirit!!!
Rugrats is just a classic show. I watched it before bed every night in the 90’s. One might think that it deserves to be higher on the list, after all Rugrats was a huge franchise. It gave birth to new toys, parade floats, the “All Grown Up” spinoff AND hit movies! They even managed to teach is about Passover and Hanukkah and even Kwanzaa! There is no question about how huge Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, Susie, and Angelica were, but unlike a lot of these 90’s shows that left us wishing the creators had made more episodes, Rugrats exhausted just about every storyline they could before giving Tommy a little brother in Dil and even giving Chuckie a stepsister with Kimi just to get a little more to work with. It got to be too much and it all eventually bled into the new millennium ending in 2004. From 1991 to 1998, Rugrats was prime and forever ingrained itself into our memories. Klasky-Csupo! ❤
#8 LEGENDS OF THE HIDDEN TEMPLE
Kirk Fogg, a talking stone carving, temple guards… a wonderful combination believe it or not. Legends of the Hidden Temple was truly a unique show. In a time before every kid had to win or at least be congratulated for participating, Legends of the Hidden Temple took eight teams of two and eliminated four of them within the first 5 minutes! Awesome! Then those four teams would take to the steps of knowledge and the two teams that listened to Olmec’s wise words would move on to a tag team bout to decide who would traverse the Hidden Temple. The temple itself was very elaborate and I always wished I could just hang out in it as if it were a Playplace at McDonald’s or something. Only one of eight teams could make it to the Temple and yet… if they were so good, why did they always have trouble putting together the shrine of the silver monkey? It was only three pieces! All in all, just a great show and colorful, too!
You’ve got to ask yourself one question: do ya have it? This gem was the first action sports show for kids and as Mike O’Malley warned, “Please do not try any of these events at home, that is if you have a massive indoor ski slope in your living room!” This show had everything. Pool events, obstacle courses, and endless games that involved bungee cords being suspended from the ceiling all just acted as a precursor to main event, the Aggro Crag! If you performed well enough in the action-packed events leading up to it, you ensured yourself an opportunity to win the entire competition and more importantly a piece of the Aggro Crag. Just think about how back in the 90’s, grasping a piece of the sweet Crag was just a few actuators away… mmm, feels good. Of course, everything was kept on the up and up by, Moira Quirk! Thank you, Mo, for making sure everyone stayed in line, including Mike… we know how he can get… we’ve seen “Get the Picture.”
#6: CLARISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL
Thanks to “The 90’s Are All That!” on TeenNick, I have been able to reacquaint myself with this show. I’m glad I got this opportunity. I am older now and I get it. While Clarissa didn’t explain literally everything, the show did tackle some deep topics like teen rebellion, vengeance, honesty, relationships, feuding with family, working for the man etc. etc. and it was done in a believable way. Don’t get me wrong though, there was some corniness. Also, let us not forget that this show turned Melissa Joan Hart into a huge star. She grew up even further in front of our eyes when she got “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” a few years later. Anyways, this isn’t about Sabrina. In my viewing I also noticed just how good of an actor her brother, Ferguson, was and probably still is. Where are you, Jason Zimbler? He was a believable douchey younger brother, although I’m not sure how he got red hair when his parents and Clarissa all have blonde hair. HAHA, listen to me going on like they are all really related to each other. “Hey, Sam!” *guitar riff* Terrific program.
#5: ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE
When one writes a show centered around a wallaby and his cow (steer) friend, one opens up a world that a show featuring just humans could never even dream of visiting. That is what “Rocko’s Modern Life” is all about. Rocko has his own house all paid for by his employment at Kind Of A Lot-O Comics, where he works a shift or sometimes-never. His dog, Spunky, almost kills himself on a seemingly hourly basis. His neighbor, Ed Bighead, hates Rocko while Mrs. Bighead has somewhat of a crush on him. Rocko’s life was such a whirlwind. I can only hope things have calmed down for him in the past fifteen years. I’m sure Heffer is dead by now from a heart attack or diabetes. Filbert and Dr. Hutchinson are probably still a happy couple. If you can, watch this show again, go on Twitter and hashtag #NOWigetRocko whenever you realize how dirty some of the references are. This show is so complex that I don’t feel I can even do it justice in such a short paragraph. Just trust me on this. It is top five-worthy.
#4: HEY ARNOLD!
Truly one of the greatest animated shows for all of us millennials out there. Arnold (never found out his last name, lulz!) embodied everything that is right with the world. He was kind, generous, honest, and clearly not a racist. Arnold somehow managed to transcend any problem that tried to trip him up, so resilient. Arnold’s humble nature attracted some cool people, like Gerald (just say it, Gerald Field), Lila, Mr. Simmons, Monkeyman, and Mr. Hyunh (prounounced ‘win’ for those of you that never cared enough to learn how he spelled his name). Naturally though, someone like Arnold also had some haters. Harold Berman always badgered Arnold until he finally got Bar Mitzvah’d and became a man. Wolfgang was always trying to rain on Arnold’s parade, too… and of course Helga G. Pataki was always trying to make Arnold’s life a living hell despite his kind nature attempting to get her to change by showing her compassion. We all know she really loved him, though. Isn’t that just like real life? You like someone so much that you just want to blow their brains out so that your friends never find out. Luckily, Helga would just beat the stuffing out of Brainy every time he would overhear her talking about her crush. He must be a masochist because he breathed really heavy every time she was all done gushing about Arnold AND he had already heard her rant about Arnold many many times prior. Why did he have to keep listening to her rehash the same old garbage? I’m sorry. I will move on. In summary, “Hey Arnold!” was brilliant.
#3: SALUTE YOUR SHORTS
Now, I know many of the millions of readers of this particular blog I am writing will disagree with “Salute Your Shorts” being so high, but you are wrong! This is a show where kids are at camp, so the fact that there are no parents is easily understood (unlike all these copout excuses like “oh dad is just off in the military” like in iCarly… well let me tell you iCarly: iDontbuyit). The kids on this show are legitimate actors. I remember watching the show as a kid and hating Budnick for being such a bully and/or tool, but why did I hate him so much? Because he was believable! His real name is Danny Cooksey and I guess he sings in a metal band now. Oh and did I mention he was the voice of Stoop Kid in “Hey Arnold!”? Of course I didn’t mention it, but it’s TRUE. No other show has tackled a setting like a campground since and they didn’t even use a studio for this show, which means no laugh tracks trying to suggest to me when I should giggle. I make my own decision! Another fun thing was that you never really knew he was good and who was bad. They all spent some time on the darkside… well maybe except Sponge. Furthermore, the title is absolute genius. I mean come on, “Salute Your Shorts”, it’s a camp, kids hang undies on the flagpole, you salute things on a flagpole, and BOOM you get an awesomely creative title. Most of all, I think the pranks that they played on each other put the show over the edge in coolness at the time. I never attended camp so I have no idea if camps were/are still like this, but I thank Nickelodeon for giving me an image to picture in my head… Camp Anawanna… yes.
There is no question in anyone’s mind who has ever viewed an episode of “Doug” that it is just fantastic. Doug was just a shy boy when he first moved to Bluffington, Illinois (I don’t know what state it really was or maybe it was a province of Canada), but thanks to Skeeter Valentine, he quickly began to fit in. Doug provided all the sixth grade girls with more options than just Chalky Studebaker who was just so perfect that he probably ended up being gay. They certainly didn’t want Roger Klotz who was not only a huge jerk, but he was a yellowish green color (eww!). “Doug” avoided all the race stuff by just making people purple, blue, green, orange and so on. Doug himself I believe was just a caucasian along with his father and sister, Judy. “Of course the star of the show has to be white in today’s America!” is what I imagine all the sensitive people would say today if “Doug” premiered this year. Anyway, the characters were just great. Patty Mayonnaise was a real baller and no show would be complete without a stuck up girl character like Beebe Bluff (Rhonda in “Hey Arnold” Angelica in “Rugrats” etc.). Am I right? I don’t know what it is about “Doug” that made it so good. I mean, it was simple, but they always had those slight winks to all of us viewers, like The Beets and like the pretentious students from Judy’s artsy high school… just hilarious. Porkchop is probably dead by this point in time and I expect to see Mr. Dink on an episode of “Hoarders” soon. “No don’t get rid of that, IT’S VERY EXPENSIVE!”
#1: ALL THAT
Five minutes! Five minutes! We all saw this coming. Ohhh ahh ah yeah yeah this is “All That.” “Saturday Night Live” for kids. No one ever missed this show. It didn’t matter if you had your booty on the floor or in a chair, ground or in the air, we just didn’t go no… where. The show was the best from seasons 1-6 obviously. It went downhill after Josh Server finally got too old to be parading around in his boxers. I just want to thank Josh Server, Angelique Bates, Katrina Johnson, Alisa Reyes, Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, and Lori Beth Denberg for their service and entertaining a young me. Heck, I’ll even thank Amanda Bynes, Leon Frierson, Christy Knowings, and Kevin Kopelow. Even if this show wasn’t on every night in reruns at the moment I could still remember Repairmanmanman, Detective Dan, Miss Fingerly, the hypocritical librarian, the big ear of corn, Dear Ashley, Pierre S. Cargo, and Vital Information. These kids probably had no idea at the time that people would still be writing about their humble little sketch show in the year 2012, but low and behold HERE I AM. I mean, this show gave birth to “Kenan and Kel” and “The Amanda Show” and it sent Kenan Thompson to “Saturday Night Live.” Even the corporate drones at NBC could see the talent. I don’t really need to explain to anyone why it’s a great show, we all are fully aware, but before I conclude I just want to point out that just because “All That” is #1 on the list, it doesn’t mean anyone from season 7-10 can take credit. In addition, the following members from season 6 can piss off as well: Gabriel Iglesias, Mark Saul. But no, Mark and Gabriel are okay I guess. Thank you for reading! I hope you agree with my list 110%
Below is the complete list I used to determine the top 10. Does anyone remember “U to U”? It was a show based on viewer contributions and stuff. I liked it. “Hey Dude” is one of my favs as well. Oh my gosh and “Wienerville” was awesome, remember that? With the puppets? Yeah. But anyway here’s the list…