Friday, October 8, 2010

Nostalgia is Fun: Old Nickelodeon Shows (by Dave Machado)

It all started with a Sporcle quiz devoted to popular Nickelodeon shows from the 1990s (Take the quiz yourself!). I did well on the quiz (18/25) considering how long it's been since I watched any of these shows. Once the quiz was over however, I couldn't stop thinking of all the shows I used to watch and love as a kid, specifically the ones on Nickelodeon. I can't pinpoint where my love for that channel ended but for a substantial portion of my childhood, it was pretty much the only station on TV (other than Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Suddenly, shows I hadn't thought of in over a decade came flooding back but I couldn't remember any of their names.

That's when I had another "I love the internet" moment because all I had to do was Google a brief description of the show and tons of hits came back to sites dedicated to them. Thanks to Wikipedia and other fan sites, I was able to bring back specific memories I had assumed were long lost. It's insane to think of how certain unknown facts used to drive people crazy before the invention of the internet. Sure we all remember the more popular shows of our youth (the aformentioned Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtle and any of the big Sat. morning superhero cartoons) but I was more interested in the ones the have come and gone, leaving no trace of their existence behind except for these insanely detailed web sites. I thought I'd share some of these old shows and the memories I have attached to them. Please add your own shows/thoughts as well.

Today's Special: This was the show that started my nostalgia trip. I vaguely remembered a show on Nick that took place in a Department store and featured a mannequin that became real when a magic hat was placed on his head. The only other thing I had to go on was that the main female in the show always wore a pink jumpsuit. I don't think I was a huge fan of this show as Wikipedia claims it stopped running in 1987 but I have one very vivid memory about the show that has made it so I'll never forget it. As all networks do, Nick would always show promos for their shows during commercials. I would watch the channel so much that I would memorize these promos based on the simple fact that I saw them so much. One day I was watching Today's Special and a scene that always aired on the promo was featured in the episode. I don't remember details but it was something along the lines of everyone busting out laughing at the same time. Little David was in so much shock due to actually seeing the scene from all those promos.  I jumped off the couch and ran to the VCR and kept pressing the rewind button, because I needed to see it again to make sure what I just saw was real. That was when I learned the important life lesson that the VCR only worked when there was a tape in it. I'm sure my sadness would have been softened had I known that I would end up living in a world where live TV could be paused and rewound whenever I wanted it to be. That would have blown my mind at the time.

Fred Penner's Place: The main thing I remembered from this show was the opening credits where you followed Fred as he walked into the woods to the spot where the show took place around a little camp setting. I literally Googled "Nickelodeon guy walking in woods" and the third link lead me to the title of the show. The only other thing I remembered about this show was an episode where he couldn't get to the place he usually goes because someone put giant patches over the entry ways he needed to get through. This terrified me as a kid because for some reason I imaged some weird looking creature patching up places in the woods outside my house. Luckily I was never able to prove that was actually happening.

The World of David the Gnome: I hated this show as a kid. I thought it was an example of a stuffy boring show and so would only watch it when nothing else was on (I wasn't big on the outdoors). My hatred for it has made it hard to forget. Later in life it came up as a funny reference only because me and my girlfriend share the names (David and Lisa) of the gnome couple in the show. Turns out the show was made in Spain and was dubbed for a later release in America. That explains why it wasn't awesome (USA! USA! USA!).

Hey Dude: For a small period of time, this was my favorite show on Nick. There are two specific episodes I remember very vividly. One involved someone getting the hiccups and that snowballing into them purposely scaring each other. There was one point where a character walked in with something like a chainsaw and a hockey mask and instead of being scared, the other character berated his prop choices for not sticking to one true movie monster (Jason, Leatherface, Freddy, etc...) Even then I could appreciate the snobbery of the horror community which I would soon gladly join the ranks of. Hey Dude featured a Native America character and he is the focal point of the other episode I remember. In it, he tries to show another character the importance of Native Americans in the history of America. They make a bet so the other guy can't use anything the Native Americans invented. This somehow ends up with him not even being able to wear underwear. It kind of disturbs me how easily I remember that part.

So those are just a few of the shows I loved as a kid that never really get the attention they deserve anymore. There were obviously tons of other shows (Salute Your Shorts, Roundhouse, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, All That, etc...) but I just wanted to get the ball rolling with some of my more memorable ones. Please add your own below. When you stop and think about it, you'll be amazed at the things you start to remember that you haven't thought of in years. If the feedback seems good, I'll continue doing these little trips down memory lane.

You're Welcome,

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