By Stefan Doyno and John Mitchell
The ‘90s are back, and so are your favorite shows. Last night, TeenNick premiered “The ‘90s Are All That,” a statement anyone in their twenties or early thirties will most certainly agree with. Twitter has been burning up with love for the classic shows that made Nickelodeon the channel it is today. Shows like “iCarly,” “Drake and Josh” and “Victorious” are wildly popular with the younger generation, but it was shows like “All That,” “The Amanda Show,” “Rugrats,” “Clarissa Explains It All” and “Doug” that paved the way and still have a special place in our hearts.
The two-hour run of shows, which air weeknights from midnight to 2AM, is not just a block of programming, it’s a movement. Viewers can “Watch. Discuss. Obsess.” on Facebook and Twitter. You can also join the ongoing conversation, keep up with the evolving schedule and catch all of your favorite clips and episodes on 90sareallthat.com.
In honor of this momentously awesome occasion, the staff here in the MTV Newsroom decided to unleash our inner tween and think back on our favorite Nick shows of the 1990s. You see, unlike the kiddies catching these shows for the first time on TeenNick, we were there the first time around. Sigh.
“Are You Afraid of the Dark?” – Josh Wigler, Editor, MTV Movies Blog
For anyone who grew up during the SNICK era, the words “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” are pure nightmare fuel. Looking back on the YouTube-covered exploits of the Midnight Society now doesn’t make me break into cold sweats, but deep-rooted childhood memories of Dr. Vink, Sardo or the chilling words “I’m cold” still send shivers down my spine to this very day … and horrifically embarrassing though that may be, it’s an awesome testament to a show with seriously spooky staying power.
“Rugrats” – Steven Roberts, Segment Producer
Nickelodeon put out so many great shows over years, but “Rugrats” was by far the gold standard. The show followed toddlers Tommy Pickles, Chuckie Finster, twins Phil and Lil Deville, Tommy’s older cousin Angelica and their imaginations on countless adventures from the toy store to the bathtub. “Rugrats” spawned two spin-off series, three movies and numerous colorful characters, but the thing that made the show great was the creators and writers’ ability to simplify the world, making (re)discovering it a whole new experience limited only by our curiosity.
“Doug” – Rya Backer, Associate Producer
Oh my god, I loved “Doug” so much growing up to the point that I feel like it shaped me as a grown woman. I was even into its “Disney Years” – not as much as its original Nick incarnation, but I kind of dragged my feet letting go of my animated friends, you know (shout-out to the OJ – that’s the Original J.A.P. to the layperson – Bebe Bluff)? It was also worth watching because rich Roger Klotz was an amazing character pivot.
Every episode of “Doug” was my favorite episode, except for when there would be shows exclusively dedicated to Quailman. But if you really had me up against a wall, my two favorite episodes ever would be: the one where Doug and his friends form a band and play “Think Big” (in a performance inspired by “Stop Making Sense”) and I really loved the “liver and onions” episode where Patti invites Doug to a party and they’re going to serve liver and onions and Doug has to learn to like said wretch-inducing dish before the party … only to find out she was kidding! What a testament to Doug’s love for her! I also really loved the Funnie family. While I wasn’t always a fan of Judy’s flair for the dramatics, she totally was a style icon. His parents were loving and taught him that it’s always worth doing what’s right, even if it’s not the popular thing to do. Porkchop was a fun sidekick. And Cleopatra Dirtbike was a super-cute last-ditch-effort to shake things up. So yeah, that’s kind of why I loved “Doug.”
“Salute Your Shorts” – Amy Wilkinson, Editor, Hollywood Crush
Camp Anawannaaaaa, we hold you in our heaaaarts, and when we think about yooooou, it makes me wanna … watch you over and over and over again. Much like its home-away-from home predecessor “Hey Dude” (another personal favorite), “Salute Your Shorts” boasted the perfect kid-friendly formula: no parents + bumbling adult caretaker = hilarious hot weather hijinks! Perhaps it was my own parents’ refusal to send me to summer camp that won this cheeky series a place in my heart, but after living vicariously through the kids of Camp Anawanna for two seasons, I would have run my own underwear up a flag pole and offered to bunk with Donkeylips just for a chance to run and jump and swim and play and row and go on trips.
“Hey Dude” – Sabrina Rojas Weiss, Deputy Managing Editor
“It’s a little wild and a little strange / When you make your home out on the range…” The fact that I still have the “Hey Dude” theme song memorized (fake Western twang and all) is as much due to the fact that my little sister and I had waaay too much time on our hands over summer vacation as it is due to the cute, quirky nature of the sitcom, which aired from 1989-91. While trapped inside on a sweltering summer day in suburban Florida, we ate up the idea of teenagers basically left to their own devices as they work at the Bar None dude ranch out West. That was enough to overcome those cheesy, heartwarming storylines and stilted acting. Years later, I was thrilled to see Christine Taylor (who played resident sweet girl Melody) co-star in movies like “Zoolander” (and marry Ben Stiller), and David Lascher (mischievous-and-often-ignorant-but-cute-boy Ted) go on to play Josh in “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.” But for some reason, I have yet to visit a dude ranch in my life. Maybe a lingering fear of man-eating jackrabbits and killer cacti?
“Clarissa Explains It All” – Christina Beale, Coordinating Producer
Growing up, there was no one I wanted to be more than Clarissa from “Clarissa Explains It All.” She had the cool clothes, the awesome best friend who used a ladder to get into her room, and a weird-but-ultimately loving family. She wasn’t a girly girl, she was totally unique and liked because of that, not in spite of it. She was smart, witty, confident and always had a quick comeback for her pestering little brother, Ferguson. I could have used that when my three older sisters teased me.
“All That” – Stefan Doyno, Intern
“All That” was a weekly sketch-comedy show that was hilarious without being too cutesy or “kid friendly.” They gave their young audience credit, which is why the show still holds up today. The show was also very musically involved: TLC sang the theme, and every episode came complete with a well-known musical guest. I remember watching “All That” on SNICK (the very definition of Saturday night) during sleepovers and laughing for hours at all the different characters (“Everyday French with Pierre Escargot,” “Vital Information with Lori Beth Denberg” and, of course, anything involving “Good Burger”). “All That” also launched the careers of people we still know today. Hello, Keenan, Kel, Amanda and Nick Cannon … even Jamie-Lynn Spears was on the show at one point.
“The Adventures of Pete & Pete” – Amanda Sprecher, Media Manager
The opening notes of Polaris’ “Hey Sandy,” the ‘Pete & Pete’ opening theme song, triggers instant nostalgia for any child of the ’90s. The premise of the show was simple, about two redheaded brothers both named Pete who lived seemingly normal adolescent lives in a very surreal way in the suburb of Wellsville. In Wellsville, a kid with a mermaid tattoo named Petunia was as acceptable as having bespectacled superhero Artie, “the strangest man in the world,” running around the streets. Whether you watched the show when it aired, or are just watching it for the first time, what we loved about “Pete & Pete” then is the same as it is now, its attention and celebration of the everyday details of what makes being a kid so much fun.
“Roundhouse” – Kara Klenk, Social Media Editor
As a kid I was not allowed to watch TV during the week (abuse, I know, I tried to report it), so when the weekend rolled around I was a little sponge waiting to absorb and SNICK was a deep well. I loved every spat Clarissa had with Fergazoid, every bucket of water that ended a meeting of the Midnight Society, and every silvery puddle that Alex Mack melted into. But I was the most obsessed with the show “Roundhouse,” the theme song of which I can still, many years later, sing every word to.
When you’re 11 you can watch “Saturday Night Live,” which I did, and enjoy it even though a good portion of the jokes sail right over your head. But “Roundhouse” was like “SNL” for kids with singing and dancing! It was “SNL” + “Glee”! I got the jokes, sang and danced along, and never missed an episode for fear that when I finally did audition to be on “Roundhouse,” they would question me about that one missed episode.
All of the sketches were performed in front of a live audience on and around a circular stage that rotated from scene to scene. The cast was comprised of super talented kids who could sing, dance, and were funny, a rare triple threat these days, although sadly none of them ever really blew up like Keenan Thompson or Amanda Bynes. I still think “Roundhouse” was ahead of its time and nothing like it has existed since. Nickelodeon, how about a “Roundhouse” revival? Call me, I have ideas!
“The Secret World of Alex Mack” – Uptin Saiidi, Digital Production
With her newfound powers, Alex Mack could transmit bolts of electricity through her fingers, or what we as kids all really wanted: the ability to turn into a puddle of water. She took on new challenges, saving the world one show at a time while simultaneously training me to be able to one day understand an episode of “Law & Order.” As kids, didn’t we all wish we’d get hit by a truck from a chemical plant on our way home from school and get drenched with the top-secret chemical called GC-161? Don’t worry Alex, your secret is still (and forever will be) safe with me.
So yeah, we kind of love that all of our old favorites are being rebroadcast so a whole new generation can
see what truly great children’s programming can be enjoy these great shows.
How do you feel about Nickelodeon going retro, and what are some of your favorite classic shows? Let us know in the comments below and vote in our poll now through 5PM tomorrow!