Nickelodeon Nostalgia


Kerry Beeman

Nowadays, if you flip on Nickelodeon you are in for a big surprise. None of the good ol’ shows we watched growing up are on air. It is time to bring back the shows that tie our childhoods together. Without further adieu, these are my top ten favorite Nickelodeon shows.

1.Rocko’s Modern Life:
Remember Rocko, the wallaby who recently moved from Australia and always wears the blue and purple shirt covered in triangle patterns? Like many of the shows we watched as children or teenagers, the overall plot of the show is about Rocko learning how to be a good friend and how to do the right thing, but he also is learning how to adjust to America. This show has filled the number one spot because it is packed with social commentary and innuendos. Though a child can appreciate it for its entertainment, an adult can appreciate it for its articulations and jokes that are applicable to real life.

There are many other memorable characters besides the wallaby. Heffer is Rocko’s best friend, the fat and enthusiastic steer who was raised by wolves. The plot of the link provided below is that Heffer and Rocko have eaten too many pizzas and have built up a debt of $500 which they need to pay to the pizza place or Rocko will have to work as a pizza delivery boy to eradicate his debt. As we are learning this, Heffer is consuming pizza after pizza. Then there is Filbert the turtle who is easily upset and tends to overreact to everything. “You turn the page, you wash your hands. You turn the page, you wash your hands,” is Filbert’s most memorable saying. Spunky is Rocko’s cute yet dumb dog, who cannot talk (though his wallaby owner can). And who can forget Rocko’s vengeful neighbor, Ed Bighead. He has green skin and embodies his last name.

Rocko’s Modern Life ran for four seasons from 1993 until 1996 with a total of 52 episodes. If you would like to take a stroll down memory lane, simply search “Rocko’s Modern Life” on Youtube- there are plenty of full videos for your viewing pleasure.

Doug Funnie is the most memorable character of my youth. Who could forget the traditional wardrobe of a white tee under a green vest, wide khaki shorts, red shoes, and eight hairs atop his head? Doug is a shy 11-year-old kid with a wild imagination. He has so many alter egos that they are hard to keep track of, but the most prominent of which is Quailman—a character whose costume Isla Vista residents replicate annually on Halloween. And, of course, each episode always featured at least one scene with Doug writing in his journal.

Mosquito “Skeeter” Valentine is Doug’s blue-skinned best friend, best known for his saying, “Honk! Honk!” Among Doug’s friends is also Patti Mayonnaise, the love of Doug’s life. Patti is athletic and blonde with orange skin; who could blame Doug for being so enamored with her?

Finally, there is Porkchop, Doug’s dog who lives in an igloo. Could this be an allusion to Snoopy from Charlie Brown?

Even after seven seasons, totaling 117 episodes, the best part about Doug was the Nickelodeon intro, “Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo.” But after Disney picked Doug up, the intro changed and a childhood treasure lost forever.
Prepare to have the song “Killer Tofu” stuck in your head all day if you choose to follow the link. You have been warned.

3.Hey Arnold
Why did Arnold always wear a kilt? Why did Helga never fix that unibrow? The kids on this show—which ran for 101 episodes—have so many eccentric and unexplainable characteristics about the kids throughout the 101 episodes of Hey Arnold!
As baffling as their appearances were, we can easily remember the show’s basics. Arnold lives in a city with his grandparents in a boarding home. His fourth grade class encompasses almost every racial stereotype: there is a smart, but slightly shy, Asian-American girl; an obnoxious, pig-tailed German-American girl; a popular and rhythmical African-American boy; and a chubby, dumb white boy.

When I think of Hey Arnold! I always think of the partial love triangle. Stinky loves Helga, Helga loves Arnold, Arnold is oblivious, and Helga is mean to both. Stinky would always creep up behind Helga and breathe extremely loudly. The show would stall as Helga simply punched Stinky while still facing forward and he would then slither to the ground. No wonder he was always breathing so loud—his nose must have been permanently broken.

The introduction to the show ended with Helga shouting, “Move it, football head!” to Arnold, which is a perfect example of how each episode Helga bullies and makes fun of Arnold, but secretly keeps a shrine symbolizing her love for him. What more could you ask for in elementary school than a show about hardly more than unrequited love?

4.Legends of the Hidden Temple
By far, my favorite show to review has been Legends of the Hidden Temple. I watched the show a few times as a youth, but was never the biggest fan. Now that the ‘90s are a thing of the past, this show is a relic. Legends was an action game show in which six teams—the Red Jaguars, Blue Barracudas, Green Monkeys, Orange Iguanas, Purple Parrots, and Silvers Snakes—each consisting of a boy and a girl, would compete in challenges to move on to the next round. I truly encourage everyone to watch all three links in their correct order; it’s hilarious.

After the first round, the teams that come in fifth and sixth place each receive a prize, and in this specific episode the prizes were Super Soakers. Then, the four remaining teams are given a history lesson by a talking Olmec, followed by a quiz. The top two teams move on, and the bottom two teams each get a prize, which in this case was an Eastpak Backpack. The two remaining teams compete in a few remaining goofy competitions which generally include being suspended above the ground and throwing things in buckets or attaching things to their back. The final team remaining moves on to the last round and the second placed team receives a “savings bond from Sketchers footwear.” Seriously. I cannot make these things up.

The last remaining team needs to pass through the entire obstacle course in three minutes to collect the treasure of the hidden temple, but there is a catch—mysterious Mayan temple guards can come out at any time, and if the participant does not have the Pendant of Life, they are taken away and the second partner has to try their luck on the course. If they do have the pendant, they are given an extra life and can keep moving on. I will not give away the ending, but the prizes at stake are a boom box (equipped with tape, compact disk, and am/fm radio), an interactive encyclopedia, and space camp! Needless to say, watching these clips are worth the 27 minutes required.

5.Are You Afraid of the Dark?
The Midnight Society meets every week at the same campfire location in the woods. Each week, a different member tells a scary story. The show begins with the society gathering and the storyteller of the week saying, “Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story…” and sugar is taken from a leather pouch and tossed onto the fire. The setting of the story is explained in the voice of the storyteller, but eventually the actual story is displayed in live action to the viewer.

Re-watching “The Tale of the Dollmaker” has been a real trip. If this show rattles my nerves today, I cannot even imagine how afraid I must have been after watching it as a child! They have really mastered the essence of scary stories; I was on edge the entire time. I do not recall if this is true of each episode, but this one ends in a happy resolution.

Finally, one of the members says, “I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed,” and pours a red bucket of water over the fire to extinguish it.

6.SpongeBob SquarePants
In the lovely town of Bikini Bottom, located under the surface of the sea, resides Nickelodeon’s top rated show, and the only series on “Nickelodeon Nostalgia” that continues to release new episodes. SpongeBob SquarePants is currently on its seventh season thanks to the main character, SpongeBob, who looks like a yellow kitchen sponge but is in fact a sea sponge. And it only gets better. He lives in a pineapple with his pet snail, Gary, who is understood by other characters but not by the audience. Gary the snail is well known for his meowing.

One of SpongeBob’s neighbors is his best friend, Patrick Star, who lives under a rock. He also lives next to Squidward Tentacles, whom Patrick and SpongeBob love, but who despises them in return. Squidward seems to have only two hobbies: painting self-portraits and playing the clarinet.

In spite of these oddities, the character that strikes me as the most strange is Sandy Cheeks. She is a squirrel from Texas who is well-trained in karate. Obviously, as a squirrel, she cannot breathe underwater, so she lives in an underwater air dome and when she ventures out of her home she wears an astronaut-looking suit. Good work, writers.

The main plot behind the show is that SpongeBob works at the Krusty Krab restaurant making Krabby Patties. The restaurant’s rival is the Chum Bucket, owned by Sheldon Plankton who is constantly trying to steal the Krabby Patty secret recipe. If you do not have a younger sibling or have not babysat in a while, follow the link for a fresh reminder of some wacky adventures led by a Sponge, a starfish, and a squirrel.

7.Angry Beavers
Oh, Daggett and Norbert! If only these two beaver brothers decided to live their bachelor life in Isla Vista; I think they could have fit in quite well. With four seasons airing 63 episodes, it is hard to tire of the relationship and huge personality differences possessed by the two brothers.

Daggett has an incredible amount of energy, whereas Norbert is older and tame. Daggett has brown fur, Norbert has blonde hair. Daggett has a high voice that sounds as if he has yet to experience puberty, while Norbert has a hunky voice that sounds somewhat like Jonny Bravo. If you were a fan of Angry Beavers, you also recall Barry Bear, a vegetarian bear who sings in a fashion similar to Barry White. Stump is another character who I do not recall ever actually speaking—one element of the real world the writers keep straight, considering he is a tree stump. Another show putting a humorous spin on unlikely or exaggerated situations, Angry Beavers succeeded in its task to provide entertainment! Follow the link to see an entire 11-minute episode on YouTube!

Rugrats is the longest lasting Nicktoon to this day. Steven Spielberg called the show “a sort of TV Peanuts of our time.” Tommy Pickles with his blue shirt and diaper, Chuckie Finster with his bright orange hair, Phil and Lil DeVille each with a patch of hair atop their heads, Spike the dog, and even Angelica Pickles with her bossy attitude and pigtails all occupy a place in our hearts and childhood memories.

Angelica fills a prominent role as the only character who can communicate with the babies and with the adults, and she uses this ability to manipulate both parties at all times.

Looking through the episode list, so many of the episodes are memorable, but the one that sticks out so freshly in my mind is the episode where Chuckie swallows a watermelon seed and the Rugrats are all nervous that a watermelon will grow inside of him if they do not get the seeds out. Naturally, they shrink down to a bite-sized bunch and they explore his immune system.

A highlight of the show is how the characters substitute real words with words that sound similar but mean something completely different, such as “if all goes accordion to plan.” Rugrats has won five primetime Emmy’s throughout its nine seasons, totaling 173 episodes.

9.Clarissa Explains It All
As Clarissa Darling, Melissa Joan Hart plays a teenager dealing with normal issues teenage girls face, but Clarissa adds a little extra flair. Clarissa is very into photography, journalism, and music and is a very intelligent and upbeat girl, and the show is filled with pop culture references. She also has a knack for creating funky yet fabulously brightly colored outfits. Clarissa is an embodiment of the ‘90s. She also owns a baby alligator named Elvis who lives in a plastic sandbox in her room. And her younger brother Ferguson is as dorky as his name.

The show has a few unique aspects. For example, the show is not just following Clarissa around; she interacts with the cameras and explains what is going on or how she feels about it. This format seems to make it the original Lizzie McGuire. Also, there is quite often a break from reality when the show cuts to Clarissa as a character in a computer game, beating her current issue using video game tactics.

Another reason why this show is so great is that Clarissa had a male best friend, Sam, who would climb directly into her room via ladder. She also has the coolest room of all time. I would still swap rooms with her in a heartbeat.

And let’s not forget the introduction, “na-na-na-na-na-na… way cool!”
In four seasons, Clarissa Explains It All aired 65 episodes.

10.Rocket Power
“We are riders, on a mission, action kids in play position.” What kid our age did not want to grow up in Ocean Shores and form their own Rocket Power group? The group of four kids in Rocket Power consisted of Otto and Reggie Rocket, Twister, and Sam, better known as “The Squid.” Reggie is best known for her purple hair and camouflage pants, but also because she is the only sympathetic one of the group toward Squid. She also publishes “The Zine.” Otto is her younger brother who has snowboarder hair, is the best at sports, and who frequently gangs up with Twister against Squid. Twister always wears a maroon and yellow painter’s hat. Squid wears a shirt with a large “N” on it, has a blonde island of hair on his head, is a little on the chubbier side, but is also the brains of the group. Tito is another favorite character—he is Ray “Raymundo” Rocket’s best friend and is a short, large, and upbeat Hawaiian chef who is always ready with sage advice.

Each episode features the gang coming together to overcome a challenge, usually of athletic nature, and throughout the entirety of each episode the gang argues and makes fun of poor Squid, whose only athletic ability is being a goalie for their roller hockey team. This is the only cartoon show that features extreme sports such as surfing, snowboarding, rollerblading, and skateboarding. Rocket Power had 3 seasons with a total of 61 episodes. I encourage you to watch the provided link.

Also of honorable mention: The Secret Life of Alex Mack, All That, CatDog, The Fairly OddParents, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and Figure It Out!