Best of ’90s Nicktoons
Scene Staff Report | Wednesday, August 31, 2011
‘90s kids rejoice! In case you haven’t heard (or seen), Nickelodeon, the home of green slime that you once turned to for all of your entertainment needs, is bringing back its classic shows from its ’90s heyday. Yes, coming back to your television screens are favorites of another era, including “All That,” “Kenan & Kel,” “Doug” and oh, so many more. Sure, some stopped being funny when you hit puberty, but many have stood the test of time. Turn on your tube from midnight to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday nights to relive your childhood and get prepared to ace the “Children’s TV shows” Sporcle quizzes. But first, refresh yourself with Scene’s guide to some of Nickelodeon’s most enduring classics.
“The Secret World of Alex Mack”
This live-action sci-fi SNICK classic, which ran from 1994-98, features Larisa Oleynik as a teenage girl who develops superpowers after a near-collision with a truck from a chemical plant. The truck accidentally drenches her with a top-secret chemical called GC-161 and she undergoes some mysterious changes. She only confides in her sister Annie and her best friend Raymond about her powers, which include telekinesis, the ability to shoot electric bolts through her fingers, turn into a puddle and glow.
Jim Jenkins’ animated sitcom centers on title character Doug Funnie after he and his family moves to a new town called Bluffington. Some of the show’s highlights include Doug’s grade-school crush on classmate Patti Mayonnaise, his superhero alter ego Quailman and his favorite band, The Beets, which is clearly a parody of The Beatles. The show sadly only aired on Nick from 1991-94, but switched networks to Disney, where it remained on television screens from 1996-99.
“Figure It Out”
This American children’s game show, hosted by Summer Sanders, ran on Nick from 1997-99. Young contestants showcased their unique talents or achievements in front of a panel of four Nick celebrities who attempted to guess a predetermined phrase describing the contestants’ skills.
“Legends of the Hidden Temple”
Based on historical expeditions and ancient mythology, this action-adventure competitive children’s game show centered on a “Temple” supposedly filled with lost treasures protected by Mayan Temple Guards. Host Kirk Fogg served as the guide for six teams, who performed stunts and answered questions in order to retrieve one of the historical artifacts in the Temple, while the talking audio-animatronic Olmec led the players through the temple.
This show single-handedly made football-shaped heads a trend in animated series, but that’s certainly not the most important contribution it made to television. It revealed the world of grade-school crushes in the form of Helga G. Pataki’s undying devotion to Arnold. Plus, it produced the most dynamic animated character ever created, Stoop Kid.
“The Wild Thornberrys”
The adventurous Thornberry family explored the world in this animated Nickelodeon series. Eliza Thornberry was the awkward middle child sandwiched between popular older sister Debbie and pseudo-chimp Donnie. She discovers a talent for speaking to animals that takes her family on countless wild rides. Better than the animated series itself is knowing that Eliza is voiced by Lacey Chabert of “Mean Girls,” while Donnie is voiced by Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Talk about awesome.
Every child of the ‘90s has a little skater in them thanks to this Nicktoon classic. Otto, Reggie, Twister and Sam were the coolest kids in town and had the inexplicable ability to conquer every action sport known to man, even at their youthful age. “Rocket Power” taught us that sports are fun (but always wear your helmet), friends are more important than anything and fish tacos aren’t actually shaped like fish — lessons we will always carry with us. So next time you hop on your skateboard to go to class, send a little mental “thank you” over to the folks at Nickelodeon for inspiring you to surf the sidewalk.
“All That” gave us an early appreciation for sketch comedy back in Nickelodeon’s prime. It propelled many members of the cast into the stars they are now. Kenan Thompson returned to his sketch roots as an “SNL” cast member and Amanda Bynes, retired or otherwise, wouldn’t have anything to retire from without a start on Nickelodeon. Unfortunately, most of the skits have not worn the test of time well and seem less funny when viewed as a 20-something. However, a few still hold up, and “Vital Information” with Lori Beth Denberg will always be funny in an “I-don’t-know-why-I’m-laughing” kind of way.