Freeform’s newest TV series Dead of Summer premieres Tuesday June 28th at 9pm. Created by Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, and Ian Goldberg of Once Upon a Time, Dead of Summer appears to follow Freeform’s traditional blueprint of putting young people in creepy situations (see also: Pretty Little Liars, Guilt, Shadowhunters, and Stitchers). In this instance, you guessed it, they’ll be trying to survive summer camp.
Like any other kid who grew up in the 90s, my TV diet mainly consisted of Nickelodeon, Saturday morning cartoons, ABC’s TGIF block of programming, and the occasional free preview of the Disney Channel. Needless to say most shows were filled with slime, hijinks, hugs, laugh-tracks, and catchphrases, but every now and then an episode would drop a real life truth bomb on you. Here’s five episodes that chipped away at my childhood innocence.
It’s summertime, which means vacation – the beach, road trips, camping and all sorts of other travel shenanigans. Not all of us can be jet-setters though, so if you’re planning a staycation or just need something to do when its raining or when you are so sunburned that going outside is out of the question, here’s a handful of vacation episodes from your favorite TV shows to enjoy.
Did you know that people write books about TV? Crazy right? Well I’m enough of a TV nerd to have actually read a few.
Here’s one of my favorites, you know for when your TV shows go on hiatus or the power goes out or something.
Nickelodeon Nation: The History, Politics, and Economics of America’s Only TV Channel For Kids – Edited by Heather Hendershot
I don’t know about you but I grew up on Nickelodeon. Disney was alright, I mean I remember how excited I would be when we got to watch the free preview of the Toon Disney channel, but for me Nickelodeon was where it was at for cartoons, live action TV, and everything in between. (Seriously, how do you categorize Wild & Crazy Kids, KaBlam!, or Weinerville?)
Given how much I loved the network’s many shows and resident Popsicle stick – Stick Stickly, I was pretty excited to get my hands on this book. Broken up into four sections – ‘Economics & Marketing’, ‘The Production Process’, ‘Programs and Politics’, and ‘Viewers’ – there’s a little something for everyone.
Interested in marketing or the television industry in general? Several of the early chapters provide insight into Nickelodeon’s carefully crafted orange logo, programming decisions, and general show development.
Growing up it always seemed that Nickelodeon was made just for me, but of course that perception was the result of many, very deliberate, decisions regarding the branding message of the network. Contributing authors helpfully provide the context needed to understand how Nickelodeon’s core principles differed from other children’s television shows and programming blocks of the time.
In the ‘Production Process’ section, I especially enjoyed “Diversifying Representation in Children’s TV: Nickelodeon Model” by Ellen Seiter and Vicki Mayer. Portrayals of gender and ethnicity are the main focus in this chapter, but for me the main takeaway was that Nickelodeon figured out pretty early on that girls and boys alike were willing to watch TV shows with girls in lead roles. Which is what led to Clarissa Explains It All, The Secret World of Alex Mack and later more ‘dramatic’ shows like The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo and Caitlin’s Way.
Strong female characters are probably one of the few unifying themes found throughout the many TV shows I watch, and Clarissa Darling and Alex Mack are partially to blame for that. Both characters were so cool yet completely relatable, that is if you exclude the little GC-161 accident.
If you’re thinking that’s really nice and all, but I only care about the shows, then hold your horses. The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rugrats, Spongebob SquarePants, and Blues Clues all get their own chapters too. As does Nick News, but let’s be real, did any kid really watch Linda Ellerbee on their own volition?
In a particularly engaging chapter, Linda Simensky, Nickelodeon’s former Director of the Animation department recounts the early days of Nicktoons, which includes Rugrats, Doug, and Ren & Stimpy.
In addition, Nick At Nite and TV Land have their own chapter, because kids can’t have all the fun and there’s also an in-depth and insightful interview with Geraldine Laybourne, Nickelodeon’s Network President from 1989 to 1996.
As with any anthology book, some sections will be more captivating than others, but overall Nickelodeon Nation offers an interesting glimpse into the origins of a network that so many kids grew up on.
If you like reading and love Nickelodeon, then here’s a few other books that might be of interest:
Kids Rule!: Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship by Sarah Banet-Weiser
Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons! by Jerry Beck
Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age by Mathew Klickstein (Available on 9/24/2013)
With the most recent news that Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel have signed on to revive their roles as Cory and Topanga on Disney’s new Girl Meets World pilot (a Boy Meets World sequel of sorts), I started thinking about other 90s shows that would lend themselves to a reboot or spinoff.
Now Disney isn’t the first network to attempt a sequel, reboot, spinoff, or whatever you want to call it. In 2008, The CW revived FOX’s Beverley Hills 90210, which is still on the air; however, any resemblance or connection to the original has been largely been lost. So I’m going to change things up a bit and turn to 90s Nickelodeon shows for inspiration. I’m sure there are plenty of other Nick kids who would love to revisit some of their favorite characters.
Network: ABC – The network is home to a whole slew of quirky comedies with heart so I would imagine this show would fit in well there.
Premise: Like the Boy Meets World reboot, the proposed Clarissa Explains It All series would include Clarissa’s teenage son or daughter, but like many other current series, the show would provide story lines for both adult and teen characters.
I can’t imagine Clarissa being settled down and all ‘domestic’, perhaps she’s even a single parent just doing her best to navigate adulthood; the show could really cash in on that popular life is perpetually like high school motif. In my mind the show would be tonally similar to Gilmore Girls. Also, thankfully talking directly to the camera is all the rage these days making it very easy to keep with the original show’s central storytelling device.
Network: CBS – This show was the closest thing to a procedural you could find on a kid’s network.
Premise: The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo might seem like an odd choice for a reboot but I’m also thinking what would be most successful and nothing says multiple seasons like a standard cop/crime/detective show on CBS. Shelby Woo was already an ‘intern’ with the local police department in the Nick series, fast forward a decade or two, and now she’s a full fledged detective. They can also throw some family elements into the mix, like on Blue Bloods or The Good Wife.
Network: MTV – I’m keeping Hey Dude in the Viacom family, gear it towards teens but remove the PG label.
Premise: In my mind this reboot would become an edgier workplace comedy. I’m only making a loose connection here, but if one of the original characters is back owning/running the ranch, then the show is still free to utilize an ever changing cast of teen characters who are perfect for drama and love triangles. Think Degrassi mixed with Grey’s Anatomy on a Dude Ranch.
What other 90s shows would you like to see get the reboot treatment? Do you think a beloved 90s show will translate to a ratings success today? Should TV networks continue to look back for ideas or should they take more creative chances?
90s Nick favorites, All That and Kenan & Kel return to basic cable tomorrow on Nick At Nite. Even better yet, they are on at 8pm!
I know for a while now both shows have been on heavy rotation on Teen Nick during The 90s Are All That block but for those of us who grew up on Nickelodeon and now have jobs and/or don’t pay for anything fancier than basic cable, this is exciting news.
And if you are really looking to capture the nostalgia of the 90s then you might want to tune in on Wednesday because that episode of All That features the Backstreet Boys.
Kenan & Kel will follow at 8:30pm so make sure you have plenty of orange soda on hand.