The five greatest shows of Nickelodeon's golden age
For those who grew up in the decade between 1985 and 1995, there was no cooler destination in TV Land than Nickelodeon. Free of the artificial constraints of edutainment, the network delivered just what kids wanted: crass, silly shows bathed in torrents of slime. Unlike the safe, sanitized territory of Disney, Nickelodeon's early days were marked by a grungy, rebellious aesthetic that thrived in the era of latchkey living. Mathew Klickstein's new book Slimed: An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age, which he'll read and sign Wednesday, October 16 at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Cafe in Boulder, takes you behind the scenes of those early days. And that prompted us to look back at our own childhood memories of the network, and profile five of its greatest hits.
You Can't Do That on Television
One of Nickelodeon's first big hits was You Can't Do That on Television, a kids' sketch comedy/variety show that was actually a Canadian import. Besides being the first place to introduce the talents of Alanis Morissette to the world, it was also a bastion of gross-out humor, from its liberal use of green slime to its crass, boundary-pushing skits -- like those featuring the world's least sanitary burger shop. In other words, it was full of the kind of stuff that kids love and parents hate. No wonder it was a hit.
The green slime made famous by You Can't Do That on Television was also a big part of Double Dare, the network's flagship kids' game show. At its heart, it was basically a trivia program: answer questions, win cash. The fun -- and most of the appeal for its target audience -- came in the form of the show's physical challenges, which frequently involved doing something ridiculous, gross or both at the same time. Not only did TV Guide name it one of the top fifty games shows of all time, Double Dare was one of the few places to see someone trying to catch catapult-launched pies in their pants, which is never not funny.