Posts tagged as nick of time

Announcing the "Nick of Time" Book

“What if the viewer could become her/his own programming director; what if s/he could define the very entertainment-happiness it was her/his right to pursue.” – David Foster Wallace

First of all, don’t get pissed: This is the last Nick of Time piece. Even worse, it’s not a real Nick of Time piece. Sorry.

Now, yes, I still have a few more shows left to investigate, analyze, and deconstruct, but, well, this modest little hat trick actually worked. That’s right: The history of Nickelodeon’s “golden age” I’ve been developing alongside my Nick of Time series will be published by Plume, an imprint of Penguin, next year.

Getting Out of Control

Out of Control is probably one of the more obscure programs from Nick’s golden era, even though it enjoys the honor of having been the first major series to be produced on American soil by the network. Originally airing in 1984, the show gave us Dave “Cut It Out” Coulier as “himself” hosting an outrageous news program (of sorts) that took on a metacognitive approach much in the same way You Can’t Do That on Television had with a kids show.

In layman’s terms, Out of Control was more about the “news” show being made than it was about the news being presented by its quirky cast of characters. [...]

So You Think You Can't Do That on Television?

“As we grow more literate, it seems we mature more in our collecting, passing from the kid stuff of stamps and bubblegum cards and butterflies to the more adult items such as ‘deep meanings.’” — Ken Kesey

Ever since taking on the charge of being the biographer for the “golden age” of Nickelodeon, a few executives’ names continually crop up in my interviews with terms such as, “He/she gave me my start.” Along with Gerry Laybourne, Bob Mittenthal, Scott Webb, and Vanessa Coffey, there was Geoffrey Darby. Barely 25 at the time, Geoffrey Darby was one of two creators of You Can’t Do That on Television.

Whereas Darby’s co-creator [...]

Mark Mothersbaugh on Rugrats

I’m not going to lie. Rugrats is one of the “golden age” Nickelodeon shows that I was never really that into. Sure, I would watch episode after episode as would any devoted Nick acolyte (I mean, what else would I do? Go outside and play?). And it did tend to come on between other shows more my style like Ren & Stimpy. So, I definitely gave it a day in court. Frequently.

But why was it that Rugrats has blazoned itself so indelibly on my mind, then? Maybe because, well, it was kinda a weird show, if you remember correctly. Something about it was rather off-putting. There were all [...]

You Don't Know Doug, Part Two: Moral Underpinnings, From Nick to Disney, and New Voice Actors

Last week on “Nick of Time,” we revealed the secret identity of Quail Man (aka “Super Clod”), who turned out not to be animated every-man Doug Funnie, but show creator Jim Jinkins. Oh, and there really was a Patti Mayonnaise (amongst other characters) in Jim’s life growing up, Doug Funnie originally bloomed out of a grapefruit commercial voiced by Garfield the Cat, and Jinkins is one of the people we have to thank for Nickelodeon.

20 years after the show’s debut, Jinkins says he still marvels at the way fans of Doug notice all of the “little details” of his show, which he can see being discussed and [...]

Down at the 'Roundhouse'

“Everybody wants to do something strange, and is. It remains for a few people to stand and watch them and report what it all looks like and sounds like.” — James Thurber in a letter to EB White, 1938

Running for 52 episodes from 1992 to 1996, Roundhouse was one of the shows on during Nickelodeon’s “golden era” that you may have some trouble remembering. That is until I tell you that it was part of the original wave of SNICK, airing just before The Ren & Stimpy Show.

Now you remember? The show with all the 20-year-old kids wearing bright colors and flannel, doing back flips and [...]

We Double Dare You

And then there’s Double Dare.

It was the show that helped usher Nickelodeon into a newly established administration with Gerry Laybourne re-branding and recreating the kid-friendly channel into the First Network for Kids (exclamation mark). You may have fond memories of Double Dare's super-sloppy obstacle courses and colander-hat-wearing-egg-throwing physical challenges, but what you might not have known then and probably don’t realize now is that Double Dare brought in a lot more green than just slime (or, in this incarnation, “gak”).

There’s a reason that, of all the other shows produced during the eighties and early nineties, Double Dare is the one that endured until a relatively recent end. [...]

A Manic Remembrance of The Ren & Stimpy Show

Today was certainly peculiar.

We all have weird, wacky lives these days. But, this morning I was talking to the set designer of Double Dare — yes, the man responsible for the physical challenges and obstacle courses — while scanning through a series of possible photographs to employ as centerpiece for my forthcoming erotica novel. So there I was with this extremely graphic and at times disturbing machination that aspires to be Salò that I have to pay attention to (contractually)… while hearing about “huge wedges of cheese we had to keep making” from the set designer on speaker phone (more on him and the rest of the [...]

Inside Clarissa Explains It All with Creator Mitchell Kriegman

“Take your pleasures seriously.” — Charles Eames

Before grabbing my crème brûlée latte at the café round the corner in preparation for putting this “Nostalgnick” piece to bed, something about my lovely young barista struck me as fairly reminiscent of what I was about to write.

“Did you ever watch Clarissa Explains It All?” I blurted out to her, trying to avoid eye contact with her rather lascivious décolletage cresting her folksy-DIY blouse. “Hell yeah!” she told me. “That was my show!”

Not too surprising. She’s probably either a little younger than I, or my age. And she’s a girl. Cleaning the dishes behind her was a fairly [...]

You Don't Know Doug

Remember when life was easy? When our most pressing challenge was making sure to get our homework done in time to catch the latest episode of Pete & Pete and Rugrats on Nickelodeon? Then SNICK came on, and it was all about pretending that Are You Afraid of the Dark? was actually scary and how many fart jokes they'd cram into Ren & Stimpy that week. Ah, but alas, while we continued to play the Circle Game, Nick kinda became… er, something else altogether, cable turned into Netflix Instant and we all became lawyers, mediocre rock musicians and narcissistic bloggers. No longer did we care why Sam always came [...]

Keeping Score with Nick Arcade

“The principle is: Do not fear the small number of people. Better three people fully linked together, than more but always disagreeing with each other.” – Daniil Ivanovich Kharms

Phil Moore, host of Nickelodeon Arcade (or better known to you and I as Nick Arcade), would probably agree with me that talking with show creators James Bethea and Karim (that’s Ka-Rim as in The Secret of NIMH) Miteff is absolutely entertaining… but also… extensive. Technical. Exhaustive? Maybe.

Both Bethea and Miteff, friends since high school who remain close two decades after their video game-based show originally aired in the early nineties (perhaps the first of its kind in history, [...]

13 Things About Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Your younger brothers and sisters (ah, hell, let’s be honest: Your kids) may know DJ MacHale as the author of the wildly successful YA novel series Pendragon. But you and I know him as the creator of Nickelodeon’s own version of The Twilight Zone, Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Originally running as an essential terminus to the four-part SNICK Saturday nights on Nickelodeon, Are You Afraid of the Dark? pre-dated Goosebumps as perhaps the first “tween horror/thriller series” on television. Screw Twilight (but not Let the Right One In); this was the real-deal in kids dealing with everything from supernatural monkey paws to devious urban legends and the [...]

Graduating from Welcome Freshmen and the Business of Making TV for Kids

“The business of America is business.” – Calvin Coolidge (misquoted)

People who espouse the cloying concept of l’art pour l’art tend to royally piss me off. Anyone who alleges that he produces art without consciousness of or care for commercial viability does so for one of three reasons: 1) He’s totally full of shit (audiences do love a good myth), 2) He’s secretly plutocratic; one doesn’t care about money if one doesn’t need to make any, 3) He has a last name that you would recognize (“2” and “3” often go hand-in-hand, especially in the culture industry).

I don’t know ‘bout ch’all, but I have rent to pay. And [...]

The Adventures of The Adventures of Pete & Pete

“Teen-agers, bohos, camp culturati, photographers – they have won by default, because, after all, they do create styles.” — Tom Wolfe

One of the blazing revelations I’ve had over the last few whirligig weeks of reading about, seeking out and conversing with the progenitors of our favorite old Nickelodeon shows is that, for the most part, this was a bunch of ragtag art kids in their twenties and thirties who — in lieu of heading to the West Coast to fuse a punk-rock ethos to mainstream accessibility in music — brought the “alternative” sensibility to an even more unlikely place than the radio: shows for kids (and, when they [...]