If you have to ask, then you’ll never understand how big and important Nickelodeon was, once upon a time. For many, “The Orange Years” from Scott Barber and Adam Sweeney might feel like yet another bit of 90’s nostalgia for Millennials, but the documentary is a look at television, its history and how Nickelodeon blazed a trail for a massive industry, and set a precedent that many studios would aspire to topple.
1994 was the year to really tune into Nickelodeon. It was a time where they’d hit their stride with programming blocks like SNICK and excellent series like Rugrats, and The Secret World of Alex Mack. It was also the year that “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” premiered (October 30, 1994). Another of the many Klasky Csupo produced animated shows, “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” focused on the world of monsters that hide in our closets, under our beds, and in our toilets. It is one of the few genuinely horror-oriented animated shows that Nickelodeon has aired.
“Avatar” was and is one of the most interesting animated epics on television in years. With an industry looking to bring nothing but disposable cartoons and lame comedy even years after its end, it’s rare that we were able to sit and watch animated epics. “Avatar” was engaging, beautiful, and often very emotional. As a person who fancies himself an animation aficionado, it’s rare to find excellent storytelling in the medium anymore beyond movies, and “Avatar” proved me wrong in many instances as a simple children’s fantasy series.
This year, Nickelodeon decided to add some spice to their celebration of Halloween by providing a half hour stop motion special. The folks at Bikini Bottom are celebrating Halloween this time, and rather than the iconic wacky two dimensional style, we’re given a brand new spin, with some hilarious results. The stop motion by Screen Novelties is quite excellent, lending the series a sense of whimsy that you would find in something like “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” There is even a great homage to “The Haunted Mansion” Disney Ride, which is both dazzling and screams Halloween.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been twenty five years since “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” premiered on Nickelodeon in the US. The anthology horror series is one of the most fondly remembered kids shows of the 1990s mainly for its creative premises, surprise twists, and deeply entrenched moral lessons that were found in many episodes. The history of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” is just as interesting as the show itself. It was the launch pad for many very well known actors, and displayed a shocking sense of edge with every episode.
The show thankfully still holds up today as a creepy and creative horror series, and despite some camp here and there, it’s a still a well written anthology with a ton of memorable monsters including Zeebo, The Ghastly Grinner, and the Frozen Ghost. Here are my top five episodes.
I can’t think of a better way to spend Halloween than with classic Nickelodeon shows. And no, I don’t mean the yellow talking sponge, either. I mean classice nineties Nickelodeon, a time where the series were just more innocent and creative. Shout! treats fans of classic Nickelodeon this year with a compilation of scary and Halloween based episodes of some of Nickelodeon’s best animated series, and it’s almost four hours of spooky fun! Featured are choice episodes of “Hey Arnold!,” “The Angry Beavers,” “Aah! Real Monsters,” “Rocko’s Modern Life,” and “Cat Dog.”
It’s really heartbreaking to learn that a great talent, and a great person passed away. Before the end of 2014, it was announced that Christine Cavanaugh passed away at 51. She retired from acting many years ago, but was known by many nineties children, and animation buffs as the voice of many interesting and peculiar characters that helped create fond memories for many children around the world.
Here are five of our favorite performances from Ms. Cavanaugh, may she rest in peace.
I often get the “Really? You like this?!” response whenever I speak about my enjoyment for Disney shows. You know what? Some people watch reality shows to pass the time, I watch Disney sitcoms and cartoons to escape from reality, and it offers some genuinely good laughs and entertainment. You’re only as old as you feel, and I am very experimental when it comes to kids’ shows. They’re not always winners, but when I hit one that entertains me, I tune in regularly. These are five we love without shame.