In college, I learned a foolproof method for striking up a conversation with just about anyone between the ages of 18 and 22: Mention an old Nickelodeon show, and soon enough, nostalgia would begin flowing like green slime. Sure, every now and then I’d encounter a kid who hadn’t grown up with cable (those poor, deprived souls!), but generally speaking, people my age (I just turned 23) have a fierce, borderline obsessive attachment to the TV of our childhood — and we’re also all convinced that Nick as a network started to take a serious nosedive in quality around the turn of the millennium.
That’s why children of the late ’80s (and maybe those of the early ’90s as well, though I don’t like to think about them because they make me feel ancient) let out a collective shriek of excitement when EW’s Lynette Rice broke the news that TeenNick — the Viacom-owned channel formerly known as Noggin and The N — will begin airing Nickelodeon shows from the ’90s this fall. Even though the programming block will appear on an obscure cable network from midnight to 2 a.m., I’m still beyond excited. I can’t wait to watch old episodes of All That and see if what made me howl with laughter at age 9 (Lori Beth Denberg’s “Vital Information,” anybody?) still elicits chuckles, or to marvel once more at how truly bizarre Pete & Pete was, especially for a kid’s show. I’m ready to watch Tommy Pickles do what a baby’s gotta do, and to covet Clarissa Darling’s awesome programming skills, and to recite along with the TV when Kenan goads Kel into declaring his love for orange soda: “Is it truuueee?”
In fact, the only problem I have with this announcement is that the shows I loved most — namely, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Salute Your Shorts, and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters — aren’t on the list of series that TeenNick is planning to start airing again. [UPDATE: A rep from MTV networks informs me that Salute Your Shorts did, in fact, make the cut. Think Anawanna-wanna, speak Anawanna-wanna, live Anawanna-wanna UGH!] I know that in this modern age, I can watch clips from the former two on YouTube and full episodes of the latter on Netflix any time I want. But I also know that squinting at my computer screen won’t satisfy my nostalgic urges like watching these shows on a real, live TV would. (To really get the full experience, I’ll have to watch TeenNick’s ’90s block while lying on the living room floor, propped up on my elbows, with a piece of string cheese in my right hand and a Mott’s apple juicebox or three by my side.)
The net does indicate they’re hoping to expand their selection of ’90s shows over time; maybe my favorites will be back in the spotlight eventually. But until then, I can certainly make due with this selection. Well, except for The Amanda Show. Did anyone ever really like The Amanda Show?
What about you, PopWatchers: What ’90s Nickelodeon gems are you most looking forward to seeing again? What shows do you hope TeenNick will add to the lineup? And what old-school snacks do you plan on eating while taking in your childhood favorites?