Enter... the Aggro Crag
Due to the surprising amount of people who actually read my blog and told me how much they enjoyed my drawn out essay on the glorious past of Nickelodeon I was moved to begin posting things like this at least once a week. This week post will be a continuation of last post's theme but not in the way I previously left off. As pointed out to me, and by my recall after meditating more on the subject I have realized that there were several things that were omitted from my last post. This has spurred me to make one more post about the golden days of Nickelodeon programming.
Seeing how I covered the majority of the programming in the last post, I will only cover the few, most amazing, most childhood altering shows that I was remiss in mentioning. We start off with a series so outrageously radical that I can assure you it was the main reason I chose to make a whole new post on Nickelodeon, instead of editing my last one, to make room for the sheer awesomeness of what I am about to extol in the following words.
I apologize with my sincerest humility that I left out the early 90's youths' answer to American Gladiators. A show that had more children on their feet itching for the action than even Wild and Crazy Kids. Nickelodeon GUTS.
To begin to describe the sheer awesomeness of this show you have to look at it from the eyes of our age group. To us, cool was epitomized by American Gladiators running around in spandex bashing each other with giant q-tips trying to avoid massive guys in sparkly star coated unitards with fruity names like Steel and Nitro.
Way too cool for school.
This being said Guts was a dream come true for us kids back then. See, we worshipped the show, American Gladiators, and when Nick grabbed the idea of jacked Spandex-clad men wielding giant Q-tips and made it more youth accessible with 3 kids ages 12-14 from all over the country, nay, all over the WORLD, and gave them the opportunity to engage in Nick's own series of gladiatorial competitions, the children of America were salivating on the edge of their seats, at once excited by the sheer awesomeness of the spectacle and gripped by the same sadness that accompanied any viewing of Wild and Crazy Kids because the kids knew they would never end up on such a kick-butt show. The games they played were amazing, we all had our favorites. My favorite was bungie basketball. Oh the bouncing and the jumping. It was almost to much for my young pre-pubescent mind to take. But those menial games are only lack-luster posers when put up against the final event in every episode. To truly explain the sheer awesomeity of this event I point you to this excerpt, censored and ripped from Amazing Ben.
This was the defining moment of these children's lives, and the dream of oh so many children all across America.
(Note: Becky from my church was on vacation with her family in Orlando and her brother was cast to compete on Global Guts!!! That made my day.)
For those of you reading who want more of this golden prize of a show or those of you who have been so deprived to never have watched an episode, Nickelodeon runs reruns of most of their game shows (including Legends of the Hidden Temple all bazillion carnations of Double Dare) on GAS, Nickelodeon Games and Sports channel on some fancy cable subscription. If you don't get it yourself then go watch it at your rich friend's house. On to the other shows!!
The next show that I neglected to mention was Kablam!
Kablam! was probably one of the most creative, unique, and still funny shows to ever come out of Nickelodeon. Each episode was a series of shorts hosted by two cartoon characters Henry and June.
They, together with Mr. Bigfoot who showed up regularly to pound the snot out of Henry and generally steal the spotlight, would engage in various antics in between several regular sketches. Henry was the nimrod who always ended up taking his shirt off and June was his cynical partner who just laughed at Henry's constant misfortune. But on to the shorts.
Prometheus and Bob - This was probably my favorite. It never featured any spoken dialogue, it was about an alien named Prometheus and his mis-guided attempts to educate the eternally ignorant caveman Bob. The third character in the series was a chimp that would fluctuate from helping Prometheus to making the often discouraged alien's tasks a living nightmare.
Probably everyone else's favorite was Action League Now. Here's a character list from TV Tome.
The Flesh - The Flesh is a naked-man who tends to be very strong. He is also know as the "Nude Dude." The Flesh wished that one day he would become a Super Hero, and he did. He usually gets in the way a lot when The Action League are trying to save the day.
Thunder Girl - Thunder Girl is another member of The Action League. She has the power to fly and use electrical attacks. Thunder Girl is usually seen flying around the City trying to find The Mayor. She uses her electrical powers very often. Meltman has a crush on Thunder Girl and usually says it right to her and she whacks him in the face.
Stinky Diver - Stinky Diver is the English Super Hero, who is always in his toilet. He uses a spear to attack his foes. He loves his money a whole lot and will not let anything happen to it.
Barry "Meltman" Meltfarb - Meltman has the power to melt, and he happens to be the most pathetic member of the Action League. Melty hangs out with everyone in the gang especially his love, Thunder Girl. Thunder Girl hates Meltman but he doesn't seem to care.
Justice - Justice is The Chief's loyal canine and probably the smartest one in the Action League!
The Chief - The Chief hired the Action League in the first place. He is very commanding and will not let evil win. Without The Chief the Action League would be nothing. Even though they already are nothing.
Bill the Lab Guy - Bill the Lab Guy tries to help The Action League by testing experiments and checking if the Action League has a disease.
The Mayor - The Mayor is the evil villain in Action League Now!
Other shorts on the show were Life with Loopy, Sniz and Fondue, and the Offbeats.
Oh MAN!!! The Offbeats was amazing. It was the chronicles of a group of nerdy less-than-popular group of kids, that basically epitomized what my group of friends were like in elementary school. It was amazing.
Other shows I remember but have run out of room to actually hold your attention with are Nick Arcade, with Mikey the football helmet wearing, Commander Keen spinoff. What a good show. At a time when video games were becoming all the rage with the introduction of the SNES and the Playstation, a TV show that allowed kids to take a part in a form of video gaming was amazing. Nickelodeon really had the magic touch when it came to taking a child's wildest dreams, and making them into a TV show.
I'm going to wrap this up with a little bit on my current emotions about Nickelodeon and where it went wrong. The TV channel used to be the catch-all beat-all hand-down best children's network everywhere. Kids loved it, parents trusted it like nothing else. You could watch it forever and your parents would never question if the programming was appropriate. Then they came out with Ren and Stimpy. The first show on the network that pushed the limits of what parents were tolerant of. But Nickelodeon programming was genius back then and they managed to just toe the line, allowing them to show more mature programming but keeping it kid friendly. You have to hand it to them that they were great at it too. But with the appearance of Ren and Stimpy, Rocko's Modern Life, and the other features of Nickelodeon's "new" Nick Toons the channel began it's slow decline. As more and more lower quality nicktoons replaced the live action shows we began to watch worse and worse episodes of the once clever Rugrats, and more and more unoriginal, formulaic, mindless nicktoons. In my opinion Nickelodeon is the first TV network to ever "Jump the Shark." Now a day we can watch mindless drivel like Rugrats:All Growed Up, Spongebob, Fairly Oddparents, and other crap I don't watch for more than two seconds before I realize I drop IQ points for every minute of it I watch. In short we are only able to dream about the glory days of the best children's network ever and watch reruns of it's best shows on Nick at Night and Nickelodeon GAS.
Last note for the day. Wonder Years was the best thing that ever happened to television after 8 o'clock.
Coolest family ever.
That's it for this week. Sorry I wasn't able to write about everyone's favorite turtles or video games but don't fear. Next week, or this week will have those pleasures in store for everyone.Eric "Armatage" Peterson