Whoah, here we go again...

One boy's stand against a world of uninteresting blogs. May his efforts be a standing beacon of hope and humor for all who find their way to it.

5.23.2005

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.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com 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.


The AGGRO-CRAG is located deep in the heart of Nickelodeon's EXTREME ARENA and represents the ultimate test of courage for kids ages twelve to fourteen not only across the country, but across the globe as well. The AGGRO-CRAG, or AGGRESSIVE ROCK, is a forty-foot tall mountain made up of spikes, steel girders, broken robot parts, volcanic rock and THE ESSENCE OF PURE EVIL. It could totally kill Frodo and Samwise and make Mount Doom it's little dogif it wanted to, and it would still have energy left to beat the crap out of wussy mountains like K2 and MOUNT ST. HELENS. If the AGGRO-CRAG were a real person, it would be a mix of Tony Hawk, The Big Show, a post-apocalyptic mutant cactus and a really awesome bloodthirsty PIRATE because it would be big, mean, irradiated and XTREME.

Later replaced by the Mega Crag and then the Super Aggro Crag
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.
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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.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comPrometheus
Image hosted by Photobucket.comBob
Image hosted by Photobucket.comChimp

Probably everyone else's favorite was Action League Now. Here's a character list from TV Tome.

Action League Now!!!

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.
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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

Three N's of my life... Or just one

I think that my youth can be defined by three N's: Nickelodeon, Nintendo, and Ninja Turtles. (Other runner up "N"s were Nerf and... umm, Rescue Nine-One-One (The "n' is in Nine, yeah it's a stretch))

Oh those were golden times. Where parents always got slimed, Stick Stickly always got dipped, stumped, slimed, etc. and a kid could catch quality programming at any point in the day on that faithful channel... Nickelodeon.

Stick Stickly was the man... or the stick "Write to me Stick Stickly P.O Box 963, New York City, New York State, 10108"

Nickelodeon was the definitive children's network powerhouse once upon a time. (Before Cartoon Network started whoring itself out) There was the Rugrats and Doug to satisfy your animation sweet tooth. Ah, Douglas Yancey Funnie , your imagination will live on forever in the youth that followed your antics as Quail Man and your memories will be forever immortalized in the words of the Beets, "Oh-ee-oo, Killer tofu!"

Then there were all their live-action shows, the likes of which have never been duplicated on any other channel to the degree of success they found on Nick.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Camp Onawana, we hold you in our hearts..

Salute Your Shorts: The show that made summer camp cool. Also responsible for the wide-spread use of the word "wuss." Gave the less-attractive children of our country eternal hope with the episode where Donkey Lips finally gets the girl.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Creepiest opening for any show ever

Are You Afraid of the Dark (I'm still terrified of that dollhouse episode to this day)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Clarissa and Sam, best friends for life.

The then-so-much-more-attractive Melissa Joan Hart in Clarissa Explains it All. Every girl in the country wanted a Sam Andres, the guy who would show up at Clarissa's window on the ladder. He was also my hero, because in the final episode he got accepted into an all girls college. Go Sam!!!

Then there were the game shows.

What Would You Do? Where people from the audience would be chosen at random to perform bizarre and outrageous stunts... or get a pie in the face. ("Pick a scorpion up with your mouth, or ride the pie chair," "Do a backflip, or have your son throw a pie in your face," "Have a pie thrown in your face, or take a pie shower.")

Image hosted by Photobucket.com A pie in the face could solve the world's problems. I'm not kidding.

Double Dare: The show where every child in the country would tell everyone in the vicinity of their TV set. "I could run up the slime slide, dive into the giant pizza, climb through the car wash brushes and grab the orange flag WAY better than those guys can!" It was also the only show where you could watch people your mom's age swim through giant hot fudge sundaes.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Mmmmm... pie

There was also Figure it Out, and probably a few others I can't remember. But my two favorite game shows I saved for last. Wild and Crazy Kids and Legends of the Hidden Temple.

Wild and Crazy Kids could have been the best idea for a game show ever. It was basically what Most Extreme Elimination Challenge is today only you switch the Japanese guys with American kids and the two obnoxious hosts for the three coolest grade schoolers in the world; Annette Chavez (This girl had spunk), Omar Gooding (Cuba's lil' brother), and Donny Jeffcoat (coolest hair ever). These kids were practically worshiped by my generation at that age. They got to go around the country and play all the most ridiculous feats of skill and endurance you could dream up. I remember one time when they put half the kids in drivable boats armed with tennis ball cannons and the rest on the shore manning tennis ball turrets, and the first team to "kill" the other one won. HOW COOL IS THAT!!!

Mmm... pie Sometime even the parents would get in on the fun... and of course they always got pied.

Legends of the Hidden Temple was by far the most interesting and exciting game show Nickelodeon ever came up with. The show was hosted by some lackluster loser who never even managed to do more than make me yawn. The real shining gem on the hosting staff was the giant stone head named Olmec.

Olmec Easily the coolest stone head ever.

Each episode Olmec would welcome 6 teams to compete for a chance to make a run in his Hidden Temple. The teams were the Red Jaguars, Blue Barracudas, Green Monkeys, Orange Iguanas, Purple Parrots, and the Silver Snakes. Kids would quickly pick favorite teams. The majority were fans of the Silver Snakes but I always had it in my heart for the Red Jaguars. At the start of the show the big guy, Olmec, would introduce a legend of a historical figure and an artifact that they lost. It could be anything from Amelia Earhart's goggles to Pecos Bill's lost Lasso to a snow cone made from the snow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Then the teams would compete in ridiculous games involving teamwork, physical prowess, and good listening skills (?). Then one lucky team would enter the temple to try and claim the lost artifact. Only to lose... every time. I don't think I ever saw anyone win the grand prize (some trip to Hawaii or whatnot) but I did see plenty of people reach the artifact, netting them the conciliatory prize of a mountain bike or something (lame).

Buddha's Bellybutton No joke. One episode threw the kids into the temple to reclaim... The Bellybutton of Buddha

And if you somehow found yourself watching Nick around noon time there was no shame in watching Little Bear, Eureka's Castle, or my favorite Muppet Babies. These shows were genuinely entertaining. I found myself watching them long after I "outgrew" them, though that may say more about my mental state than that of the shows.

I think that Nickelodeon's decline from this pinnacle of youth awesomeness was when they released Ren and Stimpy. The show was great, but it marked the first series that began to turn Nick away from it's high seat of kid glory. This was soon followed by worse and worse shows; Angry Beavers, Rocko's Modern Life, and eventually Spongebob, the bane of my Nickelodeon viewing life. Who knows if Nickelodeon will ever reclaim the crown that it once held so indisputably as King of Children Programming, but it may be on its way with the following news.

It bears noting at this point that I made a glorious discovery the other day. Nickelodeon is finally making the smart choice and releasing all their glorious afternoon programming from the early 90's on DVD. Already on DVD are Clarissa Explains it All and Pete and Pete Vol. 1. Soon all our dreams will come true when our generation will finally own Salute Your Shorts on DVD. Well, at least my dreams will come true.

Wow this post went on longer than I ever thought it was going to. The turtles and Nintendo will have to wait for another day.