“Tired of caring for your kids? Give them to us, and we'll raise them until they're 12 (and decide to switch to MTV)!”
Nickelodeon (also known as Nick) is a cable television channel that was once dedicated to surreal, grotesque programs aimed at youths and hallucinating college stoners. It is owned by Viacom, ruler of the free world, which in itself is dictated by the ruthless Emperor Sumner Redstone, who is really old. In the 1980s, 1990s, and early-mid 2000s, the channel churned out nostalgic cult classics such as Double Dare, You Can't Do That on Television, Rugrats, Doug, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Salute the Dark, Roundhouse, Are You Afraid of Your Shorts?, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Rocko's Modern Life, All That, Kenan & Kel, Hey Arnold!, pre-movie SpongeBob SquarePants, Invader Zim, and Avatar: The Last Airbender, fondly waxed over by Gen X and Millennials.
However, since the mid-2000s, numerous oldschool fans believe the network has undergone a significant decline in quality, and become a hollow conch shell of its former self. Following a management shakeup, several of Nick's classic shows were cancelled (the characters from these shows did not even receive the pensions they were promised), mediocre newer ones replaced them, the famous Nickelodeon Studios was closed down, and the network made the extreme economy move of sacking their old logo to appeal to a "hip" new generation of Zoomers. For a lifetime at this point, nostalgic Nick fans on social media have griped time and time again about Nickelodeon's alleged slide. Still, Viacom argues that the proof is in the pudding, and the niche that they sought — vapid couch potato teen sitcoms with corny humor, where 12-year-olds pretending to be 16 seek fame and fortune — has translated into greater sales of advertising.
- 1 History
- 2 Blocks and spinoff channels
- 3 Innovative animation
- 4 See also
1977–90: Prehistoric Nick
Nickelodeon was the brainchild of Dr. Vivian Horner, a PBS alumni, who was concocting to brainwash America's youth with trippy Syd Barrett-esque educational programming, but without resorting to talking sponges and teenybopper singers. Dr. Horner gave the project the name Pinwheel, and it was destined to be the world's first kid's network. Initially, Pinwheel aired a Sesame Street knockoff (also titled Pinwheel), as well as obscure foreign cartoons and filmstrips. This approach met with little fanfare, and so in 1979, the network got a complete makeover and changed its name to Nickelodeon.
Horner then abandoned the project and moved into a cave, remaining elusive to the public for a number of years. Former Mattel exec Cy Schneider, the newly-appointed President and pseudo-god of Nick, decided to steal some cheap-quality Canadian and British kids' shows and air them on the American channel, at no expense to him or the network. One such show was the hip and irreverent, groundbreaking sketch-comedy show, You Can't Do That on Television. The show featured such iconic people and characters as Les Lye, Christine "Moose" McGlade, Ronald Reagan, and Barth. One of the shows trademarks (which is now owned by Viacom) was somebody getting slimed after replying "I don't know!" Slime soon became a staple of Nickelodeon, appearing in everything from YCDTOTV to Double Dare, to What The Hell Does This Kid Do?, all the way to the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, but currently only appears in the KCA.
In 1984, Schneider jumped the sinking Nick ship after it sank to become the lowest-rated channel in America. Focus grouper Geraldine Laybourne stayed on board and appointed herself the new President of Nick. Gerry washed her hands of Schneider and rebranded Nick from an educational network into a zany one, from a dull pinball logo into a stretchy orange splat, and took all the credit for Schneider's good ideas. Schneider was hurt and angered by this and dropped out of sight until he passed away of cancer in 1994. By this time, Pinwheel was canceled due to low ratings, and the network was looking for bigger and better things. They
stole acquired the rights to such imports as Danger Mouse, David the Gnome, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, The Tomorrow People, The Yesterday People, and A Clockwork Orange. However, the respective copyright owners of these programs sued the network for copyright and trademark infringement and won big time, leaving Nick with nothing on their schedule in those timeslots, so they decided to fill time by rerunning YCDTOTV over and over again, while in the meantime looking for a solution.
Ruthless Viacom Emperor/dictator Sumner Redstone bought Nickelodeon in 1985 for the sum of a paperclip and a piece of string, and ordered them to produce their own original series. The first such show was the Marc Summers game show Double Dare, which premiered in 1986. The show was an instant hit with critics and audiences across the country and helped put Nickelodeon on the map. Other shows produced during this time included Kids Court, the highly-controversial Kid Nation, A Clockwork Orange: The Series, Eureeka's Castle, Finders Keepers, and the short-lived Super Sentai parody dub, Dynaman. Nickelodeon then sought to appeal to cowboys with the short-lived comedy series Hey Dude. It became expensive to produce all of these shows and court the cowboy demographic, so they were all immediately canceled as soon as the network opened their own studio in 1990.
1990–98: Golden Age, Nickelodeon Studios, camp, couches, and Nicktoons
The first show to be taped at Nickelodeon Studios was the Anthony Hopkins-hosted game show Get the Picture, in which two teams had to guess pictures to win points. The show was again short-lived, so the network had a few backup plans.
Live-action shows in 1991 included Salute Your Shorts, Fifteen, Nick News, Baywatch for Kids, and the short-lived live-action version of Rugrats, which starred actual babies escaping from their actual playpen.
The 1990s saw a noticeable shakeup for Nickelodeon, and a change in their kinds of programs. They opened up Nickelodeon Studios in the summer of 1990 and would produce their live-action shows exclusively at that location, which in itself was the embodiment of '90s memphis pattern design. They also eliminated 90% of mediocre foreign programming, infomercials, and subliminal messages on the channel, and instead were ambitious to produce their own original cartoons, called not just cartoons, but "Nicktoons" (a parody of Cartoon Network's "Cartoon Cartoons"): cartoons with spunk and attitude — a given, since this was the dawn of grunge and whatnot. Laybourne was determined to expand Nick into a global media empire, with her goal being "A Nickelodeon Magazine in every Pizza Hut and a sliming on everyone's face."
The original three Nicktoons were: Doug, about a socially deficient tween boy; The Ren & Stimpy Show, a piece of anarchist propaganda centering on a mentally unstable talking dog and cat; and Rugrats, based on the lives of lumpily-shaped infants who walk, talk, go on crazy adventures, and somehow remain babies for 13 years. All three shows were hits, particularly Rugrats which made millions of dollars for the channel and became their most reliable cash cow for the next 13 years. Doug later moved to Disney for rather lame rebooted episodes where the characters are older, Roger is Doug's friend instead of a bully, and everything looks more colorful instead of scraggly.
The first show to be taped at Nickelodeon Studios was the game show Get the Picture, hosted by Anthony Hopkins, in which two teams had to guess pictures to win points. The show was short-lived, so the network decided to pour their money into more live-action such as Salute Your Shorts, Fifteen, Nick News, and Baywatch, all of which had varying degrees of success.
One notable show was Clarice Explains It All. In this prequel to the Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling (played by Melissa Joan Hart, later known for Sabrina the Teenage Witch and, more dubiously, God's Not Dead) is just a normal teenager with a quirky family. Her mother, Janet (Elizabeth Hess), is a stereotypical June Cleaver. Father George Marshall Starling (Joe O'Connor) was a stereotypical Ward Cleaver. Little brother Ferguson (Jason Zimbler) was an annoying brat, who was quite intellectual. Sean O'Neal played a young Hannibal Lecter, whom Clarice sometimes called Sam. The show moved to the SNICK lineup in 1992.
In 1992, Nick introduced Are You Afraid of the Dark? to their SNICK lineup. A legendary and influential Tales from the Crypt ripoff show, it centered around a group of eight teenagers tell terrifying campfire stories, and the first person to pee their pants would tell next week's story. The long-running show was cancelled in 1996, but briefly revived from 1999 to 2000 for inferior new episodes.
1992 also saw the premiere of Roundhouse, a show in which a group of improv actors had to perform comedy sketches while being Roundhouse'd by Chuck Norris. Unfortunately, viewers felt that Norris, not being at all funny himself, detracted from the comedy; Nickelodeon responded by firing Norris and continuing the show without him, albeit without success. The show was canceled in 1994. This is what happens when you mess with Chuck.
After the 1990 cancellation of You Can't Do That on Television and the 1994 cancellation of Roundhouse, Nickelodeon needed another sketch comedy series to balance out their SNICK lineup. They hired Brian Robbins, Mike Tollin, and Dan Schneider and a bunch of people from Better Off Dead and Head of the Class to create such a show. They hired seven teenagers with enormous talent and called the show All That, premiering in 1994. Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell proved so popular that they spun off into their own show. Josh Server, to this very day, holds the record for staying on this show the longest. He was also the only original cast member to stay on for all six seasons of the show's original run.
Nick wanted to see their empire reach a teenage audience, so in 1996, they launched Kenan & Kel, which gained a cult following among orange soda drinkers. As the Golden Age of Nick marched on, more Nicktoons were introduced such as Rocko's Modern Life, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Hey Arnold!, and The Angry Beavers, each one less strange and more conventional than the last. In 1996, Laybourne resigned and was replaced by programming director Herb Scannell as Nick's president.
1998–2005: Silver Age, corporatization, talking sponges, and alien invaders
Although Nick remained solid for the first two years under the watch of this Movie Channel mogul, fans believe the network started its decline quickly afterward, as numerous classic shows were cancelled, thrust into reruns, and replaced with mediocre Klasky-Csupo ones such as The Wild Thornberries, Rocket Power, and As Told by Ginger, most of which placed an emphasis on crude animation and a deficiency in compelling humor. '90s Nick historians generally pinpoint the release of The Rugrats Movie, with the introduction of the Poochie-like character Dil and the beginning of the show's decline, to be the end of the network's glory days. Nick ended the '90s by launcing their secret weapon, SpongeBob SquarePants, a highly addictive series with many jokes understandable by teens and adults, though it soon became Nick's cash cow and suffered a decline in quality a la Rugrats. The talking sponge idea finally took off. This zany Nicktoon's animation was initially inspired by the dudes who worked on Ren and Stimpy and Rocko's Modern Life, but has since gone downhill. SpongeBob, much like The Simpsons, is now so old that its newer audiences don't even know it used to be good. Also The Amanda Show, a sketch-comedy show starring Amanda Bearse, Drake Bell, and Josh Peck.
Following the turn of new millennium, Scannell launched two very addictive and dangerous Nicktoons: The Fairly OddParents and Invader Zim. These two series are considered to be some of the good shows aired on the channel, though Zim was later cancelled due to low ratings, as kids found themselves turned off by its grungy, warped sense of humor that likely induced nightmares in the young ones. An evil alien adjusts to life on Earth in this darkly funny Nicktoon. It was only cancelled because children are too stupid (much like pathetic moose-worm-babies) to understand its dystopian humor. The Fairly OddParents, a
popular Nicktoon, Spongebob is more popular but The Fairly OddParents is a close second. It's essentially a kids' version of Family Guy complete with all the pop-culture references, hidden adult jokes, Adam West, abrupt cancelations/revivals, and KISS.
In 2002 they premiered ChalkZone, about a boy and his pathetic piece of chalk. Also Jimmy Neutron, a show where Jimmy used his hypo-ray to turn Nickelodeon bad so that people will be desperate to watch him along with SpongeBob until 2006 where he ended because SpongeBob was a dictator.
In 2003 Nick premiered All Grown Up!, a poor Rugrats spinoff that died really fast in three years, and featured the Rugrats aged up into
teenagers preteens pretending to be teenagers. They also premiered My Life As A Teenage Robot, where a robot girl named Jenny or XJ-9 saves the world and all that sort of same crap/stuff, but it's pretty entertaining to watch and it's sorta funny funny if you're high enough. Plus if you squint she looks sorta cute.
On February 21, 2005, Avatar: The Last Airbender, widely considered to be the last show of Nick's Silver Age, premiered; its best episodes (season two), however, aired in the Bronze Age. An unusually lofty show for Nick's standards. Much like Star Wars's borrowing from Western culture, this show intricately incorporates aspects of Eastern culture. It also kicks ass because the people in the show can attack each other by using air, water, earth, and/or fire. For some reason the show suggests the moon makes water attacks more powerful, which is ridiculous because everyone knows that the moon has no water on it. Nevertheless, the show as a whole still beats the hell out of season 4 of SpongeBob.
2005–11: Bronze Age, tweencoms, SpongeBob reruns
Later that year, on April 30, 2005, Nickelodeon Studios was shut down because rat poison was accidentally dumped into the cafeteria beef stew. According to many, this marked the final stab in the network's metaphorical heart.
After a government investigation and expired copyrights, most classic Nick shows were removed completely from the schedule around this time, replaced with teenybopper shows like Zoey 101 and UnFabulous and endless reruns of SpongeBob (which had recently been brought back for unfunny post-movie episodes); blocks like SNICK, U-Pick Live, and Friday Night Nicktoons were also canned around this time. Through this rebrand Nick was trying to be more like Disney Channel, losing their previous unique "grungy grossout" identity. On January 4, 2006, Scannell resigned from his post, being replaced by Cyma Zarghami as president of Nick, who more or less followed the blueprint of tweencoms and SpongeBob spamming that Scannell had set up shortly before he left.
In Zoey 101, Jamie Lynn Spears plays Cruella De Vil's daughter, who is on a quest to capture 101 Dalmatians while attending Pacific Coast Academy. She blew it around 63 though when some Mississippi hick got her knocked up and was never seen again. Jamie Lynn Spears plays a weird teenage girl who eats too much (mostly muffins) and attends Pacific Coast Academy.
In 2007 iCarly flooded airwaves, where a snarky little girl, Carly, hosts a webshow with her friends, Freddy who's a prissy nerd, and Sam who's a criminal and one of the most meat-loving people ever. The laugh track goes off numerous times in the show because they cannot afford a live audience. There's also Neville, a crazy geek who loves Carly and plots to take over the world, and Gibby, a big balloon who likes taking his shirt off and rubbing his belly. Also that year there was The Naked Brother's Band, about a forgettable band of kids who can't sing on key. Also El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, a show that has Mexicans. In 2007 Back at the Barnyard, a spinoff of the movie Barnyard came out, about a group of wacky barn animals getting into chaos, where the main character is a male cow with an udder, enough said. Also they aired Tak and the Power of Juju; nobody even speaks of this one anymore. Nor does anyone know what the hell they were thinking when they thought of it. It died in less than a year.
True Jackson Vp premiered in 2008. You forgot the new show called T-R-U-E J-A-C-K-S-O-N V.-P. It is about a girl who sells sandwiches (seriously folks) at a fashion industry and mysteriously becomes the Vice President. It is surprizingly good. In 2008 The Mighty B! flew in, not to be confused with the actually good The Mighty Boosh. This show consists of an annoying girl scout with a lisp who's on a quest to earn every merit badge ever, and relies on four people to change her life. Her quest was ruined by the show's cancellation, and now the show is looking for new episodes to air.
Also Glenn Martin DDS in 2009. Let's just say it involves crappy stop motion, a lame brained dentist, and a dog with an over sized anus. Think about it... yeah, not a pretty image. The show's original theme song was titled "Let's Kick Some Ass," but was changed to a less extreme "Let's Hit the Road" as requested by the King of the Liberals. Also Fanboy and Chum Chum, a show about mentally-challenged comic book nerds who eat chum and make potty jokes. And Breadwinners and Sanjay and Craig.
In 2009, Big Time Rush rushed onto Nick. Since we're so afraid to watch it, we got a 12-year old girl to write the following plotline for us: ZOMG!!!!! BTR it is about like these 4 guys named Kendal, Logan, Carloz and James but nobody cares about anyone but James bc he is freaaaaaking haaaaaawt!!!!!!!!!one!!111!!!! lol jk so um anyway I guess they win liek a contest or something and this fat guy and his blak girlfriend manage them and they get in to all kinds of antics LOL!!!!! For those of you who don't speak 12-year-old girl: 4 guys in a homosexual relationship form a band with a morbidly obese man and his slave managing them. But the producers let it go because the guys are somewhat attractive. I guess.
2009 saw The Penguins of Madagascar belly-slide onto airwaves, rather obviously about the penguins from the movie Madagascar. Not only does this show include the penguins themselves getting into crazy schemes, but they also included Lemurs as well. It instantly became a hit; whether it was because of the popularity of its original movies or simply because of the love of the penguin team is unknown.
In 2010 T.U.F.F. Puppy aired, a Sin City-esq drama by Frank Miller, Butch Hartman, Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee and Tom Hanks about a dog who moonlights as a serial killer vigilante by night and bangs a hot cat chick by day. They also aired Bucket and Skinner's Epic Adventures, like Rocket Power without power. They also had Planet Sheen about Sheen (from the actually entertaining show Jimmy Neutron) who breaks out of jail and makes the dumbest show on Nick.
Today, Nickelodeon has essentially morphed into a wannabe Disney Channel, only with more cuckolding-related subliminal messages. Nostalgic manbabies can cry if they want, but the niche that Cyma sought — softcore pornography with teen girls, usually directed by Dan "Get in the Van" Schneider — has proved to be a ratings success. Recently, the network has decided to do continuations of their older shows such as You Can't Do That on Television, Rocko's Modern Life, Invader Zim, Hey Arnold!, and Danny Phantom, to make some easy nostalgia bucks off Millennials with disposable income, as well as to mask the fact that they have been creatively bankrupt for over a decade.
Since C. 2011, Nickelodeon has undergone something of a renaissance akin to that of Disney from 1989-1999. This rebirth started when Shout Factory, a sort of Criterion for Millennial virgin nerds who still live with their parents and spend their free time on Uncyclopedia of all places, acquired the home video rights to the network's classic shows. The shift kicked off in earnest with the announcement of a retro block on TeenNick called The 90s Are All That (Now NickRewind).
On March 10, 2011, Entertainment
Weakly Weekly, USA Weekday Today, and TV Guido Guide reported that Nickelodeon is planning to bring back its 1990s shows and air them on their TeenNick channel in the fall, showing that Nickelodeon had a heart (however cold and shrivled). Shows announced as being part of the deal include All That, Kenan & Kel, Taxicab Confessions, Salute Your Shorts, Clarissa Explains It All, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Rugrats, Spawn, Rocket Power, The Amanda Show, Scarface Babies, and The Amanda Show.
On Nickelodeon proper, the overall quality of shows has improved since 2011. It was around this time that Saban bought back the rights to Power Rangers and moved the show to Saturday mornings on Nick, at a time when the show's original Millennial fans are still sleeping, so they had better own a DVR. SpongeBob has been quite decent. Dan Schneider's series were consistent in quality, and he even brought Kel back to Nickelodeon with a show called Game Shakers. Other great original shows produced during this renaissance are Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn; Cousins For Life (which returned Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert to the network for the first time since All That and Kenan & Kel); and The Loud House. Dragon Ball Z was more proof Nick's becoming cool again, Power Rangers, need I say more, and TMNT 2012, okay, we get it!
Nick also revived Legends of the Hidden Temple and Hey Arnold as TV movies, and Double Dare as a regular series. Before Cyma Zharghami stepped down, Nick also completed TV movies of Rocko's Modern Life and Invader Zim. Brian Robbins -- Eric on Head of the Class, co-creator of All That and Kenan & Kel, and director of Good Burger and Varsity Blues -- became President of Nickelodeon in 2018, thus officially ending the Zharghami era once and for all. One of his first accomplishments was reviving All That with the help of Kenan, Kel, Josh Server, Lori Beth Denberg, Kevin Kopelow, Heath Seifert, and original All That executive producer Kevin Kay. And unlike the 2002-2005 relaunch, this version is actually funny. After sitting in limbo for nearly a year, the Rocko and Invader Zim TV movies debuted on Netflix in 2019. Robbins has also revived Are You Afraid of the Dark? as a Halloween miniseries (as well as a theatrical film whose current status is unknown) and Fox's Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, hosted by John Cena replacing Jeff Foxworthy. "Why would a 10-year-old kid wanna watch some redneck who voted for Gary Johnson?" Robbins pondered. "This is an audience who think that fart jokes are funny. They are, but still."
Blocks and spinoff channels
Saturday Night Nickelodeon (SNICK) was a two-hour block of cheesy-yet-addictive programming that aired on Saturday nights from 1992 to 2004. It was hosted by kids and teenagers who sat on a Big
Comfy Orange Couch. This block has since become legendary and influential to other sketch comedy programs, including Saturday Night Live.
Nick at Nite
Nick at Nite is a programming block launched in 1985 as a place to dump off classic shows. Nostalgic viewers longing for a time when women stayed in the kitchen and minorities weren't allowed on golf courses flocked to the network to view these shows. Older viewers today still flock to it because it means a chance to watch something other than SpongeBob for the 20th time in one day.
Over time, Sumner Redstone ordered Nick to remove their classic shows, effective immediately; this movement pissed off loyal Nickelodeon fans, who had watched the channel since before they were even born. Classic Nicktoons like Ren & Stimpy and Rocko were off the air without a home for a few years, until Redstone begrudgingly made amends with the fans, and launched the Nicktoons channel for reruns of classic Nicktoons.
NickSplat (formerly The 90s Are All That and The Splat) is a block on TeenNick consisting of nostalgic '90s Nick shows, despite teenagers being too young to remember most if not all of said shows. In 2015, it was renamed The Splat so it could include almost-nostalgic shows from the early 2000s such as As Told By Ginger, ChalkZone, and All Grown Up!, much to the dismay of viewers over the age of 30.
Nick for babies and little kids.
Nick for cool wine aunts.
Nicktoons have almost always been characterized by characters with sub-ape intelligence and distorted human figures, resulting in psychological trauma among children about their own identities and personalities. It is believed that Nick holds drawing competitions before releasing a series, and the worst drawing, or the most deformed, is what is chosen to misfortunately represent the series.
Nicktoons characters often have: square heads or American football heads, fat/huge rear legs, floating eyebrows, noses full of snot, 4 or 3 fingers on each hand, collars inspired by a wasp waist, giant brains, arrows in the head, and skin colors that can only be explained if human cells have chloroplasts.