The return of 90s Nickelodeon

By Eddie Hand


I cannot even begin to describe the childlike joy that filled my brain when I was linked to an article announcing a new late-night block on Nickelodeon, “Teen Nick.” The block will contain nothing but shows from what many consider to be the classic era of Nickelodeon – the 90s. Not all of it, mind you. From the look of things, it’s mostly the shows with live actors like “Kenan and Kel” and “Clarissa Explains It All,” at least at first glance. This is mildly unfortunate. My favorites were always the game shows.


To this day, it is still a dream of mine to be a contestant on “Legends of the Hidden Temple.” I know it’s been off the air for well over a decade and I’m pretty sure the age limit was 13, but I still find myself watching episodes on YouTube when I’m especially bored and thinking to myself “Damn, I totally could have done a better job than those kids.”

I used to love visiting my grandparents when I was little because they had cable and we didn’t. My Grandad would tape weeks’ worth of that show so that I could bring it home and watch it on VHS. I’d always come visit for a week or so during the summer, and when I was done playing outside with the other kids in the neighborhood, I’d come in and watch for hours, even into the old sitcoms they’d show on “Nick at Night.” I’ve seen more episodes of “The Brady Bunch” than I’d care to admit. It didn’t matter if it was a sitcom, a cartoon or a game show – if it was on after dinner, I watched it. It was as much a part of those visits as anything else, and even now when I think of my grandparents, I associate them with Nickelodeon and vice-versa.

I don’t watch Nick anymore. The shows that I watched as a kid were taken off years ago, from “Kablam!” to “Hey Arnold!” Even “Rugrats,” for a very long time Nick’s flagship program, has passed and there’s a new generation of programs that I will never be able to understand because I didn’t grow up watching them. I couldn’t understand them if I tried. My parents didn’t ‘get’ the stuff I watched either; history tends to repeat itself.

There’s a lingering public nostalgia for this era of shows – the ones I grew up on. It sounds cliché, but when I watch those clips on YouTube, I’m transported back to a time when the letters S, T and D used in combination didn’t terrify me, but stagehands dressed as Mayan natives made me want to crap my pants.

I think a lot of people feel this way. Don’t believe me? The next time you’re at a party, ask a random person age 18-25 what their favorite TV show growing up was. You’ll probably get some folks answering “Power Rangers” or “Pokemon.” You might even get “The Magic School Bus.” I’m sure someone might even just stare at you, clearly thinking “Why is this person talking to me?” The majority, however, will name something that was on Nick. That person will probably be more than happy to reminisce fondly with you, especially if they’ve had a few drinks. It’s the ultimate ice breaker.

Ask about “Doug.” Ask about “Rocko’s Modern Life.” You won’t consider that this was something you were watching when you were eight and how some of the obscure details have stayed with you even into college. They say TV rots your brain and promotes violence, but it’s also the one thing the majority of us children of the 90s have in common. We watched. We remember. Those shows are as much a part of many of our childhoods as recess, summer camp and our first crush.

The fact that none of the shows being brought back are my favorites is really just sour grapes. It’s nice to know that someone realizes how much we adore our animated friends from childhood.

Eddie Hand is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]