Kenan, Kel, Clarissa, Doug: I've missed you, my old friends

All-That-Cannon-KenanImage Credit: Lisa Rose/NickelodeonAs you know, we here at Entertainment Weekly love nostalgia. So when TeenNick announced it would launch its retro programming block, The ’90s Are All That, last night, we were at the party before our RSVP even arrived back at Nickelodeon HQ. Personally, the very thought of seeing Clarissa and Sam… Kenan and Kel… Doug and Patti Mayonnaise again… Oh how it made my heart flutter. So, if you, like me, feel a tingle down your spine every time you hear the familiar chords of Clarissa‘s “Na, na, na-na-na…,” if you know how Michael Stipe fits in to The Adventures of Pete & Pete, if you still have your original ticket stub to Good Burger: The Movie, or if the name Roger Klotz makes you shake in your suede boots, read on.

The night appropriately began with this totally tubular promo featuring Kenan Thompson, the most successful actor to come out of ’90s Nickelodeon this side of Melissa Joan Hart and that guy who married Mariah Carey. (Yes, I know his name is Nick Cannon, and for the record, I did see Drum Line… in the theater. But I digress.) Feast your eyes on the memories: Doug! Ren & Stimpy! Family Double Dare! CatDog! All That! Legends of the Hidden Temple! Weinerville! Hey Arnold! Are You Afraid of the Dark?! The Adventures of Pete & Pete! Hey Dude! Clarissa Explains It All! Rugrats! The tween inside me (before that irritating term was even invented, mind you) is squee-ing to get out! So many hours of my youth were spent wishing I was sitting on a traffic-cone orange couch while rockin’ out to some SNICK. And finally, we get a caveat: “Warning: This content may not be suitable for anyone who didn’t grow up on ’90s Nick.” Radical.

The real fun then began with the season 2 opener of All That, which originally aired Oct. 7, 1995. This particular episode served as the launching pad for such cultural landmarks (at least if you’re between the ages of 22 and 32) as “Good Burger” and “The Loud Librarian.” Burning question: What ever happened to Lori Beth? I miss that outsized personality. (Spoiler: Her last credit on IMDB is a straight-to-video project from 2006 called 18 Fingers of Death!) Meanwhile, did you know this show was on the air until 2005? That’s six years ago, y’all. And Jamie Lynn Spears was on it? Perhaps I’m dating myself (oh wait, that’s the whole point of this post), but those were days past my SNICK-ing prime. Either way, I have to admit I was never a huge fan of All That, despite having a massive crush on Josh Server.

Next came, Kenan & Kel, who took their fame from the “Good Burger” sketch and ran with it. I sincerely hope they are getting royalties from the six locations that have since popped up in New York. Kel could probably use them to supplement his voice-over career these days. But in the moment all I can focus in on is the awesomeness that is Coolio circa July 15, 1996, a.k.a. pre-crack arrest Coolio. Those were simpler times. Times when Kenan could work peacefully side-by-side with Arvin from Head of the Class (thanks for the nepotism, Brian Robbins!) before getting fleeced by a used-car salesman. Those kids, they’ll never learn! Like All That, Kenan & Kel suffers from age. Then again, so do the idea of head-to-toe camo and baggy overalls.

Ferg alert! The next show was Clarissa Explains It All‘s eighth episode of season 2, “The Understudy,” which originally aired on Aug. 22, 1992. Full disclosure: Clarissa (aside from The Baby-Sitters Club‘s Claudia) was my ultimate ’90s style icon. Alas, I was never brave enough to rock the polka-dot bike shorts. This episode centered around Clarissa landing an understudy role in her school play, and then massively procrastinating. Of course the lead comes down with strep throat. I could recount more plot details, but we all know that Clarissa has the spunk to wiggle her way out of any conundrum (even while wearing an oversized, floppy hat à la Blossom). What struck me (besides the computer as big as Clarissa’s room and oh-so-timely Berlin Wall references) was the amazingly platonic camaraderie between Clarissa and her ladder-climbing pal, Sam. This was pre-Dawson’s Creek. Even if the lines don’t always come off as naturally as you might hope, their innocent banter and friendly jabbing were refreshing. How else do you explain Marshall and Janet Darling’s wildly negligent parenting?

The pièce de résistance came in the form of “Doug Bags a Neematoad,” the debut episode of Doug from Aug. 20, 1991. Twenty years ago, guys. Twenty! All those memories of my adolescence came rushing back to me the minute Doug Funnie began writing in his journal on the way into a new town and a new life. That sweet, nasal-congestion-voiced kid with the pre-pubescent paunch sees the town’s population change from 19,997 to 20,001 and says, “I guess the one is… me.” When he gets his foot stuck in the paint can at the end of the credits, you still feel for him. Even though some of the references betray that Doug clearly arose in the wake of Back to the Future 2, this show holds up the best of The ’90s Are All That slate. With just the right combination of cornball humor and pathos (think My So-Called Life for pre-teens), it’s a classic story of a rather unspectacular kid just wanting to fit in. And who can argue with that?

Well, that’s it for tonight’s line-up. Over time, TeenNick has said it hopes to showcase other ’90s programming and movies in the midnight to 2 a.m. time slot. What are you craving to see next? What could you do without? Who was your SNICK icon growing up? Are you still haunted by the “Girl in the Mirror” episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Read more:
The Must List: What’s Hot for the Week of July 25, 2011
TeenNick teaser for ’90s block: See it here!
TeenNick goes retro with ’90s programming — EXCLUSIVE

Comments (174 total) Add your comment
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  • Joan

    No “Salute Your Shorts”?

    • sm

      it’s coming, it’s in the promos…

      • Anawanna

        I was hoping for that!

      • My lineup

        Please let them get the rights to “Brotherly Love”

    • Ellie

      Or “Fifteen”? wasn’t that 90’s? Ryan Reynolds, hello!

      • jj

        used to LOVE Fifteen. But that was from Canada, i believe. And I don’t think it was on Nickelodeon, but I would love to see that teen soap that had Sarah Michelle Gellar on it (where I totally called that she was like a young Susan Lucci and soon thereafter was playing Kendall on AMC. I should totally have been a casting agent!)

      • Kate

        jj: The teen soap you’re thinking of was called “Swan’s Crossing.” ;)

      • Churble

        I loved Fifteen. And it was definitely on Nick. I always thought of it every time I watched Laura Harris on Dead Like Me.

      • Julie Cooper-Nichol

        SMG was on the trash-tastic teen soap Swan’s Crossing! (It’s like Degrassi with rich people.)

      • Caryn

        I loved Swan’s Crossing!! I used to do the dance from the beginning too! ha!

    • Rebecca

      I had the same question. I loved Salte Your Shorts!

      • AD…What was that?

        JJ that was Swan’s Crossing and I’m going to decide that it is impressive that I know that odd the top of my head. Also that Shane McDermott (hi you 90’s hottie) was the guy she fought over with the blonde chick. And that Mira Sorvino was also on the show. Yep, impressive. Although I’m disappointed I don’t remember more. Other than it was on USA and not Nick. :(

  • Cygnus

    I was so in love with Melissa Joan Hart back then. If I’d been crawling in her window, it wouldnt be to chat with her.

  • Tina

    What about Roundhouse and Guts???
    Almost every guy from Roundhouse appeared as an extra in Newsies.
    When my family went to Orlando in 1992 we saw segments of 3 episodes of Guts being filmed. I sat right behind Mike O’Malley as he interviewed the contestants. My Umbro shorts and t-shirt are clearly early 90’s couture.

    • Samantha

      Yessss, Roundhouse!

    • Derek

      Tina you are my new hero….. You just used ROUNDHOUSE and NEWSIES in the same sentence!

      • E

        This

      • Tina

        Would it impress you or scare you that I am sitting here at my desk and have the theme song stuck in my head?

    • Kendall

      Yes – Roundhouse! I absolutely LOVED that show!

    • Marcy Runkle

      Roundhouse was the BEST!! I rewatched some of it on YouTube and it was as good as I remembered. So original.

    • brandy

      YES! Every time to this day that I watch Newsies, my siblings and I always say “THAT GUY’S IN ROUNDHOUSE!” I love it.

    • just thinking…

      No Secret World of Alex Mack? And, Tina, you did not just say ‘Umbro’ shorts, hahaha! I now have thoughts of Hyper Color t-shirts and neon windbreaker pants dancing in my head, lol.

      • JC

        I was thinking the same thing! Where’s Alex Mack??

    • laylagalise

      “Whenever my life gets me so down I know I can go down to where the music and the fun never ends, As long as that music keeps playin’, you know what I’m sayin’, I know that I can find a frie-e-e-end down at the Roundhouse!” I loved Roundhouse! I hope they bring it and Welcome Freshmen back.

  • Elizabeth

    I had an slightly inappropriate crush on Josh Server. I have no idea how much older I was than him, but I loved him. (Probably still do)

    • Clarissa

      He is still insanely attractive.

    • Cara

      Me too!!! I watched All That just to stare at him!

    • liz

      its ear boy its ear boy, his ears are really big!

    • Melissa

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who had a crush on him.

  • Hey!

    Where’s Rocko?

    • Your mom

      I’d be truly disappointed if they didn’t manage to include Rocko…

      • Sean

        Rocko is played weekly on the Nick Toons channel. As is Catdog.

  • mw

    Pete and Pete!

    • Madd

      Yes!! I actually own seasons 1&2 on DVD (can’t seem to find the 3rd one anywhere).

      • Nona

        How about a shout out for Michelle Trachtenberg…

      • Mae

        They decided not to release the third one because apparently the 2nd season didn’t sell well… :( I remember reading this when I was searching for the 3rd season on DVD.

      • Bob Swigwell

        Pete and Pete season 3 was cancelled a few weeks before it was to have been released on dvd. :(

      • Jonathan81

        The third season never came out. The numbers for season 2 weren’t high enough, so nick cancled it. even though season 3 was shevled, it was never released.

  • Joey

    Thanks for reminding us how god awful Nick programming was in the 90s. I still puzzled how Keenan is still able to find work.

    • Bill

      Thanks for caring enough about it to share your pointless opinion.

    • Yeah

      Why waste your time making a comment then..go back to summer school work you have waiting.

    • Sporting Nerds

      Thanks for reminding me how annoying people on the internet are.

  • Matt

    80s Nick was better. Where’s You Can’t Do That On Television already? Celebs wouldn’t be getting slimed without that show. Kids need to see it. They’re getting the punchline without the terrible joke. Barf!

    • Kyle

      Are You Kidding? 90s Nick was the Best. Definitely in comparison to the Crap thats on Nick right now.

      • Jeremy DC

        Maybe it’s because I was a kid of the 90s but 90s Nick and 90s MTV were definitely the best eras of those networks. Before 1998 of course for MTV because that’s when teen pop and trl hit and ruined the music networks forever.

      • Anawanna

        90s Nick forever

      • steph

        I agree. 90s Nick was amaaaaazing!

    • Lala

      80s Kids shows were the best, but they weren’t on Nick. Though I think we can all agree that today’s Nick sucks.

      • Michelle

        Its not THAT bad. Victorious and Icarly are funny shows.

        Its not our 90’s shows, but it can’t be worse than Disney Channel.

      • Maddy

        Icarly is really funny but the kids show I enjoy when I have to babysit my niece is wizards of waverly place on disney.

      • Buff

        An answer from an expert! Thanks for cornbituting.

    • Chris

      Yes!! I would love me some 80s Nick! If not for nostalgia purposes, but for my 2 y.o. son too. Would love to see some Pinwheel and Today’s Special.

    • jj

      yeah, these kids have no idea where the green slime came from. Respect!

  • jack

    All of those old shows will come back over time. If enough people watch this block, Nick will extend its timeslot to allow for more shows to be added.

  • Stacie

    Oh, I loved Doug! Even though I’m a girl I totally identified with him. Plus I had a huge crush on Skeeter. What a great show. And I’d have to go with Blossom as my 90s style icon instead of Clarissa.

    • just thinking…

      Yes, this! I so got Doug. And, for some reason, he totally reminded me of Cory Matthews from Boy Meets World. Loved it!!!

  • Tidmore

    I’m most excited about Are You Afraid of the Dark? although its the clown smoking the cigar episode that still haunts me.
    But I’m also hoping for Salute Your Shorts and The Secret World of Alex Mack.

    • Monty

      That clown is the reason I don’t like clowns…

    • Colleen

      YES – The Secret World of Alex Mack was the BEST! Totally my favorite Nick show ever!

  • shawn

    Was “The Girl in the Mirror” episode the one with Tia & Tamara? Cause I AM still haunted by that one!!!

    • Heather

      I think he is referring to The Tale of the Lonely Ghost. It was one of the first episodes ever.

    • Kait

      No that was the chameleon episode, wasn’t it? “Bite you once, bite you twice, a little water PAY THE PRICE.”

      • Jane

        Holy crap! I remember that episode! LOL!

  • Sharlin

    90’s Nick was the best – especially when they still filmed in the Nick studios in Universal Orlando!

  • Derek

    I really hope that they include SALUTE YOUR SHORTS, ROUNDHOUSE, ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE, WILD & CRAZY KIDS, NICK ARCADE & GUTS

    Thank you TeenNick for this! It’s been long since overdue. And now…..

    Lets go to Mo for the results, Mo?!?!

    • Edna

      The guys from Rocko’s Modern Life do Phineas & Ferb

    • just thinking…

      Yes!!! Wild & Crazy Kids was THE show! Seriously, the best teen and tween shows were on Nick during the 90’s. Today’s shows on Nick have no real direction or story. They’re very funny, but it’s always just…stuff… randomly happening. No reason. No hysterically taught lesson/moral by the end of the episode. Just stuff. It’s like TV with ADD, lolol

  • Stephanie

    LOVE 90’s Nick. Although I hope they show some Kablam! That was my favorite!!

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