The late 80’s/ early 90’s were an interesting time to be a kid. My mother was very strict on the things that I watched as a kid… She heavily monitored what was on television. That usually meant I was relegated to either PBS, Cartoon Network, Disney, or Nickelodeon. And even so… my mother had a few cartoons that she still didn’t allow me to watch. (Ren & Stimpy). I already did a post about kid’s gameshows so you won’t see any mention of those here. This post is about everything I watched that got me through my elementary and middle school years.
So I will be breaking this post down into different categories. Because I like categories. So let’s jump into it.
- The Magic School Bus – SEATBELTS EVERYONE!!! Mrs. Frizzle was the truth. We all know that it is based on the book series of the same name by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen. The Magic School Bus was prominent at the Scholastic Book Fair. And I was all about the book fair. It ran from 1994 to 1997 on several PBS stations in the United States. Like the books it’s based on, the show focuses on the exploits of Ms. Frizzle and her class of eight students (nineteen in the books) who board their titular school bus, which takes them on field trips to the solar system, inside the Earth, and inside the human body, or to other such impossible locations. It is the prequel and predecessor to 2017’s The Magic School Bus Rides Again. Remember the theme song is legit. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egmmYxXhScQ)
- Wishbone – Some of you guys haven’t learned your classic literature from a dog. And it shows. Whatever your feeling on what constitutes a classic… you have to give credit where it is due. Wishbone ran from 1995 to 1997. The show’s title character is a Jack Russell Terrier. Wishbone lives with his owner Joe Talbot in the fictional town of Oakdale, Texas. He daydreams about being the lead character of stories from classic literature. Only the viewers and the characters in his daydreams can hear Wishbone speak. The characters from his daydreams see Wishbone as whichever famous character he is currently portraying and not as a dog. Fun times. Kids always love dogs… The kicker here is that in high school when reading things like The Odyssey, Beowulf, or Chaucer… I could remember scenes from Wishbone. It really helped with my understanding of the foundation years later. The show won four Daytime Emmys, a Peabody Award, and honors from the Television Critics Association. Also, this theme song was legit as well. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZLEvrkbFcQ)
- Shining Time Station – This was my introduction to Thomas and Friends. When I mention it to people, no one knows what I am talking about. I thought it was a figment of my imagination. It incorporated sequences from the British television show Thomas & Friends, which was in turn based on the books of The Railway Series written by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry. The series aired on PBS from January 29, 1989, until June 11, 1993, with 4 one-hour-long “Family Specials” premiering in primetime throughout 1995. In its first season, the show averaged a 0.9 Nielsen rating, translating to about 1.2 million viewers on average. At the peak of its popularity, the show brought in up to 7.5 million viewers per week. Mr. Conductor is a tiny man who lives in a signal house inside the station’s mural and tells the stories taken from Thomas & Friends to the kids. He also introduces songs to the kids in The Anything Tunnel.
- Lamb Chop’s Play-Along – Lamb Chop is a half-hour preschool children’s television series that was shown on PBS in the United States from January 13, 1992, until September 22, 1995, with reruns airing on PBS until August 29, 1997. It was created and hosted by puppeteer Shari Lewis and featured her puppet characters Lamb Chop, Charlie Horse, and Hush Puppy. I annoyed the hell out of my mom with the song that doesn’t end. Good times. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_47KVJV8DU)
- Reading Rainbow – What countdown would not include Levar Burton and Reading Rainbow? Here is a show that I almost never watched at home. I always saw it at school just before I was to head to the library to pick a book for Accelerated Reader or a book report. The show was designed to encourage a love of books and reading among children. Each episode centered on a topic from a featured children’s book which was explored through a number of on-location segments or stories. The show also recommended books for children to look for when they went to the library. It is the third-longest running children’s series in PBS history, after Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YtYMzh8lxk)
- Babar – The series is based on Jean de Brunhoff’s original Babar books, and was Nelvana’s first international co-production. The show has been dubbed in 30 languages in over 150 countries. the plot of the first two seasons focuses on the story of Babar as it is told by him to his children. The past Babar is a young elephant who, traumatized by a hunter slaughtering his mother, flees from his home forest in exile to the city, where a kind Old Lady adopts him and teaches him the ways of human life. He returns to his home forest full of ideas for progress and, following the previous elephant king’s death from eating poisonous mushrooms, hatches a plan to drive out the unnamed hunter and his men. For his heroism, Babar is crowned king of the elephants, plans and builds Celesteville, and grows up to become a father himself. While the first two seasons focus on Babar’s recollections of his childhood and early years as king, as well as some stories told by his children, the series shifts its focus in the third season to Babar’s family life in the present day. Fun times. In 2010, a computer-animated sequel series spin-off of Babar titled Babar and the Adventures of Badou premiered on Disney Junior in the U.S. The new series takes place several years after the original and focuses on a majority of new characters including Badou.
- Bill Nye, The Science Guy – I was never a science person but Bill helped ease the pain. The show aired in syndication from September 10, 1993, to February 5, 1999, over six seasons and 100 episodes; beginning in season 2, a concurrent run was added on PBS from October 10, 1994, to September 3, 1999, with the show’s first run remaining in syndication. The show won critical acclaim and was nominated for 23 Emmy Awards, winning nineteen. Studies also found that people that viewed Bill Nye regularly were better able to generate explanations and extensions of scientific ideas than non-viewers.
- Gullah Gullah Island – There was nothing more fun than seeing a family that looks a bit like you on television. It is an American musical children’s television series that was produced by and aired on the Nick Jr. The show was hosted by Ron Daise and his wife Natalie Daise, both of whom also served as cultural advisors, and were inspired by the Gullah culture of Ron Daise’s home of St. Helena Island, South Carolina, part of the Sea Islands. Gullah Gullah Island is a sing-along half-hour live-action show. The format was part of a flexible thinking initiative that taught children to make good choices rather than using memorization. Episodes are presented with a unified plot and not separate segments, featuring singing, dancing, learning, and encouraging children to think about things like taking care of themselves, and animals, telling the truth, social skills, and problem-solving. The show also highlights the culture and language of Gullah, descendants of former slaves who live on the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Critical reception of the show was consistently positive, both as a children’s show and as a groundbreaker for African American programming, it was praised for “vividly colored sets, infectious sing-alongs, unique character accents and quirky humor that defined the show and introduced millions of children to an overlooked but centuries-old branch of African American culture. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFrTmvnY-C4)
Horror / Ghosts and Other Weirdness
- Are You Afraid of the Dark? – Yes… when I was a kid… I was totally afraid of the dark…. so watching kids meet in the dark to tell scary stories by campfire ALWAYS SCARED THE CRAP out of me. But not enough to make me stop watching. The original series aired from 1990 to 1996. It led to two revival series, with the first airing from 1999 to 2000, and the second debuting in 2019. My personal favorite was that each storyteller would begin their story by saying “Submitted for the approval of The Midnight Society, I call this story ‘(story name)'”, at which point they would toss a handful of “midnight dust” from a leather pouch into a campfire to heighten the flames and produce an eerie white smoke. The themes of the stories usually revolve around a variety of paranormal phenomena, such as demons, ghosts, magic, haunted houses, magical curses, aliens, witches, vampires, werewolves, and the like coming into contact with average youths. The episode that comes to mind is the Tale of the Frozen Ghost… and the Tale of Apartment 214. Don’t forget about Dr. Vink and Sardò.
- Tales from the Cryptkeeper – I did watch the original live-action version… younger me was interested in scaring the hell out of myself. And this was no different. It was based on the 1950s EC Comics series Tales from the Crypt and the live-action television series of the same name, which aired concurrently on HBO. Made for children, Tales from the Cryptkeeper was significantly milder than its live-action version, and all blood and gore, profanity and sexual content were completely removed in order to target the audience. The series details the Cryptkeeper telling other horror stories to the viewers, each with a lesson to be learned. There were not nearly enough episodes. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1j1ely4YoY)
- So Weird – Oh Disney… They tried to get scary… And they did. It is considered as “X-Files for kids”. The series centered on the teenage Fiona Phillips while encountering paranormal activity along the way. Stringing together all of Fi’s paranormal encounters was her search to communicate with her father, who died when she was three years old. Fi first “encounters” her father in the second episode titled “Web Sight” where an unknown force sends her internet articles warning her of the future. From alien invasions, time warps, and ghosts, Fi faced 13 episodes worth of paranormal activity.
- Beetle Juice – Fun and creepy. The animated series focuses on the life of Goth girl Lydia Deetz and her undead friend Beetlejuice as they explore The Neitherworld, a ghoulish wacky monster supernaturalistic realm inhabited by monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and zombies. The show ran from September 9, 1989, to October 26, 1991, on ABC, and on Fox from September 9, 1991, to December 6, 1991. Throughout the entire series, Beetlejuice would often try to scam residents of the Neitherworld—and, sometimes, the “mortal world” as well (Lydia’s parents were occasionally victims of his pranks)—by various means, from “babysitting” where he literally sits on the grotesque Neitherworld babies to trying to beat them in an auto race.
- Goosebumps – You knew it was coming. I have had a blog post about this… but I knew immediately when they announced there would be a television show… I was going to lay my eyes on it. The Haunted Mask is still creepy. I remember being like 9 and thinking… Carly Beth is going to look like a monster for the rest of her life. It was too much. Night of the Living Dummy was also a scary one. It is really the reason that to this day I do not like ventriloquist dummies. Goosebumps was a television series based on R. L. Stine’s best-selling book series of the same name. It is an anthology of stories about tweens and young teens finding themselves in creepy and unusual situations, typically involving supernatural elements or the occult. The book series has sold over 400 million worldwide in thirty-two languages, becoming the second-best-selling book series in history, after J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Individual books in the series have been listed on several bestseller lists, including the New York Times Best Seller list for children. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PkFLTfID_o)
- The Secret World of Alex Mack – I loved this show as a preteen. It was on Nickelodeon on SNICK. It ran from October 8, 1994, to January 15, 1998. Nickelodeon’s golden number before cancellation is 4. The series concluded with a two-part finale in 1998. Alexandra “Alex” Mack is an ordinary teenage girl, living with her parents, and her older sister, Annie, in the industrial town of Paradise Valley, Arizona. The town is largely funded by Paradise Valley Chemical, a chemical factory that employs most of the adult residents, although the factory’s staff and history are notoriously shady. While walking home after her first day of junior high school, Alex is nearly hit by a truck from Paradise Valley Chemical, and during the incident, she is accidentally drenched with GC-161, an experimental substance developed by the factory. She soon discovers that it has given her strange powers, including telekinesis, shooting electricity from her fingers, and the ability to dissolve into a mobile puddle of water. Alex finds this exciting and fun, however, her powers prove to be unpredictable (occasionally, her skin glows a bright yellow when she is nervous). She confides only in Annie and her best friend Ray, choosing to keep her powers a secret from everyone else, including her parents, for fear of what the chemical factory’s CEO, Danielle Atron, will do to her if she finds out. I thought that Alex Mack was pretty cool in the beginning but the series got darker as time went on. Seasons 1-2 mostly deal with cheerful misadventures and comedic encounters with incompetent Paradise Valley Chemical staff Vince and Dave. Seasons 3-4 take on a more serious and dark development, where it is revealed that Danielle Atron had been developing GC-161 as far back as the 1970s and that she may have had fellow scientists and researchers systematically assassinated to cover up GC-161’s mutagenic effects on people.
- Ghost Writer – Ghost Writer was a show that I watched before school on a lot of occasions. I was rushing through my morning routine to try and sit for 30 minutes in the morning before walking to school. Ghost Writer is an American children’s mystery television series created by the Children’s Television Workshop and BBC Television. (BBC Television has been sucking me in since I was young.) It began airing on PBS on October 4, 1992, and the final episode aired on February 12, 1995. The series revolves around a group of friends from Brooklyn who solve neighborhood crimes and mysteries as a team of youth detectives with the help of a ghost named Ghostwriter. Ghostwriter can communicate with children only by manipulating whatever text and letters he can find and using them to form words and sentences. I grew up in NY and love mysteries so it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with it. The series was designed to teach reading and writing skills to schoolchildren. Each mystery was presented as a case, covering four 30-minute episodes. Children were encouraged to follow each mystery, and use the reading and writing clues given to attempt to solve them just as the Ghostwriter team does in the TV series. Ghostwriter was critically acclaimed and honored for presenting a realistic, ethnically diverse world in its two-hour mystery stories. By the end of its third season, Ghostwriter ranked in the top five of all children’s shows on American television.
After School / Weekend
- TaleSpin – The Jungle Book was one of the few Disney movies that I had on VHS tape that I watched in HEAVY Rotation… So when I saw there was a tv show with Baloo… I couldn’t care less what it was about. TaleSpin is an animated television series first aired in 1990 as a part of The Disney Afternoon. The show is one of nine Disney Afternoon shows to use established Disney characters as the main characters, with the other eight being Darkwing Duck, DuckTales, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Goof Troop, Bonkers, Quack Pack, Aladdin, and Timon & Pumbaa. It is also one of two animated television series based on the book The Jungle Book, the second being Jungle Cubs. TaleSpin is set in the city of Cape Suzette (a pun on the dish Crêpe Suzette), a place that’s similar to San Francisco, California. The city lies in a large harbor or bay enclosed by a high cliff wall. A single cleft in the wall is the harbor’s only means of access. The cleft is guarded by anti-aircraft artillery, preventing flying rabble-rousers or air pirates from entering the city. The time frame of the series is never specifically addressed but appears to be in the mid-to-late 1930s, based on Baloo’s Seaplane and other things, possibly in the last stages of the Great Depression. In the show, the helicopter, television, and jet engine are experimental devices. Radio is the primary mass medium, and one episode even briefly alludes to the characters having never heard of television. The series centers on the adventures of a bush pilot, Baloo the bear, whose air cargo freight business, “Baloo’s Air Service”, is taken up by Rebecca Cunningham because Baloo hasn’t made payments to the crooked businessman, Shere Khan. Rebecca changes the name to Higher for Hire. (Cute.) An orphan boy and former air pirate, Kit Cloudkicker, attaches to Baloo and becomes his navigator. Their adventures often involve encounters with a gang of air pirates led by Don Karnage, as well as with representatives of Thembria (inhabited by anthropomorphic Warthogs) The theme song is the truth… To this day… my dad knows what I am talking about. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVTD-LtpW0M)
- Darkwing Duck – When there’s trouble you call DW. That theme song is the truth. My father’s eyes still twitch at the idea. When Disney plus announced they would have this… I was stoked. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YziVpa8oZDg) Darkwing is an animated superhero comedy television series that first ran from 1991 to 1992 on both the syndicated programming block The Disney Afternoon and Saturday mornings on ABC. A total of ninety-one episodes were aired. It features the adventures of Darkwing Duck, who is the superheroic alter-ego of ordinary suburban duck Drake Mallard. Darkwing Duck shows the adventures of the superhero, aided by his sidekick and pilot Launchpad McQuack (from DuckTales). Darkwing struggles to balance his egotistical craving for fame and attention against his desire to be a good father to his adoptive daughter Gosalyn and help do good in St. Canard. Most episodes put these two aspects of Darkwing’s character in direct conflict, though Darkwing’s better nature usually prevails. The show was the first Disney Afternoon series to emphasize action rather than adventure, with Darkwing routinely engaging in slapstick battles with both supervillains and street criminals. “I am the Terror that flaps in the night.” It still makes me smile. Check out Jim Cummings talking about it here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwWuV4B4VIM&t=190s) Jim Cummings actually voiced a lot of characters throughout Disney’s Afternoon Block. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoNFgUjSBTE)
- Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers – This an animated adventure comedy television series that ran from 1989-1990. What is up with that Disney? From 1990 to 1993 reruns of the show were aired as a part of the Disney Afternoon lineup. I have found out during this post that a lot of what I was watching in the 90’s… was reruns… (DISNEY). Chip and Dale are two chipmunks who start a detective agency, Rescue Rangers, along with their friends Gadget Hackwrench, Monterey Jack, and Zipper. The pint-sized detectives deal with crimes that are often “too small” for the police to handle, usually with other animals as their clients. The gang frequently finds themselves going up against two particular arch-villains: Mafia-style tabby cat Fat Cat and mad scientist Norton Nimnul. Most of the episodes followed a similar format, wherein the next case was presented at the start of the episode, then the bulk of the episode had the sleuths gathering clues and investigating the situation. In the last few minutes of the episode, the case was resolved… in a dramatic way. Disney went off went it came to these themes songs. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFXTa2yeYWs)
- DuckTales -You knew it was coming. The original cartoon series premiered on syndication and on Disney Channel on September 18, 1987, and ran for a total of 100 episodes over four seasons, with its final episode airing on November 28, 1990. The show follows Scrooge McDuck, his three grandnephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and close friends of the group, on various adventures, most of which either involve seeking out treasure or thwarting the efforts of villains seeking to steal Scrooge’s fortune or his Number One Dime. When Donald Duck decides to join the US Navy, he enlists his uncle Scrooge McDuck to look after his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The show’s primary villains consist of those from the comics: Flintheart Glomgold, who seeks to replace Scrooge as the “richest duck in the world”; the Beagle Boys, who seek to rob Scrooge of his fortune and often target his money bin; and Magica De Spell, who seeks to steal his Number One Dime. DuckTales is well noted for its many references to popular culture, including Shakespeare, Jack the Ripper, Greek mythology, James Bond, Indiana Jones, and Sherlock Holmes. The theme song was so good… they didn’t even change it for the reboot. Check out both versions (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqZ_Cb2slBw). The new version is not bad. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKSU82afy1w)
- Aladdin – Disney knew what it was doing when they put out television shows. Aladdin was another movie that I had on VHS tape… and was sure enthralled with the show. It aired from February 6, 1994, to November 25, 1995, concluding exactly three years to the day from the release of the original 1992 Disney film of the same name on which it was based. Despite the animated television series premiering four months before the first film sequel The Return of Jafar, it takes place afterward. The second and final animated film sequel was the 1996 direct-to-video film, Aladdin and the King of Thieves. Many of the films’ stars provided the voices of their TV counterparts, with the notable exception of Dan Castellaneta filling in for Robin Williams in The Genie role (like in The Return of Jafar). A total of 86 episodes were produced, making this series one of the few exceptions to Disney’s then-limit of 65 episodes. The direct-to-video film Aladdin and the King of Thieves serves as the series finale. The series is set in the fictional city of Agrabah. It takes place one year after the original film and is set after the second film. Aladdin, now engaged to Princess Jasmine, embarks on numerous adventures with his companions. Not on Disney Plus at the time of this post. Check out the theme song here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfoZ1xOBwkw)
- Timon & Pumbaa – Timon & Pumbaa, is an animated buddy comedy television series that ran for three seasons on CBS, Toon Disney, and in syndication as a part of The Disney Afternoon. It aired from September 8, 1995, to September 24, 1999. It is the first of two television series to be based on the film, the second being The Lion Guard. The series is primarily set after the events of the first film, although some episodes are set before or during those events. It involves the characters having misadventures in different settings, including the jungles of Africa, Canada, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP7tsWCEMzg)
- Doug – Now this I did a separate blog post for but since we are here… The show focuses on the early adolescent life of its title character, Douglas “Doug” Funnie, who experiences common predicaments while attending school in his new hometown of Bluffington. Doug narrates each story in his journal, and the show incorporates many imagination sequences. The series addresses numerous topics, including trying to fit in, platonic and romantic relationships, self-esteem, bullying, and rumors. Many episodes center on Doug’s attempts to impress his classmate and crush, Patti Mayonnaise. Doug, a mostly autobiographical creation, was largely inspired by Jinkins’s childhood growing up in Virginia, with most characters in the series being based on real individuals. He first pitched Doug as a children’s book to uninterested publishers before Nickelodeon purchased the show. The original run consisted of 52 episodes over four seasons that were broadcast from 1991 to 1994. Nickelodeon opted against renewing the show for a fifth season, so in 1996, Disney green-lit the fifth season after acquiring Jumbo Pictures.
- Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron – Hanna-Barbera has entered the chat. Swat Kats was all action all the time… and I was here for it. Swat Kats is a 1993-1994 animated television series created by Christian and Yvon Tremblay and produced by Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. The series takes place in the fictional metropolis of Megakat City, which is populated by anthropomorphic felines, known as “kats”. The SWAT Kats are two vigilante pilots who possess a state-of-the-art fighter jet with an array of weaponry. Throughout the series, they face various villains as well as competition from Megakat City’s militarized police force called the Enforcers. Jake “Razor” Clawson and Chance “T-Bone” Furlong were members of Megakat City’s paramilitary law enforcement agency, known as the Enforcers. They were discharged from the Enforcers after disobeying the orders of Commander Feral, which resulted in the destruction of the newly built Enforcer Headquarters. While in pursuit of Dark Kat, one of the main arch-villains of the series, the two rebelled against Enforcer Commander Feral’s orders to fall back and leave Dark Kat to him. When they objected, Commander Feral crowded out their jet, clipping their wing and sending Jake and Chance’s jet crashing into Enforcer headquarters. The resultant explosion distracted Commander Feral, allowing Dark Kat’s escape. The Commander took no responsibility for the incident, discharged Jake and Chance from the Enforcers, and reassigned them to work at the city’s military salvage yard to pay for the damage to the Enforcer Headquarters that Feral caused. (Jerk) Using discarded military parts and weapons from the salvage yard, Jake and Chance built themselves a three-engine jet fighter called the Turbokat, along with a handful of other vehicles such as the Cyclotron (a motorcycle built into the jet’s seating, deployed from the bomb bay of the Turbokat like a missile), the TurboMole (a subterranean vehicle used to drill underground), the HoverKat (a militarized hovercraft), and the Thunder Truck (a militarized Jeep modified from their tow truck). All these vehicles are stored, along with a training area and other equipment, in a secret hangar below the yard. Razor and T-Bone now patrol Megakat City as the SWAT Kats, defending it against any kind of menace that threatens the city. Their enemies include the criminal mastermind Dark Kat, the undead sorcerer Pastmaster, the mutant evil genius Doctor Viper, and the robotic gangsters the Metallikats. The SWAT Kats also face many villains-of-the-week, such as Madkat and Volcanus. There were only 2 seasons and 25 episodes of the show. NOT NEARLY ENOUGH… I have a few other Hanna Barbera shows but I mean… they are way older than the late 80s. This opening is pretty great. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0IQBWWabuU)
- Gargoyles – Gargoyles was pretty serious television for kids back in the day. It is an animated television series that ran from October 24, 1994, to February 15, 1997. The series features a species of nocturnal creatures known as gargoyles that turn to stone during the day. After spending a thousand years in an enchanted petrified state, the gargoyles (who have been transported from medieval Scotland) are reawakened in modern-day New York City and take on roles as the city’s secret night-time protectors. Gargoyles was noted for its relatively dark tone, complex story arcs, and melodrama; character arcs were heavily employed throughout the series. The series also received favorable comparisons to Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men. A total of 78 half-hour episodes were produced. In the year 994, the clan lives in a castle in Scotland. Most are betrayed and killed by humans while petrified and the remainder are magically cursed to sleep. A thousand years later in 1994, billionaire David Xanatos purchases the gargoyles’ castle and has it reconstructed atop his New York skyscraper, the Eyrie Building, thus awakening Goliath and the remainder of his clan. While trying to adjust to their new world, they are aided by a sympathetic police officer named Elisa Maza and quickly come into conflict with the plotting Xanatos. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjI0TdvVbqI)
- The Famous Jett Jackson – I loved me some Lee Thompson Young. Lee Thompson Young plays Jett Jackson who plays a teenage secret agent on the wildly successful TV series “Silverstone,” and his life is like that of any Hollywood star. Every day, he deals with fans, agents, and managers, though sometimes he longs for a normal life. He gets a taste of that normal life when he insists that the show moves from Los Angeles to his father’s town in Wilsted, North Carolina, where he goes to school and hangs out with his friends. The move provides jobs to townspeople. Jett now spends part of his time with family, friends, and school, and the rest living the life of a working actor and celebrity. In doing so, Jett often ends up in sticky situations, usually aided and abetted by his childhood friend, J.B., his not-quite girlfriend Kayla, and sometimes by Cubby, Silverstone’s wacky special effects wizard. It is a show within a show and I was cool with that. The show within the show, Silverstone, is about a spy who works for Mission Omega Matrix in order to save the world from villains like Dr. Hypnoto and The Rat. In contrast to Jett, Silverstone has no family, only his mentor, Artemus, and eventually his partner “Hawk” (surname Hawkins).
- The Jersey – The Jersey is a comedy television series based on the Monday Night Football Club books by Gordon Korman. The series aired on Disney Channel from January 30, 1999, to March 23, 2004. The Jersey tells the story of a teenager named Nick Lighter, who inherits a mystical, old football jersey from his grandfather. The Jersey has the ability to transport the wearer (and anyone in contact with it) into the bodies of professional athletes. Accompanying him are his friends, Morgan Hudson, Coleman Galloway, and Elliot Riffkin. The four teens decide to form the MNFC (Monday Night Football Club) and swear never to let the secret of the jersey be revealed. It was revealed in the episode Origin (Part 1) that the Jersey was once a cloak in Ancient Egypt and was later found by the wizard Merlin and later King Arthur. It is also revealed that after several centuries, Jersey would lose its powers, and the only way to restore it is to use thorn berries, vinegar, and sesame oil, and that it could not only leap into the bodies of athletes but also other people. It also seems to have the power of time travel, as it once sent either Nick or Morgan to the past or future. Another important fact is that if the wearer wears the Jersey for too long, he or she will disappear forever. They need to add this to the Disney Plus platform. I was deep into football back then so this was right up my alley.
- Tiny Toons – Tiny Toon Adventures is an animated comedy television series that was broadcast from September 14, 1990, to December 6, 1992. The show follows the adventures of a group of young cartoon characters who attend Acme Looniversity to become the next generation of characters from the Looney Tunes series. I loved Looney Tunes and Bugs Bunny so this was right up my alley. The series ended production in 1992 in favor of Animaniacs which premiered a year later; however, two specials were produced in 1994. (Tiny Toon Spring Break and Tiny Toons’ Night Ghoulery) The movie was watched religiously at my house. A revival series, Tiny Toons Looniversity, was announced in October 2020 and is set for a 2022 release. Tiny Toon Adventures is a cartoon set in the fictional town of “Acme Acres”, where most of the Tiny Toons and Looney Tunes characters live. The characters attend “Acme Looniversity”, a school whose faculty primarily consists of the mainstays of the classic Warner Bros. cartoons, such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Wile E. Coyote, and Elmer Fudd. In the series, the university is founded to teach cartoon characters how to become funny. The school is not featured in every episode, as not all of its storylines revolve around the school.
- Hey Arnold! – Hey Arnold! is an American animated comedy television series created by Craig Bartlett. It originally aired on Nickelodeon from October 7, 1996, to June 8, 2004. The show centers on a fourth grader named Arnold Shortman, who lives with his grandparents in an inner-city tenement in Hillwood, Washington. Episodes center on his experiences navigating urban life while dealing with the problems he and his friends encounter. Bartlett completed the cast and setting by drawing inspiration from people and locations where he grew up in Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, and Brooklyn, New York. On March 2, 2016, a television film continuation of the series, Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie, was greenlit. It picks up from where the series ended and resolved the unanswered plotlines of the story. I have been rewatching this on Hulu but my guess is that it will end up on Paramount Plus soon enough. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUsnJ9jlwns)
- All That – All That is an American sketch comedy television series. The series originally aired on Nickelodeon from April 16, 1994, to October 22, 2005. The series features original short comedic sketches and weekly musical guests aimed at a young audience. Its sketches parody contemporary culture and are performed by a large and varying cast of child and teen actors. Early episodes were taped at Nickelodeon Studios at Universal Orlando Resort and then moved to Hollywood at the Nickelodeon On Sunset theatre, where other Nickelodeon shows such as The Amanda Show, Kenan & Kel, and Drake & Josh were filmed. All That went on to become a fixture on Nickelodeon for over a decade, and has received acclaim for its diverse cast and impact on children’s television. The series has spun off several members of the cast in their own Nickelodeon television series with varying levels of success. I had a few favorite sketches. ( Everyday French with Pierre Escargot, Good Burger, The Loud Librarian, Vital Information)
- Animaniacs – Animaniacs is an animated comedy musical television series that ran from September 13, 1993, to November 14, 1998. It is the second animated series produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Animation, after Tiny Toon Adventures. It initially ran a total of 99 episodes, along with a feature-length film, Animaniacs: Wakko’s Wish. Animaniacs is a variety show, with short skits featuring a large cast of characters. While the show had no set format, the majority of episodes were composed of three short mini-episodes each starring a different set of characters, and bridging segments. A revival of the series was announced in January 2018, with a two-season order and many of the main voice actors returning. It premiered on November 20, 2020, on Hulu, with a second season premiering on November 5, 2021. A third season has since been ordered. Animaniacs parodied popular TV shows and movies and caricatured celebrities. Animaniacs made fun of celebrities, major motion pictures, television series for adults (Seinfeld, Beverly Hills 90210, and Friends, among others), television series for children (such as Barney & Friends and Rugrats). One episode even made fun of the competing show Power Rangers. Animaniacs also made potshots of Disney films, creating parodies of such films as The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Bambi, and others. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7Q4tPTLUVk)
- Smart Guy– Smart Guy is where I explored my love of Jason Weaver. It was nice to see a black series with a Black Family and a Black father present. It ran for three seasons on The WB from March 26, 1997, to May 16, 1999. Set in Washington, D.C., the show centers on the misadventures of boy genius and youngest child T.J. Henderson who at the age of 10 moves from elementary school and gets transferred to Piedmont High School, where he ends up becoming a high school freshman with teenagers as his classmates. He must adjust to life with older, but not necessarily wiser, high school teenagers – including his brother Marcus and Marcus’ best friend Mo. Episodes typically deal with T.J.’s missteps of trying to fit in as a kid genius, while being a small kid in high school, as well as the contrast between his smarts and his brother’s underachieving nature. Tahj Mowry and Omar Gooding are the only main cast members that did not appear in every episode (which in the case of Mowry is quite unusual for the lead actor for a television series to not appear in all episodes). Tahj Mowry did not appear in the season 3 episode “Get a Job” and Omar Gooding in “A Little Knowledge.” Jason Weaver, Essence Atkins, and John Marshall Jones are the only cast members to appear in every episode. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYdPNsd1WY8)
- Kenan & Kel – The show originally aired on the Nickelodeon network for four seasons, from July 15, 1996, to July 15, 2000. Set in Chicago, Illinois, the series follows mischievous Kenan Rockmore (Kenan Thompson) and his optimistic but dimwitted best friend Kel Kimble (Kel Mitchell), who go on a number of misadventures which usually occur as a result of Kenan devising a scheme to get rich quick or avoid trouble with his elders. The show employs a number of running gags. Episodes open and close with Kenan and Kel breaking the fourth wall by interacting with a studio audience, standing in front of a red curtain that is placed in front of the main set while they are still in character. A running gag of the openings is Kel never knowing what the night’s episode would be about and Kenan refusing to tell him, while the closings frequently feature Kenan coming up with a new scheme, often asking Kel to get various assorted items and meet him somewhere. Frazzled both times, Kel exclaims his catchphrase, “Aww, here it goes!”.These schemes are often foiled as a result of Kel’s aloof, happy-go-lucky nature. It won the “Favorite TV Show” award at the 1998 Kids’ Choice Awards. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgC18L6UOKQ)
- Clarissa Explains it All – If you told me that Mellisa Joan Hart is in something… to this day… I will hop on it. In the series, Clarissa Darling (Melissa Joan Hart), is a teenager who addresses the audience directly to explain the things that are happening in her life, dealing with typical adolescent concerns such as school, boys, pimples, wearing her first training bra, and an annoying younger brother. I felt Clarissa understood me. I mean I too had younger brothers who got on my nerves. A total of 65 episodes were produced and aired from March 23, 1991, to October 1, 1994. From August 1992 onwards, the series headlined the popular SNICK (Saturday Night Nickelodeon) lineup. In 2015, a novel was released, Things I Can’t Explain, which serves as a sequel to the series. In the novel, Clarissa is now in her late 20s and trying to navigate life as an adult. Clarissa was credited with becoming the first Nickelodeon series to feature a female lead, which led the network to create other shows such as The Secret World of Alex Mack, The Amanda Show and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Its popularity among both boys and girls also helped to debunk a myth that a children’s series with a female lead would not appeal to boys. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0BerpDmVSE)
- Sabrina, the Teenage Witch – It is Melissa Joan Hart again…. But I watched this show more for Harvey than anything else. Sabrina the Teenage Witch is a television sitcom, based on the Archie Comics series of the same name. It premiered on Friday, September 27, 1996 on ABC to over 17 million viewers in its “T.G.I.F.” lineup. It stars Melissa Joan Hart as American teenager Sabrina Spellman, who, on her 16th birthday, learns she has magical powers (a departure from the Archie Comics series, in which she has known of her powers since an early age). She lives with her 600-year-old aunts, witches Hilda and Zelda, and their magical talking cat Salem. As a novice witch, her spells often go awry. Her witch aunts counsel her on the proper use of her magic and give her moral advice. Additionally, Hilda and Zelda have to take care of Salem, a witch turned into a cat for trying to take over the world. Sabrina’s basic premise and “genial loopiness” earned the show comparisons to the 1960s television series Bewitched.
- The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo -The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo is a children’s mystery television series that ran on Nickelodeon between 1996 and 1999. A total of 41 episodes were produced. the series revolves around the adventures of a teenage girl who lives with her innkeeper grandfather and works as a non-sworn intern at the local police department where she helps out with odds and ends around the office. Occasionally an intriguing case comes to Shelby’s attention, prompting her to apply her unique insight and enlist the help of her friends to solve it. Her supervisors, however, do not appreciate her help, as she is only a teenager. Her grandfather also does not want her getting involved in cases, often reminding her, “We are not detectives with warrant badges, we are innkeepers with brooms.” Many of the stories, with three clear suspects, keep the audience guessing until the truth is ultimately explained. Nickelodeon did not give enough episodes to some of these shows that I love.
- Brotherly Love – Anything Lawrence Brothers… Sign me up. I could date any one of them. (Still to this day.) Three real-life siblings star in this series about an older brother who returns to the family business a year after his father dies. Joe just wants to cash out his share, but he realizes that the business could use his help — and his half brothers need a father figure. Now Joe is clashing with his equally strong-willed stepmother about how to run the business and deal with the boys. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FJ45FJY_Os)
- X-Men: The Animated Series – I was never into Marvel but I never counted X-Men in that. X-Men is an animated superhero television series which debuted on October 31, 1992, on the Fox Kids Network. X-Men was Marvel Comics’ second attempt at an animated X-Men TV series after the pilot, X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men, was not picked up. The series deals with social issues, including divorce, Christianity, the Holocaust and AIDS hysteria, and feelings of loneliness. X-Men crossed over with the animated series Spider-Man, when Spider-Man seeks out the X-Men’s help to stave off his progressing mutation. The first season of the show brought the X-Men into conflict with human conspirators building mutant-exterminating Sentinel robots, Magneto and his attempts to instigate a human-mutant war, and the powerful mutant Apocalypse’s plans to eradicate the weak, both human and mutant alike. The second season sees Cyclops and Jean get married and become the targets of Mister Sinister, who hopes to use the genetically perfect combination of their DNA to create an army of obedient mutants. Morph returns, having been rescued by Sinister and brainwashed into forcing the X-Men apart. The season also features the growing rift between humans and mutants, spearheaded by the Friends of Humanity, an anti-mutant group who lead the persecution of all mutants.
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series – The series aired on the Fox Kids Network from November 19, 1994, to January 31, 1998, for a total of five seasons comprising sixty-five episodes, and ran reruns on Toon Disney’s Jetix block and on Disney XD. The series follows Peter Parker, a college student at Empire State University who struggles to balance his responsibilities as the hero Spider-Man with the problems of his personal life. Parker must navigate his romantic affections for love interests Felicia Hardy and Mary Jane Watson; maintain his friendship with Harry Osborn; focus on his academic performance as Dr. Curt Connors’ student; and help to support his Aunt May after the death of his Uncle Ben by working as a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle. As Spider-Man, Parker faces various supervillains that threaten New York City, including criminal masterminds such as the Kingpin and the Hobgoblin, scientific mishaps like Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin, and the alien symbiotes Venom and Carnage.
- The Wild Thornberry’s – The series portrays an American family of wildlife documentary filmmakers known as the Thornberrys, which consist of the British nature documentary television host Nigel, his wife and camera operator Marianne, their 16-year-old daughter Debbie, their younger daughter Eliza, their adopted son Donnie, and a chimpanzee named Darwin. The series focuses in particular on Eliza, who has an ability to communicate with animals. The Thornberry family travels to every continent and wildlife environment in the ComVee, a recreational vehicle equipped with safety mechanisms to handle any terrain or body of water, to document their journeys in detail, with typical episodes involving Eliza befriending an animal and subsequently finding herself in peril. The series premiered on September 1, 1998, on Nickelodeon as the eleventh Nicktoon. It ran for 5 seasons containing 91 episodes in total, with the series finale airing on June 11, 2004.
- Goof Troop – It is an animated sitcom television series produced by Walt Disney Television Animation. The series focuses on the relationship between single father Goofy and his son, Max, as well as their neighbors Pete and his family. Walt Disney Pictures released two films that served as follow-ups to the television series: the theatrical A Goofy Movie, released on April 7, 1995, as well as the direct-to-video sequel An Extremely Goofy Movie, released on February 29, 2000, as the series finale. Goofy, a single father, moves back to his hometown of Spoonerville with his son, Max. As it happens, Goofy and Max end up moving in next door to Goofy’s high school friend: Pete, a used car salesman and owner of Honest Pete’s Used Cars; Pete’s wife Peg, a real estate agent; and their two children, son P.J. (Pete Jr.) and younger daughter Pistol. Max and P.J. become best friends and do practically everything together. A large portion of the show’s humor comes from Max’s relatively normal personality sharply contrasting with his father. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts7–zxXXKQ)
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a superhero television series that premiered on August 28, 1993, on the Fox Kids programming block. It is the first entry of the Power Rangers franchise and became a 1990s pop-culture phenomenon along with a large line of toys, action figures, and other merchandise. The original series also spawned the feature film Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, released by 20th Century Fox on June 30, 1995. Despite mixed reviews, it was a modest financial success and earned a cult following. The series takes place in the fictional town of Angel Grove, California. On an exploratory mission, two astronauts discover an extraterrestrial container (referred to as a dumpster as a result of its smell) and breach the unit, inadvertently releasing the evil alien sorceress Rita Repulsa from 10,000 years of confinement. Upon her release, she and her army of evil space aliens set their sights on conquering the nearest planet—Earth. The wise sage Zordon, who was responsible for capturing Rita (and also being enemies on Zordon’s homeworld, Eltar), later becomes aware of her release and orders his robotic assistant Alpha 5 to select five “teenagers with attitude” to defend the Earth from Rita’s attacks. The five teens chosen are Jason Lee Scott, Kimberly Hart, Zack Taylor, Trini Kwan, and Billy Cranston. Zordon gives them the ability to transform into a fighting force known as the Power Rangers. This provides them with superhuman abilities and an arsenal of weapons, as well as colossal assault machines called Zords which can combine into a giant humanoid machine known as the Megazord. And then Tommy came along…DRAMA. I remember when I used to have to sit t my dad’s job… (Circuit City) and he would set me up to watch the Rangers. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHalaFUqnTI)
- James Bond Jr – Whenever I mention this show… People have no clue what I was talking about. James Bond Jr. is a character described as the nephew of Ian Fleming’s spy James Bond. While attending prep school at Warfield Academy, James Bond Jr, with the help of his friends IQ (the grandson of Q), and Gordo Leiter (the son of Felix Leiter), fight against the evil terrorist organization S.C.U.M. (Saboteurs and Criminals United in Mayhem), a SPECTRE-like organization. Expanding on his uncle’s famous line, James Bond Jr’s catchphrase was “Bond, James Bond… Junior. It debuted on 30 September 1991, with a total of 65 half-hour episodes produced. The series was mildly successful, spawning a six-volume novelization series by John Peel, a 12-issue comic book series by Marvel Comics published in 1992, and video games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES.
- My Brother and Me – My Brother and Me is an American sitcom, that originally aired on Nickelodeon. My Brother and Me is about the Parkers, a family living in the west side of Charlotte, North Carolina, who experience the highs and lows of everyday life. It premiered on October 15, 1994, and ended on January 15, 1995, with a total of 13 episodes over the course of one season. This definitely should have lasted longer. Alfie was the cool older brother and Dee Dee was the younger brother who always followed his older brother around and tried to be just like him. There was also a smarter, older sister named Melanie.
- The Adventures of Pete & Pete – The Adventures of Pete & Pete is an American comedy television series. It centers around two brothers, both named Pete Wrigley, and their humorous and surreal adventures in suburbia among their equally eccentric friends, enemies, and neighbors. it is an abstract and rather absurd portrayal of everyday suburban life in the United States. The antics of the two brothers of the same name and their various friends and enemies are ludicrous in nature, but it is often easy to identify with the potent suburban truths stated in the narrations of Older Pete. It began as a series of one-minute shorts in 1989 that were shown in between regular programs on Nickelodeon. Owing to the popularity of the shorts, five half-hour specials were made, followed by a regular half-hour series that ran for three seasons (1993-1996) and continued in reruns until around 1999.
- Heathcliff – Anytime I refer to the orange animate cat… people assume I am talking about G. Heathcliff is a children’s animated television series that debuted on September 3, 1984. 65 half-hour episodes aired in first-run syndication in the fall of 1984, followed by the second season of 21 episodes in 1986. Each episode featured two segments, one being about Heathcliff and his friends, while the other featured The Catillac Cats. The Heathcliff segments focus on the everyday adventures of Heathcliff and the cast from the comic strip. At the end of the show, there is a short segment called Pet Tips where Heathcliff (or some other characters including Spike or Riff-Raff) would teach the audience certain safety tips when it comes to raising pets. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LLb8EBU9nQ)
This was a fun trip down memory lane. I have realized that a lot of what I was watching in the 90s is syndication. I have also realized that the kid actors that I saw on tv were not much younger than me. But that is all I have for now so let me know your favorite shows as kids…. Until next time.