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SCTV is on the Air! - Blog, rant, bitch, blather, gripe, and moan. By Adam the Carveyfan [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Adam Jaspering

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SCTV is on the Air! [Sep. 6th, 2011|01:03 pm]
Adam Jaspering
There's this channel called TeenNick. It's basically another version of Nickelodeon, focusing on a slightly older demographic. And by that, I mean they play the exact same shows on Nickelodeon, plus Degrassi: TNG.

I pretty much shrug it off entirely. I don't care about Nickelodeon's well-being anymore. They've become completely bottom-line. They're at war with Disney Channel, and that's the way it will be for the remainder of time. Nickelodeon is perfectly content with razing their legacy as the first network for kids, abandoning their once-proud penchant for original programming in favor of eight-hour blocks of iCarly reruns. As long as it moves officially sanctioned Wal-Mart t-shirts, right? Ren & Stimpy had three glorious seasons and is one of the most revered series of all time, animated or otherwise. Spongebob has been on for half my life, and averages 12 episodes per year.

I take nostalgia very seriously. I didn't abandon things from my childhood, I just temporarily set them aside to pursue other things. I know I'm not viewing my past entirely through rose-colored glasses. I picked up DVDs of The Adventures of Pete and Pete and torrented the entirety of Legends of the Hidden Temple during my Freshman year of college, and those shows still hold up. If anything, I like them better.

Apparently, I'm not alone. TeenNick, realizing an untapped market exists, recently established a late-nite programming block: "The 90s Are All That." Yeah, I don't much care for the name either. But still, my television watching experiences have come full circle. It's pretty much the nicest thing television has done for me since Sundance began running My So-Called Life repeats.

TeenNick has promised a rotating set of programs. Originally, it started with the quartet of All That, Kenan & Kel, Clarissa Explains it All, and Doug. Since it's inception, Clarissa and Doug have been since replaced by Hey Arnold and Rocko's Modern Life.

After six weeks (give or take), that is my analysis? Are these shows as good as I remember, or were they simply shows I watched because they were something to watch?

Kenan & Kel certainly has not aged well. I never much cared for it back in elementary school, but my God, I can barely tolerate it now. It's just so cliche, and every episode is practically the same. There are no real jokes, just Kenan & Kel aping for the camera. I'm sorry, but when I watch an entire episode revolving around Kel's fascination with orange soda, nothing else needs to be said.

All That fares better, but suffers from the same problems. There are a lot of funny ideas. Ideas. And maybe that's why the show is remembered fondly. The ideas of Good Burger and Earboy still seem funny fourteen years on, but serving as the basis of an entire five-minute comedy sketch... egh. To it's benefit, Vital Information, Pierre Escargot, and Katrina Johnson's Ross Perot impression are every bit as impressive as I remember.

Clarissa Explains it All had one major problem: It starred a girl. When you're a young boy, you're intimidated by your obligations to the male gender. You don't want to disappoint the other men of the world, so you feel guilty and ashamed watching any piece of media represented by a woman, as if somehow you were letting everybody down. As if there was some silent enclave monitoring your television watching habits, silently shaking their heads anytime you watched anything with a female lead, even if it wasn't exclusively aimed at the female demographic. It's a direct result of patriarchal society: shows featuring girls are for girls, show featuring boys are for everybody.

But now that I'm old enough to know better, I know nobody's watching or judging me. Well, actually, lots of people are watching me. We live in an Orwellian society, but that's beside the point. Clarissa actually isn't that bad. It's a product of the early-90s, and it revels in that, but it's still watchable. It's not great, but it's still fairly enjoyable. I give it a pass.

Doug is still Doug. I always liked it, it's a low-key slice-of-life show. It was a primer for King of the Hill. And I have nothing else to say about it.

Rocko's Modern Life and Hey Arnold, I admit, I cheated with. I watched the entirety of both series online before distribution companies forced Netflix to raise their rates (Netflix, I'm sorry I badmouthed you. I didn't know the whole story, and I didn't realize you were the victim. You're still my number-one choice for home-viewing entertainment, and I hope you're still coming over Wednesday for pizza night.)

Hey Arnold is surprisingly deep and insightful for an animated series, but never quite makes the leap to full-on excellent. I don't know what the writers were trying to accomplish, but I wish they had chosen a definite direction to take the show. The characters are wildly inconsistent, the morals are ground in like grass stains, and I still have no idea what the theme song is supposed to be. But still, several episodes are impactful, the characters can be very sympathetic, and the humor is always there. So, I call it quality with notable flaws. The very definition of a 4/5 star review.

I never realized Rocko's Modern Life was such biting satire back in the day. I mean, I understood the title and premise and everything, I just didn't pay it much attention. I always viewed it as the spiritual successor of Ren & Stimpy, and only focused on the gross-out humor. But whereas R&S aimed for insanity and obliqueness, Rocko's Modern Life is both hilarious and insightful. They layer the social commentary on awfully thick, almost negating the purpose of satire, but the satire is there. It actually has gotten better with age. And I still love that awesome B-52s theme song.

The Japanese have a concept called Sabi: Beauty in impermanence. Cable channels are always best in their early years. In their infancy, they buy up syndication rights to older series, and pepper the prime-time slots with original programming. The original programming finds an audience, and when they raise the duckets necessary, they focus entirely on original programming. This is the golden age. Appreciate it. It will not last.

Because network decay will soon follow. G4 used to focus on the world and culture of video games. Now it shows Cops reruns all the time. MTV used to show music videos, music news, concerts, interviews with musicians, and more music videos. Now it shows spoiled prostitots and orange people from New Jersey. TLC used to show science and nature documentaries, now they talk about pregnancy, weddings, dwarves, chocolatiers, and dwarf chocolatiers. Cartoon Network has live-action shows. The Weather Channel shows more than just the weather. The History Channel shows speculative, conspiracy-laden documentaries. TV Land used to show nothing but reruns of classic shows. Now it makes original programming. How did they fuck that up?

Don't fret though. Your memories have been logged and time-stamped. They're sitting in a vault somewhere under Ted Turner's mansion. Someday they'll surface. Someday, a network will devote itself to airing nothing but the shows you remember. And you'll be happy. Until the inevitable recursion occurs, and your new-favorite network slowly degrades into nothing but b-grade horror films and live feeds of the Panama Canal.