Haven't you heard? Nicktoons are coming back! Legends Of The Hidden Temple is gonna be a movie! Double Dare is back, and it's hosted by Marc Summers! Yay! Well, OK, that last one was just for Comic-Con, but yay to the rest! Remember how you always wanted to be on that show? And on Legends Of The Hidden Temple? Oh man, you were so sure that you woulda put together that damn silver monkey! But hold your horses, Slick. Because I think if we look back without the rose-colored glasses, we would realize that all of these shows were hideously incompetent, inappropriate, and/or embarrassing. Being on one of these shows woulda straight-up sucked. And not just because of the slime. Because secretly, Nickelodeon hated these kids. How else can you explain that ...
#6. Marc Summers Threw Kids Around On Early Episodes Of Double Dare
Viewers of Double Dare (or its millennial successor, Double Dare 2000) may remember that it started off Family Feud-style, pitting one family against another with trivia questions. At the end of each show, the winning family got to participate in the famous obstacle course. This usually resulted in a little girl picking a huge nose, the father riding a river of chocolate, and/or the entire family covered in whipped cream. In other words, a 10-year-old's dream.
But back in the '80s, it must have seemed like a nightmare. In one of the very first episodes of Double Dare, Marc Summers simply could not stand the fact that children were not able to complete the final obstacle course within his acceptable timeframe, so he gave them a little extreme help. And by "help" I mean that he grabbed the kids by the arm and FORCED them to complete it, goddamn it.
"Alright, they've got 60 seconds, and if they don't finish, well ... Lord help them."
After the very first obstacle, in which the first kid is run through a steamroller, he grabs the boy's ass and hoists him up to the monkey bars, then grabs the girl by the elbow so forcefully that she falls on her face. In a telling moment, Summers says, "C'mon, get up" juuust slightly off-mic -- enough that you have to listen to hear it, but not enough to doubt that he barely stopped himself from adding the words "or you'll upset me." It's like his whole fucking career depends on these kids winning this thing. Note that in this version of the show, it was kids-only, so there weren't any dads around to say, "Um, what the hell are you doing?"
Producer 1: "Was that an FCC violation?"
Producer 2: "Not in Reagan's America!"
*both high-five, wink at camera*
Summers is mesmerizing in his efficiency. From obstacle to obstacle, he physically assaults the kids in no way that would be allowed on TV today. At one point, he throws in an apology real quickly, maybe out of fear of what the other inmates are gonna think, or maybe because the show's lawyers just whispered in his ear, "Um, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING???" The best/worst part is when one of the kids tries in vain to crawl out of the pit and falls, presumably due to physical and mental exhaustion. Summers just pulls her by her arm, giving no fucks, and berates her to stand up. I can't stress enough how important this is to listen to with sound, because modern GIF technology hasn't yet adapted to incorporate Marc Summers' cold, cold heart. The attendants look like they are silently preparing their "just following orders" defenses.
"Don't, Brenda. She needs to learn."
And then, as the timer approaches zero, the boy going for the next flag just hangs his head in shame while Summers drags the other girl toward defeat, though her natural instinct is to get as far away from him as possible. Notice that Summers quickly checks to see if anyone is looking.
I'm surprised that he didn't just throw the kid at the flag.
At the end, Summers gathers the kids to view their their prizes, but they are not happy. They look as if he just told them he was "not mad, but disappointed." He gives them a final "Are you OK?" but by that time, it wasn't worth the fucking Sketchers. The kids weren't even close to winning anyway, so if anything, Summers' grab-ass only hurt them and their self-esteem forever.
"Stop squirming. I want you to see this. It's what you could've won."
#5. The Nick Arcade Host Let Trivia Rounds Spiral Completely Out Of Control
Being a kid on a Nick game show must have been equal parts exciting and stressful. Occasionally, things didn't go your way, but that was OK, because the host would help you steer it in the right direction and would never dare make fun of you on television. Except the host of Nick Arcade. Throughout this single episode, the host could not be less helpful, which causes the kids to fail over and over, and then he lets them bathe in their failure.
In this show, two teams of kids competed to answer trivia questions until the winning team got to run around in front of a green screen for five minutes. This show was kinda cool back then, but because they based it entirely around a fast-evolving technology, the core mechanic became obsolete as soon as the episode aired. Networks today are able to reboot 50-year-old game shows with no problem, but it was as if the producers of Nick Arcade made a game show specifically for the era of late '92 and then forgot to destroy the tapes.
Anyway, in this one episode, the trivia portion goes so horribly that the host eventually becomes speechless. One of the first questions is "The Rio Grande separates Mexico from which country?" The yellow team kid thinks he's a smart alec and buzzes in before the host got to "country," so he mistakenly answers "Texas." Then, the question passes to the red team, who stare and say nothing. Dude, he just said Texas.
"'Where are you right now?' There, is that easier?"
That's fine, whatever. Dumb mistake. But then the yellow team gets to play an arcade game.
This game needs a bit of explaining, because you're probably not used to video game graphics this bad. The girl's goal is to collect 60 coins. She gets 10 every time she kills one of the bad guys and steals their coins (her total is on the bottom left). She gets halfway to the goal in the first five seconds of the game, but then accidentally picks up a coin weapon, which ... apparently makes you throw all your money as an attack. So the host helpfully chimes in with, "Oops, she lost a little there," and then devolves to "She's throwing the money. You have to hold on to the money" in the most condescending tone possible. Predictably, she ends up throwing all the money, which the host helpfully explains to the audience, in case she didn't realize that she blew it. Hmm, I understand that games were a bit rudimentary back then, but the host could have maybe given the all-important instruction that "HEY, THIS BUTTON THROWS THE MONEY BACK. DON'T TOUCH IT."
"Wow, she's throwing the money, even though literally no one told her that would happen. What an idiot."
From there, it goes off the rails. On the next question, the red team accidentally buzzes in before the choices are given, so they get it wrong. For the next one, yellow team buzzes in, blanks, and then asks the host to repeat the question. The host seems so frustrated that he has the audience yell out the answer, as if to remind these children that everyone around them is smarter than they are. Give 'em a break, dude. Did you not let these kids have a practice run?
In the final question, the host flashes a series of images on screen, alternating between office supplies and food items. The goal is to name three of the five office supplies. The red team almost gets it, naming the stapler and tape correctly. Then yellow team gets a chance. The boy starts to say "stapler," but the host gives them another spin of the images ... and the boy says "hamburger." He was just about to say the right answer. Why the fuck did you confuse him? Ya, he fucked up, but the host audibly holds back chuckles, even though he indirectly kept the kid from winning. This poor kid just did the equivalent of answering "D" in an "A-C" multiple choice question that you scribbled and crossed out on a piece of paper, and then you laughed at him.
"Hold on, let me consult the notes here. Yes, it appears a calendar is, in fact, an office supply,
and any dumbass would know that. Sorry, that's just what it says here."
#4. Wild & Crazy Kids Taught Kids How To Play Flip Cup
Wild & Crazy Kids would have fit right in today with Michelle Obama's "Get Out Of The House And Do Something, You Slobs" initiative, because every episode would have a team of teen hosts play games on location with kids and families. Maybe they played water balloon toss in a park, or that game where you spin the bat and try to hit the ball, but can't because of the brain bouncing around in there. You know, healthy activities.
In a first season episode of W&CK, the show took over a mall and held a series of relay race contests. Most of the contests were normal kid fare -- "play this video game and then skateboard across the finish line," for example. But the very first "game" in this episode may look a little too familiar to today's college students:
Um ... what the hell? Dude, those kids are totally playing flip cup right now. OK, so they aren't actually flipping the cup, but come on. Mugs full of ROOT beer, which you have to down as fast as you can and then pass to the next person? What else could that be?
"C'mon, Aaron! Chug, you pussy!"
This is practically child abuse. Look at these kids' faces as soon as they finish. This does not look fun. No one wants to play this. The host's voiceover makes it seem like gee-willikers silliness, but all these kids want to do is to go home so they can throw up.
"Congratulations! You've won the position of treasurer at Alpha Sigma Epsilon!"
Now, I know what you're thinking. This show was on in the early '90s, so how likely is it that the creators were aware of flip cup at the time? Well, party games have spotty histories, but flip cup is rumored to have been started by college students in the late '80s in New Jersey (pretty believable), and this show was on in the early '90s. Let's just say that it's way more likely that the adult creators of the show were aware of flip cup than it is that college students saw this show and said, "Hey we should do that, but with booze!"