A Nickelodeon is a small, neighborhood movie theater, where patrons could go see a movie for a nickel! Jolly good fun! Unless you want me to talk about that TV channel with all the talking Sponges and - oh. Very well then:
"Nicktoons" was the term which they referred to "cartoons" that were on "Nick," so yeah, that's what that is. For much of the network's history, the cartoons were the staples of it's daytime programming.
It's a general consensus amongst people who grew up watching Nickelodeon that, over time, the quality of the Nicktoons got progressively worse. The original Nicktoons were the classics Rugrats, Doug and Ren and Stimpy. The most recent Nicktoon is something called "Fanboy and Chum Chum."
Often times, our nostalgia for certain beloved TV shows of our childhood prevent us from seeing them for what the truly are. So now, let us all take a sophisticated look at the sort of entertainment we were raised on, for better or worse:
Original Run: 1991-08-11 !August 11, 1991 - 2004-06-08 !June 8, 2004
Description: Tommy Pickles, Chuckie Finster, and twins Phil and Lil Deville are babies. They can't talk to adults, but can talk to other babies (I use the word "talk" vaguely here, those babies don't have a very solid grasp on the English language and pronounce every other word wrong.) Each episode consists of them easily breaking out of their flimsy play-pen with Tommy's favorite toy, a screwdriver (also his favorite mix drink) and finding elaborate adventures out of mundane, everyday things, all while dealing with their three-year-old nemesis Angelica Pickles, who is Tommy's cousin and also a professional super-bitch. The babies' parents hardly ever watch the kids, usually (and ironically) reading and discussing the child-care advice of Dr. Lipschitz, a child psychologist they're pretty serious about.
Rugrats was a diverse show, one of the few television shows to have holiday specials dealing with Passover and Hanukkah, and literally the only one to actually have a Kwanzaa special.
"WHAT ARE WE?"
But thank goodness Rugrats is a cartoon, because if it was a live-action show, it would be such a horrifyingly real depiction of child endangerment it would make Precious' mother shake her head in disgust.
"Stu? Where are the kids?"
These babies, too young to really take most places in public anyway, have gotten lost in a movie theater, a mini-golf course, a baseball game, Reptar on Ice, they got locked inside a freakin' toy store, and let's not even get into the movie, where the babies fall out of a truck and get lost in the woods for a few days, or its sequel, where they fight to the death with giant robots. Everything works out fine, but still, nothing like this should ever happen to infants once, let alone every other episode. There is seriously a scene where Tommy, age one, and Chuckie, age two, almost drive an amusement park train ride off a cliff, and are only saved at the very last minute. Sure, it was their own fault, but any park that would possibly let that happen can expect a Reptar-sized lawsuit in their future.
You don't pay a thing until Reptar has won your case.
The show also really "jumped the shark" (I use that as a term meaning the show's quality took a turn for the worst; they did not actually jump over a shark. Although, being that attempted infanticide is a recurring theme on the Rugrats, I wouldn't be surprised if the babies were at one point in danger of literally being attacked by sharks) when they started introducing characters like an even younger baby named Dil, who did nothing but cry and poop, and Kimmie, Chuckie's French/Asian step-sister, who is exactly as annoying as she sounds. Then Amanda Bynes got a role as their babysitter, and the show ended shortly after. Amanda Bynes kills everything.
Dirty Line You Never Noticed as a Kid:
Best WTF Moment:
Original Run: 1991-08-11 !August 11, 1991 - 1994-12-16 !December 16, 1994 (It is important to note here that we are only referring to the original, Nickelodeon-era run of Doug. The show was picked up by Disney in 1996, but they were dark times, and I'm not ready to talk about them just yet.)
Description: Doug was about an 11-and-a-half-year old kid named Doug Funnie (he has this name ironically; Doug is sort of the straight-man of the show, the Dean Martin to Skeeter's Jerry Lewis.) He writes a diary, which is sorta lame, but makes up for it with his sick-awesome banjo skills. Doug moves with his family from the town of Bloatsburg to the town of Bluffington, where he struggles to fit in at first because he is the only white kid in town.
Wonder who's going to win this race.
The show promotes racial diversity (I'm guessing) by having all the characters except Doug and his family be blue, green, or orange.
Pictured (left to right): Skeeter, Patti Mayonnaise.
Doug's best friend is Mosquito "Skeeter" Valentine, a blue fellow who is implied to have some sort of Tourette's syndrome with his "HONK HONK!" catchphrase. Skeeter teaches Doug how they do things down here in Bluffington, such as how to order a Honker Burger (which is way more difficult than it should be) and who The Beets are.
Also implied to be a Nazi robot.
Doug has his eyes on Patti Mayonnaise, who is this sort of wholesome girl-next-door type with a dead mother and a handicapped father (what happened here?) but while she's not nearly as obese as her name would imply, she also has an unbearably raspy, Lindsay-Lohan-after-a-rock-concert voice that I personally would not be able to get past. Sorry, Patti.
This is the only non-sexual picture I could find of her on Google Image Search.
Also, Doug had a slight case of dissociative identity disorder, with several alter-ego personalities including Smash Adams, Durango Doug, and of course, Quailman.
Pictured: a severe mental dissorder
Dirty Line You Never Noticed as a Kid: None, but the vice principal's name was Mr. Bone. Bone.
Best WTF Moment:
The Ren & Stimpy Show
Original Run: 1991-08-11 !August 11, 1991 - 1996-11-14 !November 14, 1996
Description: You may have noticed that Ren & Stimpy premiered the same day as Doug and Rugrats. Yes, the three cartoons premiered back-to-back-to-back, with Ren & Stimpy being the last of the three. One would expect that following those two cute, family-friendly cartoon premieres about friendship and imagination, The Ren & Stimpy Show would follow in the same manner.
"Aw, kids! Gather 'round the television!"
And that's probably what your parents thought, until they watched an episode, and never let you watch it again. And for good reason.
"Wait a second..."
Yes, while we might now be desensitized by South Park, Family Guy and everything on Adult Swim, Ren and Stimpy was the original screw-you-society cartoon that existed solely to confuse children and piss off their parents.
The "plot" of Ren & Stimpy? That's not so important. It was about a Ren, chihuahua with severe anger issues and his implied life partner, a mentally retarded cat, Stimpy. That's basically it; gross, violent things happened to them.
And that's not to say it wasn't a funny show, it's just to say that for every genuinely funny moment, like the Log commercial...
...REN BEAT A MAN TO DEATH WITH A PADDLE:
Dirty Line You Never Noticed as a Kid: Every line was dirty. And you knew it. You didn't know how it was dirty, but you knew it was.
Best WTF Moment: Watch any episode. Find one on YouTube. I don't have the sanity to find one at this point.
Original Run: 1996-10-07 !October 7, 1996 - June 8, 2004
Description: Hey Arnold! revolved around Arnold #$%*&, a football-shaped-headed, fourth-grade Jesus. In the unnamed urban jungle the characters occupy, nearly everyone needs help and advice from this miraculous little Christ child, who is clearly more competent and experienced than all the adults in the city.
Another central character is Arnold's cool black friend Gerald. Fourth grader boys want to be him, fourth grade girls want to be with him. He's like a little Billy Dee Williams.
Then there's Helga, Arnold's unibrowed bully/stalker who is madly in love with him. It is only through this secret love do we know she is not a lesbian, because otherwise she's a tomboy who spends all her time with her Asian sidekick, Phoebe.
Again; so hard to not find porn on Google.
She's a pretty complex character by Nickelodeon standards; she comes from ignorant parents who much favor her older sister, she's secretly intelligent but unmotivated, she feels forced to conceal her sensitive side and her feelings for Arnold with an aggressive, tough attitude. But she's pretty obsessed with Arnold, almost creepishly so. But didn't we all steal used gum and locks of hair from our first crush?
Arnold's parents disappeared in a plane while bringing medicine to impoverished foreign villages (really) so he lives with his grandparents. They're always supportive of Arnold even as they are clearly on a slow decent into madness. Arnold's grandma is even more delusional than Doug, and his grandpa dispenses cryptic advice like "never eat raspberries" and stories about fighting Hitler (see below)
Some keen-eyed scholars also noticed Grandpa's head looks like a dick.
It's never said what city Hey Arnold is set in, but we do get mixed signals about it's crime rate. Keep in mind here that all the main characters are in the fourth grade. Pretty much the whole series is about them hanging out in the city by themselves, finding things to do. But in one early episode, Arnold gets mugged, and there's clearly enough crime for the city to have its own superhero, Monkeyman. Is it really responsible of all these kid's parents (Arnold is an exception, his are dead) to let them roam around the city like this? Shouldn't they at least wait one year, when they turn into huge, super-human fifth graders?
Dirty Line You Never Noticed as a Kid:
"That is, if Arnold doesn't mind making it a threesome."
Best WTF Moment:
Nickelodeon apparently still exists, even though my childhood is over. I don't watch it very often, unless some child has hijacked my TV somehow.
From those times, I get the impression that the network has been trying to move beyond their image of talking, farting animals these days and their programming features a lot more live-action programming (the only cartoon I've seen on is Spongebob, and it's only episodes featuring the new, aggressively gay Spongebob.
It's a whole bunch of iCarly, which I've come to the conclusion is about a few young teenagers who hatch a The Producers-esque plot to create the world's most irritating web series. This plan fails when the web series actually becomes a hit. I only assume this is the plot. It definitely involves an awful web series.
Then there's a new series called Victorious, which is set in a performing arts high school.
So no, it is not set on the HMS Victorious, as I originally thought.
It's sort of like the old '80s movie Fame, but with slightly less drugs and boobs.
Pictured: Slightly less drugs and boobs.
And that's pretty much it. These two shows are shown eleven times each, every day. They don't need anything else. This is their programming.
And today's kids are too young to remember the good ol' days...