I guess I’m behind the times because this book has been out for like a year. Anyhow, I just finished reading it and I’d like to share some fun stuff from it with you! I supposed “review” is not the best title for this blog post. Believe it or not, I’m not really into book reviews. I seem to have SO many opinions about television, so how could I not take the opportunity to harass a book, right? Well, I don’t have much of an explanation for you, I’m afraid. I think books are more subjective than most other art forms and aside from saying things like “this book had a faced-paced plot” or “this person could not form a coherent sentence,” I don’t really see much point in critiquing someone else’s writing.
Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age is exactly what its title says it is. This book is comprised of interviews with producers, writers, directors, actors, and designers who worked on Nickelodeon shows from the beginning of the network through the late ’90’s. My two complaints about the format are that there was absolutely no narrative connecting any of the block quotes from the interviews. I would have liked at least a little context between subject shifts, or some objective background information in a sea of he said/she said memories. My other complaint is that I did not even realize that there was a glossary in the back of the book that said who all of the interviewees were. I spent most of the book guessing from context as to who each person was–aside from those people whose names I recognized like Blake Sennet and Melissa Joan Hart. Other than that, it was a really great read. Parts of it were painful because even though Nickelodeon seemed like a great place to be a kid, there was still all of that uncomfortable coming-of-age on television stuff. And a lot of the infighting between creators and producers was sad but not unexpected. Okay, enough reviewing! Here are some fun facts!
7 Fun Facts from Old School Nickelodeon
- Graham Yost (a writer on Hey Dude) also wrote the screenplay for Speed.
- Slime was originally created when a props master let a bucket of garbage that he was supposed to dump on a cast member of You Can’t Do That On Television sit overnight between shooting. The decomposing trash created a smelly green ooze, which the props master was instructed dump it on the kid anyway. Over the years, slime had many different (safer) mixtures, including bases of cream of wheat or applesauce.
- Double Dare turned down a million-dollar sponsorship from Casio because they did not feel comfortable displaying the brand’s name on the Double Dare clock. The network in general shied away from corporate advertising in its early days because they did not want to “sell out” the kids or their creative process.
- Gerry Labourne, who was the president of Nickelodeon until 1996, moved to Disney and helped to shape The Disney Channel. I always felt like Nick was the network of the ’90’s and Disney was the network of the ’00’s, but maybe this wall all due to one great children’s programmer! She also founded the Oxygen Network in 1998.
- Roger Price, the director of You Can’t Do That On Television, brought a gun to a meeting with crew members and told them he would shoot them if they tried to give or sell any of the kids drugs.
- Nickelodeon was contractually obligated to have activity on the stages at all times while occupying space at Universal Studios Orlando. When there wasn’t active production happening on the stages, they would send PAs to move cameras around and generally look busy during park hours. If you took at tour of the studios during the ’90’s, there’s a good chance you might have seen people pretending to work.
- A pilot for a sequel to Clarissa Explains It All was produced for CBS but the network felt that audiences would not like how Clarissa broke the fourth wall, a staple of the original series. The new series was called Clarissa Now and showed her moving to New York City and pursuing a career in journalism. You can watch it on Youtube.