The fish out of water story is one of the oldest stories in the human literary canon. When we are in a place in which we are a stranger in a strange land, we have to either go along with the change or remain rooted in the past.
In the Nickelodeon television series, Hey Dude (1989-1991), Ben Ernst (David Brisbin) is a divorced father who has left his East coast, high-stress job behind with his young son Buddy (Josh Tygiel). Purchasing the fictional Bar None Dude Ranch out west, he has good intentions. But like any fish out of water, his vision does always gel with reality. He has four teenagers working for him. Melody (Christine Taylor) is the girl next door who works as a lifeguard and dance instructor. Bradley “Brad” Taylor (Kelly Brown) is a riding instructor who comes from a wealthy family in the Midwest. Danny Lightfoot (Joe Torres), hails from the Hopi Indian tribe and just wants to get along with everyone. Ted McGriff (David Lascher) is always looking for the next scheme. In between Ben and the kids is Lucy (Debra Kalman), who is the ranch hand forewoman and supervisor.
I remember watching this show as a kid. What was appealing was that it was set in a world that was and still is completely different from my own. And like any young person, you look up to those who are older than you.
These days, we talk about diversity and representation on screen. Having a Native American character who is not relegated to a stereotype or a background character was back then and unfortunately, still is revolutionary.
These days, technology changes in blink of an eye. What was cutting edge quickly becomes outdated.
In the 1992 Nickelodeon show, Nick Arcade, contestants competed in virtual video world. Hosted by Phil Moore, the game started with two different teams in the first round. The winner then moved into the “Video Zone”. Their goal was to win against the “Video Game Wizard” of that particular episode and ultimately, walk away the winner.
Almost thirty years on, the technology looks primitive, if not straight out of the stone age. But back then, it was top of the line and absolutely fascinating to watch.
Love triangles have for the most part, been a staple of the romantic comedy or romantic drama. For this narrative to succeed, the screenwriter(s) have to make this very basic and predictable story their own.
The 1999 movie Three to Tango stars three 1990’s television stars in the lead roles. Charles Newman (Dylan McDermott) is a businessman who asks Oscar Novak (Matthew Perry) to be a companion of sorts for his mistress, Amy Post (Neve Campbell). Charles thinks that Oscar is gay. But Oscar is straight. As Oscar spends more time with Amy, he begins to fall in love with her.
As rom-coms go, there is almost nothing revolutionary about this film. Charles is a dick, Oscar is a nice guy, and Amy is the woman in between them. I certainly appreciate that it is a small step in the direction of a realistic portrayal of LGBTQ characters. But in 2021 terms, its not exactly the ground breaking moment it could have been. My major issue is that Amy has no agency or life other than being a figure of romantic and sexual attraction. Granted, this movie is twenty two years old, but it has not aged well in my opinion.
There are two ways to create children’s television. The first is to talk down to the audience while advertising an inordinate amount of merchandise. The second is reach the children on their level and respect them as human beings.
The documentary,The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story, was released in 2018. The movie tells the story of the children television network, Nickelodeon, from its inception in the late 1970’s to the powerhouse it became in the 1990’s. Interviewing execs, writers, creators, and actors, it is the story of a channel that was ahead of its time and continues to push boundaries today.
World on Fire (PBS): This PBS/Masterpiece follows a group of individuals as World War II is on the horizon.
Mrs. America (F/X/Hulu): In the 1970’s, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was close to becoming the law of the land. A tug of war begins between one group of women that is for it and another that is against it.
Sanditon (PBS): Based off the unfinished book of the same name by Jane Austen, we follow Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), a young woman who leaves her family for the seaside resort town of Sanditon.
When Governor of California Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) wastes a bunch of money, the ax falls on a low performing high school. Daisy Jimenez (Haskiri Velazquez), Devante Youg (Dexter Darden), and Aisha Garcia (Alycia Pascual-Pena) are forced to transfer to Bayside High School.
Used to a lower income neighborhood and a school lacking in resources, they are shocked to see what the kids at Bayside view as normal. Paired up with Mac Morris (Mitchell Hoog), Jamie Spano (Belmont Camell), and Lexi (Josie Totah) as “Bayside Buddies”, they don’t always see eye to eye or understand each other.
Trying to help the new students adapt are alumnus turned staff Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkely Lauren) and A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez). Above them is Principal Ronald Toddman (John Michael Higgins). Though we only see First Lady Kelly Morris (nee Kapowski) briefly, she is ever present in the background.
I only watched the pilot, but I can say with certainty that is as close to a perfect remaining as one can get. Old school fans of the original series (myself included) will instantly be taken back thirty years. Younger viewers will be able to connect to the story, as it is very relevant for 2020.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Saved by the Bell is available for streaming on the Peacock network.
One of the joys of childhood is the freedom from inhibitions.
Wild & Crazy Kids aired on Nickelodeon from 1990-1992. Hosted by Omar Gooding, Donnie Jeffcoat, Annette Chavez (season 1), and Jessica Gaynes (seasons 2 and 3), the premise of the show was that two teams of kids would face each other in a series of physical challenges.
When I was growing up, this show was pure fun to watch. The creativity of the games and the enthusiasm of the participants radiated from the screen, almost daring the kids at home to take part themselves.
There are some television programs from our childhood that are impossible to not watch as adults.
The 2020 reboot of 1990’s television series Animaniacs (1993-1998) premiered yesterday on Hulu. Following the same format and using the same characters, it is simply a modern reboot of the classic animated series.
I’ve only see three episodes. It is as funny as I remember it to be. The cultural and political jabs are on point as they ever were. It is a perfect way to end a long and hard week.
The legend of Hercules has been around for thousands of years. The son of a mortal woman and the king of the G-ds, he has abilities that few have. He also has enemies who would love to take him down for good.
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys aired from 1995-1999. The show starred Kevin Sorbo was the title character and Michael Hurst as his best friend/traveling companion Iolaus. Together, they saved countless humans from vengeful g-ds and creatures that can only be found in the darkest reaches of the imagination.
Back in the day, I was a fan of this program. It was one of those shows that is very (and I mean very in every sense of the word), genre specific. As an action/fantasy program, it was entertaining and opened the door for the genre for the next ten years or so. Would it watch if it was on today? Maybe, but only for nostalgia sake.
Do I recommend it? Yes, sort of (if that makes sense).