When we are young, summer camp is not just two months of relaxation, fun, and friends. We grow up in ways during those months that we do not expect to grow up.
Bug Juice aired on the Disney Channel from 1998-2001. It was a reality show that followed campers and their counselors during their time at summer camp.
Most reality shows are brain drains. They are mindless, dumb and cater to our worst sensibilities as human beings. But Bug Juice was different. Granted, it was aimed at the Disney Channel audience, all of whom were young kids and their parents. Among reality shows, then and now, this program actually lived up to the name of the genre. It actually told the story of the subjects without resorting to lowball dramatic tactics for the sake of ratings.
In our technological driven age, a fully automated house seems like a dream come true. But dreams and reality don’t always mix.
In the 1999 Disney TV movie Smart House, Ben (Ryan Merriman) and his family have just won a fully automated house. The computer, known as Pat (Katey Sagal) seems easy enough to control. But when Ben starts tinkering with Pat, whatever plans Ben had go out the window.
Smart House is one of those TV movies that is meant for a specific audience. The problem is that unless your part of the desired demographic, this TV movie is neither memorable or entertaining.
The allure of having magical powers is an idea that human beings have been considering and writing about for eons. The question is, if these powers did exist, would they be used for evil or for good?
In the 1998 Disney television movie, Halloweentown, Marnie (Kimberly J. Brown) is a young witch on the verge of her 13th birthday. But she must be trained by her 13th birthday or lose her powers. Marnie’s grandmother Aggie (the late Debbie Reynolds) is eager to step in as her granddaughter’s teacher. Aggie lives in Halloweentown and visits her family in the mortal world as often as she can. But this visit from Aggie is more than an ordinary visit. A dark force is threatening Halloweentown and it’s up to Marnie to stop it.
Even for a Disney channel television movie, it’s not bad. It has enough Halloween in it to make the kids watching jump out of their seat a little and the narrative has enough meat in it to entertain even the most skeptical of adults.
Sometimes, the best shows are based on the clashing personalities of the main characters.
From 2000-2003, Even Stevens was part of the lineup on the Disney Channel. Louis Stevens (Shia LaBeouf) is a young wannabe comic who worships Jay Leno. His sister, Ren (Christy Carlson Romano) is a type A for whom school is everything. When these two siblings clash, both at home and in school, it’s a game of top that.
Granted, this show was for the preteen/early teen set. However, given that the comedy comes from the games of one upmanship that Ren and Louis play, it has a slight appeal that goes beyond the target audience.
For some writers, using metaphors is a useful tool to advance the narrative and the character development in ways that the audience does not expect.
Between 1999 and 2001, So Weird was part of the lineup on the Disney channel. Fiona “Fi” Phillips (Cara DeLizia) is a preteen girl who has lost her father. Her widowed mother, Molly Phillips (Mackenzie Phillips) earns her living as a successful musician. Fi is obsessed with anything that is considered to be supernatural. While living on her mother’s tour bus, Fi has some really odd experiences and uses her laptop to discover the truth.
Granted this is a show aimed at young girls, but it’s not that bad. It’s charming enough to get by and the supernatural elements add to a twist to make it stand out from other programs of this ilk.