Slimed Teaches You Nickelodeon’s History
As a huge fan of 90s Nickelodeon, I was excited to read the new book Slimed: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age, written by Matthew Klickstein. The book details the ups and downs of Nickelodeon from the 1980s and 1990s. It covers everything from starting the first kids network in 1979 to creating original programming.
One thing that surprised me is that the book chapters are in interview form rather than like a biography. The titles of each chapter represent the question that are answered by many former Nickelodeon cast and crew; some of which include actors Melissa Joan Hart, Kenan Thompson, and Michelle Trachtenberg as well as creators Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold), Jim Jinkins (Doug), and D.J. MacHale (Are You Afraid of the Dark?). Since I associate Nickelodeon as a network for children, some “colorful” language in the book took me by surprise.
When starting the network, Nickelodeon insisted on being the “anti-Disney” by having kids be themselves on television and not forcing anyone to have perfect answers in interviews. By having jokes about farting and cannibalism on one their first hit You Can’t Do That on Television, the network certainly proved right out of the gate that they truly were the “anti-Disney.”
The book delved into the many problems crews ran into when they worked on these shows. They ranged from run of the mill, such as creators arguing with each other and missing deadlines, to outrageous. Staff had to separate parents from their kids, who they pinned against the wall for incorrectly answering a question a Double Dare.
One of my favorite parts was finding out that Jim Jenkins did not care much for the Disney version of Doug, except for one or two episodes, and that he was less involved in the show than many people think. I liked that the book mentioned how Doug changed networks after its run on Nick. I also enjoyed the behind the scenes photos that the book provided. The last chapter, called “The End of An Era,” discusses Nickelodeon today, and how many former Nick staff agree that the network is losing its uniqueness and trying to become more like their main competition, The Disney Channel. I liked the chapter because it points out that it’s not only the fans who feel like Nickelodeon has lost its way.
Overall, Slimed: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age was a great read. Although, it would have been nice to have cast/crew interviews from Nick shows that are not remembered as well, such as Space Cases or Cousin Skeeter. I also would have preferred the book layout to be similar to a biography. Therefore, it would have shown more of a timeline of the channel, starting with when the network was known as Pinwheel in 1979 and ending in 1999 with the introduction of Spongebob. That way would have allowed readers to see the evolution of the channel more clearly.
With an introduction by Double Dare host Marc Summers and many fun trivia facts, such as the idea of Alex Mack coming from creator Tommy Lynch’s father who was a nuclear physicist, this is an essential read for 20-somethings who grew up with 90s Nickelodeon and are still interested in the networks changes. However, it’s definitely not for everyone because the format of the book is not the best.
Posted on March 3, 2014, in 1980s, 1990s, Children's Television, Nickelodeon and tagged book, marc summers, mathew klickstein, nickelodeon history, pinwheel, review, slimed: an oral history of nickelodeon's golden age. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.