The YouTube Files – Double Dare USA.

Double Dare (Nickelodeon, 1986-1987, 1990-1993, Fox, 1988)

This is the original version of the rather ridiculous game show that came to this country as part of CBBC’s Saturday Morning show Going Live! in 1987. Double Dare launched in America a year earlier in 1986, and helped to establish a game show element in the schedule of the increasingly popular at the time children’s channel Nickelodeon.

This version was hosted by Marc Summers, who had a lot of enthusiasm, but unlike our dear friend the award-winning Peter Simon who hosted the UK version, he also had the gift of being able to walk properly. Two teams of two took part, although there were a few differences to what happened in the UK. Firstly, the teams had names, and they began with a game to get control, cheered on by an overexcited studio audience. On your marks, get set, go! vlcsnap-00074

Questions were then asked (which also appeared on the screen) such as “which president got stuck in the bathtub?”, and they were worth money rather than points. If you don’t know the answer though, you can dare your opponents to have a try, but beware, because they could double dare it back! If still no-one knows, it’s time to play a physical challenge. vlcsnap-00075

This was where the team had to complete a challenge, usually in around 20 or 30 seconds, so make sure that you’ve got your kneepads on. There are usually about two of three of these played per show, so lots of money could be won. Watch out for when the hooter goes though, because that’s the end of part one, and going into the second part, the money values are all doubled! vlcsnap-00076

When the second hooter goes, it’s the end of the game. The losing team take away some consolation prizes though including a bag of Skittles, but the winners progress to play the obstacle course! In the final, there are eight obstacles, that all contain a flag. They have to find all eight of them in 60 seconds, to win some really big prizes. Now it can be done, and it ends up with a big mess everywhere. Repeat for years. vlcsnap-00078

There were also various spin-off series that were shown on a few other channels along with Nickelodeon in America. These included Family Double Dare, Super Sloppy Double Dare, and Double Dare 2000, along with a computer game too. In more recent years there have also been further revivals, along with a stage show that Summers was also involved with.

More TV Memories – Renford Rejects.

Renford Rejects (Nickelodeon, 1998-2001)

As you’ll know by now, a rather long time ago (and it is beginning to feel like it), I used to watch Nickelodeon in the early days of digital TV. This is one of the shows that I remember watching, and one of the few on that channel at the time that was British-made. It is a just-about sitcom that centred around football, which I never been hugely interested in, but I thought that I’d give this one a go.

Renford Rejects was a just about-sitcom that launched in the late-90s, and I am fairly familiar with the big football players and teams from the time because I used to listen to various matches on Capital Gold, and this was also around the time that the Premier League was established as one of the biggest leagues in Europe, and an increasing amount of imports were joining English teams and making a big impact. vlcsnap-00973

Renford Rejects shouldn’t be confused with Dream Team, another football-themed show that launched around the same time (and that wasn’t a sitcom, although it could be argued that came across as one sometimes). This one featured a rather useless teenage five-a-side team. They decide to get together after being turned down by their school, and we meet various characters, including the players, along with their coaches and teachers. vlcsnap-00976

The team captain is Jason, and also featuring are Bruno, and Ben the rather wimpy bespectacled goalkeeper. They all probably dreamed of one day playing in the likes of the Premier League or Serie A, but in their cases it would definitely remain a dream. When they aren’t being beaten in various matches, the players were often to be found down the Graceland cafe, which was run by Eddie, who was a big Elvis fan. vlcsnap-00977

The opening theme to Renford Rejects was “Australia” by Manic Street Preachers, and most of the football action was soundtracked by various songs, mostly by The Lightning Seeds. The show did well enough to attract some impressive figures for guest appearances, including various footballers, and the TV presenters Jim Rosenthal and Bob Wilson. Comedians including Alexei Sayle and Tony Slattery also appeared, along with a young James Corden in one episode. vlcsnap-00979

There were 52 episodes of Renford Rejects in four series, and they were repeated rather often on Nickelodeon. Not long after this, they also turned up on Channel 4 as part of the T4 strand, and I do think that the show was deserving of some exposure to a bigger audience in a more high-profile slot. I don’t think that any episodes have been released on DVD though.

More TV Memories – Aaahh! Real Monsters!

Aaahh! Real Monsters! (Nickelodeon, 1994-1997)

This is yet another cartoon I remember from the 90s that was originally shown on Nickelodeon. Now I know that it is rather easy for TV shows to be given silly titles so they can stand out in magazines to viewers, but the title of this one really did attract my attention and make me want to watch. This is because the show made someone go “Aaahh!“, as it contained not just “Monsters” but “REAL Monsters“, would you believe it, I must see this!

The show did indeed contain plenty of odd-looking monsters, and centred around three, who were even weirder than the ones you’d find on a bag of Monster Munch. They were Ickis, who was red with lots of teeth and was able to increase in size, Krumm, who was orange and had nowhere for his eyes on his face so he had to hold them with his hands and he would eat everything and was also rather smelly, and Oblina, who was black-and-white, had a rather big red mouth and could change shape. vlcsnap-00231

They, along with many others, would attend a school where the headmaster was the rather grumpy The Gromble, who would teach them about the best ways to scare people. We soon realise that attending school is tough, even if you’re a young monster. The show was set in New York City, and when the monsters weren’t underground or on the dump, they were doing their best to unexpectedly enter a house and give everyone a fright. vlcsnap-00332

There weren’t many human characters in the show, but the ones that did appear mostly consisted of children who have just about got over their fear of the dark and fail to convince their parents that there really is a monster under their bed this time. Along with the regulars, lots of other monsters appeared (including the trio’s parents), whether they were young, old, big, or small, what they all had in common was trying to scare everyone. vlcsnap-00398

Again, plenty of voices in the show were provided by Charlie Alder (from Cow And Chicken and many others) and a lot of the monster designs were very creative. There were 52 episodes of Aaahh! Real Monsters! in four series. Some contained one story, and some contained two. Another notable thing about the title is that it has the honour of being first on the alphabetical list of shows that I’ve reviewed, they must be really pleased. vlcsnap-00403

This is another cartoon that I don’t think was ever shown on CBBC or CITV, it was often on Channel 4 as part of their weekend morning strand in the mid-90s. Among the merchandise was a computer game, along with some tapes. It didn’t go on to be as successful as some of Nickelodeon’s other cartoons such as Rugrats (which the monsters guest appeared in), but it was still very enjoyable and amusing.

CBBC Memories – Clarissa Explains It All.

Clarissa Explains It All (Nickelodeon, 1991-1994)

This is another American sitcom aimed at children that eventually came to this country. Clarissa Explains It All was originally shown on Nickelodeon, and it starred Melissa Joan Hart as Clarissa Darling, a girl in her early-teens. Now this was that age where Clarissa was beginning to learn about things in life including boys and spots, and she wanted to tell us all about it.

Most episodes begin with Clarissa breaking the fourth wall and directly addressing the viewers about what was currently on her mind. This would also occasionally be accompanied by some bizarre cutaway scenes. Clarissa also had a fondness for computer games, and we would see how she was getting on at Thomas Tupper Junior High School, it really was chaos. vlcsnap-00296

We also meet Clarissa’s family, her mother Janet who was a teacher, her father Marshall who was an architect, and her younger brother Ferguson. He was something of a swot, and there was a lot of sibling rivalry between the pair of them, meaning that they spent a lot of time squabbling. All of these situations helped to shape Clarissa’s increasingly worldly-wise outlook on life. vlcsnap-00300

The only other main character was Sam, who often entered Clarissa’s bedroom through the window, which was always accompanied by a piece of music, and the greeting “hey, Sam”. Now I always thought that he was going out with Clarissa, but it seems that he was just a good friend, because she was very well-behaved. Oh, and did they do an episode where Clarissa developed a punk alter-ego and a boy at school fell for her? Of course they did! vlcsnap-00297

Indeed, although Clarissa had to deal with various things as her life changed, she seemed to be much more level-headed and less angst-ridden than most other TV characters (a more traumatic portrayal of what the teenage years can be like could be found in other sitcoms around at the same time including Married… With Children). An episode where she tried to bake a cake as a surprise for her parents’ wedding anniversary was just about as difficult as it ever got for her. vlcsnap-00299

Clarissa Explains It All did well for Nickelodeon, and there were 65 episodes in five series. It wasn’t shown in the UK until 1994, by which point it had already ended in America, and it was originally shown as part of the Saturday Morning show Live & Kicking, before it moved to the main CBBC afternoon slot, where it would be repeated regularly until 1999. The show also had a distinctive “na-na-na” theme song (provided by Rachel Sweet) that it was difficult to get out of your head. vlcsnap-00303

As far as 90s American sitcoms go, I don’t remember enjoying it as much as Out Of This World, but it still contained some good moments. I’m fairly sure that it wasn’t been released on DVD in this country though. Hart of course would later star in Sabrina The Teenage Witch, another successful long-running children’s sitcom (I’ll review that one soon too).

More TV Memories – CatDog.

CatDog (Nickelodeon, 1998-2004)

I thought that it was about time for another cartoon review. This is a show that although it was originally shown on Nickelodeon, I remember watching it on Channel 4 as part of the children’s shows strand during weekends and school holidays in the late-90s (I’m fairly sure it wasn’t ever shown on CBBC or CITV). CatDog is a cartoon with an idea that is so bizarre even Cow And Chicken seems straightforward by comparison, which was once described by Radio Times as “janus-faced jocularity with the cartoon chimera”. Er, right…

CatDog are brothers that are somewhat inseparable, although they can’t really help it, because they are conjoined, with the cat (voiced by Jim Cummings) at one end, and the dog (voiced by Tom Kenny of SpongeBob SqaurePants fame) who had a big purple nose at the other, they live in what appears to be a rocket and they struggle to get along. But wait, where does all the poop go? That’s some kind of living hell, that’s some kind of living hell, Brian! Er, excuse me… vlcsnap-00046

So of course, everywhere that they went, the other one would be with them, and whatever one was up to, the other one would inevitably interfere and cause chaos. It definitely comes across as another one of those cartoons where one of the main characters is stupid, and the other one is stupider. Every edition featured two stories and watching a few again recently made me realise that they were usually guaranteed to go off in a rather odd direction. vlcsnap-00054

There were a few other regular characters in CatDog including Winslow the mouse, Rancid Rabbit, and The Greasers, a group of dogs who were always irritating CatDog. There were also various other animals featuring that were rather odd-looking colours which reminded me of that other cartoon Doug a little. Also among the cast to provide some of the voices was Billy West of The Ren And Stimpy Show fame among many other cartoons. vlcsnap-00151

I think that CatDog was also shown regularly on Nickelodeon in the early-2000s when I had access to that channel on ITV Digital. Four series were made but none of them have been released on DVD in this country, and there was also a computer game made. And well, it’s yet another of those bizarre shows that once you see it, you never forget it. You definitely can’t confuse it with anything else on TV.

The YouTube Files – Finders Keepers USA.

Finders Keepers (1987-1989)

Recently I have been reviewing the original American versions of UK game shows. Now let’s have a variation on that by looking at an American children’s game show. Finders Keepers launched on Nickelodeon in 1987 (although it had become syndicated by the time it ended in 1989), and it would go on to be a big success when it came to CITV in the UK in 1991, so I was pleased to find (if you’ll pardon the pun) the original version on YouTube. vlcsnap-00707

Finders Keepers was originally hosted by Wesley Eure. Again, there were some differences to the UK version. Two teams of two took part, the reds and blues (not the yellows and greens). The first round was rather different. There was a picture, and a clue to an item hidden in it. If they can see it the teams have to buzz in and circle it on the screen. If they get it right, they win $25 and the chance to raid one room. vlcsnap-00510

Once four rooms have been won, the set cleverly opens to reveal the eight-room house. This part is rather more familiar. The teams are given a clue and have to find a hidden item in 30 seconds, with can often be rather chaotic with silly string going everywhere (and no arrow to give viewers a clue either). If they find it, they win $50, but if not, the money goes to the other team. vlcsnap-00708

They then go back to play the first game again for the other four rooms on offer, only this time a correct answer is worth $75, and finding an item is worth $100. There would also be a room where a mystery bonus prize could be won. The team with the highest score goes through to the final, although if the scores are tied at this point another round of the first game is played as a tiebreaker. vlcsnap-00714

The winning team play the Room-To-Room Romp (not the Super Search), which again is slightly different. The finalists have to find six items in 90 seconds (in the UK it was eight items in three minutes). Once they find the item, it has a tag that tells them what room to go to next. The clue also appears on the screen in this round. The more items they find, the more prizes they win, and they could soon end up with a lot of calculators, what a delight! vlcsnap-00710

As ever, it was good to see the original version of a show that I very much enjoyed in the 90s. I suppose the only criticism I have of this version was the constantly shrieking studio audience, but I suppose I can’t blame them for being so excited as, well, there was a calculator at stake as a prize! Other CBBC and CITV game shows that started out in America include Double Dare and Fun House and I’ll review those soon too.

More TV Memories – SpongeBob SquarePants.

SpongeBob SquarePants (Nickelodeon, 1999-present)

Back in the On/ITV Digital days in the early-2000s, one of the channels that we could get was Nickelodeon. One of the cartoons that they showed was SpongeBob SquarePants. I must admit that I didn’t watch it that much so I didn’t realise at the time that a cartoon that would go on to be one of my favourites from that era was passing me by, and the way that I finally did get into the show was a little unusual.

I know that SpongeBob was also shown on CITV and various other channels but I never saw it there either. The way that I first really discovered SpongeBob was when it was shown rather late at night on Freeview music channel TMF in about 2004. I thought that it was a little odd that it would turn up on there, but because I vaguely remembered the name from the Nickelodeon days and there did seem to be something of a buzz around the show, I thought that I might as well have a watch, and after watching only one or two episodes I became hooked. vlcsnap-01095

It was a little odd to discover a great cartoon at an age when I’d stopped watching children’s TV, but SpongeBob contained just about everything that I like in a TV show, especially a cartoon, it was just so odd and silly, I wish that I had got into it earlier, and it definitely passed my “would I have liked this show if it had been around when I was eight years old” test, and soon I wanted to catch up on all the episodes that I could. vlcsnap-01092

The character of SpongeBob is rather odd, and, as the opening theme goes, he really does live in a pineapple under the sea. When I first saw the show one thing that struck me was that SpongeBob had a rather silly voice (including a bizarre laugh) and he was able to make a variety of rather unusual facial expressions. That was merely the start of it though, as I discovered all of the other characters and the roles that they play in the show. vlcsnap-01093

First of all, SpongeBob has a pet snail called Gary who can only say “meow”, and again, in this show this is seen as very straightforward. SpongeBob works at the hamburger restaurant the Krusty Krab, and his boss is Mr Krabs. His best friend is Patrick Star, and his neighbour is Squidward Tentacles, who is rather irritable and likes to play the clarinet. There were lots of other amusingly odd characters who turned up including Sandy Cheeks the squirrel, Plankton, and the superhero duo Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. vlcsnap-01100

I remember watching one episode on TMF at some late time which concluded with SpongeBob saying “meow” just like Gary does which even I thought was really odd and was the moment when I realised that there was something a little unusual but rather funny about this show, and it is now been a success for a long time, with a big fanbase and new episodes still being shown on Nickelodeon 18 years later. vlcsnap-01096

Since I became a fan of the show I have tried to collect some SpongeBob merchandise, and this includes little figurines, the comic, some books, computer games and plenty of other things. The show is also popular enough for there to have been two successful films, and there have also been several episodes released on DVD. I do enjoy the show, and I still find it terrifically silly after all these years.

More TV Memories – Doug.

Doug (Nickelodeon, 1991-1994, Disney, 1996-1999)

Another 90s cartoon that I remember, Doug was all about the adventures of an 11½-year-old schoolboy. At the beginning of the show, Doug Funnie, along with his parents and sister, move to the fictional town of Bluffington after his dad gets a job promotion, and Doug who has something of a dreamy outlook documents his life. Also joining him is his pet dog Porkchop who he is very fond of and follows him everywhere. vlcsnap-00869

There were many other characters in the show including Skeeter who becomes Doug’s best friend, and we also meet various pupils and teachers that Doug encounters at his new school including Roger the bully and Patti who he has a crush on. One thing that I remember being distinctive about the animation of Doug was that beyond the main character all the people’s skin colour were ones that you wouldn’t get in real life, and his interaction with orange people, green people and purple people and so on definitely made the show stand out. vlcsnap-00864

One thing about Doug that I didn’t realise at the time was that in the early series he was voiced by Billy West, a voice actor who has contributed to many other cartoons over the years including The Ren And Stimpy Show, where his rather crazed performance voicing both those characters was something of a contrast to his portrayal of Doug, and he later went on to voice Fry in Futurama. When Doug was revived though, West had moved on to other projects so he was replaced by Tom McHugh. vlcsnap-00862

As far as I’m aware, Doug was never shown on CBBC or CITV, I remember it being shown on the final year or so of TV-am, and it was also shown on weekend mornings on Channel 4, and I remember recording a few episodes to watch which I enjoyed in the mid-90s. Beyond this, Doug has also been shown regularly on Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel. vlcsnap-00868

It seems that there were two eras of Doug, in the early-90s episodes were made for the children’s channel Nickelodeon, and after a short break the show moved to The Disney Channel. I must admit I’ve never liked Disney cartoons that much, preferring the ones made by Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the like, but I did like this one, and the show was popular enough for there to be a film version made in 1999 called Doug’s 1st Movie, although despite that rather optimistic title, I’m fairly sure that no more films were made. vlcsnap-00870

Over 100 episodes of Doug were made throughout the 90s, and having a look back at some episodes recently, the show reminded me a little of another cartoon I liked which was Hey Arnold! which features a boy going through school and trying to help people out. I don’t think that Doug has been released on DVD in this country, but I hope that there are still plenty of fans out there.

More TV Memories – Rocko’s Modern Life.

Rocko’s Modern Life (Nickelodeon, 1993-1996)

In the 90s the children’s channels Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon produced a lot of wonderfully odd cartoons, including Cow And Chicken, The Ren And Stimpy Show, Space Ghost Coast To Coast, and one of my favourites, Rocko’s Modern Lifevlcsnap-00619

I was watching the show again recently, and it is still very enjoyable and makes me laugh, I particularly like the opening title sequence. Rocko is a wallaby who was born in Australia, who in his teenage years goes to live in America and gets something of a culture shock. I still enjoy the part when Rocko is given his loud blue shirt to wear and he says “heh-heh, good as new!”. He is then sent to a place called O-Town where he now lives and makes a lot of new friends including Heffer the bull, Filburt the turtle, and his faithful dog Spunky, he also has a job working in a comic shop, and likes to relax by using a jackhammer. There are no human characters in the show. The opening theme was also great too and from the second series onwards a re-recorded version by the B52s was used. vlcsnap-00624

Rocko has some trouble adjusting to his new world, and when he gets particularly annoyed his brain falls out of his head, which is rather strange. Unsurprisingly, I particularly liked the episode where Heffer was a contestant on a game show. I also like the use of silly sound effects, with appropriate plop and squelch noises added in to add to the oddness. As Heffer would say himself, “that was a hoot!”. vlcsnap-00622

Rocko’s Modern Life ran for four series and there were a lot of creatively odd plots, daft moments and crazy characters. The show was created by Joe Murray and Rocko was voiced by Carlos Alazraqui, with Heffer being voiced by Tom Kenny, who went on to be the voice of none other than the mighty SpongeBob SquarePants. That show’s creator Stephen Hillenburg also wrote and directed a few episodes of Rocko’s Modern Life so it seems that Rocko is a distant relative of SpongeBob. vlcsnap-00625

The dates at the start of the piece reflect when Rocko’s Modern Life was shown in America. As far as I know it was never shown on CBBC or CITV and presumably it was shown on the British equivalent of the Nickelodeon channel. I always remember watching it though on Channel 4, where the scheduling was rather curious. It seems that the earliest episodes were shown in 1994 in a primetime slot at 6:30, where Hollyoaks is now shown which is something of a surprise. However, later episodes were shown in the more traditional Sunday morning slot where lots of other cartoons turned up. Indeed, such was my dedication to always trying to watch Rocko’s Modern Life that it almost ruined my entire education. I remember I got up so early to watch an episode one Sunday that I was so tired afterwards I needed a few days off school to catch up on sleep. So thanks to Rocko and co. for that!