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.

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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!