Come on, admit it. You've spent about two years of your life watching Nickelodeon.
You'd run home from school, pop on Channel 22 (or 25 or 51) and jump for joy as Stick Stickly popped on the screen.
My personal favorites were the game shows. Who wouldn't want to win a lifetime supply of beef jerky or a $10 Gift Card to Foot Locker?
But which were the best? In my continued series of analyzing some childhood favorites, I bring you the Top-5 Nickelodeon Game Shows!
Honorable Mention: Figure It Out
The Good - Summer Sanders; Amanda Bynes right before her prime; The Secret Slime Action; Prizes included props from other Nick game shows;
The Bad - Lori Beth Denberg; Any joke the little kid from Pete and Pete said; E-List celebrities no one knew;
Fun Fact - Julius Erving was a guest panelist on the show. Really? Dr. J??!?!
My Take: Think of Figure It Out as the stale bread that they put on a table when you first come into a restaurant. You'll eat it. It serves it's purpose. But only because you are hungry. The basic principle of the show is kids coming on as celebrities try to guess their secret talents. And when I say celebrities, I mean recycled stars of other Nick shows.
As host, Summer Sanders definitely added some major points. But there were far better shows out there.
This show completely over killed on bad jokes and fake laughter.
One of the issues with bringing kids on a show is that you don't know if they'll love being on television or if they'll look absolutely frightened. And after analyzing the data, about 95% of the kids had the deer-in-the-headlights look. Luckily, Summer was there to make everything better.
Probably a crazier fact? This show is still on the air! Nick decided to bring it back last year. There's clearly five other shows that were better, and they chose to bring this back? Honorable Mention feels right for this one.
5) Wild and Crazy Kids
The Good - Omar Gooding; The cool shirts; Dizzy Bat Home Run Derby; Human Battleship; Gigantic game of Twister; Slow-Motion replays.
The Bad - The brunette host who had no personality; Voice-over color commentary by the hosts; Terrible athletic performances from the kids.
Fun Fact - Jessica Gaynes (the red headed host) was 14 when she began hosting. Her IMDB hasn't been updated since 1999. She's Lebron James except the complete opposite.
My Take: Wild and Crazy Kids is a show that everyone watched yet is some of the least memorable television. Has anyone ever said "Remember that episode when.....?" Just never happened. I feel like one of out every five kids has been on WCK at some point. Every episode had 100-on-100 relay races, so odds were in your favor.
Stunningly, WCK launched two careers. Omar Gooding became a mildly successful star while Donnie Jeffcoat has been casted in a number of things (Most notably, he was on One Life To Live. I have absolutely no idea if he is still on it. Around ten years ago, he was at our local supermarket being promoted as "Soap Star Donnie Jeffcoat!").
The games were pretty dumb. Never really cared about "Pop Balloons so That Cream Can Fall On Your Head" or "Pin The Tail on the Donkey So That Someone Gets Dunked in a Dunk Tank." Without a doubt though, my favorite game was Dizzy Bat Home Run Derby. I'd come home begging the show to have it. You know how hard it is to spin around ten times then try to hit a ball? Feel like someone needs to call the Olympics and add it as an event.
WCK had some impressive technology. I thought they used the slow-mo instant replays to perfection. They knew exactly when to show a kid pressing a button to blow up a toy car.
WCK had some meat on the bone, but to this day, I just don't feel completely satisfied with the end product.
4) Double Dare
The Good- Marc Summers; Opening of the show jumps right into a game; The Obstacle Course; The Music.
The Bad- Harvey the announcer; Marc Summers' outfits (You host a game show that has slime everywhere and you wear suits?); Spending 45 seconds on one station in the obscale course.
Fun Fact- If you ever had aspirations of being on Double Dare, Orlando has the next best thing. Check out Double Dare Live. And yes, I am absolutely doing this if I ever venture near Disney.
My Take: Ranking Double Dare in this spot is going to cause some controversy. There's a very strong camp that believes Double Dare was the best of the best and that it paved the way for other game shows. The supporters will point to the degree of difficulty in winning Double Dare. You have to answer questions about Presidents and events from the 1800s. I mean, how does an eight-year old know Lincoln's mother's sister's occupation?
The Physical Challenges scared the crap out of me. I couldn't blow up balloons and then sit on them. I would've gotten absolutely creamed.
Then there was the Obstacle Course. The thing that bothered me the most about the course was a kid would get through the first two obstacles with ease, and then get up to looking for a flag in a nose and spent 3/4ths of their time picking the nose. I wanted to throw my Juicy Juice boxes through the screen. Just find the damn flag!
Marc Summers probably was the best host you can find on television. Better than Alex Trebek, better than Wink Martindale (Side note: Please Google Wink Martindale. The guy never ages. I'd include a picture, but it's more fun to have you Google the name Wink Martindale). Summers completely controlled every aspect of Double Dare. I knew when things got messy, Summers would have it all figured out.
With all that though, Double Dare was missing something. The replay value was "meh" at best. I know I couldn't watch more than one episode. I also thought there was just too much going on. You had Summers screaming, Harvey the announcer screaming, the 16 members of the studio audience cheering, the music, the lights, the slime, the goofy set. It was just this giant mess. Double Dare should have combined with Summers other show What Would You Do? (Which was unfortunately omitted from this list due to the fact that it wasn't a game show. Sorry, it just wasn't) and I felt like it could've been one great show.
DD set the bar, but there was better out there.
3) Nick Arcade
The Good- Mikey; Every second of sound effects; The host singing to the sound effects of Mikey walking around town; The round where Mikey travels around the mall; The final round;
The Bad- Mikey getting pied in the face; Unknown video games; Boring questions;
Fun Fact- N'Sync's own Joey Fatone was a contestant on the show. YouTube it. He does a really weird handshake with his partner too.
My Take: This was far and away my favorite show. Sorry to everything else. But a show about video games? I'm just kicking myself for never sending an application in to be on the show. I would've done a Ken Jennings and win like 239039040 straight weeks. Probably racked up about $55 worth of prizes in that run. You don't understand. I played about eight hours a day of Sonic and Ghouls and Ghost as a kid. Maybe Nick knew this and didn't want me to completely own everyone.
Point is, Nick Arcade was fantastic. It revolutionized the gaming industry. To this day, there's really nothing that actually allows you to play inside of a video game. But Nick Arcade's final round did just that.
I thought the host was pretty spectacular. His name is Phil Moore. You knew what he looked like, but no one knew his name. One of those super over-the-top hosts that you couldn't be around for more than 7 minutes. Here's a jaw-dropper: Phil Moore is 51 years old. 51?!?!?!? It took me an hour, but I found a picture of him: Phil Moore = Now
I write for the people though, and I know that there's two other game shows that people liked better. But Nick Arcade SHOULD be No. 1.
The Good- The Aggro Crag; "Let's go to Mo for the scores, Mo"; Global Guts; Nicknames; The video game for SNS (I bet no one knew a video game of Guts existed)
The Bad- Mike O'Malley; Prizes; The Point System
Fun Fact-The Aggro Crag's height was 28 feet. The Super Aggro Crag height was like 150 feet, minus 120 feet. That's right. It was only two feet higher than the regular Crag. Not so super?
My Take: ABC can have Wipeout. NBC can have Splash. The 90s' was all about Guts. They had me at the theme song "Do do do do you have...Guts!" The show spawned a nation of kids to work out with one goal in mind: to win a piece of the Aggro Crag. I was one of the smart ones though. I knew early on that the piece of the Crag was a fraud. It was a piece of plastic that had a light bulb in it. It wasn't a crazy valuable item. It was a piece of plastic! It wasn't even from the Crag itself. They probably used their recyclables from the previous week's garbage to make it. Having said all that, if I ever won a piece, I would've framed it and hung it on my front door.
Out of all of the Nick game shows, host Mike O'Malley has probably had the best career. He was nominated for a freakin' Emmy. This is Mike O'Malley we are talking about. I thought he was the weak point on the show. Him and Mo should've switched roles.
Speaking of Mo, she was awesome. Straight to the point. You jumped over an out of bounds line, bam, Mo gives you a penalty.
I thought the games were pretty spot on. Always wanted to do the bungee cord basketball game. I'm sure some amusement park has something like this. If not, I'm building one in my non-existent backyard.
I wanted to go back to the Aggro Crag for a second. I'm shocked it was only 28 feet in height. I thought the thing rivaled the CN Tower and it took players forever to get up there. Watching it now, a lot of the "obstacles" during the Crag run weren't exactly tough. You had to face elements such as glitter, plastic rocks, and steam. Not exactly climbing Mount Everest.
Whatever, in reality, we all wanted to be on the show. It tested you mentally and physically. The best players won on Guts. And the worst, well...Worst Guts' Player Ever?
1) Legends of the Hidden Temple
The Good- Olmec; The shirts; The gear; Orange Iguanas; The temple
The Bad- The half pendants (This is in my book of my All-Time Great Rants); Olmec's mouth not in sync with voice
Fun Fact- Olmec's voice was played by the same guy (Dee Bradley Baker) who did the voice of Daffy Duck and Tazmanian Devil in Space Jam.
My Take: Okay, let me get my rant out of the way and then we can get to the good stuff. In my head, this makes perfect sense but it might be completely confusing. So in the "Temple Games" round (the round before you enter the temple), there's two teams left. You play three games against each other and the winner goes to the temple. Pretty simple stuff. The first two rounds are worth a half of a pendant and the final round is worth one pendant. Once in the final round (the temple), if a temple guard comes out and nabs you, you can save yourself by using a full pendant or a half pendant. (Both are worth the same value) Great. So let's say a team wins all rounds and gets a full pendant and two half pendants. Rather than allow teams to use three lives (Full Pendant, Half Pendant, Half Pendant), they combine the halves into one full pendant. This would be fine, except let's say a team winds up entering the temple with two lives (Full Pendant, Half Pendant), the half pendant can be used exactly the same as if you had a full pendant. What a freaking scam. This should've been bigger than the MLB steroids controversy. Except seven-year olds were watching this show. And that rant sounds horrendously confusing on paper. Good luck understanding how my brain works.
Besides Pendantgate, this show was flawless. It had the perfect combination of learning (Olmec tells some awesome stories), suspense, action, and heartbreak (I shed tears when teams come so close to winning).
Legends was probably the toughest game out there. Think about a 12-year old during the following: Swim across a lake with a rope in a plastic boat. Then, answer questions about a made-up story. After, go through a series of challenges. And after all that, find your way through a temple filled with guards, swings, a multi-piece silver monkey (Impossible to put together) and jumps. Google should use the temple during their interview process.
Kurt Fogg was fine as a host. There was a period where I actually thought he lived in the temple. And then I see him now and realize he probably just ate the temple: Kirk Fogg Now.
To this day, if someone is spotted on the street wearing a Legends shirt, you'll get at least two comments and three high fives.
Luckily for us, they re-run all episodes on one of the random Nick channels. How amazing is that? It was the king of the Nickelodeon game shows.
And after writing all of this, I miss being a kid. But at least for a few minutes, I was able to relive my childhood.