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  • Writer's pictureJack Vita

11 shows Nickelodeon needs to bring to the streaming game

Coming off the heels of the wildly successful Disney+ launch, Nickelodeon announced its plans in November to partner with Netflix, and bring some of its shows to the ever-expanding streaming landscape.

For the past six months I've been eagerly anticipating the return of many of my favorite Nick shows from the first decade of the new millennium. Growing up in the 2000s, you were either a Disney Channel kid, or a Nickelodeon kid. I was (and still am) a Nick kid.

Since my sister purchased Disney+, I've seen some old Disney Channel shows that just don't quite hold up for me as a 25 year-old man in the year 2020. Sure, Even Stevens, Lizzie McGuire, and many of the Disney Channel Original Movies have cemented their greatness over the years, but apart from them there really isn't a whole lot from Disney Channel to be excited about.

Nick on the other hand holds up wonderfully. In recent years I've gone back and watched episodes of several shows, and was pleasantly surprised at how funny and thoughtful the shows were, and how appealing they still are to me as an adult. I even had a [brain]blast podcasting on the original Jimmy Neutron movie last summer.

While it still remains unclear what Nick's partnership with Netflix will entail, how many shows will be brought to Netflix, or if throwback Nick shows will instead be going to CBS All-Access, I can't help but create my own wish list of the 11 shows Nickelodeon should bring to the streaming game, especially now, during this temporary period of social-distancing.

*Note: All of my selections come between the years 2000 and 2008. In the fall of 2008, I entered high school, and suddenly became "too cool" or "too busy" for kids shows. Or something like that. So if a show existed pre-2000 or post-2008, chances are I haven't seen it and cannot judge it fairly. Doesn't mean it wasn't a great show, however!

11) Spongebob Squarepants (1999 - Present)

The first entry on our list is a pure gimme. It's impossible to imagine a Nickelodeon streaming service without its flagship show. The creators of Spongebob have been churning out new episodes for well over 20 years now, amazingly, keeping the show fresh and relevant to three different generations (Gen Y, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha).

10) Blue's Clues (1996 - 2006, 2019 - Present)

This incredibly charming and adorable show that premiered in 1996 is one of the most important programs Nickelodeon ever created. Blue's Clues was a smash hit. What other Nick programs had a live stage show that traveled from city to city, around the country?

Steve Burns retiring from his Blue's Clues gig sent shock-waves across the nation, as millions of people wondered what happened to him, many coming to false conclusions. Rumors of his death circulated. The world was a different place in the early 2000s, with no smartphones or social media. Fortunately nothing bad happened to Steve, but the excessive tabloid rumors showcased how big of a wide-ranging reach Blue's Clues had. In the year 2002, everybody knew who Steve was.

While this show might not hold the same appeal it once did for its initial viewers, many of those viewers are now parents, and Blue's Clues is an excellent show for their preschoolers to watch! In fact, in 2019, Blue's Clues made a comeback! With the show on its third different host now, Blue hasn't aged a day; she's still up to her old tricks. Steve, along with his successor Joe, even showed up in the premiere of Blue's Clue's and You.

9) All That (1994 - 2000, 2002 - 2005, 2019 - Present)

No Saturday night in the mid 90s or early 2000s was complete without All That, essentially Saturday Night Live for kids.

All That was a fun sketch show and an unintentional feeder system for many of the network's stars, such as Amanda Bynes, Nick Cannon, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. Thompson's career would ultimately come full circle when he joined the cast of SNL in 2003 as a featured player, leveling up from the for-kids version of SNL.

Like Blue's Clues, All That made a 2019 comeback, only this time with Mitchell and Thompson behind the project, serving as executive producers.

8) The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2002 - 2006)

In the aftermath of Nickelodeon's prosperous gains from the Box Office (garnering $103 million!) for their Oscar-nominated, 2001 film, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the titular character received his own series.

In the early 2000s, just as there was a split between Nickelodeon kids and Disney kids, there was a similar fracture among Nick kids at the time. You were either a Jimmy Neutron guy, or a Fairly Odd Parents guy. Whether someone preferred their zany cartoons to revolve around magic or science can reveal a lot about a person (just kidding — they're just cartoons!). I think you can infer which side of the Jimmy-Timmy Power Hour I was on.

Even in a silly, ridiculous and sometimes disturbing cartoon (I can think of a couple of episodes that fit that bill), episodes of Jimmy Neutron regularly centered around a mentally stimulating, scientifically-based plot to a certain degree. This show matched its smarts with cartoonish goofiness in a healthy and enjoyable balance. On top of that, Jimmy's pie-loving father, Hugh Neutron, might be the best Nick character of them all.

7) Nick GAS (1988 - Present)

Originally a programming block, Nick Games and Sports for Kids would become its own cable network as a part of an expansion of Viacom in 1999. Over the years, Nick has created several engaging game shows such as Legends of the Hidden Temple, GUTS, Figure It Out and Double Dare.

Admittedly, these shows were not very prominent in the network's programming during my childhood; they came a little before my time. That hasn't stopped me from catching some reruns over the years. Nick GAS was shutdown as a cable network in 2011, but like several other shows on this list, it's attempting a comeback. In November 2019, NickGames, a free network filled all-day-long with classic GAS programming launched on PlutoTV. PlutoTV is an entirely free service, loaded with hundreds of other enjoyable and worthwhile channels. Nevertheless, having Nick GAS programs available in an On-Demand format would be a welcome addition to any streaming service.

6) Kenan & Kel (1996 - 2000)

Following the success of Good Burger and their infectious and well-matched synergy on All That, Mitchell and Thompson received a show of their own.

Kenan & Kel was in a lot of ways, Drake & Josh before Drake & Josh. There isn't a better show from the late 90s to kick back and drink an orange soda to.

5) Zoey 101 (2005 - 2008)

Just as All That cast-members would go on to flourish in other Nick series, so did the show's co-creator Dan Schneider. Schneider has called the shots on several of Nick's most popular shows for the last 20 years and counting. In 2005, he brought Jamie Lynn Spears over from All That for a pilot about a girl attending a formerly all-boys boarding school.

Filmed on the beautiful campus of Pepperdine University, Zoey 101 created a false illusion for children that boarding school was as fun as summer camp. Seeing junior highers and high schoolers living like college kids was very enjoyable, and like all of Schneider's works, Zoey 101 is light-hearted and comical.

4) Rocket Power (1999 - 2004)

Whatever happened to this one? Of all of the shows on this list, Rocket Power appears to be the most difficult to view on the web for free. It is also the only show on this list I haven't seen since its original run ended (16 years ago). Nickelodeon needs a streaming service for a reason; and there's a reason I'm making this list. But I truly have no idea how good this show was, or how well it holds up, as I haven't seen it through the lens of an adult.

If my nostalgia-clouded vision is 20-20, this was a pretty rad show. In the late 90s and early 2000s, few things were cooler to pre-teen boys than the rebellious and reckless nature of extreme sports. A series about four California kids surfing, playing street hockey, skateboarding and snowboarding encapsulated that time period wonderfully. I'll never forgot how excited I was for the first Rocket Power movie, Race Across New Zealand.

3) The Amanda Show (1999 - 2002)

Schneider's genius was once again on full display when he took Amanda Bynes from one feeder/sketch show and created another feeder/sketch show centered around her.

I personally liked The Amanda Show even more than All That (and that's saying something!). The sketches are more memorable for me. Judge Trudy? Totally Kyle? Tony Pajamas? In three short years Schneider created a fresh batch of sketch characters that viewers can vividly remember 18 years later. Who could forget mock drama 'Moody's Point'? In the year 2020, I still hear "Amanda please" and "bring in the dancing lobsters" on a seemingly monthly basis.

As if this show's lasting impact wasn't enough to garner the number three spot on this list, the wildly talented Bynes was backed by a spectacular supporting cast, including Drake Bell, Josh Peck and Nancy Sullivan (more on them in a bit).

2) Hey Arnold! (1996 - 2004)

Hey Arnold! abruptly ended in 2004 on one of the biggest cliffhangers in television history. In one of the series' final episodes, Arnold finds a journal containing important information relating to the whereabouts of his lost parents. A few episodes later, the series ended with no payoff. No finale. Nothing.

In 2017, the show's creator, Craig Bartlett returned to Nickelodeon to release a Hey Arnold! made-for-TV film that would pick up where the series left off in 2004, and effectively wrap the series up neatly. Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie was everything a Hey Arnold! fan could want. But Bartlett might not stop there. He has since hinted that a Hey Arnold! reboot could be in the works.

For those that are unable to wait until Nickelodeon infiltrates the streaming game, all five of the original seasons of Hey Arnold! are currently on Hulu.

1) Drake & Josh (2004 - 2008)

As Amanda Bynes began to establish herself as a star on the big screen, The Amanda Show came to a close in the fall of 2002, unintentionally paving the way for Schneider's finest work and Nick's greatest live-action hit of the 2000s.

Drake Bell and Josh Peck developed exceptional chemistry together on The Amanda Show, but it wasn't until they received their own spin-off show'Drake & Josh'in 2004 that they became household names. For four seasons, America's favorite stepbrothers cracked us up in a Seinfeld-ish style of humor. The foam finger episode brought on shades of Seinfeld's classic "second-spitter" Keith Hernandez spoof of the JFK assassination. It was true brilliance on full display. Miranda Cosgrove's character "Megan" was the ultimate parody of the troublemaker little sister archetype. And even some of the minor characters (Helen, Crazy Steve, Craig and Eric) are memorable.

Half of the show's episodes have been on Hulu for the past few years, and through rewatching them, it's clear that this show holds up remarkably. The jokes are still funny, the stepbrothers' room is still cool, and Drake Bell's music is still fantastic. Nickelodeon needs to get the full series out on a streaming platform pronto.

For more entertainment and sports analysis, follow me on Twitter @JackVitaShow, and subscribe to the Jack Vita Show on iTunes or wherever podcasts are found.


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