Earlier this summer, Nickelodeon started re-airing some of its popular shows from the ’90s – Clarissa Explains it All, Doug, All That, Ren & Stimpy. I was obviously overjoyed, but it got me thinking about some of the other Nick shows I worshipped as a kid. Of course I loved all of the aforementioned programs, as well as Hey Dude and Salute Your Shorts but for awhile there, Nickelodeon had the market cornered on something altogether different: the children’s game show. Game shows were all the rage in the ’80s and ’90s and Nick was smart enough to add kids into the mix. Here were a few of my favorites:
Hosted by Marc Summers, this show is pretty much the reason Nickelodeon became famous. A combination of trivia questions and messy physical challenges, the kids competed to win cash and prizes. At the end, there was an amazing obstacle course (remember the red flags they had to grab?). This show was extremely popular and had many spin-offs, including Super Sloppy Double Dare, Family Double Dare, and Double Dare 2000. Pretty sure I begged my parents to let us try out for Family Double Dare. Can’t imagine why they refused.
This was weirdly one of my favorites, even though it was kind of before my time and hardly anyone remembers it anymore. This game involved children running through a house trying to find hidden objects. The house was a set built on the stage, but the kids got to go crazy ransacking the rooms – any child’s dream, or at least mine at the time. Some of the rooms were traditional, others more fantastical (i.e. Frankenstein’s Laboratory). The winners won amazing prizes like trips to Space Camp. Seriously. So awesome.
Wild and Crazy Kids
This one was very sports-heavy. Teams of children competed in group physical challenges, cheered on by Omar Gooding. The challenges were mostly playground games with variations, or occasionally “messy” games involving pie or slime. Picture the most elaborate slip-n-slide experience ever, and that’s pretty much what every show was like. Occasionally, celebs would make guest appearance – including the likes of Lark Voorhies and JTT!
Get the Picture
Hosted by Mike O’Malley, the premise of this show was extremely simple. Kids competed to answer trivia questions in order to have a chance to guess at a hidden picture, obscured in some way (they might have to connect the dots or unscramble images). I’m not sure why I liked this show – maybe because the trivia questions were easy so I could play along and feel smart.
What Would You Do
This was a weird one. The audience members watched a pre-taped video of a family in “an unusual situation”, and then voted on what they would do. Once the results were tallied, the audience got to find out the actual outcome. Okay. But then there were also segments involving audience members performing crazy stunts. At the end, one audience member had an index card taped to his head that would say something like “Eat a twinkie with gravy” and they either had to do it or subject themselves to the Pie Pod. Oh yes the Pie Pod. A contraption in which four pies were flung at an audience member’s face at once. But don’t forget there was also the Pie Slide – a slide that dumped you into a vat of pie cream. Oh and the Pie Roulette, the Pie Coaster, Pie Wash…
This was another action-sports show hosted by Mike O’Malley. Just seeing his face makes me feel like a fifth grader again. Truthfully, I barely remember what actually happened on this show other than kids competing in vaguely athletic events in the “Extreme Arena”, and of course the finale which took place in the AGGRO CRAG! The Aggro Crag was a weird mountain-like structure the kids raced up, trying to activate lights while avoiding avalanches and glittery snowstorms. The best part of winning Guts was that you got to take home a “piece of the Aggro Crag”. Basically a glowing piece of plastic, and, yes, I wish for one to this day.
Legends of the Hidden Temple
An action-adventure show that featured a giant “temple” filled with lost treasures. The teams of contestants, bossed around by a giant head named Olmec, competed by answering historical/mythological questions and performing stunts. The last team standing won the privilege of entering the temple and searching for treasure. The temple was by far the coolest part of the show. I mean, there was a room called “The Shrine of the Silver Monkey.” What more could you ask for?
Figure it Out
Kids with secret skills were brought onto the show and a panel of “celebrity” judges would try to guess their special talent. To make things more interesting, there was also a Secret Slime Action (like, looking to the left when asking a question), and if any of the celebrities performed that action during the show – you guessed it, they’d be slimed! The celebrities were usually stars of other Nickelodeon shows, although I remember when muppety figure skater Tara Lipinski made an apperaance, not to mention Taran Noah Smith.
Of course, in addition to game shows, there were dozens of Nickelodeon hits that I still think about today. It would be a lie to say my personal style and love of computer games isn’t heavily influenced by Clarissa. What were some of your favorite Nick shows?