Karen Belz
April 20, 2014 8:00 am

I look back at my childhood fondly. Sure, there were bullies, awkward stages and multiplication tables, but there was also television, which helped me become the junkie of useless trivia that I am today. Children of the ’80s had some of the best programs to look forward to. Animation was sharp, Muppets weren’t promoting cars and storylines were subliminally educational.

Thankfully, we’ve found numerous ways to help preserve our favorite shows – especially since our blank VHS tapes that we used to record them are probably all in terrible condition right now, and in need of serious rewinding. Thanks to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and the Internet in general, we have the capability of introducing our own children to the shows we grew up with. Or in my case, forcing the shows onto your coworker’s children, since you needed to justify the fact that you bought Doug on DVD, despite being 30 and childless.

Here are eight shows that deserve a rewatch – even if you’re the only audience member. Get ready to get nostalgic, and experience all the feels.

1. Fraggle Rock

The Fraggles pretty much predicted that you’d have a ton of work stress, and gave solid advice right from the beginning: Dance your cares away, worry’s for another day. On a more serious note, Jim Henson created the Fraggles to try and show the world that even though different Fraggles existed in a world with humans, we’re all interconnected and important to each other. The show often went over pretty complicated issues in a way that made them easy to understand for all ages. Also, they really made radishes look pretty appetizing.

2. Full House

Chances are, you were a huge fan of Michelle, since she was probably close to your age while watching the show. DJ and Stephanie were like the cooler older sisters who made all of the right fashion choices, even if their life choices were questionable (a car on the school’s roof is a practical joke?). If you rewatch the show in syndication, be prepared to turn on Michelle Tanner (let’s face it – she’s a bit of a brat), and realize that wardrobe really had their work cut out for them while on set. Do random, colorful buttons really need to be sewn on all sweaters?

What won’t change is the fact that Full House truly showed how an awkward family arrangement – including having uncles live in your attic and work in your basement – was still an acceptable situation based on the amount of love and respect they had for each other.

3. Garfield And Friends

I’m a big Garfield fan, and loved the fact that the show also included segments of “U.S. Acres” (and sometimes, characters from both crossed over into each other’s segments.) The show was obviously a hit, since it aired on CBS Saturday mornings from 1988 to 1994 – which is pretty impressive for a cartoon, especially back in the day.

The show was very self aware, and often used running gags that helped define it from other Garfield outlets. Garfield knew he was a cartoon, and on a televised show, and even went so far as to make references to the shows surrounding his on the CBS block of programming. This show definitely holds up today.

4. Animaniacs

Not too many shows were smart enough to combine music, education, and wit – and by music, I mean music that’ll get stuck in your head for days. Every single episode included at least one song, made possible by a 35-piece orchestra and a team of six composers. They took it seriously, and they won an Emmy for it.

The show took risks, and was actually geared more towards adult viewers. By rewatching it, you’ll probably end up getting a bunch of jokes you missed during its initial run, and appreciate it on an entirely different level.

5. Doug

Since it aired first of the three original cartoons, I’ll say it here: Doug was the absolute first Nicktoon. Doug helped pave the way for Spongebob and CatDog, and he left pretty big shoes to fill.

Doug was a new kid in Bluffington, and was pretty darn normal and likable. He managed to educate his viewers on not fitting in, self doubt, love, and how writing in journals isn’t just for women. Each episode was extremely well crafted, until Disney took over in 1996. (That’s my opinion, at least.) As I mentioned before, I did buy the DVDs – and the show still has so much heart. Best purchase ever.

6. Eureeka’s Castle

Eureeka’s world originated solely by having a friendly giant wind up the music box castle which housed her and her best friends. With a premise like that, you just know that the show would end up being delightfully weird. Here’s something you probably didn’t realize: the show was co-created by R.L. Stine, who also served as the head writer.

Eureeka proved that the Muppets weren’t the only sassy felt-beings around, and that friends come in all shapes and sizes – even if you’re a dragon, and you consider the dots on your security blanket to be buddies. Yeah, you read that right.

7. Hey Arnold!

Even though Arnold had a football head, he had a heart of gold. And while I gushed on and on about Doug, I think Hey Arnold! has been my absolute favorite Nicktoon to date.

The show actually originated from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse – remember how Pee-Wee had the claymation sketch “Penny” that aired occasionally? The creators of the bit were trying hard to create a new show for Nickelodeon – Penny had a friend named Arnold, who was a bit character who really impressed the network executives. Thus, Hey Arnold! is technically a spin-off.

Hey Arnold! was educational for many reasons – in fact, numerous people’s lives have been saved after children learned how to do the Heimlich Maneuver from an episode in which Arnold saves Eugene from choking on a hot dog. That’s pretty incredible.

8. Dinosaurs

When Dinosaurs became available on Netflix, I’m pretty sure all of my friends unknowingly rewatched it at the same time. The show, which was live-action (yet puppet-based) was similar in styling to The Simpsons, and supposedly a dream of the late Jim Henson prior to his death. As a kid, we remember Baby Sinclair – but as adults, we picked up on how socially aware the show was.

They tackled drugs, family issues, raising children, and environmental changes yet still managed to make it funny. If you don’t remember the finale off-hand, I’ll give you a warning: You’re going to cry, and you’re going to be shocked. But regardless of the emotional rollercoaster you’ll be on, it’ll definitely be worth it, as it’s excellently done.

What nostalgic shows have you found yourself marathoning?

Image Credits: , Fraggle Rock, Garfield, Arnold, Dinosaurs, Featured