Salute Your Shorts Live Blog: Zeke The Plumber – Open Air Toilets & Brain Plunging

In keeping with our Social Media Hashtag week, we’re celebrating #ThrowbackThursday and the 25th birthday of Salute Your Shorts by rewatching the favorite episode of my childhood, Zeke The Plumber (don’t worry, this isn’t one of our real theme weeks …. but the one we have on deck next week is gonna be non-stop, if you know what I mean, and I think you do). We only had five days during Big Orange Couch Week, and we focused on Are You Afraid Of The Dark, Clarissa Explains It All, The Secret World of Alex Mack, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, and All That. But if you were a 90s Kid (TM), you’ll also hold Camp Anawana in your hearts. And when you think about it, it makes you wanna fart. Which was a great joke when you were 6. 

You can watch the episode here! Or, preferably, somewhere legal instead. Ready? Go!

  • The episode opens with a child holding a 90s camcorder and narrating a walk through the woods for his parents. Remember camcorders? And how if you didn’t have a heavy, expensive piece of equipment and the ability to convert those little cassettes to videotape, your memories just had to live in your brain?
  • Sometimes, we look back on terrible haircuts of the past and think “well, it was fashionable then. Times change and someday we’ll all think we look dumb now, too.” This isn’t one of those times. I knew Budnick’s red mullet was bad when I was in kindergarten, and I know it now. Looking back, it actually might be the first time in my whole life I identified that somebody had bad hair.

    But also, this wasn’t totally out of left field in the early 90s – it’s not like he made up this weird hairdo. The 90s did.

  • It’s almost on the fence between ‘mullet’ and ‘too much of your hair is bangs.’ MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MIND BUDNICK.
  • I, um… I don’t remember if I noticed that Ug Lee’s name was “ugly” as a kid. I do remember assuming that he was Budnick’s dad or uncle, because wherever two or more redheads are gathered, I will assume that they’re related. (My childhood BFF and I were both tiny freckly gingers; we loved that people thought we were sisters.)

    No but. They do look alike, right???

     

  • Let’s talk about the theme song. First of all, why do people/Ug put zinc oxide just on their noses? I’ve never had a sunburn that encapsulated just my nose but surely there’s a reason. Also, this may be the genesis of me thinking it was super dorky that I had to wear sunscreen all the time. Anyway, all of the characters are set up in the opening credits. ZZ is a goody-goody who loves nature (she’s Dawn from the Baby-Sitters Club, mas o menos), Ug doesn’t know what’s going on around him, Donkey Lips is a Bobby Moynihan character, Budnick is a shit-stirrer with silly hair, Telly likes sports, Dina is the pretty popular girl, and Sponge is small. There’s a blonde boy I don’t remember well (Michael) who was just … regular … I think? Like if Salute Your Shorts were a movie, he would have been played by one of the Corys.

  • The kids are telling ghost stories and I have questions. Are they supervised? And where did they get all those candles? And matches? Does anyone else think this looks like a huge fire haz? I never went to camp; this all may be very normal.
  • The gist is: Zeke the Plumber was a camp plumber who had no nose. He hit a gas pipe, couldn’t smell the gas and lit a match (I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS, like why would he light a match in the first place, and why are there so many damn matches at this camp, and surely he knew he punctured a pipe, ok?). So Zeke dies and only his plunger was left behind, which I don’t think he needs in a hole with a match, but I’m not a plumber so what do I know.
  • Wow all of these kids are so young! I thought Dina and Z.Z. were so cool and sophisticated and they looked like literal babies:

  • Zeke the Plumber appears in the boys bunk, spending his afterlife plunging children’s toilets, which seems like an odd choice but you do you, Zeke. More specifically, he is plunging the OPEN AIR TOILET THAT JUST HANGS OUT IN THE BUNK ALL THE TIME. Was this there before? And is this camp or prison?!

  • On a related note, I have a weird ghost toilet in my basement and the floor drain near it started spewing water last week …. and all I could think was “in what universe would someone need a haunted toilet in their basement anyway?” I’ll tell you what: a universe in which you’re keeping someone in your basement. That’s all.
  • Nevermind. Zeke was a dream. He “found” Michael’s stuffed hippo in the toilet and plunges his brain.
  • How expensive do we think this camp is?
  • Now, via dream,  Zeke tells Telly he can turn her into a professional ball player, plunges her brain, and sends her to a ball instead. But all the kids dream Zeke the same so he’s obviously real, right?
  • Sponge has an enormous laptop, because this was still that era where being really into owning a computer meant you were a nerd on TV. For a moment I think he’s about to look up Zeke the Plumber, but then I remember that we were years away from it being normal to have internet access, and even more years away from wifi. Maybe that nerd-o was playing Oregon Trail or Carmen Sandiego.
  • Now Budnick is going to spend the night in the woods at the spot where Zeke died. Hold on, I have questions again. How do they know, and why was he digging a hole in the middle of the woods, and why is there a gas pipe in the middle of the woods?
  • The kids all set out to punk Budnick to get him back for scaring them with the Zeke the Plumber story.
  • The punkers become the punk-ees, as Budnick replaces himself with a dummy with a melon-head and sets off soda cans.
  • Ug impersonates Zeke and Budnick catches him in a rope trap, and I know I’m getting old because all of this seems like a lot of damn work just to prove a point.
  • Ug looks exactly like all the kids imagined Zeke The Plumber, which in my estimation means that he’s a real ghost after all.
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All That LiveBlog: ‘Naughty By Nature’ – And A Bag Of (Chocolate) Chips

It’s the final day of Big Orange Couch Week, and we’re ending it with a classic SNICK show, All That. The sketch comedy show became a staple for Nickelodeon, with a tenure spanning over 10 seasons and introducing some of the greatest young talent America has to offer, including Kenan Thompson, Nick Cannon, Amanda Bynes, Jamie Lynn Spears, among others.  All That sparked five spin-off shows, a feature film, and even a live tour, and was beloved by many generations. We may not have noticed it at the time, but All That was changing the way kids watched and consumed television, influenced the way we doled out our own comedy, and shaped millions of kids’ view on diversity, without even knowing it.

It’s impossible to discuss the impact of All That in its entirety, so we’ll just try with one episode.

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Episode Title: Naughty By Nature

Air Date: October 7, 1995

All That Audition footage: The cast takes a look at some All That audition footage. Good Burger Commercial: Ed (Kel) tries hard to read the cue cards right in order to do a commercial. Loud Librarian: Librarian (Lori Beth) doesn’t want any noise to happen in her libarary even though she is the one making all the major noise. Randy & Mandy: Apparently, all the chocolate comsumed by Randy (Kenan) gives him a bad toothache. Mandy (Angelique) tries what she can to make it better. Musical Guest: Naughty By Nature (Clap Yo Hands)

Hit Play!!!

Cold Open T: This episode is the season two premiere, and we’re starting off with a segment where we find out how the kids got their jobs on the show. Angelique wears a hat made out of bread that has the “casting directors” in stitches, but when the next girl goes up and stands there eating a sandwich, they are not amused. Choose your gluten jokes carefully, aspiring kid actors.

They’re also put through the ringer with some treadmill time, an obstacle course, eat 520 cocktail wieners, gymnastics, etc.

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“What’s the opposite of *beeeepp* Judge

“*Bloooooop*” Kenan Thompson, I AM LEGIT LOL-ING.

M: Just from this open alone, anybody could predict that Kenan would be the breakout comedy star of the group. And maybe Sandwich Girl. I thought it was funny.

2:23 T: They even tested our GUTS *Cross promotion, folks*

M: This reminds me that one of my “going off to college” dreams was arriving at the dorm to find that my roommate had a piece of the aggrocrag just chilling all casual under their lofted bunk.

3:04 “You viewers can rest easy knowing each of our cast members has unusually thick thigh muscles.” THIS SHOW IS SO FUNNY

3:14 T: Gosh, this theme song is still so iconic and timeless. Playing on repeat. #RIPLeftEye

M: I got excited as soon as I heard “Fresh out the box!” But I remember having a lot of trouble with some of the lyrics in the days before you could just Google them. “My posse and my crew” sounded like “my bossie and my prince.” And 8-year-old me was just like “okay, cool… weird, but cool.”

3:52 M: I totally wanted to be Alisa Reyes. Can you blame me? She was like the quintessential 90s teen girl.

T: Yeah she was definitely the “Kelly Kapowski” of the bunch, if you will.

4:25 T: Josh, whose last name is NOT Hartnett, kinda looks like a Hartnett. I am confuse.

T: The director for this Good Burger commercial is wearing a beret. All he needs is one of those cone speaker things to finish his 1940s look.

Also, Kel accidentally knocks over a giant burger… stand? and knocks out the actor/Josh, so the director’s all, ok kid who actually works here, you have to take his place. You adults know full damn well this would not happen IRL.

M: So many SAG cards were earned by freak on-set accidents like that.

M: Kel, re commercials: Have you ever seen the one with the bunny that keeps going.. and going, and going? And just when you think he’s gonna stop… he goooeeesss.

T: Never heard of it.

M: Was Goodburger Kel supposed to be a 90s stoner type, because that was very lost on me c. 1996.

T: I think, yes?? I never got that either, but I’m assuming we weren’t supposed to? I just thought he was a super California surfer dude type. It’s like when Pixar puts jokes in the movies for adults.

T: Guys, I’m legit laughing out loud at these jokes, IDK what’s happening to me.

M: Me too, it’s fine, we’re fine. All That shaped our generation’s comedic sensibilities and we don’t give it enough cred.

T: Kel’s name in this sketch is Ed??

7:25 T: Kel, not used to the cameras, BECAUSE HE IS NOT AN ACTOR, keeps messing up his lines, including his iconic, ‘Can I take your order?’. In one take he accidentally says, “Can I take your mother?” and holy crap I had to play it multiple times because I couldn’t stop laughing at his delivery.

7:53 M: “The bunny wouldn’t quit! The bunny would keep goin’ and goin’ and goin’!: See, this was good. In comparison, kid’s shows today are just really neon and shouty, but not exactly funny.

9:00 T: Fun fact: The guy who plays the boss in this sketch, and the resident adult in the show is named Dan Schneider, who is also the executive producer and writer for All That. Before the show, he was in a 1980s sitcom called Head of the Class that I remember watching in Nick at Nite reruns and being funny. Dan has continued his career with Nickelodeon since All That, creating such hits as The Amanda Show, What I Like About You, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, iCarly Victorious, and Sam & Cat. He also wrote the screenplays for the Good Burger movie and Big Fat Liar. So, he’s pretty much a big deal.

9:25 T: Lori Beth Denberg in Vital Information is how she will always look in my memories.

M: During break time in third grade, my friends and I would always make up Vital Information segments. Cool kid for life, here.

T: This is why we’re friends.

10:10: T: I sometimes use, ‘QUIET, THIS IS A LIBRARY!’ as a recent and topical reference.

M: No, but doesn’t the silliness of some of these sketches remind you of early SNL or Lily Tomlin sketches? Like Land Sharks / Roseanne Rosanadanna / Ernestine-type stuff?

T: YES!!

T: I swear neither of us planned or expected to be singing the praises of All That for this whole post.

T: But here we are.

12:12 T: Was Katrina always wearing weird vests? Because that’s also how I remember her.

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M: She was, but in her defense weird vests were sort of a thing at the time. Especially among kid actors, for some reason. Just vests and floppy berets and speaking like you’re in the talk-singing segment of a Kidz Bop song.

13:48 T: Cooking with Randy and Mandy! I remember really liking this sketch. Maybe it was because of the chocolate.

M: It was my version of gross-out humor then. It was funny, but also TOO MUCH CHOCOLATE.

14:30 T: Why is the inside of that giant chocolate block white? And why did Kenan just use his Pierre Escargot laugh when he scarfed down chocolate syrup?

T: Man, All That was not only a precursor to Kenan being on Saturday Night Live, but I think it also instilled in me the love of sketch comedy at a young age. And to bring up #RepresentationIsImportant for the second time this week, I think it was also great that the cast was so diverse. I mean, even SNL in the past few years has been under fire for not employing people of color/minorities in general, so All That was really groundbreaking in that sense.

M: I could be very wrong, but it felt like kid’s tv in particular was more diverse in the 90s, and also that they just went with the kids who are best for the job — not like a lot of the Nickelodeon/ Disney stuff today where the kids can’t act but will age into a marketably attractive teen in a few years.

16:28 M: Kenan weeping over not being able to eat the chocolate is just ::cry-laughing emoji::

T: Ok, but, Kenan is such a star. You can tell that he outshines a lot of his cast members and was destined to be a comedian. Even in this chocolate jacuzzi with his sister (??)

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T: This is the first time (as an adult) that I’ve wanted to watch more All That.

M: I haven’t said this to anyone since the mid-90s, but do you want to come over to my house and watch All That? We could have a pizza party!

T: See ya there. Free Saturday?

The Secret World of Alex Mack LiveBlog: ‘Alex and Mom’ – Pools, Parties, and Pizzas

What did you watch if it was a Saturday night, and you were too old for Matilda (as if!) and it was too 1995 for Orphan Black – but you still wanted a healthy dose of telekinesis and corporate/scientific threats to bodily autonomy? And you also wanted to see a wardrobe made 70% of overalls? Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Mack.

The Secret World Of Alex Mack was a super high-concept show about a typical junior high girl (a pre-10 Things I Hate About You Larissa Oleynik) who is hit by a chemical plant truck and develops strange powers. She also wore a lot of overalls.

Episode Title: Alex and Mom

Air Date: January 7, 1995

Alex “disorganizes” her mom’s files after a huge fight, causing Barbara to nearly lose her job at the plant. A remorseful Alex tries to make amends when Barbara’s final chance at saving face seems doomed to disaster. Incidentally, this is the only episode of the series where Larisa Oleynik wears a Bathing Suit.

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Hit Play!!!

{alt version}

M: Before we even get going, is “only episode where Larisa Oleynik wears a bathing suit” supposed to be a selling point, because I’m pretty sure she’s like 13. Grosssss. Plus is there a reason she’d be wearing bathing suits? It’s not like it was a beach show. Okay, let’s start now.

Opening Credits: T: I love when shows tell you the premise of the series in under 30 seconds or less. It’s one notch up from the ‘Previously on…’, and helpful for elders like me.

0:15 M: I am now realizing I have forgotten all of the characters except for Alex and her brainy sister, Annie. Also, Alex’s friend’s t-shirt with the earth-tone sun on it is the most 1995 thing ever.

M: I used to think Alex had the coolest tomboy outfits ever – growing up with two older brothers, I was outdoorsy – but her hat is just confusing me. There’s a strap in the front like it’s a backwards baseball cap, but then there’s no brim? WHAT IS THIS?
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:55 T: Alex attempts to ask cute boy Scott if he wants to go to a screening of a new movie with her, but she asks if he has “plans for science”. What does this mean? Does he have plans for science class? Or like plans for science in general, particularly radioactive sludge that makes tweens turn into puddles?

1:03 M: Alex’s Mom: Isn’t Scott too old for you? [A beat, seemingly forgetting about too-old guy entirely] I need you to go to the store!

Alex: I can’t, I’m going to the movies!

Ah, yes. 1995. When “free range parenting” was just… parenting.

2:20 T: Now, I didn’t grow up in a town where I could easily go to the grocery store by myself then bring home said groceries, so WTF why isn’t the mom or dad doing this instead of a child?

2:45 M: Alex’s mom, Barbara, works at the chemical plant – but you already knew that. I just feel like in real life, these plants aren’t all shiny and futuristic, like an evil corporate overlord’s secret lair. They probably just look like factories, no?

T: Agreed. This chemical plant looks like Nickelodeon had to stay on budget and double up on the use of the Space Cases set.

M: Ah, yes. Space Cases. Hated the dude with the curly mullet and the pig-pink child, loved the flat-top and the girl with gay pride hair.

3:27 M: Alex fantasizes that she binds her mother with rope so that she can hang out with Scott and levitate soda cans and change the tv channels with her mind. Well that got dark fast. I can’t remember if these daydream sequences were a regular thing. By the way, we had remote controls in 1995, so changing the tv channel by pointing her finger at the tv didn’t really save much time.

T: “Why are you always treating me like a little kid? Why can’t you ever let me do what I want to do?”, whines Alex. Apparently what she wants to do is tie her mother up in a hostage-type situation, eat pizza out of the box with Scott, and use your powers to change the channels on the TV without getting up.

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4:40 M: Alex and Barbara are having a weird argument about how Alex has to make dinner for Annie and her dad because Annie’s not home and Alex didn’t go to the store yesterday. This argument makes no sense, and sounds like two kids playing house and saying random things they think a mom would say.

4:55 M: Alex messes up her mom’s files via telekenisis, and once again, Alex’s powers aren’t allowing her to do anything that she couldn’t do as a regular human.

T: I mean, it’s a sick burn for someone who… hates unorganized accordion file folders…? 

T: Alex’s mom’s boss is creepily leading this important meeting, but doing so in a way that rivals Dr. Evil. Except she’s stroking a silver letter opener and he’s got a cat.

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6:45 M: Annie and dad have to go to the “Einstein Society.” Ughhh, that even sounds like an Asshole Club. Anyway, they won’t be staying for dinner so now Alex is cooking for no reason. I’m also sort of confused as to why they couldn’t just make their own dinner? This whole episode is like a bad childrens’ improv scene.

T: Yeah, why can’t the dad make dinner? If it’s some sort of sexist thing (which I hope it isn’t), then wouldn’t the oldest kid have to do it? Why is this 13 year old slaving away?

M: They NEVER EXPLAIN why Alex had to be the one to go shopping and make dinner. For some reason this is bothering me more than the chemical spill powers.

7:30 Barbara’s boss is being shot from a super weird angle. I’m assuming it’s to subconsciously show the viewer who is in charge, but I feel like it’s a very ’90s move to shoot from the bottom and angle it slightly so you feel like you could maybe be a lil’ inebriated.

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8:40 M: Alex is going to Scott’s pool party tomorrow! I’ve found that as an adult, the pool parties – and pizza parties for that matter – really slow down.

T: Unless you’re me and went to a “pool party” this past Saturday (does 6 people count as a party?) and have friends who like to cook and own a chef’s jacket specifically for pizza parties. This is more of a ‘me and my friends are nerds’ situation, more than anything. I’m livin’ the life, y’all.

M: I don’t know what the cutoff is, but I feel like 6 people is just swimming with friends? I always think of “pizza party” in the context of it being a prize for something. Like your homeroom raised the most money in Operation Rice Bowl.

9:26 T: Barbara tells her hubs that she was all thrown off at the meeting because her files were out of order, and he’s all, ‘But what about the Einstein meeting?’ and she clearly forgot because of her horrible day. ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE ALEX GO IN YOUR PLACE FOR THAT TOO??

M: I shall sit at home and rock/ rise to heed a neighbor’s knock/ Brew my tea and snip my thread / Bleach the linen for my bed —- either Dorothy Parker’s poem about Penelope from The Odyssey, or Alex Mack’s chore list.

10:40 T: I totally forgot the sister knows about Alex’s powers. Is that why she’s overly sarcastic all the time??

“How do I look?” Alex, recreating the Deal With It meme

“I’ll look for you in next season’s swimsuit issue” Annie, Alex’s sister, says creepily

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12:39 M: Barbara’s glasses are so Warby Parker.

13:40 T: What I can tell you is that our pool parties don’t consist of anyone playing water polo, like this nonsense. It’s mainly floating and eating/drinking by said pool.

M: I feel like all my childhood pool parties were mostly inventing weird pool relays, trying to get people to understand things you said underwater, and doing that thing where you pop up from the water with your hair flowing behind you like Ariel. Oh, and underwater handstands.

M: NOBODY in this whole pool sees Alex melt into a pile of mercury (or whatever it is)? Oh come on. Also wouldn’t she diffuse in liquid and scatter all around the pool?

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Alex pops back up across the pool to catch the volley ball, and once again could have achieved that as a normal person by just swimming underwater.

T: Also, why does Scott all of a sudden look like he’s 18 years old?? It’s the water polo.

M: He’s TOO OLD. Barbara said.

14:12 M: Most unrealistic thing thus far: Alex’s ginger friend tanning with one of those open metallic folder things. See? I don’t even know what it’s called! Because redheads can’t tan.

they’re called sun reflectors. i only know this after googling ‘metallic sun shield’. – T

15:27 M: Barbara’s caterers cancelled on a work event and Alex’s bitchy friends are harassing the guests. And, like, waiting on them I guess?

T: Ok, but how old are Alex and her friends supposed to be though? I would find it interesting to see high schoolers as waiters at a corporate event, but highly questionable of 13 year olds were serving canapes to chemical plant execs.

16:08 M: I forgot about this jaunty instrumental music that would play whenever Alex would get hardcore into using her powers.

18:59 M: Alex saved the day by getting the food ready and fixing a fountain. But she is also the one who ruined the day in the first place.

T: To reiterate, all this putting brie on plates and popping bottles are all things regular humans can do. And Alex isn’t even doing it at a fast pace, per se.

Also, Alex ‘fixed the fountain’ by becoming the water. This is the type of magical power shit I approve of. I may have totally seen it coming, but it’s better than putting shrimp cocktail on a plate without touching it.

M: I just feel like Alex’s set of powers is really poorly defined.

19:46 M: Let’s just see if we can mention overalls every day, shall we? Alex’s outfit reminds me of these black velour overalls I just HAD to have for a commercial audition in 6th grade. Why no, I did not book that job. Probs because I didn’t rock a bow tie like Alex.

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M: But, I mean, Scott WAS too old for her. That’s some Stacy and Luca shit right there.

T: Relatedly, I would be PISSED if I was one of those kids who got pulled away from a pool party to put on a bow tie and serve rich folk. Did they get paid. I call child labor.

The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo LiveBlog: ‘The Hot Dog Mystery’ – Sponsored By PETA

To me, SNICK had always been a hotbed of coolness, the block of programming that was a necessity for kids to watch in order to be considered at the very least normal with their peers, but also a place where ‘cool’ characters were always present. As a kid, I always looked up to the kids on Nickelodeon as either wanting to covet their lives or utterly fascinated by how their everyday lives seemed to be.

As a little Asian girl growing up in Western New York, this was particularly true of Shelby Woo. At the time, I don’t remember seeing anyone that looked remotely similar to me or had a similar background. Now, I didn’t live with my former Karate sansei innkeeper grandfather or was Chinese or even an amateur sleuth for that matter (as much as I tried, Ghostwriter didn’t write back), all I knew was that I could relate to someone on television that was also a descendant of an immigrant and – not white. #RepresentationIsImportant

Shelby Woo was a go-getter, someone who wasn’t afraid to find the truth about the cases police had trouble solving. She was smart and cunning, among many other things, but all these character traits were enviable by 12-year-old Traci. Shelby was a possibility – a possibility for a young girl to become a detective when she got older, because we still were asked, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ without it being totally depressing. I didn’t grow up to be a detective or anything close to it, but Shelby Woo represented what could be. Even when she was figuring out less-than-enviable cases about stolen lunch meat from the cafeteria.

Episode Title: The Hot Dog Mystery

Air Date: Unaired

A sudden bout of food poisoning hits the cafeteria at Space Coast High, and Shelby searches her school for suspects. Could it be the work of a rival meat supplier? A nasty cafeteria employee? Or someone trying to send a message to the school administration? And if Shelby can’t find out how someone made the kids sick, is there a chance it could happen again?
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Hit Play!!

So apparently this episode never aired. Not sure whether it’s because the show was cancelled or Nick execs just didn’t think the quality of this particular episode was up to par, but it has had to resort to a life on YouTube, never seeing the light of cable day. I’d also like to note that I don’t think I’ve seen this show in like, 17 years, so I don’t really remember all the details of it. What I can tell you is that Shelby Woo was obviously a precursor to our beloved Veronica Mars. Like, eerily so.

0:31 Bless grandpa Pat Morita. Is he still alive?? And why does Shelby have a thicker accent than gramps? (PS: Pat Morita died in 2005. Oops. #RIPPatMorita)

1:10 I don’t remember Shelby breaking the fourth wall in this show??

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“See if you can pick the right suspect from the menu” – Shelby

As previously mentioned, a bunch of kids are sick, and Shelby’s managed to trace it back to the hot dogs served in the high school cafeteria. One dude ate 11. There was a wager going on. Kids are dumb.

3:25 Tim’s mom (also the school’s librarian) is a vegetarian and mad at her son for eating meat. She then sees another kid in the nurse’s office with a leather bookbag and scolds him, suggesting he use a macrame bag instead. A) She’s probs the head of PETA rn. B) I think Tim tainted the hot dogs.

Also Shelby’s friend Noah is wearing one of those shirts

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4:30 Shelby’s boss (?) at the police department was called in to solve this hot dog mystery. Why is an actual detective at some high school trying to find the culprit instead of figuring out a murder or something in the town?

6:00 The meat provider for the cafeteria is a Southern dude who works for Cummings Meat. He legitimately just used the phrase “Cummings weiners”

“These kids won’t trust hot dogs for a year” German lunchlady who has too much trust and belief in teens

By the by, Shelby is using her computer skills to solve the case, because apparently there’s a special program on her Apple computer that organizes all her case information.

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12:30 Now Shelby and her co-sleuths think the Cummings Meat guy could be the culprit and follow him at his morning delivery. They also look like they’re two years out of college and have nothing better to do than hang out at their old high school.

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“I had to rotate 40 pounds of meat” Cummings Meat Guy

“While we’re here let’s look around of clues.” Shelby

HELLO DID YOU NOT LISTEN TO WHAT WEINER GUY SAID? The perishables should be moved to the top not kept being pushed down. German lunch lady probs wasn’t paying attention to expiration dates and grabbed a pack of hot dogs she thought were fine and served them to the kids. Which would explain why none of the packages had been tampered with.

13:43 Shelbs and Co. are stuck in the freezer and it’s like I Love Lucy all over again. This is when cell phones come in handy.

“Oh man I hate exercise maybe we could… snuggle?” Noah is my favorite, despite his creepiness.

15:00 I feel like this episode is a giant PSA for PETA and anti-eating meat.

16:00 Okay now the nurse is starting to be sketchy. First Shelbs accidentally knocks over the nurse’s purse and crap falls out, including a big ass bottle of aspirin, latex gloves and a needle, despite the fact she said earlier she can’t use needles (as per the law?). She also initially said she was “glad” to see all the kids in her office in the beginning of the episode, so maybe she’s the one who did a switcheroo in the freezer to get more kids sick? Because she’s an insane masochist? Or she wants to prove she’s invaluable?

16:25 TIM THINKS HIS MOM POISONED THE HOT DOGS. There’s still like 10 minutes left, so it’s not her.

17:34 Gramps shows up to school because Shelbs forgot her lunch. And the “detective” hat he’s been trying to push on her since the beginning of the ep. Again, taking a page out of Full House’s book, are we?

18:00 Gramps reveals the PTA is considering slashing the budget – including cutting the school nurse.

21:00 Shelbs has a solid theory for the case and calls her Detective boss back in to do some questioning, but really, neither of them are legit. Shelbs fingers the nurse and says she used the needle to poison the hot dogs without opening the packaging, and she did it to prove she needed to keep her job. I was half right.

22:00 Tim feels bad about putting the blame on his mom, but ultimately realizes it’s fine because she’s just a super vegetarian who just wants to push her ideals on her son and his teenage friends.

They fired the nurse! I feel like IRL there would’ve been a lawsuit against her, but there’s only 22 minutes in Woo World.

Photo Aug 10, 11 07 56 PM

The executive story editor for this show is Suzanne Collins – and if that name rings a bell, it’s because she wrote The Hunger Games triology. She also wrote most of the novelizations for Shelby Woo, which explains why Katniss and Shelbs are basically the same. jk. ALSO, the director was Allison Liddi (-Brown), a person whose name I creepily recognized because she has directed eps of such shows as Parenthood, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice AND The Secret World of Alex Mack, among others. Her resume reads as my life story.

SLIMED: A ’90s Kids’ Choice Awards Retrospective

The Kids’ Choice Awards air this weekend, even though it is 2015. See, the Kids’ Choice Awards – a Nickelodeon awards show where B-list celebrities get doused with green slime – were such a ’90s staple that it’s hard to imagine them continuing after our childhoods ended. It’s like visiting your old elementary school and seeing children using your old classrooms as though they’re just theirs. But time marches on, and so does cable children’s programming – but this time, there’s no Rosie O’Donnell, Jim Carey, or LL Cool J (which, when I think about it… were we children, or a bunch of middle-aged women?) As far as I’m concerned, though, the 90s were the definitive decade of the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.

1990

The ’90s didn’t know what they wanted to be yet, so they were still acting like the ’80s. If you’re inclined to think 1990 isn’t that long ago, think again: Back To The Future Part II won Favorite Movie Actor and Actress… yes, a movie set in the “future” that is 2015. Candace Cameron hosted. Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier) got slimed, and so did Internet fav Wil Wheaton.

Also, New Kids On The Block were too busy and important to accept their award, but they appeared via satellite, and to kids in 1990, it felt like the future was now.

1991

These awards were hosted by Corin Nemec, a person I hadn’t heard of until right now because I was too young to watch Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Winners included the Simpsons – which I remember being super “edgy” at the time, so my siblings and I were allowed to watch it, but not downstairs (in case someone respectable came over? not sure) – as well as Will Smith and Keshia Knight Pulliam. Maybe it’s just because 1991 is one of the first years I can really remember any pop culture stuff from, but the rest of the winners hold up surprisingly well over time: Home Alone, Kindergarten Cop, Michael Jordan, and Pretty Woman.

1992

90s kids, now’s when you should really start paying attention: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Robin Williams in Hook. Doug. Roseanne. Sonic the Hedgehog. In my neon-tinted memories, the 1992 Kids’ Choice Awards are how I remember the early ’90s. Elsewhere in the world the Gulf War was raging, grunge was in its meteoric rise into the mainstream, and the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill saga cast a pall over the upcoming presidential election. But it was 1992, and all us kids wanted was to consume Cheeetos, Pop-Tarts and Ecto Cooler in our stirrup pants while shooting scrunchies at our siblings and watching people get slimed.

So it’s no surprise that when 1992 kids were asked to make a time capsule, it looked like this:

1993

Do you have any of those shows or movies that you remember, but nobody else really does? For me, one of those shows is Roundhouse, an ensemble sketch show that I was obsessed with. Well, the cast of Roundhouse performed at the ’93 Kids’ Choice Awards, so suck it, everyone! They really made it big! The awards were hosted by select cast members of 90210, remarkable because I didn’t know any kids in 1993 who were allowed to watch 90210.

If the 1993 Kids’ Choice Awards exemplify one thing, it’s the love affair mainstream America was having with hip hop and R&B. Fresh Prince was a TV show nominee, Ice Cube was a nominated actor, and Kris Kross won for favorite male group (other musical nominees: Boyz II Men, En Vogue, TLC and MC Hammer). We may be the first generation to grow up with computers, but we’re also the first generation to grow up with hip hop targeted specifically toward children.

The three little blonde boys from Home Improvement got slimed, including a pre-Tiger Beat JTT.

1994

Candace Cameron was BACK in 1994 – no holding Deej Tanner down! So was Joey Lawrence. 1994 was really the year that tiny North American children all turned into middle-aged women. Winners, nominees, and slime-ees included Home Improvement, Whitney Houston, Mrs. Doubtfire, Sister Act II, and Nancy Kerrigan. Michael Jordan won favorite male athlete for the millionth time, which makes me wonder if he was the only male athlete we had all heard of. I’m also pretty sure this was smack in the middle of that one time he “retired” for a minute and my brother melodramatically took down the framed Jordan poster from his wall, so it’s pretty amazing he was still a contender. I guess because he was pretending to be a baseball player at the time.

Anyway, in 1994 us kids were all what they called “normcore” in trend pieces written in mid-2014. Our favorite video game was Super Mario World and our favorite sports team was the Dallas Cowboys. We liked Tim Allen and Aerosmith. In that weird transitional era between the neon-tinged 80s-like early 90s, the grungy early-mid 90s, and the shiny Clueless phase, we were all the human version of plaid couches.

1995

Nobody believes me when I say this, but kids in the 90s were allowed to watch stuff that would never fly in 2015. I’m sure there are some permissive parents now, but even television specifically geared towards kids had nuclear spills (Alex Mack) and ghosts (Are You Afraid Of The Dark). Evidence of this: Kids’ Choice nominees in 1995 included Living Single, Roseanne, Speed, Forrest Gump, and Married…. With Children. And yet, the winner was still The Lion King, which is unsurprising to those of us who can remember the phenomenon.

This whole show is on Youtube, and if you either want to relive the mid-90s, or are a teen who was, at best, a baby at the time, you should watch it. With all respect to the 1992 Kids’ Choice time capsule, it is the ultimate 90s kids’ time capsule. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen won as favorite movie actress, but it kind of doesn’t seem fair because the two of them only added up to one actress. Tia and Tamera won favorite TV actress, so just a reminder, we were all a bit obsessed with twins back then.

1997

Was everyone’s mom secretly voting on their behalf? SPIN CITY, guys. Spin City was nominated. So was One Fine Day and The Preacher’s Wife. Our favorite song was the Fugees’ cover of Killing Me Softly, so at least we got that right.

Also, check out beautiful, innocent baby Amanda Bynes in the video clip above.

1998

If 1994 – 1996 was the era of the moms, 1998 was when youth culture took back the early evening. Titanic was our favorite movie – was there even a question? – and I’m sure I called in from my family’s wall phone to vote for it. Jonathan Taylor Thomas won his rightful place as favorite TV actor, and our favorite musical group was Hanson. I’m sure they just barely edged out Spice Girls. As it should be, Salem from Sabrina The Teenage Witch was the top animal star. By 1998, you were probably watching with your baby barrettes holding back the bangs you were growing out to look more like Rose Dewitt Bukater Dawson and taking notes with your pen with a giant feather puff on top. If you were really, really lucky, maybe you’d see an article about the Kids’ Choice Awards on the AOL homepage the next time you visited your aunt who had the internet.

This happened, and it remains the most 1998 thing I’ve ever seen:

Also, this:

1999

By 1999, we had made our full journey through the 90s, from almost-80s to grunge to normcore to the teen pop takeover. The 1999 awards were all boy bands, Delia*s-inspired fashion, and earnest optimism. Our favorite book was Chicken Soup For The Soul, for goodness sakes. Our favorite actors were Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, and all was right with the world. We couldn’t imagine a life beyond the 90s – no, literally, my memories begin around 1990, so anything else was unfathomable to me. But really, what more did we need?