Old School Lane’s Nickelodeon Tribute: Talk Shows of the 80’s
It’s the year 1988.Â Big, Die Hard, Beetlejuice,Â and Kevin’s favorite movie of all timeÂ Who Framed Roger RabbitÂ was released in theaters.Â Garfield and Friends, Rosanne, The Wonder Years,Â andÂ The New Adventures of Winnie the PoohÂ was debuted on TV. With the abundance of talk shows gaining in popularity thanks to Oprah Winfrey, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Geraldo Rivera, Nickelodeon needed to cash in on the popularity.Â Out of ControlÂ was released around the same time asÂ You Can’t Do That on TelevisionÂ and was cancelled seven months after it aired andÂ LivewireÂ Â had ended its run 3 years prior. So three new talk shows were released. One of them wasÂ Don’t Just Sit There.
The talk show was your typical talk show, but instead was giving a younger twist to it. Instead of the show being hosted by an adult, it was hosted by teenagers. The teenagers were Will Friedle, Matt Brown, Wendy Douglas, B.J. Schaffer, and Alie Smith. Their house band named Out of Order were also composed of teenagers. Mike Baldwin was the drummer, Chris Guice was the bass guitarist, Buxton Pryor was the lead guitarist, and Ed Jahn played the keyboards.
The show also consisted of sketch comedy that would be performed by the hosts or the even the house band. One sketch for example would be on how to heat up frozen dinners faster.
Also, just like any other talk shows, there were celebrity guestÂ appearances. Some guests included Davy Jones, Weird Al Yankovic, William Shatner, Fishbone, and even New Kids On The Block.
The show lasted for 3 seasons ending its run in 1989. Some of the hosts and house band went on to do other acting roles afterÂ Don’t Just Sit ThereÂ while some faded into obscurity.Â Will Friedle played Eric Matthews inÂ Boy Meets World. Afterwards, he became a prominent voice actor. Some of his most well known roles include Terry McGinness inÂ Batman Beyond,Â Ron Stoppable inÂ Kim Possible,Â Blue Beetle inÂ Batman: The Brave and the Bold,Â and Lion-O in the newÂ ThunderCats.Â
B.J. Schaffer became a police officer, a detective, and an author writing books likeÂ Women and Other Monsters, The Kyoshi Scrolls, Guns of Seneca 6, Superbia, Superbia II, and Ancient Rituals.Â
Chris Guice, the bass guitarist, went on to become a member of the band DeSoL.
Mike Baldwin, the drummer, went on to become a member of the band The Havers.
Overall, the teens who hosted the shows sounded a bit nervous at times, especially when it came to interviewing the celebrity guests. Some of the sketches were okay, not laugh out loud funny, and finally, some Â of the things that they did on the show was a bit corny, but cute. Not much to say, but it was okay. Nothing special. In my opinion, this is the weakest Nickelodeon talk show in the bunch.
BeforeÂ Judge Judy, Divorce Court,Â andÂ Judge Mathis,Â there wasÂ Kids Court.Â The show was about two kids: theÂ plaintiffÂ and theÂ defendant would complain about a problem from washing too many dishes to cheating on a math test.
The judge and jury would come up with a verdict if it was fair or unfair from a machine known as the Judge-o-Meter. The show was hosted by Paul Provenza and was created by Alan Goodman, Albie Hecht, and Fred Seibert. It was interesting to know that the men responsible for saving Nickelodeon fromÂ bankruptcyÂ and creating Nick at Nite created a show about kids going to court.
The show only lasted less than a year ending its run in 1989. Overall, it was an interesting concept taking something serious and making it fun and cute, but I can’t take it seriously. It was a bit odd seeing a show like this exist, but nonetheless, it was a bit enjoyable.
The final kids’ show that came out was in 1989. That show was calledÂ Total Panic.Â
Similar toÂ Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Total PanicÂ was an homage to talk shows from the 1950’s and 60’s in which it was filled with wild, crazy antics, fun celebrity guest appearances, games, and comedy sketches.Â The show was originally hosted by Molly Scott and Keith Diamond, but Keith was replaced by Greg Lee. Many of you would know Greg Lee as the host ofÂ Where in The World is Carmen Sandiego?
One of the main highlights that everyone remembers inÂ Total PanicÂ was the video game coverage. In the late 80’s, video games were becoming a huge commodity. The NES was king and the Sega Master System was in second. InÂ Total Panic,Â they introduced new consoles like the Turbografx 16, The Sega Genesis, and first handheld game consoles, the Game Boy and the Atari Lynx.
Not to mention a preview of the newest games that were going to be released such asÂ Altered Beast, Ghouls N’ Ghosts, Battle Squadron,Â andÂ Alien Crush.Â Warning: what you’re about to see is corny, cheesy awesomeness!
The show ran for 3 hours every Sunday and it became a big hit. It lasted for over 3 years ending its run in 1992. Overall, this one is the best of the bunch next toÂ Livewire.Â The kids looked like they were having fun, the hosts were interactive and enthusiastic, it was nice and colorful, and the topics were fun and interesting for a kid. It does present itself as a bit cheesy at times, but it’s fun to look at and laugh.
That’s all for now. Tune in next time as we discuss Nickelodeon’s second live action seriesÂ Hey Dude.
*sigh. Oh boy.
Hope to see you around Old School Lane real soon. Take care.