Old School Lane’s Nickelodeon Tribute: Interview with Peggy Sue Clay
When it comes to classic Nickelodeon shows, people mostly look back fondly at the 90â€™s with shows such asÂ Doug, Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, Clarissa Explains it All, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, All That, Rockoâ€™s Modern Life,etc. Finding people who gush 90â€™s Nickelodeon shows isnâ€™t hard: check on my blog post â€œ90â€™s Nickelodeon Shows: Classic or Overratedâ€ and â€œCasual Chatsâ€ episode 1 on YouTube.
However, looking for fans of 80â€™s Nickelodeon shows wasn’t that easy. In fact, most people donâ€™t even remember Nickelodeon shows from the 80â€™s at all. The earliest show that most people remember on Nickelodeon from the 80â€™s isÂ Double Dare.Â Kevin and I decided to look for anyone who can tell us fond memories of Nickelodeon shows that date back even beforeÂ Double Dare.
Little did we know that there was an entire blog that talks about 80â€™s Nickelodeon shows such asÂ Pinwheel, Kids Writes, Todayâ€™s Special, Special Delivery, You Canâ€™t Do That on Television, The Third Eye, The Tomorrow People, The Adventures of Black Beauty,Â and much more. The blog â€œClassic Nickelodeon Fan Blogâ€ dedicates itself of discussing these now forgotten Nickelodeon shows from the 80â€™s.
Kevin and I interviewed the founder and blogger of the site Peggy Sue Clay. I hope you enjoy it.
Patricia- What were your favorite shows growing up?
Peggy– The Tomorrow PeopleÂ â€“ both the original Series (OS) and the Big Finish Audio Dramas (AD) which were a continuation of the OS, The Adventures of Black Beauty, Kidsâ€™ Writes, Nick Rocks Video to Go, Todayâ€™s Special, The Third Eye, Spread Your Wings,Â The Monkees, Matt & Jenny, Standby…Lights! Camera! Action!, Studio See, Vegetable SoupÂ andÂ Hocus Focus.
Kevin- What was the first Nickelodeon show you ever saw?
Peggy- I donâ€™t know that I specifically remember what show I saw but some of my earliest memories are ofÂ Vegetable Soup, The Adventures of Black Beauty, Spread Your WingsÂ andÂ Adventures in Rainbow Country. But I can tell you about another early memory that I have.
Back in the very early 80â€™s Nickelodeon would sometimes show music videos in between shows, along with their commercials, not the regular commercials like you see now. One cold winterâ€™s day I came home from school and turned on the TV and they showed either â€œGet Up And Goâ€ by the Go Gos or â€œShoppinâ€™ From A to Zâ€ by Toni Basil. I canâ€™t remember which one it was, or perhaps it was both but since they were two of my favorites anyway it didnâ€™t really matter and maybe thatâ€™s why I remember that so vividly.
Kevin- What are your favorite and least favorite Nickelodeon shows?
Peggy- My favorite wasÂ The Tomorrow People; I had such a big crush on Peter Vaughn-Clarke who played Stephen Jameson. I think I had two least favorites, Against the OddsÂ because Iâ€™ve never liked history (still donâ€™t) although looking back I can see how educational it was. The other wasÂ Reggie Jackson’s World of SportsÂ only because Iâ€™ve never been into sports.
Patricia- What made you decide to start your blog discussing about late 70’s, 80’s Nickelodeon shows?
Peggy- The blog grew out of my Yahoo group calledÂ A NewBeginning For Classic Nickelodeon.Â I knew that with a blog I could reach a different audience than I could with a Yahoo group and it was that thinking which ultimately let me to create my Facebook pages and groups in honor of Classic (80â€™s) Nickelodeon. (See links and Google â€œA New Beginning For Classic Nickelodeonâ€, everything that comes up under that name is mine.)Â And it was another way to advertise that I was going to (attempt) to host the very first Classic Nickelodeon Fan Meet. I posted my very first blog on Monday, April 20, 2009 about the fan meet, which was to be scheduled for July 31 – Aug 2, 2009, but unfortunately due to lack of interest it was canceled. I kept trying and trying and finally last year one guy showed up and for me that was a huge victory.
Patricia- What, in your opinion, is the difference between Nickelodeon from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and today?
Peggy- 70â€™s â€“ When Nickelodeon first launched on December 1, 1977 as The Pinwheel Network on QUBE in Columbus, Ohio it was more or less a basic cable channel. They showed programsÂ like Pinwheel, Video Comic Books, Childrenâ€™s Classics, America Goes Bananaz, Hocus Focus, First Row Features, Nickel FlicksÂ andÂ By the Way. It wasnâ€™t until their national relaunch on April 1, 1979 as Nickelodeon that they really became a household name. Then in 1980, new shows were added to the lineup, includingÂ Dusty’s Treehouse, First Row Features, Special Delivery, What Will They Think Of Next?, Pop ClipsÂ andÂ Livewire.
The 70â€™s and 80â€™s were both about fun and education. One good example of this wasÂ The Adventures Of Black Beauty, which taught us all how to respect our elders and others around us. They taught us about helping our neighbors and to show kindness both towards our fellow man and to animals. They taught us to always tell the truth no matter what the consequences would be. They taught us how to work hard for what we want and to stand up for the things we believe in. But all of these concepts were lost in the 1990â€™s show and has continued right on though todayâ€™s programming on all networks not jut Nickelodeon.
Kidsâ€™ WritesÂ taught children how to use their imaginations, how to write and how to spell because after all, as it says in their title song, â€œWe donâ€™t change a word you write, we do just what ya say. And if ya hear a funny word, well, ya spelled it that way.â€Â Mr. Wizard’s WorldÂ andÂ What Will They Think Of Next?Â taught kids about science andÂ Against the OddsÂ taught kids about historical figures.
By the end of the 1980â€™s Nickelodeon started airing â€œoutside commercialsâ€ as I call them. These were regular commercials like you see on your favorite television shows every night of the week but the reason this is so significant for Nickelodeon is because it meant that the network was gradually beginning to change. They were no longer a simple local network, they were beginning to make their presents known on a national level and by the end of the 1990â€™s Nickelodeon had started to drift away from their live action format by introducing â€œNicktoonsâ€ such as:Â Doug, Rugrats, The Ren & Stimpy ShowÂ (a vile program in my opinion),Â Rocko’s Modern Life, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and many, many more.
Not only were they leaving behind the live action programs they had come known for they were also digressing in the quality of their programs. Now while you may research their history and find that it was during that time when they really became a national household name the 80â€™s children such as myself were reeling. (Perhaps this doesnâ€™t apply to everyone but it certainly did for me.)
Sadly todayâ€™s Nickelodeon looks NOTHING like it use to, in fact I would go as far as to say that it should now be called â€œTheÂ SpongeBobÂ Networkâ€ since that is the only show they seem to focus on. I can find nothing redeeming about the regular Nickelodeon channel (save House of AnubisÂ andÂ Victorious) since it is dominated byÂ SpongeBobÂ andÂ The Fairly OddParents, both of which have been flagged by the Parents Television Council as having sexual references, bullying, swearing and much more. (See Wolves In Sheepâ€™s Clothing â€“ A Content Analysis of Childrenâ€™sTelevision from March 2, 2006Â )
In January 2012 my cityâ€™s CableOne upgraded and they added roughly ten new channels with Teen Nick being one of them and for the first time I got to see some of the 90â€™s shows that (some of) my members grew up on. I didnâ€™t like all of them but the ones that I didnâ€™t mind sitting thoughÂ are Kenan & Kel, Doug,Â and I had already seenÂ Legends of the Hidden TempleÂ so I knew I liked it. Currently IÂ watch House of AnubisÂ (Iâ€™m sooo excited for the third season!!!),Â Drake & Josh, Victorious, H2O Just Add WaterÂ and sometimes I watchÂ Alien Surf GirlsÂ although I canâ€™t seem to get into it.
Patricia- What shows from Nickelodeon have poorly aged? Which shows aged the best?
Peggy- I think a show is measured, or aged, by how well the fans remember it. Certainly shows likeÂ Double Dare, You Canâ€™t Do That On Television, The Tomorrow People, Todayâ€™s SpecialÂ andÂ Legends of the Hidden TempleÂ will be around for a very long since their fandoms are still very strong. But then here are other shows likeÂ Against the OddsÂ andÂ Going GreatÂ that both scored very low viewer scores in the 80â€™s which led to both of them being canceled. I think shows that lasted only one season are the ones that have aged poorly.
Patricia- What are the most underrated and overrated shows on Nickelodeon?
Peggy-Â Â Probably the most underrated show would have to beÂ Pinwheel. So many people try to compare it toÂ Sesame StreetÂ just because it had both human actors and puppets but really thatâ€™s where the comparison should end.Â Sesame StreetÂ was, and still is, very much a â€œteaching modeâ€ type program were children learn their alphabet and how to count. They also deal with issues such as death and other current situations.Â PinwheelÂ taught children how to use their imagination, they learned how to respect each otherâ€™s different tastes in music and how to have fun and be children. (Or at least thatâ€™s what the six remaining hours of the show have helped me to remember.)
But by far the most overrated show on Nickelodeon today isÂ SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS!!! Iâ€™m sorry if this offends anyone who reads this but I BLOODY HATE THAT SHOW!!! I mentioned above that the Parents Television Council has already sited it for using swear words, sexual references and a lot more. Trust me, read the article youâ€™ll learn a lot about the different programs that were on when the study was conducted and that are still on the air.
Back to Bob. Nickelodeon didnâ€™t even celebrate their 30th anniversary because they were too worried about celebrating Bobâ€™s 10th anniversary. In my opinion both the 80â€™s and the 90â€™s fans were robbed because of Bob!
Patricia- I did a podcast of the top 20 Nickelodeon shows that need to be remade. What shows from Nickelodeon do you want to see remade?
Peggy- This is such a great question because I had already started thinking about this around 2008 when I first sawÂ H2O Just Add Water. Now these are in no particular order so here we go.
The Third Eye
I totally agreed with you on this one. I think they should either remake the original shows that aired on it or add new ones or both. That being said did you know thatÂ Under the MountainÂ has been remade into a new movie? Iâ€™ve seen it; I own it and I love it! Itâ€™s a little different than the original with the twins being older and Sam Neill now plays the mysterious â€œMr. Jonesâ€. The Wilberforces are back in full force and just for us Classic Fans, Kirsty Wilkinson, who portrayed Rachel Matheson from the original “Under the Mountain” on television, made a cameo appearance in the film as Mr. Jones’ Neighbor and Bill Johnson, who portrayed the original Mr. Wilberforce also made a cameo appearance in the film as Mr. Carpenter. I have to admit that even I had to go back and check that one. LOL The one, and pretty much only, problem I have with this new film is that almost every scene with the male cousin he was all over his girlfriend! And I donâ€™t care if it is an update, that kind of behavior was totally uncalled for in this movie especially when it was supposed to be (more or less) a kids movie!!!
I love the charm ofÂ The Haunting of Cassie PalmerÂ andÂ Children Of The Stones; I donâ€™t have a problem with bad acting or perhaps a few moments of thin scripting because thatâ€™s what makes them classics. I own all four of the original stories, including theÂ Under the MountainÂ remake and except forÂ Into the Labyrinth, which I didnâ€™t care, for I love them but I do think that with todayâ€™s technology they could all be updated and made even creepier than the originals.
Now hereâ€™s my twist to this, I would also like to add new programs to this line up. IÂ think H2O Just Add Water, House of Anubis, The Sarah Jane AdventuresÂ andÂ Alien Surf GirlsÂ would all fit very well into the creepy style ofÂ The Third Eye. In fact that was the very statement I made to my mom when we started watching all of these shows. (Yes she watches all of the same shows I do and she loves them all just as I do. I have such a cool Mom!!!)
Also one quick note,Â The Witches and the GrinnygogÂ was announced as part ofÂ The Third EyeÂ lineup but never aired, it was actually shown as part of theÂ Special DeliveryÂ program.
This long time favorite is a perfect candidate for an update, but not just an update, I think it should be a continuation of the original series. I think all of the new characters should be related to all of the original characters but with one small change. Defiantly bring back an â€œAureliaâ€ type character to run Pinwheel House; perhaps her great niece except that she should be a human character not a puppet.
Jake and Kimâ€™s nieces, cousins or even their children could come to stay at Pinwheel house just like their family members before them. (Not have Jake and Kim married to each other but to different people and their children come back.) Just the same as Sal and Smittyâ€™s son with is new wife could come back and revive the old â€œDaily Noodleâ€ that his parents use to run.
Puppeteers Craig Marin and Olga Felgemacher could easily reimagine new puppets for the show and could recommend others to fill in the other characters. But I think The Muppets should be left completely out of it; this needs to be totally separate from The Muppets organization.
I also think that the cartoon / stop-motion shorts could all be updated and refreshed. I would still want to see traditional animation, very few computer cartoons, and we should defiantly keep all of the various stop-motion animations, â€œpuppettoonsâ€, claymations and all of the building block sequences. They all have such a charm to them and it would be ashamed for a new generation of children to loose out on them.
Just think of how many new things Jeff could lean in the world today!!!
You Can’t Do That On Television
This show screams â€œupdateâ€ because again, like Jeff, think about how many new things theyâ€™d have to talk about these days! But stick to the â€œreal kidsâ€ cast like the original cast was. One of the things I didnâ€™t like about the 1990â€™s version ofÂ The Mickey Mouse ClubÂ was that the kids were all singers and dancers and I would HATE to see that happen toÂ YCDTOTV. Also, keep the slime thick and lumpy!!! None of that neon green oil that they try to pass off as â€œslimeâ€ these days! â€“ WE WANT OUT REAL SLIME!!!!!
Double DareÂ &Â Legends of the Hidden TempleÂ are both perfect for updating but yes keep the â€œbare bonesâ€ of the shows. Update the rooms and the giant props and of course the stories and questions. Find a great host and theyâ€™d have it made. Both are still awesome even to this day but they could also stand a little refreshing.
I would LOVE to see Mr. Mairs bring back this show on any network. It was so innovative and creative and it really helped children to learn how to use not only their imagination but also their writing and spelling skills. Have the exact same type of set, bring back Mr. Mairs and have a new cast. This show could ABSOLUTELY work for todayâ€™s kids and now that we have the Internet kids would be able to email their stories in as well as physically mail them in.
AnÂ Out Of ControlÂ movie would be fun. The cast could get word that their old studio is about to be torn down so they go back to save it? Hummm, Iâ€™ll have to email this to Marty (Schiff who played â€œHern Burfordâ€) and see what he and Dave (Coulier) think about it.
The Tomorrow People
Now this is a tricky one since there have already been two updates to this show and a third one has now been scheduled.
The first update came in 1992 and was very unsuccessful. The show had none of the charm of the Original Series (OS) and indeed seemed to go in a totally new direction. The characters were flat and undeveloped, there was no Lab, no Jaunting Belts or Bands, nothing that tied it to the original show and it was canceled after three years.
Big Finish did the second update in a series of Audio Dramas (AD) that were, in my opinion, very successful. They returned to the roots of the show, brought back several of the original characters, brought us new characters and brought us storylines that were thought provoking. When I listen to my ADs I can â€œseeâ€ the story in my mind and itâ€™s so brilliant. Yes they are a bit edgier but they are so very well written and because of that I didnâ€™t mind it. If you are a fan of the OS TP, and if you can find them, I would highly recommend this series.
Now the CW Network has announced another update of this series and it both excites me and terrifies me. Iâ€™m excited because if the producers are true fans as they claim to be and will cater to both an old and new audience and if they stay true to the basic story, I think it will be wonderful. However the idea of an American network taking over is that they will try to turn it into another teenage soap opera with slutty teenagers (male and female) with no morals, no values and who do nothing more than sleep around and back talk their elders. If the CW follows this route, the show will be an epic failure; or at least in my eyes it will be.
Patricia- Why do you think that Nickelodeon shows from the 70’s and 80’s aren’t as highly regarded as the ones from the 90’s?
Peggy- Well unfortunately it all comes down to demographics. The simple fact is that the 90â€™s Kids (Generation Y) far outnumber the 80â€™s Children (Generation X) and therefore we, the 80â€™s Children, have been sadly overlooked; and the fact that most, not all, 90â€™s Kids wonâ€™t even acknowledge us doesnâ€™t help. Most of them have never seen â€œourâ€ Nickelodeon so they think we should be forgotten and Iâ€™m sorry to say that even the Nickelodeon executives agree with them.
I once read that they, the executives, have called their 80â€™s programs, â€œtheir green vegetable timeâ€ (that was the just of the quote). So when the executives wonâ€™t even acknowledge us, then what chance do we really have? And I think thatâ€™s why the early to mid 80â€™s shows have been overlooked so the fans need to keep them alive. There are so few Generation Xers left out there so we need to stoke rekindle that fire and stoke it so that it will always burn strong. And we need to let Nickelodeon know that even though they have forgotten about us we have not forgotten about them, after all, it if wasnâ€™t for them we wouldnâ€™t all be who we are today.
Patricia- What was the nicest feedback you received from a fan or follower on your blog?
Peggy- Occasionally people will find my blog or Facebook pages / groups and email me to ask if I can help them remember a show that they only have vague memories of. That always makes me feel good but by far the most wonderful thing that has come from my blog was yâ€™all asking me to do this interview. Now I am NOT a kiss-up person and I never say things to people just to make them feel good so I mean this from the bottom of my heart.
In every fandom there is a â€œgo to personâ€ that everyone turns to with their questions about that show. (ForÂ Tomorrow PeopleÂ everyone turns to Jackie Clark, for Fame TV show and movies everyone turns to Pam.) When I first realized that I wanted to go â€œfull timeâ€ with the preservation of these (usually) long forgotten 80â€™s shows I told my Mom that I wanted to be the â€œgo to personâ€ for Classic Nickelodeon fans and that dream is really coming true with fans emailing me about shows and then with you and Kevin asking me for this interview. Yâ€™all have truly touched my heart, thank you.
Patricia-What are your upcoming projects?
Peggy-Â I plan to keep updating my website and blog in hopes that Classic Nickelodeon fans everywhere can reconnect with their favorite childhood memories. The idea of a fan meet is still in the back of my head although I have no idea how Iâ€™d do it. I was thinking about changing the name from â€œClassic Nickelodeon Fan Meetâ€ to â€œNickConâ€ in hopes that it would attract more fans. The only small problem I can find with that is I want it to be an 80â€™s fan meet, not a 90â€™s fan meet and I would still want to host it here in my home town in Oklahoma. I have no idea how Iâ€™ll do it but Marty Schiff and Davie Coulier have already promised me that if / when I finally get it off the ground that they would be happy to be my special guest. J I would also like to star a Nickelodeon Fan Club here in my hometown in hopes of building up a local base to help kick off the fan meets / cons.
Then one of my Moderators from New Beginning thinks I should do an online radio show for CN but at this point in my life I donâ€™t see how Iâ€™d ever fit it into my schedule.Â Also on that â€œon of these daysâ€ list is a book I want to write about CN. I already have the title and the outline Iâ€™m just not sure how to exactly get started with it since it is so unlike anything Iâ€™ve ever written before.
I have written (put together) a â€œBook of Slimeâ€ and a â€œNickelodeon Songbookâ€ both of which I was going to sell at the fan meet but since it never got off the groundâ€¦ The Slime book is a collection of slime recopies that Iâ€™ve collected from all over the Internet and the songbook contains the lyrics from several CN shows as well as many songs from the six remaining hours of Pinwheel and the Pinwheel Songbook video. I hand transcribed many of the songs in that book and a few lyrics I found online, which I also posted the links. Both were a labor of love and devotion however no one outside of my family has seen them. Sad.Â And the only other thing I can think of at the moment is that Iâ€™ve been considering a web show featuring all of the shows I write about in my blogs.
Patricia- Alright then. Peggy, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.
Peggy- Thank you so much! I’m beyond honored!
To learn more about the blogs and websites, here are the following links:
Classic Nickelodeon Fan Meet Website
Special Delivery â€“ 80â€™s Nickelodeon (F/B)
Nickelodeonâ€™s Special Delivery (F/B)
Also if you look up â€œA New Beginning For Classic Nickelodeonâ€ on F/B you will find a page and a group by the same name and she ownsÂ both of them.
That’s all for now! Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading!
-Patricia and Kevin