One of the benefits of working frequently between the hours of 4 PM and 2 AM is that you are available to watch some great afternoon TV. Recently, I discovered that MTV2, in addition to actually existing, shows two hours of Saved by the Bell and Boy Meets World back-to-back from noon til 4. As you’d imagine, this was a revelation and ever since I’ve been reliving some of my favorite childhood shows. What follows is the fifth of several look-backs at some of those incredible shows and what made them so (not-so) great.
So we’re moving to cartoons. If you’ve enjoyed this series, that’s great news. If you’re everyone else, this just reeks of desperation.
And I’m fine with that.
Thanks to a tip from a friend, I discovered that a bunch of cartoons from our youth (commonly known as Nicktoons) were being re-aired as a part of “The 90s are All That” on TeenNick. Obviously, I was all in.
In reminiscing about the show, I remembered that it was divided into two distinct sections, its Nickelodeon origins and its Disney re-boot.
No self-respecting child of the 90s preferred the Disney version to the Nick version. In fact, if you even so much as remotely enjoyed the Disney version, please stop reading this immediately and never return to this website (Unless of course you want to purchase a copy. Then, by all means, come back).
Beyond the fact that the Disney Doug simply wasn’t better than the Nick Doug, there was the fact that we were in prime cartoon age when the first one came out. From 1991 to 1994 (I was 5 to 8), Nickelodeon was pumping out fucking bangers and I was there for all of them (except the Ren and Stimpy Show, which I’ll get into at a later date, believe me). But it wasn’t just that. They changed the guy who voiced Doug and Roger (a fact that guy wasn’t happy with), they changed their clothes, and they didn’t make Roger as big of a punk to Doug as he was originally (I always maintained, if you weren’t supposed to hate Roger every time he popped on screen, what was the point of him as a character?).
Because this is our first cartoon look-back, let’s do this one (and all other cartoon ones in the future) a little different. After thinking about it for thirty seconds, I decided to use a rubric. Grades won’t be given out, but judgements will be passed.
Theme Song: The show changed themes when it went from Nick to Disney, but the Nick one was my favorite. Despite being alarmingly simple (Really, a whistle? That’s it? Somehow it worked, but I have no idea how that got approved), it was actually a pretty meta opening for a cartoon show. The idea of someone drawing in cartoons that are aware of the white page they’re being drawn on to open the show they’re a part of? I’ll say this, as a kid I definitely wasn’t aware of what was going on. I just remember thinking, “This is pretty boring.” But as an “adult”, I’ll give it a thumbs up. Boring, but clever (for a cartoon).
Title Character: Douglas Yancey Funnie. Where on Earth do we begin? Well, first of all, why did they need to add in that his middle name was Yancey? Also, while I’m sure this was done on purpose, was there a less funny character in any cartoon… ever? Doug was a loveable kid, no doubt about that but he was a puss of epic proportions. Took dude forever (granted, he was 11, but still… you’ve got your own TV show homie, man the fuck up) to ask Patti Mayo out and his only real friend besides Skeeter was his dog. My favorite thing about of Doug? His alter-egos. The three main ones were Quailman (belt on the head, underwear on the outside), Smash Adams (James Bond type) and apparently someone named Race Canyon (Indiana Jones type, according to Wikipedia, though I don’t remember him at all). Personally, I was partial to Smash Adams because I never quite got what was going on Quailman (the whole Quail thing, the belt on the head, the underwear, the whistle… Didn’t love it.)
Love Interest: Patricia Mayonnaise. Patti, you may know her as. Besides the Lohan twins from Parent Trap, Patti was probably one of my first true loves. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was probably the reason I would become such a softie for blonde haired gals. Damn you, Patricia. And in just another point of proof against the Disney version, Patti looked terrible in the re-boot. She dropped the short skirt and golden locks for a long-sleeved sweatshirt look with a haircut that looked like she was going to start dating Doug’s sister. Still pretty hot, but not Nickelodeon hot.
What the Fuck…: Was Skeeter? I mean, I can’t be the only person who thought that he was, as a blue man, supposed to represent a black man in the town of Bluffington… can I? Let’s review a few facts: He teaches Doug how to dance, he’s popular enough to help Doug get into the crowd when he moves to town, and despite being kind of clumsy, he’s a pretty cool dude. Given the various colors of people in that town, I’m going to go ahead and say Skeeter was a black guy. Whatever he was, why did he honk all the time? Seriously, what was that honking noise he did after saying “Hey Doug”? Why did he never get called out on that? There should’ve been a whole episode where the town stages an intervention to tell Skeeter he’s been honking like a lunatic for years and that he’s starting to look like he could be the first homeless person in Bluffington.
Thing You Loved The Most: The Beets. Matter of fact, any of the songs on the show. Personally, my favorite was “I Need More Allowance“. How long did it take for them to dream up the hook for that track? Hey John, we’re gonna need a chorus for this new song on the show… Oh yeah, what’s the song called?… Right now, we’re working with him wanting more allowance… Why does he need more allowance?… Uh, uh, uh, Because he does?… There you have it! Let us not forget the smash hit “Killer Tofu“. Didn’t make much sense, but that was another fantastic track.
Thing You Hated The Most: Lamar Bone. I hated his face, I hated his weird colored lips, I hated his name not fitting with his character or actions, I hated how mean he was, I hated how vehemently he defended the mystery meat from the cafeteria (even though you know he had to hate it). If there was ever a guy more in need of a vacation and a good screw, I’d like to meet him.
Everything Else: I never thought his neighbors, the Dinks, got enough play. The fact that Bernie was an eccentric gadget-purchaser just didn’t get enough credit on the show… Judy was easily the most useless character on the whole show. If she really thought she was going to be a Broadway star, she was delusional. No-talent clown… Can you remember one thing about Doug’s parents? Talk about invisible. At least Judy was important enough to dislike… How did Pork Chop have a better living space than Doug? I don’t remember any episodes where Pork Chop got a job and decided to pitch in for the rent…