Friday, March 25

You're Looking Happily Deranged.

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Any longtime fan of the CDP will know that I have spent countless hours ranking, listing, scrutinizing, championing and singing the praises of 90’s television. My love of recent nostalgia knows no boundaries or shame, and thanks to Social Networking, millions of others have also given a digital thumbs-up to similar shows of the era. Advertisers finally saw dollar signs at the prospect of re-airing these shows, and thanks to their greed and lack of original ideas, we now have a whole slew of old (but awesome) television shows to look forward to in 2011.

Here are a few of my favorites.

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WHAT? – ‘The 90’s Are All That’ Programming Block
WHERE? – TeenNick
WHEN? – Fall 2011

When I was a teen, Nick at Nite played I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners. In more recent years, they’ve filled the generation gap with shows like Full House and Family Matters. With 'The 90’s Are All That,' we’ll see such SNICK favorites as The Adventures of Pete & Pete, The Amanda Show, All That, Kenan & Kel, Rugrats and Clarissa Explains it All. I’m assuming (and hoping) that if this block becomes a hit, they will expand it with more classics from the era (Are You Afraid of the Dark? and The Secret World of Alex Mack spring to mind).

WHY THIS IS AWESOME – SNICK was good times for a teen. The big orange couch. The Saturday night timeslot. The feeling that you were in on something special; something that was made just for you. The '166 hours' closing always bummed me out, as it reminded me that Sunday was tomorrow and I'd have to prepare for another week of school, but for those few hours, SNICK made everything better. It reminds me of a fun time in my teen years, and if they add some retro bumpers and advertisements (TV Land did this in their youth), it could really be something fun and popular.

WHY THIS COULD BE AWFUL – If they ‘enhance’ these episodes with facts, pop-ups and tidbits, I’ll be a very upset man. If you’re bringing back a nostalgia block, keep it nostalgic. Also, most of the shows they're bringing back are for a slightly younger-than-teen audience.

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WHAT?120 Minutes
WHERE? – MTV2
WHEN? – Sometime in 2011

In my opinion, 120 Minutes was the best video-oriented show MTV ever had (next to Alternative Nation, perhaps). In recent years, MTV2 has aired Subterranean to fill the gap, but it’s always been missing something (VH1 Classic airs a similar show, also titled 120 Minutes, but it’s still lacking in many ways). With fantastic longtime host Matt Pinfield returning to the helm, it’s good to see that MTV2 is going back to their Alternative roots, even for just two hours every few weeks.

WHY THIS IS AWESOME – The first few years of MTV2 (M2 at the time) were absolutely fantastic. It was as delivered: 24 hour-a-day, left-of-dial videos by up-and-coming bands with extremely limited VJ banter and absolutely no scripted (or unscripted) programming to speak of. Eventually, MTV2 became nothing more than an MTV clone, but with the return of 120 Minutes, we could see an advent of more retro, return-to-basics programming. Okay, maybe not. But this is still cool.

WHY THIS COULD BE AWFUL – While I don’t expect 120 Minutes to fully operate as a nostalgia act, I do hope they air videos from the heyday of the show. Spending all of their time on new bands and videos could instantly alienate the very audience they’re trying to attract (which I presume is former MTV viewers).

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WHAT?Beavis & Butthead NEW EPISODES
WHERE? – MTV
WHEN? – Summer of 2011

When King of the Hill ended, Mike Judge apparently had nothing to do. Fortunately, he decided to revive his two most popular characters, leading to a Summer re-launch of a decade-defining series. From what I can gather, the animation, voices and format will be identical to the original, with B&B riffing on newer music videos as well as whatever else they find on their television (viral videos, for example).

WHY THIS IS AWESOME – Mike Judge. He cannot fail (even when he does). He understands satire better than anyone, and if he thinks he can create something that will compare to what he did with Beavis & Butthead in the past, I will not doubt him for the time being. Furthermore, in an era that has moved beyond a lot of the cynicism and toilet humor that made them popular, it somehow makes Beavis & Butthead more relevant (and needed) than ever.

WHY THIS COULD BE AWFUL – As is the case with any revival, you run the risk of not living up to unrealistic expectations, or just the expectations of your former material. Also, the idea of making fun of new videos seems interesting, but bringing other current material into the mix might be strange and lackluster for fans expecting the same product they got in 1994.

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WHAT?Daria
WHERE? – Logo
WHEN? – Right Now!

Daria, the Beavis & Butthead spinoff, was a more cerebral, female-friendly take on the cliques and cultures of 90’s suburban teenagers. Daria became an iconic anti-hero of sorts, and it’s easy to argue that this was a better overall show than B&B. After airing reruns on The N for a few years, it has found a new home at the MTV-owned Logo Network.

WHY THIS IS AWESOME – I feel that Daria never got its due; an extremely underrated and intelligent show about the sometimes-nihilist world of 90’s teenagers. In a 2010 review of the DVD collection in the website Jezebel, Margaret Hartmann said that at as a teenager, "Daria and her best friend Jane Lane provided me with the sort of social guidance that allowed me to stay true to myself" and led to her keeping a childhood friend instead of dropping her to avoid "social suicide.” "I'd picked up Daria's attitude that it's easier to survive high school with one fellow-loser who shares your misanthropic views than to spend four years trying to earn the admiration of girls whose main interests include proper eyeliner application." She cites Daria as "the most authentic TV nerd... she didn't look for her fellow students to accept her. She just wanted to be left alone." DVD Talk's review referred to the show as "an indictment of everything MTV now embraces.”

WHY THIS IS AWFUL – A lot of these episodes have been shortened for syndication, and nearly all of the original music has been removed and replaced, essentially suffering the same fate that Beavis & Butthead, The Wonder Years and many others have in the DVD age. Still good, though.

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WHAT?The Wonder Years
WHERE? – Hub
WHEN? – Right Now!

One of my favorite shows of all-time, The Wonder Years probably shaped my storytelling and narrative voice more than any book or movie. This show, easily the best series never properly released on DVD (more on that later), holds up wonderfully, capturing a youthful, nostalgic adolescence better than just about anything before or since. Although never released on DVD, full episodes have been brought back to television, thanks to the Hub Network.

WHY THIS IS AWESOME – It’s The Wonder Years. Either you already love it, or you haven’t watched it yet.

WHY THIS IS AWFUL – Just like Daria, the licensing for certain songs kept the show from receiving a proper DVD treatment, and the later episodes with a more grown-up Kevin Arnold are slightly lacking in tone. That being said, it’s not nearly enough to avoid it. I recommend this with every fiber of my mid-life crisis-ravaged being.

So, there you have it. A handful of shows from the 90’s that are either on their way back in syndication, back in new episodes, or already back on obscure cable networks. Sound off in the comments section, enjoy your day, and let me know what show you’d like to see return to the airwaves.

Comments:
Glad to have you back dude! We need to get together for beverages and marches! Bring TJ, Emily, the wife and the rest of the Hitler Youth (heh...)

Not the 90's, but WKRP suffers on DVD for a lack of license for the songs, which loses a lot of the effect. Then there's the whole saga of URGH! A Music War.

The best part of Beavis & Butthead were the videos (I remember that's how I found out about Helium) so the DVDs were lame because of that.

I always wanted to have a 3-way with Daria and Jane. Can you have ironic, laconic orgasms?
 
I am excited for the SNICK block!
 

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