Photo Credit: Nickelodeon
Before SpongeBob and Phineas & Ferb, before Hannah Montana and iCarly, and even before Disney TV was known for much more than The Mickey Mouse Club, there was a golden age of kids programming in the '90s exclusively on Nickelodeon. It featured breakthrough shows like Clarissa Explains It All, Rugrats and All That, and introduced the world to spanking-new talent including Kenan Thompson, Melissa Joan Hart, Amanda Bynes and Michelle Trachtenberg.
Starting this fall, what's old-school may be new again. TeenNick will air top shows from the '90s in a midnight-to-2 a.m. programming block called "The '90s Are All That." Nickelodeon executives say the block is targeted to nostalgic 20-somethings, but modern kids might also find them a refreshing and hysterical change of pace. After all, funny never grows old.
Below are some of the dusted-off Nickelodeon comedies you can (record and) share with your kids. Show them what rocked the TV world in the pre-DVR era, when babies ruled the small screen, sketch comedy wasn't just for grown-ups, and not every kid star was also a musical sensation.
All That (1994-2005)
This sketch comedy show could be described as Saturday Night Live for kids -- ironic because one of All That’s breakout stars is current SNL funnyman Kenan Thompson.
Clarissa Explains It All (1991-1994)
Nickelodeon broke ground with Clarissa Explains It All, not just in terms of having a teen girl carry a sitcom, but in breaking down the "fourth wall" and talking directly to the audience. Melissa Joan Hart went on to star in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars and now stars in Melissa & Joey with fellow '90s icon Joey Lawrence (Whoa!).
Rugrats ruled Nickelodeon -- and pretty much all of kids' TV -- in the '90s. The stories of eight babies and their imagination-powered adventures is the longest running Nickelodeon show in history, at least until SpongeBob SquarePants breaks the record this year as scheduled.
The Adventures of Pete & Pete (1993-1996)
The least well-known but perhaps most lovably quirky Nickelodeon series, The Adventures of Pete & Pete focused on two brothers, both named Pete Wrigley. While Michelle Trachtenberg got her first big break on the show playing Nona F. Mecklenberg, Pete & Pete attracted many guest stars, including Selma Blair, Janeane Garofalo, Bebe Neuwirth, LL Cool J, Michael Stipe and Patty Hearst as "the nicest housewife in the world."
Kenan & Kel (1996-2000)
This standard sitcom about two wacky kids and their wacky life (no secret identities, magic powers, or spontaneous singing necessary) launched the careers of Kenan Thompson & Kel Mitchel. If Mitchel's voice sounds familiar, it may be because he played T-Bone in Clifford the Big Red Dog.
The Amanda Show (1999-2002)
Amanda is of course Amanda Bynes, one of the biggest Nickelodeon stars of the '90s. A spin-off from All That, The Amanda Show made a superstar of Bynes, who went on to star in network TV series like What I Like About You and major movies including Easy A. It also takes a big star to makes news retiring and un-retiring.