Summer Not-So-Doldrums: Elementary Edition

I’ve found a way to balance all the dark TV shows I watch and capture a bit of a summer vacation vibe at the same time!

For many, summer break conjures up memories of camp and other structured activities.  Not so for me.  I grew up in Florida, so, yes, there are countless hours of time clocked at swimming pools, roller skating outside, late-night microwaved smores and even the occasional beach trip.  However, there was also a lot of time spent indoors, cowering from the daily afternoon thunderstorm, laying around reading, playing and, yes, watching TV.

Back then, we were told that TV “rots our brains” so there’s somehow a perverse bit of pleasure in kicking back and watching some of those same shows as an adult.  Granted, some of the Nickelodeon fare was probably much ‘healthier’ than, say, reality shows today, but somehow I still feel like I’m indulging in a particularly sugar-laden bit of junk food when I watch kid stuff.

It’s been years since I’ve had cable TV, so you’d think I’d be well-versed in every legal outlet, but somehow, I always manage to forget Amazon Instant Video, even though I’m a Prime Member and have access to a lot of TV shows for free.  I suspect it’s because I’ve been a member since before they introduced the instant video perk – but who knows, maybe I’ve just been oblivious all this time.  At any rate, if something isn’t available on Netflix or Hulu, I tend to stop there – until a friend mentioned that several 90s-era Nickelodeon shows were available.

Since then, I’ve been on a bit of an Are You Afraid of the Dark? bender – it was my all-time favorite Nick (or, well, SNICK) show in elementary school.  And I got so carried away by the rayon flowered-print dresses and flannel of the early 90s that I knew I needed more.  Thus, I turned to another show that featured heavily in my elementary school years – the original Beverly Hills, 90210, also on Amazon Instant.

Unfortunately, DVD licensing issues means most of the 90s music has been replaced with generic, recent stuff, a common complaint with older shows.  I’m willing to forget it, though, when I see a tiny, gawky Brian Austin Green (I just found out he married Megan Fox and it blows my mind).

Time Warp

As fun as instant streaming is, there’s something else that even better captures the spirit of my couch potato youth, and I’m almost afraid to share it for fear of it being spoiled somehow: Nick Reboot.  It’s a live stream of Nick shows, primarily from the 90s and early 200s.  You can see what’s currently playing, and what the next few shows will be, but there’s no set “schedule.”  There are often classic Nickelodeon bumpers surrounding the episodes as well.  In essence, it’s like turning on the TV to Nick at some random point in the 90s, but without commercials.

Sure, there are shows that I’ll skip (most of the cartoons except for Doug and Rugrats) but I’ll happily leave on the game shows (Nick Arcade!), or episodes of classic shows like The Adventures of Pete and Pete or Clarissa Explains It All.  Some shows have aged remarkably well - Pete and Pete as a prime example – while others have, well, aged, like The Secret World of Alex Mack (which, for the record, I absolutely loved as a kid).  The only show I wish they’d include?  Roundhouse – a part of SNICK that is frequently forgotten because it was so late at night, but a piece of singing, dancing, and sketch-acting goodness.

It can produce fascinating discussion about what makes ‘good’ or ‘enduring’ television, pop culture, and the psychology of kids; or, it can lull you into a nice, sedate state, depending on the kind of day you’ve had.   Oh, and if you feel like being social, there’s an IRC chat, as well.  What it’s definitely not is dark and depressing; even the scariest (relatively speaking) episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? just give me warm fuzzies and happy memories.

So what about you?  What do you like to watch when you want warm fuzzies, or when you want to wrap yourself in nostalgia?  Have you tried out Nick Reboot?  What shows were your favorites?  Share your thoughts and memories below! 

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