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Deuce’s D- Book Report #1: Slimed!

(Photo by Penguin Publishing)

In case you haven’t figured it out, I like to take a moment every once in a while and examine things from my youth. Not even necessarily for nostalgia’s sake, but to take inventory and try to figure out what the hell was going on at various points in my youth with a more mature and objective eye.

Okay, a more objective eye.

I mean, I have an entire regular feature on this here website devoted to reflecting upon the absurdities of old music videos. Mostly it involves making fun of bassists. Note to bassists in music videos: chill. You knew getting into it that the guitarist and singer were probably going to get more groupies than you. Take off the dumb hat and enjoy the ride.

 

This isn’t in the book but if you thought I wouldn’t include Katy Perry getting slimed in this article, you’re a dope. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

This review, though? This is entirely nostalgia. It’s all classic Nickelodeon in its obnoxiously green-and-orange, doo-wop-theme-song-having glory. The book is called SLIMED!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age by Mathew Klickstein. The oral history has become a popular vehicle for books recounting a specific era in time, and for good reason: as far as I’m concerned, stories are more thoroughly and interestingly told when they’re told by the people who lived them. Conflicting memories, biases, all of these things shining through helps create a culture in your head, a feel as opposed to cold facts, which is, to me, probably the most important aspect of understanding a musical scene, the culture of a sports team, or in this case, a fledgling network.

That being said, I’ll get the only real downside to this book out of the way early because it’s a glaring one: there is no indicator after the person’s name to tell you who they are, what show they worked on, when they were there, etc. You can figure it out from context, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for putting the book down ten pages in out of frustration.

 

Pete & Pete pretty much invented the modern “hipster.” (Photo by Nick)

But it would be a real shame if one were to do that because this book is chock full of interesting stories, trivia, and perspectives that not only touch the nostalgic aspect of Nickelodeon, but also make you realize how utterly weird the network really was. I mean, seriously, the network was several TV generations ahead of its time. The single-camera, no-canned-laughter style of sitcom that’s all the rage now (The Office, Modern Family, Community) was used by Salute Your Shorts 20 years agoThe animation styles of Doug and Rugrats were incredibly unique. The tone of Ren and Stimpy was completely off-the-wall. This has it all, from the origins of the network and You Can’t Do That on Television to Melissa Joan-Hart’s mother being a complete stage-mom on the set of Clarissa Explains It All to Marc Summers and everyone else invoked with Double Dare figuring out just how the hell this crazy show was going to work. The stories of how these art students and members of the punk and no wave scenes of downtown New York in the early 80s came to start their own network that became a multi-billion dollar empire to rival Disney is fascinating, hilarious, and inspiring.

 

Pretty much the opposite of Pete and Pete. (Photo by Nick)

It also makes you realize that when people say “Man, Nickelodeon today isn’t nearly as good as when I was a kid” isn’t hyperbole or rose-tinted glasses. Shows like Pete and Pete and Rocko’s Modern Life had a certain self-aware weirdness and rebelliousness that has no real connection at all to the smoothed edges and gloss of Sam and Cat or Hannah Montana.

Yes, I just had to Wikipedia “List of current Nickelodeon shows.”

 

How the hell did these people get to have a television network? And how did it not fall apart along the way? This book answers those questions, but doesn’t make the story any less mind-boggling.

 

PLUS AND MINUS
+ Who doesn’t love reminiscing about old Nickelodeon shows?
+ This gets a pretty comprehensive group of people to talk about the shows; almost all of the classics are represented by cast members, producers, and crew members
+ You find out where they got the term “gak” and it’s incredible.
+ The fascinating and unbiased story behind the battle between Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi and the network is worth the price of admission alone.
+ YOU GET TO KNOW THE RECIPE FOR THE SLIME! All of them, in fact.

 

- By far the biggest drawback of the book is the lack of a notation regarding who is speaking. I’ve read plenty of oral biographies before and every single one of them has provided parentheses after each quote indicating who they are. I’m a modern man: I have Playstation 4 and internet porn to get to. I don’t have time to be checking the index or Wikipedia to figure out who is who. That being said, with a little bit of patience, you can figure out who each person is by the context of the quote. But I can see how it would be jarring and a turn-off to a lot of people reading it.
- You now have to face the fact that most of the Nickelodeon shows you adored growing up are over 20 years old.
If you want to take a really fun trip down memory lane, you can pick the book up from Amazon here.

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