The Signal trumpets the golden years of Nick

Kel Mitchell’s visit to campus inspired a small wave of nostaligia down in the Signal office.

Nickelodeon’s diversity of cartoons and live-action shows gave children of the ’90s a brightly colored outlet for their collective imaginings. Along with stations like Cartoon Network and Disney Channel, Nick paved the way for a new TV-based culture that binds us to this day — no matter where we’ve ended up. Recounted below are some of the most memorable pieces of that culture.

“Rugrats”

The diminutive kings and queens of Nicktoons? Klasky-Csupo’s through-the-bottle odysseys still color what’s left of my childhood imagination (and there’s a lot of it left). A few weeks ago, while touching on an instance of surreal personification in 19th century literary journalism, I made an in-class comparison to “Rugrats.” Hesitantly, I asked my professor, “are you familiar with ‘Rugrats?’” She replied, fortunately, that she was. ~Matt

“The Angry Beavers”

When I first saw Norbert and Daggett moving away from their family to build a dam of their own, I fell in love with the witty dialogue and goofy voices that came to be “The Angry Beavers.” From Muscular Beaver to Old Gramps, the show always brought a smile to my face. Favorite character: Daggett. ~Jeff

“The Secret World of Alex Mack”

Not only was she the quintessential ’90s pseudo-grunge icon, this preteen protagonist was the victim of a chemical spill — making her pretty much the essence of cool. Fighting “the man” via her puddle powers, it’s difficult NOT to relate to Alex Mack. ~Katie

Helga Pataki (“Hey Arnold!”)

Helga Pataki is without a doubt the most complex cartoon character in the history of children’s programming. Her intelligence, her angst, her bullishness all worked to obscure and motivate the beautifully tormented poet that emerged in the privacy of her closet shrine. Helga was a “modern” woman and therefore an enigma — repulsed by conventional femininity, yet secretly attracted to it on her preteen quest to reconcile her varied impulses and carve out her own womanhood as the masculine, unibrowed girl with a pink bow and a passionate love for the nice, even-headed guy. ~Laura

Face

Okay, so “Face” was on Nick Jr. and was only as long as a commercial, but his color-changing visage is burned into my memory forever. He was the host of Nick Jr. and his duties included introducing and wrapping up shows, expressing different emotions (often with corresponding colors), making a trumpet sound and talking to the audience in a funny voice — impressive feats for someone devoid of all body parts save for two beady eyes and a lipless mouth. Face was always a welcome friend on my television screen and even though I didn’t stop what I was doing to watch a lot of shows when I was little, I would often pause just long enough to watch Face. ~Brianna

Kenan & Kel

Aww, here it goes! Seriously, who still giggles every time someone asks if you want orange soda? I do I do I do I doo-ewwww. And who dreams about getting a job at Good Burger? I do I do I do I doo-ewwww. And who believes that Nickelodeon will never be as good as it used to be? I do I do I do I doo-ewwww. Thank you, Kenan and Kel, for making the ’90s worth growing up in. ~Alyssa

“Doug”

“Doug” gave kids a sense of what it was like to be a kid who went through embarrassing situations. He even had an alter ego named Quailman! Doug survived through his underwear-on-the-outside, belt-on-head-wearing alter ego, and of course, his friends who came in all different colors and sizes, with names like Patti Mayonnaise and Skeeter. ~Hilarey

“The Fairly OddParents”

“The Fairly OddParents” is a great cartoon that probably not enough of students our age watch. The hilarity that ensues in each episode with the foolish wishes of young Timmy Turner and the funny commentary of Cosmo, his fairy godfather, never ceases to make me laugh. And with a slew of great characters such as the diabolical Mr. Crocker and Adam West as himself/Catman, “The Fairly Oddparents” is cartoon comedy at its finest. ~Garrett

“Rocko’s Modern Life”

When I think back to my obnoxiously orange, Nickelodeon-filled childhood, the first cartoon that pops into my head is “Rocko’s Modern Life.” I loved that everything about it was a little off. Whether it was Rocko’s inability to properly assimilate into American society (who says “Happy Christmas?”), Filburt’s obsessive idiosyncrasies, or the hellish Peaches character that played with a ball and paddle, “Rocko’s Modern Life” was my personal favorite. ~Bobby

“Spongebob Squarepants”

I was a late rider on the Nickelodeon bandwagon, but I joined mostly on the merits of “Spongebob Squarepants.” It’s one of those shows that is mindless entertainment that makes you think — Spongebob’s mindless love of his menial job, Mr. Krab’s obsession with money, Patrick’s obvious stupidity, Sandy’s girl power and ka-ra-te and Plankton’s plans to reign supreme in the burger world all combine to make this show so much more than a silly kid’s show. Plus Patchy the Pirate and Polly the parrot puppet? Pure genius ’Nough said. ~Carrie