This Article is “All That”

By Cam Surette

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In September of 2015, Viacom’s Nickelodeon launched “The Splat,” a several hour programming block that airs on Teen Nick. This block features shows from Nickelodeon’s early days in the ‘90s, including “Rugrats” (1990-2006), “Doug” (1991-1994), “All That” (1994-2005), and others. It is remarkably nostalgic to tune in to “The Splat” from time to time. Perhaps I watched too many cartoons as a small child, but as an episode starts to progress, I can start to recall the premise of that particular episode and think back to the last time I saw it. “The Splat” is not the only attempt by companies to capture the attention of millennials. Cartoon Network also brought back “The Powerpuff Girls” (2016), as well as “Samurai Jack” (2001-2017). And it’s not just cartoons, other shows are making a comeback, too. Some have even been adapted into movies, such as “CHiPs” (1977-1983). But what is the deal with all of the retro content making its way back to television after decades of being off the air? Well, there is a demand for it, and where there is a demand, there is a chance for successful programming.

In an interview conducted by IGN and Cyma Zarghami, President of Viacom Kids and Family Group, Cyma says the following: “We have been listening closely to our first generation of Nick kids that are craving the great characters and shows they grew up with watching Nickelodeon in the ‘90s.” (ign.com) And since the launch of “The Splat,” the feedback must have been positive, because several interesting developments have emerged. Another old Nick favorite, “Hey Arnold!’ (1996-2004) will come back to Nickelodeon in April with a two-part television movie. Among die-hard fans of the show, this is highly anticipated. In “Hey Arnold!,” Arnold is a righteous and kind-hearted boy with a football shaped head. He lives in a boarding house with his two grandparents and spends a lot of time with his best friend, Gerald. “Hey Arnold!” was pretty deep for a children’s show at times. There were life lessons and emotional moments that would make me tear up when I was a child. The most emotional aspect of Arnold’s character is his parents. Several times during the show, Arnold is portrayed as being saddened and feeling alienated by the fact that he has no parents. In the 60th episode of the third season, “Parent’s Day,” there is a Parent’s Day tournament, where a student and their parent enter as a pair and compete for first place by participating in a series of races and other athletic field events. Arnold feels alienated because his parents are gone. It is revealed that when Arnold was a baby, Arnold’s parents went on an exploration to the jungle in order to assist a village in need. Arnold’s parents were never seen again. This episode was heartbreaking and leaves fans to speculate for years about what happened to Arnold’s parents. Since the show ended in 2004, there has been roughly 13 years of ambiguity with the series. Everyone simply wanted to know, where did this kid’s parents go? This could have been intentional, but I would suggest that it was a happy accident that worked in Nick’s favor: the new television movie will finally provide an answer. If there was a highly desired show, product, or anything really that was taken away for over a decade, the demand for its reintroduction would be tremendous. When the television movie airs in April, I anticipate that many fans, new and old, will tune in or save it to their DVRs to not only feel nostalgia, but also to finally learn the answer.

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Arnold thinking about his parents.

The revival of all shows, not just cartoons, happens more and more frequently over the course of this decade. Shows like “Hawaii Five-O” (1968-1980), “Full House” (1987-1995), and “Gilmore Girls” (2000-2007) have all been rebooted. During the past ten years, especially during the last two, television shows have been resurrected from the grave in astonishing numbers. The reason for this is popular demand, certainly. But not any show will have a second wind. Only shows that were successful will get another chance on air. The four shows listed previously all had a long run on television, meaning they had many fans, too. When making a television show, using a formula that has been proven to work and has a high demand will equal low risk and a high chance for success. If an executive has the option to choose between reviving a show that ran for nearly ten years, was a financial victory, and still has a large fandom versus an entirely new show and all the uncertainties a new show brings, obviously the reincarnation will win.

Shows that are resuscitated and put back on the air can attribute their chance for new life to the fans. The internet allows all sorts of people (for better or worse) to voice their feelings and opinions online. Since just about anyone today can be contacted via social media, email, or other forms of electronic messaging. When “The Mindy Project” (2012) was cancelled by FOX after its third season, Hulu picked it up. Why did Hulu pick it up? Well, one of the reasons were the fans of the show. Many people voiced disdain for the cancellation of the show. Support such as this exemplifies how powerful the demands of fans can be. Additionally, the return of “The Mindy Project” also is a great example of how entertainment has gained more outlets for exposure. With streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix, content can have a place to live and thrive without having to be on traditional television. In fact, many shows that are reintroduced land on these new platforms. Examples of such shows would be “Fuller House” (2016) (a “Full House” sequel)  and “Arrested Development” (2003-2013) returning to the screen by partnering with Netflix.

That being said, it should be noted that content that is reinvented does not always work out. In a review of “Arrested Development” (2003-2013) and its fourth season, an article from washingtonpost.com explains that the show was perceived to be not nearly as good was what it once was. Of course, it also contributes this notion to the fact that the fourth season was released exclusively on Netflix, thus making all episodes accessible all at once and binge watching easy to do. According to the article, binge watching is what may have added to the criticism of the season, because each episode does not have a chance to sit and digest.

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The cast of “Arrested Development.”

Whether the show is about a cartoon child with the head only a mother could love or the continuation of a sit com, if it is popular and profitable, there is a good chance that it will have another life. In today’s world, networks, writers, content creators, and actors are all able to be communicated with through the power of the internet. The voices of fans and their feelings of nostalgia can be heard now more than ever. And with streaming services becoming more and more apparent in how shows are renewed, the revival of shows will become a much commoner thing. I predict that what is considered retro now and what will be considered retro in the future will be adapted again and again, for the young and for the old.

10 thoughts on “This Article is “All That”

  1. Wow dude that was a trip down memory lane. I watched all of those shows on Nickelodeon growing up and I had no idea that “The Splat” was even a thing! I personally feel that the reason all of these shows are getting “rehashed” is because they were quality television shows that people relate to. I can still remember watching the “Parent’s Day” episode of “Hey Arnold!”, and it made me value just how lucky I was to have my mom and dad in my life. I remember that being one of the first moments a cartoon actually hit me in a realistic way, and this came out well over 10 years ago. I personally am glad to see that they are bringing some of these shows back, especially the cartoons, because a lot of them were left with many loose ends or no finalization to the character’s stories, and now is a good time to do that since the kids who watched the shows are now grown up enough to tune back and reminisce about their childhoods.

    -Adam Kalogeros

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  2. First off, I think that this is a great topic. I actually watched the Samurai Jack reboot premiere a few weeks ago, I was really surprised with how well it did. While watching the show, it hooked me in for a pilot, had awesome cinema photography, and was overall entertaining. I’m definitely a fan of the new Arrested Development as well, but I have to disagree with that article for sure. As a longtime fan, I wanted the episodes now (as I go through a few a day). I didn’t find any difficulty in trying to digest them, but to each his own.

    – TJ Rotolico

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  3. This is a really good description of the quality and lessons from kids shows. Kids tend to ignore the lessons, but remember them as they grow older. I remember watching Hey Arnold and wondering why he had no parents. I loved All That, and shows like that are pretty much SNL for kids. I never saw Arrested Development, but there can be comparison to the messages in Kids shows and Adult shows. I still watch All That sometimes for old times sake. Sometimes I think its funnier than SNL itself!
    -Nora Whouley

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  4. I used to watch all of these shows growing up and feeling that shows now don’t have the same meanings as they used to. I believe they are bringing some shows back because the technology has increased but some shows should just stay they way they are. I thought it was random for them to come back with sumari jack when there was many more popular shows out there. Also I tried watching new shows like power puff girls and teen titans but they are definitely not the same as the way I remember them because they have to modernize it and I just think it won’t be like it once was. – Angelica Bitto

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  5. There is a great number of revivals for television shows that have long been off the air, whether it be due to cancellation, or the fact that it has been given a well-deserved ending, but fans have been asking for more. Sometimes, these revivals don’t always work. One such example would be the Cartoon Network series, Teen Titans Go. The original Teen Titans cartoon, which ran from 2003 to 2006, was eventually rebooted in 2013 with a series called Teen Titans Go. Teen Titans Go is a comedic reimagining of the original dark, intense and gritty cartoon. And because of this, it is greatly disliked by the majority of the fans of the original Teen Titans cartoon.

    Another example of a revival that doesn’t always work is Sonic Boom, on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. The beloved video game character, Sonic the Hedgehog, has been adapted to television screens quite a few times, from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, to Sonic the Hedgehog (also known as Sonic SatAM), to Sonic Underground, to Sonic X, and most recently, Sonic Boom. Sonic Boom gives new designs and personalities to all your favorite characters that you grew up with on the Sega Genesis, and it is more comedic than other reiterations of Sonic the Hedgehog. The best way to describe Sonic Boom’s humor is that it is hit-or-miss. While it is not a necessarily unsuccessful revival, unlike Teen Titans Go, Sonic Boom is still an enjoyable series regardless.

    In the end, revivals for beloved television series don’t always work. They don’t always live up to their original source material.

    -David McInerney

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  6. There is a great number of revivals for television shows that have long been off the air, whether it be due to cancellation, or the fact that it has been given a well-deserved ending, but fans have been asking for more. Sometimes, these revivals don’t always work. One such example would be the Cartoon Network series, Teen Titans Go. The original Teen Titans cartoon, which ran from 2003 to 2006, was eventually rebooted in 2013 with a series called Teen Titans Go. Teen Titans Go is a comedic reimagining of the original dark, intense and gritty cartoon. And because of this, it is greatly disliked by the majority of the fans of the original Teen Titans cartoon.

    Another example of a revival that doesn’t always work is Sonic Boom, on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. The beloved video game character, Sonic the Hedgehog, has been adapted to television screens quite a few times, from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, to Sonic the Hedgehog (also known as Sonic SatAM), to Sonic Underground, to Sonic X, and most recently, Sonic Boom. Sonic Boom gives new designs and personalities to all your favorite characters that you grew up with on the Sega Genesis, and it is more comedic than other reiterations of Sonic the Hedgehog. The best way to describe Sonic Boom’s humor is that it is hit-or-miss. While it is not a necessarily unsuccessful revival, unlike Teen Titans Go, Sonic Boom is still an enjoyable series regardless.

    In the end, revivals for beloved television series don’t always work. They don’t always live up to their original source material.

    -David McInerney

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  7. When I was a kid I loved most of the old Nickelodeon Cartoons my favorite cartoon was Rocket Power. I thought that Hey Arnold was a great show because what kid doesn’t want to live with his or her grandparents. The thing that I like about this blog is how in depth the description of the episode is. I also liked how the picture at the end of the blog really solidifies the point of the blog I believe the reason that Nickelodeon is bringing back some of the classic shows is because people especially people who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s want to share the cartoons that they watched with younger kids. In closing some of the shows that are being revived were some of the best shows of the time and Nickelodeon and other networks are realizing that people want to see these shows.
    -Jack Lund

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  8. I really enjoyed this blog, I think you could be right about the fact that all these shows are coming back due to the demand for old content making its way back to television, I think the fact that shows like “full house” and “powerpuff girls” and “all that” are either re-airing or coming back now is a really cool trend that is going on. I can’t tell you how many times i’ll be talking with my cousin or my friends about television and someone mentions an old show from Nick or Disney or Cartoon network and how good television used to be when we were growing up and how we wish those shows would come back because those channels now just “aren’t as good” so i like how the splat and netflix among others are realizing there is a market for this kind of content. I also like the fact that you bring in the point that not all revivals of shows are successful like arrested development, i’ve actually heard that people are unhappy with the changes made to full house in fuller house and i know that people aren’t happy with the new animation style of the powerpuff girls so sometimes these revivals can fall short of expectations. maybe the splat has the right idea in terms of airing old content and sticking with what they know people will want to watch instead of trying to reboot/change a show that was so admired in our generations childhood. This was a very interesting blog to read and i like how you brought in a mulititude of examples of how tv reboots/reairs old content.
    – Sarah Seero

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  9. This was a enjoyable blog where fimiliarity comes into play. As a 90 child mentioning shows like rugrats and hey Arnold brought me back to my youth and I really could enjoy those shows because they were relatable to regalia people. Kids that don’t have it easy but do with what they have.

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