11 Nickelodeon Shows From the '80s

YouTube
YouTube

Plenty of former Nickelodeon viewers think of the network as the home of Clarissa Explains It All, Rugrats, You Can't Do That on Television, and SpongeBob SquarePants. Here are 11 shows from the '80s that may not be remembered quite as fondly, but are still worth another look.

1. Out of Control

The network’s first original live-action series has another big distinction to its name—it was the first home of Dave Coulier’s “Cut...it...out!” catchphrase. A sketch comedy show that skewed a bit older, Out of Control came complete with recurring characters, wacky skits, and bits like “Let’s Eat,” a segment that saw Coulier hitting various restaurants that claimed to have “the world’s best” of a certain item. The show ran for only one season, from October 1984 to May 1985.

2. Eureeka’s Castle

Co-created and written by popular Goosebumps author R.L. Stine, Eurkeea’s Castle was a charming, family-friendly outing that relied on puppets and wizardry to present some pretty clever characters and situations. Set in a wind-up castle that doubles as a music box (that's also owned by a lovable giant), Eureeka’s Castle focused on wizard-in-training Eureeka and her pack of wacky friends, most notably the tail-challenged dragon Magellan. The show first debuted in 1989 and ultimately carried on for six full seasons.

3. Adventures of the Little Koala

If there’s one big takeaway from the cartoon series The Adventures of the Little Koala, it’s that the sleepy marsupials go nutty for eucalyptus leaves. But the Japanese production was all about multiculturalism—both in execution and release—as it followed the eponymous little koala, Roo-bear, and his many animal and human friends. It was translated and dubbed into other languages, including Greek, Italian, and French. The English-language version first aired on Nick in October of 1984, running 52 episodes until March of the next year.

4. Count Duckula

This British show focused on, you guessed it, an animated duck version of Count Dracula. Originally spun-off from the Nick series Danger Mouse, the dastardly duck-centric cartoon debuted on the network in September 1988, eventually running on the channel for just one season (though 65 episodes were made). The series was set in Transylvania and primarily used bird versions of classic characters—Doctor Von Goosewing filled in for Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, for example—to tell kid-friendly versions of frightful tales.

5. Don’t Just Sit There

The early years of original Nick programming were punctuated with kid adaptions of adult formats, like the talk show Don’t Just Sit There, which was a mix of chat and comedy. The show was hosted by various kids and teens over its three-season run, most notably Will Friedle, who went on to star in the classic series Boy Meets World. The show boasted plenty of cool guests—from William Shatner to New Kids on the Block—along with its own late night TV-style house band, Out of Order.

6. Standby: Lights, Camera, Action!

Nick has long tried to make educational fare fun and relevant, and there’s no greater example of that than Standby: Lights, Camera, Action!, a series that went behind the scenes to show its younger viewers what it takes to make a movie. It’s a cool idea on its own, but you know what made it even better? It was hosted by Leonard Nimoy. Spock himself took kids behind the camera for films like Return of the Jedi, The Dark Crystal, Octopussy, and yes, even Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

7. Kids' Court

A frightening idea to parents during any era, Kids' Court sought to settle the grievances of viewers by way of mailed-in issues, on-camera child representation, and a scream-o-meter to determine winners. Very true to real-life court! The audience got to choose sentences to mete out to the bad guys, all but guaranteeing a wild and raucous time for everyone. While its grasp on the legal system was loose, the show tried to inject some education during commercial breaks, when it would present quiz questions about the actual legal way to do things. The show aired briefly from 1988 to 1989.

8. PopClips

How progressive is Nickelodeon? PopClips is generally viewed as the direct predecessor of a little something called MTV. Created by former Monkee Mike Nesmith, the '80s-era program was the first music video-centric show, featuring clips from bands like The Pretenders, Huey Lewis and the News, The Police, and The Rolling Stones. The show even had VeeJays. PopClips only aired for a bit—from late 1980 to early 1981—but its influence is felt even now.

9. Think Fast!

Nick has long loved game shows (perhaps even more than talk shows), and the energetic Think Fast! was one of their first. Airing between 1989 and 1991, the show combined some classic tropes—two teams of two, buzzing in, playing for money—with some interesting new twists, including an event that echoed the repetition of the classic Simon toy, a misdirection game that involved a random clown, and the ever-weird “Leaning Tower of Stuff” (that’s the one where you need to craft a leaning tower of, uh, stuff).

10. Turkey Television

This Canadian sketch comedy show was centered around an animated turkey named Thurman T. Turkey, who specialized in repackaging TV shows from around the world. For example, it featured a Dr. Joyce Brothers parody. Weird Al Yankovic showed most of his videos on the series. Like the show's “Hams Across America” sketch, it was all very strange and very funny. Sadly, it lasted just one season (from 1985 to 1986).

11. Hey, Dude

Sure, this may be a bit of cheat—who can forget Hey, Dude?—but you might not realize the show actually started in the '80s, not in the heady days of the '90s. The dude ranch-set teen sitcom made its debut on the network on July 14, 1989, and continued on for five seasons. The series followed the hijinks of the Bar None Dude Ranch's charming teen staff. Fans will be happy to know that Hey, Dude still pops up on TeenNick from time to time.

14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29

Amazon

This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28

Amazon

The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24

Amazon

Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19

Amazon

If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275

Amazon

The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24

Amazon

Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

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10 Great Gifts for Teens

Fjallraven/Polaroid
Fjallraven/Polaroid

If it’s been a few years since you were a teenager, you might be feeling at a loss when it comes to finding the perfect gift for the teen in your life. But you don’t have to worry—we’ve culled the internet to figure out what’s cool these days, and we found 10 items to suit any teen (and any price point).

1. Fjällräven Kånken Mini Classic Backpack for Everyday; $70

Fjällräven/Amazon

Fjällräven’s Kånken backpack was originally introduced in 1978 as an affordable and comfortable bag for Swedish schoolchildren, but it recently took off as a trend among American high schoolers and college students. With 43 different color options, chances are you’ll be able to find the perfect trendy backpack for the teen in your life.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Hydro Flask Standard-Mouth Water Bottle; $30–$35

Hydro Flask/Amazon

Hydro Flasks aren’t only trendy, they’re sturdy and environmentally friendly. Plus, they keep hot drinks warm and icy drinks cool for an absurdly long amount of time. The standard-mouth water bottle is currently available on Amazon in 17 different colors, but the brand also offers tumbler cups and coffee mugs depending on your niece/nephew/cousin/friend/child’s preference.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Polaroid Originals OneStep+ Bluetooth-Connected Instant Film Camera; $140

Polaroid Originals/Amazon

Teens can kick it back old school with this Polaroid camera that hides some surprisingly contemporary features. Using a special app, users can fine-tune their camera settings to suit their personal tastes. Plus, this camera makes it possible to capture two scenes in a single frame, so it's that much easier to create uniquely artsy Polaroid pics.

Buy it: Amazon

4. 4th-Generation Echo Dot with Clock; $60

Amazon

Tech-wise, the fourth-generation Echo Dot is almost identical to its third-generation predecessor. But the updated spherical design seems poised to make the Echo Dot a worthy contender for traditional alarm clocks—the speaker face shows the time and it even includes a tap-to-snooze function for drowsy sleepers.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Bubble Tea Kit; $38

Uncommon Goods

Part of the reason bubble tea is so popular is that it’s customizable—and what could be more customizable than making it yourself? This kit, made by an Atlanta-based couple, comes with two reusable straws and enough supplies to make up to eight servings.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

6. Mixtape Card Game; $20

Uncommon Goods

This party game challenges players to find the perfect songs to suit specific prompts. Some cards might prompt players to use Spotify or Youtube to search for the songs with the best guitar solos, while other cards call for participants to play their “favorite slow dance love jam from junior high.” This game is sure to be a hit at any high school sleepover or house party—or, in true 2020 style, at any digital hangout or Zoom meeting.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

7. Giant Flour Tortilla Throw Blanket; $18-$35

Mermaker/Amazon

This goofy double-sided blanket turns any human into a giant-size burrito, and it comes in four different sizes to suit any height. One reviewer even went so far as to say that “once you wrap yourself in it, you will be convinced that you are a burrito.”

Buy it: Amazon

8. The Cup of Destiny; $22

Shelter Harbor Press/Amazon

Here’s a prediction: Your hunt for the perfect gift is almost over. This kit is ideal for the teenager who is fascinated by the supernatural and loves exploring new ideas. Included, you’ll find a 96-page illustrated instruction book along with a cup and a saucer marked with patterns and symbols.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Wreck This Journal: Now in Color; $9

Penguin Books/Amazon

This journal is not intended to be pretty. It’s made for messiness and exploration and a little bit of chaos. Artistic-minded teens will love filling out pages that prompt them to catalog various stains or poke holes through the paper. Reviewers say it’s not only a source of creative inspiration, though—it’s also a stress reliever. And considering that the middle-school and high-school years aren’t exactly known for being relaxing, this journal could be a welcome reprieve from the daily pressure of managing homework and a social life.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Therapy Dough; $15

Uncommon Goods

Some teens focus better and relax more easily when they have something to fidget with. If the teen in your life fits that description, this therapy dough may be the perfect gift for them. Each 4.5-ounce container is infused with essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, orange, or pine, making relaxation smell delicious (and all natural!).

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

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