Things I Don’t Like About Television, Episode 26: Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, SpongeBob, silhouette, orange
Basically what the network is all about now.

Nickelodeon is a network I found by accident as a child. When I first tuned in, I was enthralled by some of the shows that were on the network. These shows mainly starred kids (!) and there were games shows like Double Dare (!). I remember shows like You Can’t Do That on Television and Clarissa Explains It All. Nickelodeon would eventually air its own cartoons and Hey Arnold! was one of my favorites. In the mid-1990’s, Snick (Saturday Night Nick) was born and there were a number of awesome shows aired initially. The network had variety and at times it was painful to see it turn over to Nick at Nite after Nickelodeon’s allotted hours for the day.

I can’t say that I really care to watch the network today. It also has more than one sister network and I can say the same about them. In fact, the programmers at Nickelodeon networks act like they have been huffing paint thinner since early adolescence. Just take a look at the schedule. It’s abhorrent.

First and foremost, I have to talk about the show that has overrun the network proper for a decade.


SpongeBob Squarepants…

Nickelodeon, SpongeBob Squarepants

…gets on my nerves for several reasons.

It first aired in 1999, and I was I was never a fan of the show when I first heard about it. Eventually, I had grown to tolerate it to a certain point. There were some things a liked.

Some of the humor worked at times. For example, Mr. Crabs was firmly a crooked boss, and Plankton tried to steal the secret recipe for the Crabby Patty sauce. There are also callbacks to older shows like Adam West’s “Batman,” with Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. At first look, SpongeBob Squarepants seemed like a kids show and that might have been a turnoff at first, but in reality much of the humor was for adults.

I liked a couple of the characters. I liked Squidward, because he hated the titular character. Sandy was an early favorite because she was “down to earth.”

The odd physics was amusing. Characters could play volleyball underwater, fires could be lit, burgers could be grilled and maintain their consistency underwater, there was a beach :O, etc. It has been lampshaded at times.

Unfortunately, there were more things about the show that I didn’t like. It starts with the titular character himself. I can only tolerate so much of that voice for a period of time, and it was so annoying how happy SpongeBob was, despite everything that happened to him. He looked forward to work despite being employed for such a selfish, greedy boss. SpongeBob was also oblivious to how much he had tormented Ms. Puff. Speaking of SpongeBob’s boss, Mr. Crabs, I didn’t like him, either. While the humor of a money-grubbing boss is funny in small doses, his character turned for the worst when he worked to ruin the Chum Bucket and steal Plankton’s recipe when Plankton found his own success. It’s bad enough to see real life bosses getting away with murder, so excuse me if one in even a comedy turns me off. I have always hated Patrick. I have never been a fan of dumb characters unless I found them funny. Patrick has never been funny to me and he turned into a real jerk who would sometimes torture SpongeBob.

What makes things worse is how the writers basically messed with the characters I liked. Sandy is rarely featured on the show now. Squidward went from being someone who mildly loathed SpongeBob to a straight up miserable jerk. He served as an actual antagonist in some episodes — and that was despite the things SpongeBob would do to Squidward.

Now, this is the biggest reason I grew to loathe the show: it’s overplayed. Beginning in 2006, SpongeBob was aired at least 5 times a day on Nick, and that does not count NickToons. This didn’t let up until now after the fact and I am amazed that the cartoon still has viewership.

I heard that this trend started after an episode of Blue’s Clues was replayed for an entire week without complaint on Nick Jr. In fact, the ratings for each airing increased each day.

Some years later, entire blocks were devoted to the same shows on Nickelodeon. It basically took the idea of the rare mini-marathon and pumped it full of steroids. While it can be fun if a favorite show is being aired (at first), it still sucks because there is no variety. This type of move is one sure way to make someone sick of a favorite show and change the channel.


Nick at Nite

SpongeBob is not the only show on Nickelodeon that has been overplayed. Look at Nick at Nite, for example. If you have ever looked into the early offerings in the nighttime slots on the network, you would know that classic shows like Make Room for Daddy, The Patty Duke Show, My Three Sons, and The Donna Reed Show each were featured at one point or another. There were even half-hour snippets of classic SNL. The lineup would change over the years, but not for the better.

Now, we see shows from the 1990s or the earliest part of this millennium. The classic shows were moved to TVLand, but even that was overrun by newer shows and reality TV.


NickToons

Even this network has run into this problem of over-airing shows. It is also met with the issue of network decay. SpongeBob is also rerun ad nauseum on NickToons. There are other shows that are shown in one-hour blocs on this network as well as Nickelodeon proper. Terrible animated series like Sanjay and Greg and Breadwinners are featured. CGI shows like the rebooted Alvin and the Chipmunks and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been shown on Nickelodeon proper and NickToons. And some programs, like Bella and the Bulldogs, aren’t even animated series, yet they’re on NickToons in one-hour blocs.


What I Won’t Forgive Nickelodeon for Doing

Nickelodeon shafted Mike and Bryan’s masterpiece. (And this was the real Avatar. Screw you, James Cameron! Your movie had very little to do with avatars and it was a rip-off of “Pocahontas!”)

Avatar: The Last Airbender at one time was among the shows aired often during the day on the NickToons network. That show was often shafted by Nickelodeon proper, which pushed back its premier and did the old bait-and-switch with Zoe 101. SpongeBob would be shown in time slots where A:TLA would have been shown, as well.

I came to this show late but I was able to catch up to the first two seasons and I fell in love with the story. Imagine how pissed I was when we had to wait to see new episodes.

This poor treatment for Avatar: The Last Airbender was carried over to its follow-up, Avatar: The Legend of Korra. While the latter was never really expected to live up to the former, I wanted to see the show and it was nice to have something to discuss.

How was the show shafted? First off, the episodes for each season were limited to 14 at the most. The show was moved from a workable, albeit early timeslot (Saturdays at 9 am) to a low-ratings day entirely (Friday). Little notice was given for the airing of the show, so some people often forgot to see it. And finally, the show finished its run completely off television. Fans were directed to Nickelodeon’s glitch website, but not everyone could access that.


About the Other Nickelodeon Channels

Now, I have nothing to say about TeenNick or Nick Jr. because frankly, I have never really watched those networks. But it should be noted that I don’t care for the programming since I’m not in the audience range and many of the shows featured on those networks wouldn’t appeal to me anyway. I have seen parts of Dora the Explorer and I naturally hated it. It’s because of the repetition, the map, the monkey, Dora…everything, really.

I loved Nickelodeon as a child since it had a larger docket of shows. I appreciated my favorites even more because they weren’t aired too often. I honestly cannot appreciate SpongeBob when it is being shown as much as it has on a daily basis. The same would go for any show that was aired like that and I would begin to hate A:TLA if I had watched it during all airings on NickToons. There is too much of a good thing…or anything, but I guess SpongeBob was immune to that for some reason (merchandising).

Next up, I’ll talk about a competitor (?) of Nickelodeon’s: Disney.


 

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