It’s no surprise that 90s Nickelodeon captured the perfect blend of creativity, imagination, and goofiness to make it the mecca of kid-friendly programming. From the younger-aimed Nick Jr. daytimes to the Stick Stickly afternoons, Nick at Nite’s classical-era sitcoms and a flawless Saturday SNICK line-up, Nickelodeon was the king of family entertainment.
One of my favorite Sesame-Street-esque pieces of the Nickelodeon entertainment puzzle was a little children’s variety show of sorts called Eureeka’s Castle. Co-created by R. L. Stine, of Goosebumps infamy (Say cheese and die, bitch!), this puppet-driven kids’ fantasy land ran from September 4, 1989 to June 30, 1995.
The show takes the viewer into the daily lives of various puppets and chronicles their whacky adventures that all involve some sort of important life lesson.
Martin Scorsese is an independent director who has had mainstream success, but he still holds onto his roots of independent filmmaking. A true auteur, Scorsese exemplifies an independent director with a very distinctive personal style. Despite his use of brutal violence to punctuate moments in his films, he never glorifies it. Throughout his filmography, Scorsese de-glorifies violence while showing the painful price of such actions with a realistic approach that characterizes his films and forms his distinctive style of filmmaking and storytelling.
While his presentation of violence may seem sadistic to some, it is its shocking nature that is the most important aspect of its realism. His characters always rely on their fists, knives, baseball bats, or even the butt of a gun to get their point across because violence, at its core, is a primitive act.
Although Blank Check was beloved by children who didn’t know any better, it was a complete failure and overall dud, in my adult opinion. Disney had the right formula, however. They knew kids would love to see stories about other kids who were rich or unique in some way going through the same trials and tribulations that everyone else goes through in the process of growing up.
One of the best examples of a well-executed pains-of-growing-up kid adventure film is Disney’s First Kid. Released 2 years after Blank Check, First Kid had time to mature as a script and also pooled enough cash to wave in a well-established comedian’s face. Sinbad is the perfect comic foil in any film (See: House Guest, Jingle All the Way). His blend of street smarts and physical comedy make for a lovable blend and a believable lead character.
Disney’s First Kid is a 1996 film about young Luke Davenport, an average 13-year-old boy who lives a not-so-average lifestyle. Luke is son of the current president of the United States and he’s locked up in his Capitol Hill kingdom like Jasmine in Aladdin, never allowed any fun and rarely getting to see his busy politico parents. This kind of stifling of childhood causes him to act out in various entitled, disobedient ways, but it’s hard to blame him.
Steven Seagal has always been a bit of an enigma. From his claim of being the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, to his numerous sexual harassment allegations, his band Thunderbox, and his clairvoyant vigilante police work, the man is more interesting than everyone you know in your life combined. In the age of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, Seagal stood above the crowd with his vast martial arts knowledge in the form of the Japanese practice of Aikido. Aikido, in a nutshell, is a more defensive martial art that utilizes the momentum of your opponent to incapacitate them instead of using your own brute strength. Suffice to say, it’s pretty fucking cool.
It was my dad who introduced me to the wonderful world of Seagal and all the violent entertainment he was so apt to provide. I’ve seen every one of Seagal’s films, including the shitty straight-to-DVD ones, and I’ve loved every minute of them. My first experience with the pony tailed bad ass was in the film Under Siege. Under Siege is a wonderfully hilarious, exciting action romp in which a former Navy SEAL turned cook, Casey Ryback (Seagal), is the only person who can stop a gang of terrorists when they seize control of a US Navy battleship.
The mind of a child is a difficult thing to tame. With no space for historically significant events, mathematics, or any practical kind of information, kids instead possess minds that are full of fanciful imaginings. Monsters, magic, faraway lands and their toy collections are far more likely to occupy their rapidly-developing brains than any kind of scholastic lesson. However, there is one thing that can captures a child’s attention like lint on tape: icky, slimy, disgusting bugs.
Originally made by Mattel in 1964, Creepy Crawlers is a creative toy for kids who are old enough to play with hot things without horribly burning themselves. Basically, the toy consists of die-cast metal molds of assorted critters that are a receptacle for an oozing, liquid chemical substance called Plastigoop. The goop is heated in the machine until it set into a semi-solid, rubbery form and then the critters are popped out of their metal molds once cooled. The result is endless amounts of rubbery bug toys that make any kid squeal with joy.
The problem with the older models is that they actually contained an electric hot plate oven. In a kid’s hands, this thing might have well been an unattended pack of matches. With all of the concerns over child safety, Mattel released a 2.0 version in 1978 in which the Plastigoop was heated by itself and then poured into cold molds. It was a failure because this method took over an hour to make a completed creature and the reformulated Plastigoop did not work well at all. The attempted revival faded into obscurity.