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Nicktoons



It was sometime during the turn of this millennium, that I came back home from school to see a new kids’ channel playing on my television set. Out of curiosity, I watched as the story unfolded about a young wallaby that moves from Australia to America and has a temperamental toad for a neighbour and a naive steer and a nerdy turtle for best friends. That was Rocko’s Modern Life and as I watched the theme song end with its signature “SPUNKYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!” I realised that I was reckoning with a new generation of cartoons- cartoons featured exclusively on Nickelodeon. Nicktoons.
Not to say that I moved away from Hanna-Barbera, Looney Tunes, Merry Melodies and the like. They shall remain evergreen classics. But you had to admit that Nicktoons had a certain novelty to them. While Cartoon Network was vintage at its very best, Nickelodeon was, shall we say, more contemporary and modern in its content. Even though the channel’s fortes were comedy sketch shows, game shows and teen-centric dramas, its animated features also had a sizable audience.
If you grew up in what I like to call the Harry Potter generation, then you must’ve seen shades of Harry, Ron and Hermione in Krumm, Ickis and Oblina of Aaah! Real Monsters!  A school for training monsters in scaring, a headmaster whose name rhymes with the first syllable of the name of his wizarding counterpart – hard not to draw parallels. And if you’re an animal lover like me, then you would’ve loved tailing Eliza of The Wild Thornberrys in talking to amnesiac hippopotamuses and llamas that raised curious points of self-existentialism.
Personally, I never really like Rugrats but it was a heavyweight as far as Nicktoons were concerned. I suppose it’s endearing that a bunch of babies can be such thick friends, following a policy of “When one of us has gots a problem, all of us has gots a problem!”  The follow-up, All Grown Up, probably lost its charm because they were <refer to title of the show>. For people who couldn’t make up their minds whether they prefer cats to dogs or vice versa, they were merged together in a bizarre creation called CatDog. Again, not captivating enough for me, possibly because Cat always got the short end of the stick and my nepotism for felines was quite well developed at that time.
If you wish to know the difference between ‘strange’ and ‘weird’, watch Ren & Stimpy, which was both. And not in a nice way either. But strange and weird in a good way was Kablam!  Watching a show about a comic book where Henry and June present a show on short animated features like Action League Now, Sniz and Fondue, Prometheus and Bob etc. was convoluted and curiously cool as well!
But I’ll list Hey Arnold! and The Angry Beavers as my favourites. I can’t explain what exactly fascinates me about the everyday trials of a football-shaped head boy and his small town friends or two beavers that’re not really that angry and introduced a new word in my vocabulary, spooty. Cartoons don’t necessary involve rational thought processes and I don’t think liking them should either.
Hence ends the first generation of Nicktoons. The coming years saw the introduction of shows like Rocket Power, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, As Told By Ginger etc. They were fresh but not exactly refreshing in my opinion. Apart from engendering an idle interest in daredevil sports, enlightening me that robotic dogs can be named Goddard and attempting to portray the adolescent challenges faced while growing up, none of them made a lasting impression.
Until I was doused generously by someone who lives in a pineapple under the sea. That’s right, absorbent and yellow and porous was he. He’s none of that nonsense, he’s something you wished. And he dropped on the deck and flopped like a fish! Spongebob Squarepants seemed to me to be the last of the Nicktoons. Nothing that came along with it or after it could recapture and retain that brand’s charm. Not The Fairly Odd Parents. Not Chalk Zone.
That was at least bearable. Then the channel was seized by rabid Indianisation and we lost all the good ones. You don’t see any of the 90’s stuff playing anymore. You now get outlandish cartoons with outlandish names like Ninja Hattori, Oggy and the Cockroaches or Keymon Ache, which sounds Bengali for “How is it?” To which I reply, not good at all!

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Sayonee Ghosh Roy
I humbly profess to be spoilt, pampered brat with old-school upbringing. You could let me loose in a book-store and I'd never come out, except if you lure me out with coffee and Italian food.


 

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