The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo: The Mystery of the Mice that Roared

Let me preface this by saying, this show was the best. If you were a child of the 90’s who loved Nancy Drew Mysteries, then you were into The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. In each episode, Shelby shows us one of her case files (on an old ass computer that was very innovative at the time). She also lives with her grandpa, Pat Morita, who I recently learned once had his own detective series!

This Christmas episode is kind of weird. The mystery starts at a restaurant where someone has swapped out an entree with um…live mice…

The very easy solution here is to not serve covered dishes at the table…but this restaurant is very into the room service aesthetic, so unfortunately live mice have been served up for dinner. Yikes.

When the health department closes the restaurant. Shelby not only tries to find the culprit because she loves a good mystery, but also because her friend’s parents own the place.

Clue #1: An empty strawberry basket filled with cheese is in the kitchen trash. (Both Shelby and the detective think it’s mouse-related because obviously this kitchen wouldn’t have cheese for any other reason. But to be fair, the cheese in the strawberry container is odd and does look just like the cheese on the mouse plate).

Back at the station, we’re introduced to a B-Plot: Secret Santa! (More on this later.)

Clue #2: The chef destroyed the original plate of food before the detectives arrived. (Okay, but seriously who sends a detective to respond to mice at a restaurant? Is this a thing?)

Oh also the C-plot is Pat Morita playing Santa for a bunch of underprivileged kids. He takes knowledge of Santa’s backstory very seriously and studies the lore extensively throughout the episode.

In the midst of all these happenings, the restaurant owners’ older daughter finds the time to help the younger daughter study fractions by using measuring cups and the restaurants supplies…but okay that also feels like another health department no-no. Anyway…

Clue #3: A very small attempt at arson in the restaurant’s kitchen with a type-written note that mentions going out of business. Bold move to leave a paper message in the midst of arson. (Also note, the couple’s younger daughter tries to throw the half-burned note away before Shelby can read what’s left of it.)

Clue #4: The chef buys cooking spices at the market. Buying his own ingredients is suspicious cause he’s trying to destroy the restaurant and take it back from the owners (according to Shelby) but…I dunno…I’m not buying it.

Later on at the restaurant, the food has been spiked with chilies!!!

Clue #5: One guest’s table doesn’t get any spiked food. Shelby also remembers that she saw this guest drive past the restaurant on the night of the fire.

And time for another C-Plot, Pat Morita appearance. This time, he’s testing the authenticity of his beard.

Clue #6: Shelby’s friend’s eyes hurt from the chilies but all she touched at the restaurant were the plates, not the food. She also touched the sugar dispenser.

This final clue helps Shelby solve the mystery…

Did you solve it as well?

Time to find out…


She doesn’t see her parents anymore because they are sooooo busy. They’re even working on Christmas Eve!! And before you’re like woah woah woah but that arson was still psychotic — the fire was an accident. The note was the intention (the candle was presumably to call attention to it). The good news is they decided to keep the restaurant but just close for family time on Christmas Eve. And hopefully, that child decided to stop handling live mice for good.

And now back to the B-Plot: Shelby and her crush are each other’s secret santas and they each got one another thoughtful gifts and they are probably in looooooooveeeeee. Shelby made him a painting and he made her a mixtape. The 90’s awwwww.

And Pat Morita finally nails the Santa thing.

And in what we now know is workplace sexual harassment, Shelby’s boss makes her kiss her crush underneath the mistletoe.

Very Special Lesson(s): Really what I learned is that it’s important to STATE YOUR NEEDS and not BE RUINING EVERYONE’S LIVES because you’re being passive-aggressive. Yes, this culprit was a child and so I’m willing to grade on a cruve. Now that I know she’s not literally trying to burn down the place, she seems fine. However, I think we could have avoided this whole thing if she had simply left a note (without an open flame) saying she wanted to spend Christmas Eve at home as a family.

Also Pat Morita is the perfect Santa. I mean. Wow. I didn’t know I needed to see Pat Morita as Santa, but my heart knew. You know? And it was awesome.

I also do have some questions about how long they left that food unattended in the kitchen long enough that the kid could swap out a plate of food for a plate of mice but oh well it’s Christmas so I’ll overlook it!

I hope you have a Merry Christmas, Very Special Readers! See you in 2022 for more very special episodes!

Kenan & Kel: Merry Christmas, Kenan

First of all, I forgot this theme song was by Coolio and it totally slaps. Secondly, Kel introduces this episode as a “Very Special Episode,” which made me feel even more like I was in the right place. It’s always good to have your selections validated!

After the pre-show intro, we cut to Kel decorating Kenan’s family’s Christmas tree with orange soda — which reminds me, head over here to check out my orange soda donut recipe.

On Christmas Eve, Kenan places a downpayment on a bike. Kel tags along to the store and finds his dream present — and one of the best props I have ever seen — a tubaphone.

Kel Mitchell on Twitter: "Hey Wisdom it's almost Christmas! Happy Christmas  Eve! ūü饂ô•ÔłŹ" / Twitter

Seriously. There’s even art of this thing. God, I love the internet.

‚ĚĄūüéÄūüďĮ Tubaphone Kenan and Kel ūüéÄūüďĮ‚ĚĄ en 2021
Tubaphone by King Arlequin

While at the store, Kenan and Kel witness a mob of small children attack Santa. With the original toy store Santa no longer up to the job, the store manager recruits Kenan to be Santa for a flat rate of $100. Kel gets to be an elf…I’m not sure if he’s also being paid or just being supportive. Either could be true with Kel.

Kenan & Kel" (1996) - Episode: Merry Christmas, Kenan | Kenan e kel, Papai  noel, Noel

Turns out, Kenan is the best Santa ever. He evens speaks an obscure language called Fishlockian and is able to sing a carol with this small Scandanavian child:

Everything is going great until he promises a bike to a kid who asks for the gift for his sister — only to find out that their mom can’t afford it. So Kenan decides to use the money he intends to use for his mountain bike to buy these kids some presents.

That’s all well and good but he also decides to break into the house, dressed as Santa, to leave presents. Luckily, this doesn’t go poorly and the whole family thinks it’s very sweet instead of very creepy.

After all this, Kenan somehow has cash left over to buy Kel the tubaphone.

97 Kenan & Kel Christmas! | Dan Schneider in the 90's

Don’t worry though because the real Santa (or maybe just the store manager also doing a little B&E) brings Kenan his bike on Christmas Eve after the family goes to sleep. Kenan and Kel then close the show with the rest of the episode’s cast and the audience singing We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

Very Special Holiday Lesson: Breaking and entering is okay as long as you leave gifts? No wait. Absolutely don’t do that. Just leave a gift card in the mailbox instead. Bye!

I’m also going to share my favorite Kenan & Kel bit from All That: “Mavis & Clavis”:

And also this really cute reunion video:

Here’s What I Meant by “Culturally Heavy.”

A few years ago, I posted about a lost very special episode of¬†Hey Dude. On Saturday Night, I got a notification that a podcasted aptly titled Hugging and Learning had used my post as a source for their recent episode, “Saved by the Cowbell” — once again awesome title.

The portion of the podcast I’m writing this follow up post in response to involves the character Danny Lightfoot, a member of the Hopi Nation, portrayed by Joe Torres. Let me pause here and acknowledge that this casting and the way the show’s creators have since described it could be its own separate post entirely. According to Michael Koegel in the book Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age, when casting the show “we fudged it because Joe Torres was really Mexican-American. He had a little American-Indian blood in him, but once you get into that part of the country, there’s a fine line between what’s an American Indian and what’s a Mexican Indian. It’s a cultural divide.” This book was published in 2013 and even though it is an oral history, I am struck by how glib this statement is,¬†right down to the “what’s” instead of “who’s”. And in case it needed clarification, tribal sovereignty is much more than a “cultural divide.”

In all fairness, I did not dive into the casting (nor did I research it) in my original post and it doesn’t appear to come up in the discussion between hosts Chelsea and Andrew on the podcast either, though I may have missed it. However, as anyone would in 2020, Chelsea and Andrew immediately zero in on the incredibly problematic line Danny says to describe why he would not go drinking with his coworker Melody’s brother. If you’re listening to the podcast, this section starts at about 24:52.

For those of you who haven’t read the original post, I’ve included a screenshot below for the section in question.

There is so very much to unpack here. The first of which is that I’d like to clarify that “betrayed” is my word. Chelsea refers to this in the podcast, but she attributes that word to the character (before she quotes the same section I quoted in the original post). To be clear, Chelsea says, “He had a friend of the family that he says betrayed all of them by becoming quote another Indian with a drinking problem.”

The text from the show is actually as follows, “it felt like he let us all down.” So here’s where this gets sticky and where I want to be very clear because this podcast is using a lot of my phrasing. Anything in the screenshot above that I did not directly quote came from me, not the show.

My interpretation of the line reading was that Danny and his community felt “betrayed” and I chose that word in 2017 because of my personal experiences with alcoholism and perhaps that’s unfair for me to apply to this situation. However, alcoholism runs in my family and I was very strict about experimentation (or lack there of) as a teenager because I personally would have felt that I betrayed my family if I were to become another member of the family with an alcohol problem: betrayed the experiences and examples of my ill family members; betrayed the expectations of my immediate family; betrayed the family name at large in our community. I don’t know what the writers intended, but Danny’s sentiment of not wanting to let anyone down or in essence “betray” them resonated with me. The most glaring difference here being that my perfectionism was self-imposed and Danny’s was the result of generations of oppression following a genocide.

Chelsea then goes on to say that, “He basically lays it out like therefore I can never drink because that would make me a stereotype, which is like a really weird thing for a writer to put into the mouth of a character who’s, I’m guessing, ethnic group they don’t share. You know what I mean? Like part of me is sort of like wow okay we like got culturally heavy here for a second.”

Once again, that “culturally heavy” is my interpretation of the actor’s line reading, one that Chelsea and Andrew appear to agree with. But I want to take this one step further and tell you exactly what I meant by that in 2017 because I didn’t lay it out and I should have.

To me, one of most devastating aspects of racism on a micro level is that individuals do not feel permission to express a full range of emotions, and there are often devastating consequences should they choose to do so. My interpretation of Danny’s statement is not that the show unfairly “puts” this desire to avoid “stereotypical” (and wholly untrue) behavior “into his mouth” so to speak, but rather that this statement reflects the innermost thoughts of a young man who is not afforded the opportunity to make mistakes in the same way that Melody’s white brother is.

And let’s be clear, Melody’s brother has a disease. All people experiencing alcoholism unfortunately face stigma and stereotyping. That said, the stereotypical interpretation of his disease is not nearly the same as it would be for Danny’s friend.

I do think this is an appropriate conversation to have. I do not think this is a “weird” statement for Danny to say because the pressure this character feels is very¬†real and¬†very¬†relevant. He in fact states, “I don’t think there’s anyway I could have gone with Billy, even if I wanted to.”

What I find to be inappropriate in this episode and, more accurately, harmful is that this statement is said and dropped. Within this episode, there is no unpacking of Danny’s feelings or the systemic pressure that created them. There is no acknowledgment of the immense unfairness in the simple fact that he cannot make a mistake even if he wants to.

I wrote “culturally heavy” and I figured people would get it. But maybe what I should have written was “personally heavy” because we personally carry the pain of our cultures and for minority communities that pain is more than any individual should bear.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” — Anne Lamott

Hey Dude: Melody’s Brother (My White Whale, My Broken Teenage Heart)

Very Special Readers, I am very excited to share with you “Melody’s Brother,” a.k.a. my white whale of Very Special Episodes. This is a “lost episode” of¬†Hey Dude, and I have been looking for it for YEARS. (Hey, this blog just had it’s 3rd birthday. The VSB isn’t a toddler anymore. Aw, it’s growing up so fast.)

01-07-brownHey Dude¬†is a show about a bunch of teenagers working on a dude ranch. I was really into it as a small child, but I think this was mostly due to the fact that there was a girl named “Brad” on the show and I thought that “Brad” was a cool name for a girl. Incidentally, Brad was the name of my first boyfriend. I don’t think the two facts are related since I was mostly into him because he was into Nirvana and had blond hair.

Sadly, things ended badly with Brad. He brought another girl on a date to a football game at my high school (which he did not attend) mere days after he crushed my little fourteen year old heart while Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” played in the background. (To add insult to injury, I had only slightly earlier in the day determined that this would be “our song.”) But it’s funny how life goes because now I look back on this fondly as one of my better break ups. (For the record, Brad apologized to me a year later, so we’re good. I’m not here to drag some dude through the mud for youthful transgressions over a decade later. OVER A DECADE. And the VSB is 3 years old. OH NO, I AM AGING.)

Alright, alright, I promised you a very special episode.

Would you let that kid in the middle fix your toilet?

Melody’s brother comes for a visit and tells her he’s going to propose to his girlfriend. She refuses to be a bridesmaid, which is pretty rude, and invites him to go canoeing. He’s like NOPE I AM GOING TO CHILL WITH MY FRAT BROS. (Rude family.) He presumed that she would be working, and she says, “No, I switched with Brad.” (Brad being the girl character on the show and not my ex-boyfriend.)

On his way into town, Melody’s bro invites some of her coworkers into town to a bar that WILL NOT CHECK ID. But they’re good ranch hands, so they say no.¬†Listen, The VSB would NEVER condone underage drinking, but as someone who is a few years past the legal drinking age, I must say that I will never again be able to drink like I could drink when I was 20. Would that I could,¬†Hey Dude, would that I could.

dude12Danny (played by the “missing” Joe Torres but this guy on Facebook says he’s Joe and not to worry), says that he doesn’t want to go because a friend of the family had a drinking problem. Melody’s brother says, “there’s a big difference between having a few beers with your friends and having a problem.” He’s right, but obviously this is the Chekov’s gun of this episode.

He leaves the room and the ranch hands comment on his stank alcohol breath. (Oh, yep. Here we go.)

Danny, says that the friend of the family betrayed all of them by becoming “another Indian with a drinking problem.” Therefore, Danny can never drink even if he wants to lest he become a stereotype. Shit, things got culturally heavy here.

Later in the afternoon, Billy dry heaves by the cabins. He doesn’t want to join Melody for dinner. His jeans are ripped and he has an injury that he can’t explain. He says he only had two beers. (LIES!)

12-38-melody-delightedThe overzealous ranch hands see Melody talking to her brother and they’re like¬†oh hey, your brother is drunk. And she gets all defensive and says he’s just tired. Meanwhile, it’s dinner time and everyone wants to tell Melody her brother has a problem in their judgey voices but no one wants to help this guy metabolize that booze by encouraging him to eat some bread or drink some water. Have we no plain pasta, people???

In a flagrant violation of child labor laws, the manager insists on opening up the room where Melody’s bro is “sleeping it off” so that a thirteen year old can presumably fix the plumbing. This obviously fails, so her brother has to move rooms. While they’re moving the luggage, a big old bottle of brandy falls out of his bag.

Melody is PISSED. Apparently, their dad is an alcoholic too. But her bro says he’s just having a hard time right now. You know that girl he wanted to marry? That girl broke up with him and is in love with someone else.

Okay, Rule #1. Don’t drink when you’re sad.¬†
Rule #2. Enjoy your fast metabolism while it lasts and STAY HYDRATED.
I’m dishing out very special lessons all over the place today, guys.

Melody’s bro promises to never drink again (but don’t count on it because this episode still has several minutes left.) He leaves the ranch to go see a movie and…uh oh…this ends with the cops calling to say there has been an accident. He’s alive, but he has a DUI. Melody decides to practice some tough love and not bail her brother out of jail. Woah. Damn. This episode is rough.

37-73-melody-billy-2Her boss bails him out and big bro is mad as hell that Melody wasn’t there to support him. Melody is devastated and she says that she’s already been lying to everyone for him and is starting to resemble their mother covering for their father. (GUYS, THESE PEOPLE NEED THERAPY AND CRAP I’M SO GLAD I DIDN’T SEE THIS ON NICKELODEON AS A KID.)

She says, “Maybe you’re right. Maybe you don’t have a problem with your drinking. But I do.” Mic drop.

Turns out, he lied AGAIN. That girl from earlier (the one who he wanted to marry but she broke up with him because she was in love with somebody else), she wasn’t really in love with somebody else. She broke up with him because they argued all the time about his drinking. Damn, those overzealous ranch hands are perceptive. Be careful who you invite to hang out with you. They may just expose your deepest secrets in an instant.

Anyway, he has to fly home to their parents’ house since he no longer has a drivers license.

Very Special Lesson: Listen, there were some veritable truths dropped all over this post. I cannot even synthesize this post in a witty one liner because I have an overwhelming urge to listen to “Undone: The Sweater Song.”

Kenan & Kel Inspired Orange Soda Donuts: A 6 Step Recipe

{I guess technically this was more Kel inspired since I’m not sure Kenan was as into the whole orange soda thing.}

I’m not really a person who makes things in the kitchen, but I found a mini donut maker on Amazon and eyed it for a very long time before purchasing it. Then I left it in its box for a couple of months until I finally decided to use it tonight. So if I can make this ridiculously easy recipe, then anyone can. Also, if you don’t have a donut maker, then you can also use a donut pan in your oven. These are cake donuts, baked not fried. And they’re very tasty! I used a cake mix donut recipe from “It’s Always Autumn” and added a little Kenan & Kel twist.

The ingredients are simple:

-1 box orange cake mix
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 egg
-1 cup orange soda
-Cream Cheese Frosting
-Cooking spray for your pan/donut maker

Step 1. Combine cake mix, vegetable oil, egg, and orange soda in a large mixing bowl.

Step 2. Whisk the ingredients together. I realized after starting this process that I do not own a whisk. So I used an egg beater. It worked.
Step 3. Shovel some batter into a plastic baggy, cut one of the corners, and pipe that batter into the pan. img_1081

Step 4. Use a plastic spatula or wooden spoon to remove the donuts from the pan and place them on a plate too cool.
Step 5. Lather, rinse, repeat. Seriously, this makes like 24 donuts and with only 7 fitting in the pan at a time, I felt like the “Time to Make the Donuts” guy was my kindred spirit.
Step 6. Apply a thin layer of cream cheese frosting to your donuts.

Although I did not use her recipe, the concept behind this post was inspired by Jessica Segarra’s “The Kenan and Kel: Orange Soda Mini Donut” in Mini Donuts: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes to Sweeten Your “Hole” Day, available on Amazon.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?: The Tale of the Twisted Claw

are you afraid of the darkEvery time I attempted to watch this show as a kid, I would say to myself, “Okay, I’m really old enough for this now. I can handle it,” and every time I would be totally terrified and feel that there was nowhere safe to escape the banal horrors of middle-class American life. This viewing was no exception. I shrieked at the opening credits just like when I was a kid.¬†But I managed to make it through this entire episode, and I do not expect to have any nightmares. (I’ll have to let you know later about how that goes, but I’m managing fine as of right now.)

The Tale of the Twisted Claw is a modern-retelling of¬†The Monkey’s Paw, and is set on mischief night and the following All Hallow’s Eve. Mischief Night–a prank night on the night before Halloween–is something that I am pretty sure I have only heard of happening in Michigan, but¬†Are You Afraid of the Dark?¬†was filmed in Canada, so I suppose maybe it’s a Northern US/Southern Canada tradition. Basically, these kids are TP’ing some trees and spraying silly string on cars. Which reminds me, how great was silly string?

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 3.40.44 PMAnyway, two boys named Dougie and Kevin decide to visit a spooky house where Ms. Clove lives. Just for the record, I’m not sure if Kevin is actually¬†the second boy’s name, but it sound right and so I will¬†continue to use it. The boys ring Ms. Clove’s¬†doorbell and Kevin¬†sprays her in the face with a can of Barbasol. It’s a total dick move that causes her to stagger backwards and break a Ming vase. Then they run away because they are jerks. What they don’t see, however, is that Ms. Clove begins to laugh manically with her face covered in shaving cream, and we as the audience, realize that they are totally¬†screwed.

On the following night, Kevin comes over to Dougie’s house, so that they can go¬†trick-or-treating. There’s a ton of other kids there as well, but you only ever see them in the initial living room seen. They probably didn’t want to have to pay any other child actors, so they disappear immediately after this one group scene. But lucky for us, we are able to catch a glimpse oScreen Shot 2014-09-13 at 3.41.40 PMf one classic 90’s costume–the human grape. You see, the human grape was a popular costume for children of the¬†90’s¬†with lazy parents, who thought that the best option for a cheap Halloween costume was to stick a bunch of purple balloons on a green body suit and call it at day.

Believe it or not, one of my most vivid childhood memories happened with a human grape at my next door neighbor’s costume party. He was the only kid I knew at the party because for some reason none¬†of our other neighborhood friends were in attendance. And of course he was busy being the cool party host, so I was left alone and friendless. Eventually, a¬†shy little girl who had been hanging back from the party (probably because people wanted to pop her human grape balloons) approached me and said, “Oh Jasmine! I’m so glad you’re here!”

And I was like, “Cool but I’m not Jasmine.” And she said, “Oh haha Jasmine you are so funny!” And I was like “Yeah, but my name isn’t Jasmine.” She¬†looked at me strangely and said, “Come on, Jasmine let’s go over here,” leading me over to the snack table. This girl was totally¬†not¬†listening to me. I explicitly said¬†that I was not¬†Jasmine. But I didn’t know anyone else at the party, so I gave up and decided to just¬†be¬†Jasmine for the party. I mean, she was a Disney princess, and this kid obviously seemed to like the¬†real Jasmine enough to be friends with her, so I ended up feeling super cool and pretty too.

Suddenly, I was this bubbly entertainer and it was great…until my mom came to pick me up. My¬†mom, bastion of truth that she is, took it upon herself to tell the human grape¬†that I was¬†not¬†Jasmine. The human grape gave me this withering look like¬†I¬†had betrayed her by pretending to be someone else. I tried to invite her over to my house to play, but she refused to be my friend because I had mislead her…more like she would not listen to the truth and instead decided to believe that I was lying to her and also maybe she needed glasses.

Okay, okay enough talk of the trials and tribulations of my childhood. Let’s get¬†back to the plot, Kevin suggests to Dougie that they return to Ms. Clove’s house to trick-or-treat. Dougie tries to convince Kevin that this is a ridiculous idea, but Kevin insists that she won’t recognize them because they are wearing costumes. However, he fails to note that only Dougie¬†has¬†a mask.

Bike. Gang.
Bike. Gang.

Ms. Clove seems totally pumped to have some trick-or-treaters and invites them inside for a “special treat.” It is like these kids have never ever heard of strange danger. They follow her inside,¬†so that they can tell their friends how brave they are. Ms. Clove brings out a creepy claw in a music box that plays the¬†Danse Macabre. She tells them not to be freaked out by the shriveled hand-thing in the box because it’s just a wooden representation of a vulture’s claw. She says it’s a gScreen Shot 2014-09-13 at 3.47.47 PMift for them and will grant them each three wishes. And they’re like cool a creepy claw from a total stranger, so they take it and leave. On the way home, Dougie–who is a major scaredy cat–decides that he has had way too much excitement for one night and wishes that they were done with trick-or-treating.¬†Suddenly, out of nowhere a bike gang of big kids attacks them and steals their candy. The boys deduce that this happened because of Dougie’s wish and the magic claw.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 3.59.19 PM
Casually holding a claw in school. No one cares.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 3.58.42 PM
90’s mullet.

The following day, Kevin decides to use the claw to wish¬†that he could beat the cool kid in the 600 meter race at field day. The cool kid has the elusive 90’s mullet, rarely seen in the wild. It¬†is calmer than the 80’s mullet and paved the way for the straight long hair that boy bands and teen stars of the late twentieth century would come to favor. Dougie, on the other hand, has a wannabe mullet, whereas Kevin is left with no mullet at all.

Out¬†on the field, Dougie¬†stands on the sideline of¬†the race and notices an ominous tree. What the heck is up with this tree, you might wonder. This remains unclear as the camera repeatedly cuts back to the ominous tree and eventually it seems that the tree is growling.Personally, a growling tree is just about the most terrifying thing I have ever seen. But it turns out that it’s simply a stray dog behind the tree, who then runs toward the racers. The dog never even touches the cool kid. who is leading the pack of runners, but he scares him and the cool kid takes a dive just in time for¬†Kevin to break tape. Unfortunately, the cool kid sustains a broken leg from his fall and the boys realize that the wishes always end up hurting someone.

ominous tree
ominous tree

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 4.14.05 PM

Back at Dougie’s house, they try to figure out what to do with the creepy claw. It’s giving them what they want, but it’s hurting people. Dougie thinks that they should come clean to his parents and see if they can help them, but Kevin does not want to give up the power of the claw and wishes that DouScreen Shot 2014-09-13 at 4.17.56 PMgie would “lose his folks.” Seconds later, Dougie get a call from the police.¬†He freaks out because now people are like literally being murdered by the claw. He decides that they should under no circumstances make anymore wishes. He refuses to even wish for his parents to be okay because something bad always happens and he worries that he will only make it worse. Unfortunately, he wishes that his grandfather were there to help them, but his grandpa is¬†dead. They look outside to see his grandfather’s car pull up to the house. Kevin freaks out about seeing a dead guy and tries to wish him away.¬†In¬†a heated altercation on the Karastan¬†rug runner right in front of the door, Dougie fights him for the claw because he believes that they¬†must¬†stop making wishes.

During the struggle, Dougie realizes they should apologize to the claw for breaking the Ming vase and wishes that it had never happened. The claw disappears in his hand, Kevin’s medal disappears from his pocket, and luckily the person ringing the doorbell is Dougie’s mom. Then she and Dougie’s dad decided to treat the boys to some ice cream. When the doorbell rings again, the boys open the door to find the Ming vase and a note from Ms. Clove that reads only “trick-or-treat.”

Halloween Lesson: Be careful what you wish for. No, but seriously. 

Slimed!: A Very Special Book Review

I guess I’m behind the times because this book has been out for like a year. Anyhow, I just finished reading it and I’d like to share some fun stuff from it with you! I supposed “review” is not the best title for this blog post. Believe it or not, I’m not really into book reviews. I seem to have SO many opinions about television, so how could I not take the opportunity to harass a book, right? Well, I don’t have much of an explanation for you, I’m afraid. I think books are more subjective than most other art forms and aside from saying things like “this book had a faced-paced plot” or “this person could not form a coherent sentence,” I don’t really see much point in critiquing someone else’s writing.

Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age¬†is exactly what its title says it is. This book is comprised of interviews with producers, writers, directors, actors, and designers who worked on Nickelodeon shows from the beginning of the network through the late ’90’s. My two complaints about the format are that there was absolutely no narrative connecting any of the block quotes from the interviews. I would have liked at least a little context between subject shifts, or some objective background information in a sea of he said/she said memories. ¬†My other complaint is that I did not even realize that there was a glossary in the back of the book that said who all of the interviewees were. I spent most of the book guessing from context as to who each person was–aside from those people whose names I recognized like Blake Sennet and Melissa Joan Hart. Other than that, it was a really great read. Parts of it were painful because even though Nickelodeon seemed like a great place to be a kid, there¬†was¬†still all of that uncomfortable coming-of-age on television stuff. And a lot of the infighting between creators and producers was sad but not unexpected. Okay, enough reviewing! Here are some fun facts!

7 Fun Facts from Old School Nickelodeon

  1. Graham Yost (a writer on Hey Dude) also wrote the screenplay for Speed.
  2. Slime was originally created when a props master let a bucket of garbage that he was supposed to dump on a cast member of¬†You Can’t Do That On Television¬†sit overnight between shooting. The decomposing trash¬†created a smelly green ooze, which the props master was instructed dump it¬†on the kid anyway. Over the years, slime had many different (safer) mixtures, including bases of cream of wheat or applesauce.
  3. Double Dare turned down a million-dollar sponsorship from Casio because they did not feel comfortable displaying the brand’s name on the¬†Double Dare¬†clock. The network in general shied away from corporate advertising in its early days because they did not want to “sell out” the kids or their creative process.
  4. Gerry Labourne, who was the president of Nickelodeon until 1996, moved to Disney and helped to shape The Disney Channel. I always felt like Nick was the network of the ’90’s and Disney was the network of the ’00’s, but maybe this wall all due to one great children’s programmer! She also founded the Oxygen Network in 1998.
  5. Roger Price, the director of¬†You Can’t Do That On Television, brought a gun to a meeting with crew members and told them he would shoot them if they tried to give or sell any of the kids drugs.
  6. Nickelodeon was contractually obligated to have activity on the stages¬†at all times while occupying space at Universal Studios Orlando. When there wasn’t active production happening on the stages, they would send PAs to move cameras around and generally look busy during park hours. If you took at tour of the studios during the ’90’s, there’s a good chance you might have seen people pretending to work.
  7. A pilot for a sequel to Clarissa Explains It All was produced for CBS but the network felt that audiences would not like how Clarissa broke the fourth wall, a staple of the original series. The new series was called Clarissa Now and showed her moving to New York City and pursuing a career in journalism. You can watch it on Youtube.