Thursday, July 10, 2014

Reasons We Loved Nickelodeon: Out of Control

Nickelodeon gave us alot to be thankful for in its first ten years. Classic shows like You Can't Do That On TelevisionDouble DarePinwheel, and Mr. Wizard's World provided great entertainment for children of the '80s. These ground-breaking shows paved the way for the cable network's national success throughout the '90s and up to the present day. Nick proved it didn't take big budget shows to entertain kids, just shows that challenged minds and were the definition of fun...giving us many reasons why we loved Nickelodeon in the '80s!

In 1984, Out of Control was launched as the first series specifically produced for the Nickelodeon cable network. On the heels of the overwhelming success of sketch comedy show You Can't Do That On Television, Nick was pitched a show idea by Bob Hughes and Bob Klein for a kid's news magazine featuring sketch comedy and news stories. The show was originally titled The Out of Control Room, referring to a TV broadcast control room. It was shortened to Out of Control and Nick agree to produce one season of 26 episodes.



The producers would then look for a host. Several early potentials included Thomas Wilson (who played Biff in Back to the Future), Joel Hodgson (Mystery Science Theater 3000) and Bob Saget. After Saget was interviewed, he suggested his friend Dave Coulier. At the time, Coulier was touring as a stand-up comedian and jumped at the chance to display his comedic skills on TV. Producers were looking not so much for an actor, but someone who could react and improv to the people around him. Add in the several character voices that Coulier could do for animated segments and Out of Control found its perfect host. Other characters were then added to the cast including party girl Diz Aster (Diz McNally), reporters Angela "Scoop" Quickly (Jill Wakewood) and Hern Burford (Marty Schiff), and mad scientist/inventor Waldo (David Strenham).


Each episode was broken into several themed segments including sketch comedy shorts and news stories. These included:
  • "Adult Education" - "Where kids are the teachers and adults are there to learn". Kids teach adults on topics they might not know.
  • "Are We There Yet?" - Real or fictional geographic locations.
  • "Fast-Told Fairy Tales" - Diz tells classic fairy tales while being timed.
  • "How Not To Do Things" - A do-it-yourself project and the resulting consequences.
  • "Hurry Up!" - Dave answers a letter and uses the "Hurry-Up Machine" to fast forward through a boring activity.
  • "It's Alive!" - Animals and nature.
  • "It's Probably True!" - News-like segment featuring real or fictional facts.
  • "Let's Eat" - Dave's news journal to find "The World's Best" food. If the food met his expectations, Dave would present the "Let's Eat" trophy (a gold cup featuring a chattering teeth toy) to the owner the restaurant.
  • "Profiles" - A person is interviewed and showcases their profession.
Even though Out of Control never received a 2nd season, Nickelodeon never "cut-it-out" of their programming schedule and continued to air reruns into the early '90s. Guest stars included several early appearances by celebrities such as the aforementioned potential host Joel Hodgson, comedians Dennis Miller and Bruce Baum, voice actor and host of Nick's Livewire Fred Newman, and actor Bill Bixby (The Incredible Hulk). Out of Control has never been formally released to DVD, but thankfully you can still watch several episodes on YouTube.

Though Out of Control was a short-lived show, it's longevity on the network and memorable antics definitely makes it one of the reasons we loved Nickelodeon.

Thanks to Splitsider and Wikipedia for the information. For more, check out this Splitsider article by Matthew Klickstein, the author of Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age.

Check Out More Reasons We Loved Nickelodeon

Image credits to Fanpop and Skooldays