Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review: Slimed by Mathew Klickstein

SLIMED! An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age tells the surprisingly complex, wonderfully nostalgic, and impressively compelling story of how Nickelodeon -- the First Kids' Network -- began as a DIY startup in the late 70s, and forged ahead through the early eighties with a tiny band of young artists and filmmakers who would go on to change everything about cable television, television in general, animation, and children's entertainment, proving just what can be done if the indie spirit is kept alive in the corporate world of contemporary media... All from those who made it happen!

Best Bits: I'm a 90's kid, and I've got the nostalgia to prove it. When I saw that Slimed! was available on Netgalley I just about cried with joy. The book is compiled of interviews with stars, writers, creators, and producers of the shows that created Nickelodeon, and how they shaped the tone of the channel (a tone which, in my opinion, has since been lost). Each chapter focuses on a different topic and each person adds their input. I particularly liked reading about how thing weren't always perfect behind-the-scenes. For example, Michael Bower from Salute Your Shorts talks about what it was like to be known as 'Donkeylips', and to have that stick as a nickname for him. It made me identify with him a bit more. Amazingly, it didn't break any illusions for me, it just made me appreciate what some of these kids had to go through to create TV shows that made me feel ok about being weird. Even reading about the turmoil behind Rugrats, and how many people in the show had to fight to make Angelica mean (hello, she was the first character that I loved to hate!) was fascinating.

Nit Picks: I think that the setup was a bit difficult to deal with on my Kindle. At times I had to look up who people were if their stories didn't give it away. Sure, I know who Melissa Joan Hart is, but some of the other actors have only been in small roles, or quit completely after their time at Nick, and I needed to Google some of them (the Kindle doesn't have the most convenient system for accessing appendices). I do wish that I had learned a bit more about Hey Arnold!, but I think that's based on personal bias. Technically it's one of the last shows during Nick's animation golden era...but every time I saw Craig Bartlett's name (since he also worked on Rugrats) I hoped there would be some new tidbit of information.

Overall, it made me go back and watch the entirety of Pete & Pete, and appreciate every weird, amazing moment. I'm now re-watching Doug and just enjoyed the Hey Arnold! Halloween episode. Best thing ever.

By Mathew Klickstein
Published by Plume
320 Pages
Received via Netgalley


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review!! I appreciate your criticism (we've gotten it from a few other people, too; unfortunately just the way most oral histories work) and am appreciative you still mentioned that, hey, there are still a lot of great stories in there and some fun nostalgia!!


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