The new kids, however, would be entering in Nickelodeon's true golden era. They were on their way to now classic shows remembered for many years to come. More on that later.
Two teenage sitcoms came out on February 1992. One of them was called Welcome Freshmen.
The show was about a group of high school freshmen at Hawthorne High. The kids consisted of the following:
Kevin St. James (played by Chris Lobban) is the cool kid who tends to fall in love with every cute girl he meets.
Walter Patterson (played by Rick Galloway) is the laid back "surfer" dude who tends to be around detention more than in class.
Merv (played by David Rhoden) is the proud nerdy kid in the group. He conducts scams to other students known as "Merv-u-mentaries".
Alex Moore (played by Jocelyn Steiner) is the beautiful girl in the group who loves boys and girly stuff like clothes and makeup.
Tara (played by Jill Setter) is the conscious one in the group standing up for animal rights and environmental rights.
The vice principal Mr. Lippman (played by Mike Speller) was the clueless adult in the show. However, the kids look up to him as a cool adult.
According to a 1991 newspaper article by Catherine Hinman from the Orlando Sentinel, Bob Mittenthal, the show's producer talks about the characters and how they're trying to relate to the viewers of the show.
Each episode they would be doing sketch comedy having a main theme to focus on. One example is a documentary hosted by Mr. History teaching people about past freshmen. For example, the students are portraying themselves as the Hatfields and the McCoys.
Others would include Mr. Lippman doing the morning announcements on how he really feels about the students, Merv trying to scan the other students, and a student named Billy Cushman who teaches students how to have good manners and how to master the art of flatulence. But the most remembered one was when Merv was singing about mystery meat. Kids who grew up with Welcome Freshmen still have this song stuck on their heads, even to this very day.
However, the show drastically changed around the 3rd season. Gone were the comedy skits and Welcome Freshmen was turned into a teen sitcom. Because of the huge popularity of Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210, Nickelodeon tried to do that with Welcome Freshmen. When the students went into their sophomore year, Merv and Tina were written off the show, new characters named Manny, Erin, and Grant were added to the show, and Walter was held back. This was when the popularity of the show dropped. Looking at the show, it truly looks like a complete knockoff of Saved by the Bell. Let's do some comparisons. This is what Welcome Freshmen was before the change.
Here's what it looks like after the change.
See? It's completely unrecognizable! They look like two completely different shows! According to an article by Mathew Klickstein at splitsider.com, he interviewed the director of Welcome Freshmen Adam Weissman about the drastic change.
The audience definitely noticed right away. The show was cancelled after the third season ended in 1993.
The teens who acted in the show never went into other acting roles after Welcome Freshmen. Bob Mittenthal became a writer and executive producer of other Nickelodeon shows like Aaahh! Real Monsters, Kablam, 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd, and The Naked Brothers Band. Adam Weissman directed other Nickelodeon shows such as My Brother and Me, Space Cases, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, True Jackson: VP, Drake and Josh, iCarly, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Zoe 101 and Victorious. He also directs shows for Disney Channel shows like Hannah Montana and Good Luck Charlie.
Overall, with the first and second season, similar to You Can't Do That on Television and Out of Control, the skits are pretty hit and miss. There are some that are still really funny though, like the Mystery Meat song. The characters were stereotypical cookie cutter high school kids. It just made me feel like I was seeing characters from Saved by the Bell. Kevin reminded me of Zack, the cool guy who loves all the girls. Alex reminded me of Lisa, the beautiful girl who loves boys, clothes, and makeup. Merv reminded me of Screech, the nerdy kid who gets himself into trouble. Walter reminded me of Slater, the laid back dude. Mr. Lippman reminded me of Mr. Belding.
I would recommend checking the show out, but only from the first two seasons. The third season deserves a pass.
The next show we're going to check out came out on February 2, 1991. The show is called Fifteen, a Canadian show which was originally known as Hillside.
The show was about different high school students who were dealing with teenage problems and issues such as alcohol, sex, dating, divorce, and friendship. The show had many characters, but mostly focused on the following teens.
Dylan Blackwell (played by Chris William Martin) was the tough kid with the leather jacket who has serious issues.
Matt Walker (played by Todd Talbot) was the athletic kid who would end up having a drinking problem.
Ashley Frasier (played by Laura Harris) was the popular girl who was perfect in every way.
Billy Simpson (played by Ryan Reynolds) was the tag-along 14-year-old who wanted to be like the older teens.
The show lasted for over four seasons ending its run on April 25, 1993.
A few of the actors went on to do other acting roles after Fifteen.
Chris William Martin went on to do other TV and movie roles like Felicity, Emile, Try Seventeen, The Volcano Disaster, and The Vampire Diaries.
Laura Harris is well known actress and has done many voice work such as Dead Like Me, 24, Darkstalkers, Defying Gravity, Great Day, My Little Pony Tales, and Underworld: Endless War.
Ryan Reynolds is the most well known actor among the bunch being in many movies and TV shows such as Just Friends, Scrubs, The Proposal, My Boys, Green Lantern, and X-Men: Origins.
Overall, the show was basically a knock-off of Degrassi. The stereotypical high school teens with their stereotypical ranks of nerd, tough guy, popular girl, etc. Also, just like Degrassi, the show had our kids dealing with issues like drinking alcohol, sex, dating, and more. It had branching story lines for many of the characters of the show, but the actors would come and go after each new season that many of them become forgettable. The acting is a bit hokey and cheesy in moments when it's trying to be serious. Also, the looks of the show really shows its age. It's extremely outdated by today's standards.
However, the show still has its fans in Canada and the U.S. that there's an actual website named http://fifteentheseries.com/.
That's all for now. Tune in next time as we check out a well known Nickelodeon teen sitcom Clarissa Explains it All.
Hope to see you around Old School Lane real soon. Take care.