The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story is a documentary that takes us back in time to the glory years of the Nickelodeon network.
It’s no surprise to see Adam F. Goldberg attached to the documentary as an executive producer. If his ABC series, The Goldbergs, is any indication, the man has a serious love for everything pop culture. But enough about Adam, this film isn’t about him. No, it’s about the slime–I mean, Nickelodeon.
Nick got its start in 1979 but before that, the network was tested under the Pinwheel brand on QUBE. QUBE was an interactive cable system and while the Columbus-based ultimately failed, they introduced some ideas that would have lasting effects when it comes to how we watch television. Geraldine Laybourne would play a pivotal role in leading the Nick team until she left for Disney after 16 years in 1996.
If you’re anything like me, you grew up watching Clarissa Explains It All starring the talented Melissa Joan Hart. As hard as it is to believe, the series ran for five seasons in the early 1990s. The actress explains why there was so much of They Might Be Giants incorporated into the series. It turns out that she was not a fan of New Kids On The Block at the time! She didn’t wear much makeup during her time on the series either. Only a little bit of concealer and blush was applied.
Perhaps you grew up watching contestants get slimed on Double Dare. During interviews, Marc Summers goes into detail about what led him to leave the game show. His decision was made because his son asked why he was never at home while spending so much time with other people’s children. The power of family! Anyway, this was the series that put the network on the map in the mid to late 1980s. Nick had to compete with both PBS and Disney for eyes of younger viewers.
Or there’s sketch comedy series All That. Premiering in 1994, the series starred Angelique Bates, Lori Beth Denberg, Katrina Johnson, Kel Mitchell, Alisa Reyes, Josh Server, and Kenan Thompson. Only Server would stay on the longest and left following season 6 when an entirely new cast was hired. The series would lead to the spin-off series, Kenan and Kel, starring Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell in 1996. The series ended in 2001 and Kenan Thompson would eventually move onto Saturday Night Live.
Not every star from Nick is interviewed but they’ve got some of the main stars, writers, and executives on camera. This is the problem with these sort of documentaries. This is a network that has some 40 years of history (G-d, I feel old). The cover the entire timeline but it’s abbreviated in that they can only spend so much time on everything. The perfect documentary would likely run four hours but obviously, that’s not going to happen. But for having a 90ish minute running time, The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story is perfectly satisfying.
DIRECTORS: Scott Barber, Adam Sweeney
FEATURING: Geraldine Laybourne, Anne Kreamer, Doug Vogler, Melissa Joan Hart, Christine Taylor, Kenan Thompson, Drake Bell, Danny Cooksey, Kel Mitchell, Lori Beth Denberg, Michael C. Maronna, Danny Tamberelli, Michael Bower, Josh Server, Marc Summers, Graham Yost, Coolio, Alisa Reyes, Venus DeMilo Thomas, Kirk Fogg, Jason Alisharan, Frederick King Keller, Lisa Melamed, Mitchell Kriegman, Steve Slavkin, Phil Moore