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The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story Review

“The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story” is an engrossing tribute to the cable network’s glory days.

In this documentary film, the early years of the first cable network devoted to children’s programming are explored. I am, of course, referring to Nickelodeon. Through interviews with hosts, cast members, creators and executives like Kenan Thompson, Larisa Oleynik, Michael Ray Bower, Marc Summers, Melissa Joan Hart, Drake Bell, Tom Kenny and former Nickelodeon President Geraldine Laybourne, we learn about the channel’s origins, how “You Can’t Do That On Television” changed the game for them, green smile, Nickelodeon Studios, Nicktoons, Nick Jr. SNICK, merchandise (like GAK) and more. Naturally, the channel’s hits shows like “Rugrats,” “Double Dare,” “All That,” “Blue’s Clues,” “The Ren and Stimpy Show,” “Doug,” “Clarissa Explains It All,” “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?” among others also get the spotlight here. Viewers even get to learn behind-the-scenes set stories (just what was that magic dust?) and about how some of the shows came about. Of course, plenty of ads and shows clips are also strewn about as well.

Directed by Scott Barber and Adam Sweeney, “The Orange Years” is very much a love letter to the beloved 80’s and 90’s era of Nickelodeon. Any kid who grew up in this time period (myself included) will undoubtedly hold a special place in their heart for so many of the cartoons, live-action comedies, pre-school shows, or game shows that were programmed as they fast became childhood staples. The series felt so different from the norm as they were ripe with creativity and were often edgy or took risks. All those memories of times in front of the TV come flooding back with this joyful nostalgic documentary that not only pays tribute to those kid classics, but also sheds light on the company, it’s progressive leaders (like Geraldine Laybourne and Vanessa Coffey) and the channel’s commitment to making entertainment before it became a juggernaut business. Basically, if you have any interest in Nickelodeon or its shows, you’ll surely be swept up by this doc.

The only real downside to this documentary is the runtime as there’s clearly so much more that could have been touched upon like Nickelodeon films, the bizarre “Weinerville,” the underrated “Aaahh!!!! Real Monsters,” etc. I wouldn’t be shocked if there was a lot of deleted material about these topics. Maybe on the home video release?

“The Orange Years” is now available on VOD.

November 17, 2020 - Posted by | Movie Review | , , , , , , , ,

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