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4 out of 5
Most kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s probably have a certain soft spot in their hearts for the channel Nickelodeon. I was certainly one of those kids so whenever I found out that they were releasing a book of candid interviews with past Nickelodeon members I had to have it. “Slimed! An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age” is written by Mathew Klickstein and it chronicles the history of Nickelodeon from its early days in the late 70’s through its rise to popularity in the 80’s and its time in the sun during the 90’s.
The book is written in an interview format with each chapter being a question that is answered by writers, directors, actors, sound guys, hosts and more! Being younger and less interested in the behind the scenes aspects of shows, I was thoroughly fascinated when reading all of the detail that went into these shows that I always took for granted. The interviews with these people are uncensored and quite funny at times. I laughed as the creator of “Double Dare” recalled how he had never heard so many children swear in his life as when they were going through the obstacle courses. I smiled when I realized that Jim Jenkins created the characters on “Doug” to break down the race barrier by making them non-standard skin colors. I was shocked to learn about the drugs that went on behind the scenes of the shows, often involving people who were far too young to be apart of it. I felt like breaking out a chemistry kit when they listed the ingredients and how to make that signature green slime. Most importantly, I learned that these shows and all of the work behind them should never be taken for granted.
This book isn’t without it’s flaws, however.The interview format is neat unless you don’t know everyone by name. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself flipping to the back of the book to the “Cast of Characters” which lists who each person is and what they’re known for. Sure, I recognize a lot of the names of the creators and actors but when it comes to the writers and directors, I often found myself wondering who was talking. Still, there are a lot of really cool facts in the book. Another problem that I had, which isn’t really the fault of the book is that sometimes the facts get a little confusing because multiple people are being asked these questions. Where one person might confirm that something was done for one reason, another equally important person might say that it was done for another. But, I guess that truly lets us in on how confusing it can be to work on a show.
This was a great read and at just a little over 200 pages, it didn’t get too tiring. I would totally recommend it if you have ever loved Nickelodeon. It’s fascinating to learn just how much work goes into television for kid’s to only take for granted. I found myself wanting to re-watch most of the shows that were mentioned in this book just so I could watch them again with a newfound appreciation of all of the work that went into them. Most people just consider Nickelodeon to be a giant television network, but “Slimed” reminds us that it’s really important that we not forget where all of this success came from!