Nick at Nite's Block Party Summer

Friday, June 26, 2020

In honor of Nick at Nite's 35th Anniversary, I wanted to be sure to include an article about my all-time favorite television event, The Nick at Nite Block Party Summer.  This programming block on Nick at Nite was arguably the network's most popular and beloved stunt in network history and hooked a lot of 90s kids on classic television.

As a kid, I had a really early bedtime.  I remember being so upset when my parents sent me to bed while it was still light outside, and my next-door neighbor, the kid who got every toy on the shelf and everything else, was still out playing.  However, during the summer, when "Lucy Tuesdays" and the rest of the Nick at Nite Block Party Summer was on, I can still remember the sheer joy of staying up late and watching the whole night's programming with Dad.  Other than times when I was sick, and my parents let me sleep on the couch in front of the tv, this was one of the few times I remember being allowed to stay up late.  And of course, it involved classic television.

Launching in 1994, the Block Party Summer ran during July and August every summer through 2000.  After 2000, it faced a few different iterations before being discarded by the network in 2006 for weekly marathons.  In what some people call the original "Netflix binge-watching," The Block Party Summer would air three-hour mini-marathons of a different sitcom every night.  Each night was given its own branding and advertising, such as "Mary Mondays" or Lucy Tuesdays."

"Hi Honey, I'm Home!"

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

One of the best qualities of Nick at Nite during the early days of the "network" was that they were willing to attempt something new and way outside the box.  In 1991, Nick at Nite tried their hand at something new that paid homage to the sitcoms of yesteryear complete with the network's own kitschy charm.  If you read my last post, which was a Look Back at 35 Years of Changes at Nick at Nite, you know that this experiment was one my family truly enjoyed.

"Hi Honey, I'm Home!" focused on a typical 1990s teenager from New Jersey named Mike Duff who discovers that his new neighbors, The Nielsens (get it?), are the same family from the old 1950s sitcom.  Having moved to New Jersey after their show was removed from syndication, The Nielsen family faces constant culture shock integrating into 1991 American suburbia.  Mike is the only one who knows the family's secret and he helps them navigate 1990s America.  Every episode included a guest appearance by a favorite classic TV character (and storyline friend of the Nielsen family,) such as Gale Gordon as Mr. Mooney or Al Lewis as Grandpa Munster.

This show was a hit with my household.  I remember my parents really enjoyed this show because it was cute, full of nostalgia for their childhood favorites, and was family-friendly so even my brother and I could watch it.  In 1991, I would have been about 7 years old and I'm sure most of the jokes went over my head, but, I had been watching Nick at Nite with my Dad enough to get most of the references to the classic sitcoms.

A Look at 35 Years of Nick At Nite

Monday, June 22, 2020

This coming week Nick at Nite will celebrate it's 35th Anniversary as family-friendly programming during the evening hours on Nickelodeon.  On July 1, 1985, it launched with only a handful of shows and a small collection of movies.  Its library may have been small when it started, but since then, the network has added a vast array of properties and has gone through many different changes.

On the 10th Anniversary in 1995, they aired one episode of every series that had ever aired on the network over the past 10 years.  In 2005, they aired a 48-hour marathon on TV Land, the spin-off sister network, to celebrate the 20-year milestone.  Other than a few on-screen graphics, the network did not honor its 30th Anniversary in 2015.

It does not appear they plan on doing anything for the 35th this year.  So since Nick at Nite won't, I intend to mark the 35th Anniversary with a week-long retrospective of the first network for retro television here on YesterYear Retro Memories!

Many viewers have since grown disenfranchised with Nick at Nite, myself included, but there was a time for many of us that it was the only home for nostalgic television classics.

Nick at Nite 35th Anniversary coming Up Next Week

Friday, June 19, 2020

July 1st will mark the 35th Anniversary of Nick-At-Nite!

Be on the lookout for Nick-At-Nite themed content next week leading up to the big day!  It seems Nick-At-Nite won't be doing anything to commemorate the day (so far), so hopefully, you can get your fix of the retro television institution here.

This week I aim to cover an overview of the entire 35 years, as well as the transition out of retro television and into more syndicated family-friendly shows from recent years.

Something I've wanted to write about for a long time, The Nick-At-Nite Block Party Summer, will get the retrospective it deserves this week as well!

We'll also cover the transition to spinoff channel TV-Land to wrap up the week.

Stay tuned, fellow nostalgia lovers.  We're gonna take a road trip down memory lane.  Next stop, Nick-At-Nite!

Retro Scans: 1988 Factory Fresh Box California Raisins

Monday, June 15, 2020

I always loved raisins as a kid.  My mom would always include a little mini box of Sunmaid Raisins (remember those?) in my lunch box, and I would often eat them first.  And of course, who doesn't love Raisinets?  But when I found these little purple claymation cartoon raisins... how could I not be a fan?!

The California Raisins were a fictional rhythm and blues animated musical group used for advertising and merchandising.  Very popular in the late 80s and early 90s, the claymation raisins won an Emmy Award as well as several nominations. 

The California Raisins were initially created for the 1986 Sun-Maid commercial using the "I heard it through the Grapevine" song popularized by Marvin Gaye.  The ad became wildly popular, paving the way for several future commercials and media opportunities, including a CBS primetime special called Meet the Raisins!  It was a musical "mockumentary" created by Vinton Studios and gave the band members individual names and roles.  AC was on vocals, Beebop on drums, Stretch on bass, and Red on the guitar and piano. 

A Saturday morning cartoon series "The California Raisin Show" debuted in 1990 but only lasted 13 episodes.  The same year a followup to the CBS special titled "The Raisins:  Sold Out!"  This special saw the Raisins hiring a new manager at an attempt at a comeback.

Meanwhile, the Raisins were a merchandising powerhouse.  Everything from exclusive fan clubs, lunch boxes, notebooks, clothing, posters, bedsheets, Halloween costumes, and even a Capcom NES Nintendo game featured the purple clay creations.  And of course, the Sticker Trading Card series we are about to open here.

Ghostbusters Cereal

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

In honor of yesterday's 36th Anniversary of the original Ghostbusters film, I thought it'd be fun to take a look at something that gives me real nostalgia feels when I see photos on social media.  The Ghostbusters breakfast cereal!

I do remember being in the cereal aisle (every 90s kid's favorite aisle), begging my Mom to buy us Ghostbusters cereal and being so disappointed when she finally caved. 

It tasted stale, and the marshmallows were hard as rocks.  I'm not sure if that's what it was SUPPOSED to taste like, but unfortunately, that's what I remember it to be. It likely just sat on the shelf too long, or air got into the bag somehow, and because of how bad it tasted, my Mom never bought it again.  It's unfortunate because everyone else seems to fondly remember the flavor of this sugary breakfast goodness.  But, she did buy an abundance of Hi-C Ecto Cooler, so I got my Ghostbusters snack fix that way.

Over a few years, Ralston Cereals introduced 3 different Ghostbuster branded cereals:  Ghost Busters, The Real Ghostbusters, and Slimer with the Real Ghostbusters.  All three kinds of cereal were the same but with different packaging and a slightly different coloring on the marshmallows.

My Top 10 Seinfeld Episodes - Part 2

Monday, June 8, 2020

In case you missed Part One of my Top 10 Seinfeld Episodes, I was compelled to put my Top Ten list into writing by the many "Top Tens" floating around Twitter while everyone sits at home during the quarantine.  Please go check out that article HERE.

It was gratifying to go through the entire series of episodes and pick out my favorites, and I thank you for allowing me to reminisce.  I hope reading my list is half as enjoyable as it was to write and remember, but then again, that's what this site is for... the ability to take "road trips down memory lane."  Seinfeld is easily in my Top Five favorite shows, and I know these episodes like the back of my hand.
I'll frequently drop a Seinfeld line into ordinary conversation, and in the style of Anthony Cumia, I'll very rarely add a "Seinfeld Story" to the conversation like the time I was on the subway and got a hot tip on a horse race.  I went and made a bet and won big, but a guy at the betting window saw how much I won and followed me onto the subway.  Thankfully a cop pretending to be a blind man saved the day and arrested him.

Pretty cool story, huh?  I usually don't say anything if they don't catch on and... boy, some people I work with must think I have some weird crazy life, or I'm the biggest liar of them all.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my Top Five Seinfeld episodes.

Retro Scans: Tiny Toons 1991 Wax Pack and 1994 Foil Pack

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Growing up, Tiny Toon Adventures was a favorite Saturday morning cartoon of mine.  I loved the movie, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" and would often recreate (in my imagination) the road trip Hamton and Plucky took to Happy World Land whenever we went on long car rides.  

One of my biggest connections to Tiny Toons was a little plastic alligator my parents bought me at Silver Springs Amusement Park in Florida.  Even though Plucky was my favorite, I named that alligator Hamton and carried him with me everywhere.  Later in that Florida trip, we were at an iHop in Kissimmee eating breakfast before our day at the Disney theme parks and I dropped him down into a crack between the booth and the wall.  Devastated, as any 5 year old would do, I began to cry.

Like any good Dad, there was mine on his hands and knees literally tearing the booth apart when the waitress arrived with our food.  She must have thought we were crazy people, but, my Dad rescued Hamton.  Thankfully, the booth just snapped back together and we finished our lunch with him safely in my Mom's purse.  I still have him, but he's packed away in the basement and I cannot get to him right now to add a photo for this little blurb.  Some day I'll add it in.

Personal history aside here's TWO Tiny Toons Adventures trading card packs for your viewing pleasure!  The first up is a 1994 Foil Pack from Cardz.  The colors on these are just so vibrant still over 25 years later with some great stills from the actual cartoon.  The second bonus pack is a 1991 Wax Pack from Topps.  This pack has some good quality character images but the stills from the cartoons lack the crispness in color quality that the '94 foil pack has.