Nickelodeon's Late-Night Reruns: Are Clarissa Explains It All, Kenan & Kel, All That, and Doug as Good as We Remember Them to Be?

Thanks to advents in DVR technology, it’s been a long time since I watched a full programming block when it actually airs. At least, it had been a long time. Since TeenNick started its nightly “The ‘90s Are All That” broadcasts, I now feel compelled to watch two hours' worth of Nickelodeon classics—All That, Kenan & Kel, Clarissa Explains It All, and Doug—each night. The nostalgia factor is simply too high to ignore.

But how do these shows hold up? After a few weeks of regular viewing, I feel qualified to weigh in.

All That

All That

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: No, the show's not really very funny. I don’t think I’ve laughed once while re-watching All That, which I remember being riotously entertaining as a kid. That’s okay, though—revisiting the sketches that delighted me in elementary school is pleasurable enough to keep me tuning in. I also love All That’s mere existence; it was basically Saturday Night Live for young people, complete with recurring characters, musical guests, and the occasional political jab.

My favorite All That sketches are its most absurd, because those seem to really tap into the childish mentality that made the series unique. A librarian who yells at everyone to be quiet while making a lot of noise herself? Meh. But two self-professed chefs who bathe in chocolate? I will watch that. I will watch that so hard. It’s also worth noting that Lori Beth Denberg’s pithy Vital Information for Your Everyday Life segment was basically proto-Twitter. Think about it!

Kenan & Kel

Kenan and Kel

Like All That, Kenan & Kel doesn’t hold up quite as well as I’d hoped. However, it’s nice to see Kenan Thompson featured so prominently long before he joined the cast of—and we’re coming full circle here—Saturday Night Live. While the episodes aren’t particularly fresh or funny, the nostalgia factor is high. Credit goes to Kenan & Kel’s trademark repetition. You hear “I dropped the screw in the tuna” enough and it sticks in your brain for life.

It’s also interesting to realize how closely Kenan & Kel modeled itself after zany ‘80s sitcoms. Each story is broad and over-the-top. There is often a case of mistaken identity or a serious misunderstanding. Things quickly spiral out of control. Kenan and Kel don’t really act like teenagers, but they act like classic sitcom characters, and there is something refreshing about that. The show also gets bonus points for rarely solving a conflict by the end of an episode. It’s surprisingly dark!

Clarissa Explains It All

Clarissa Explains It All

At last, a show that is actually as good as I remember! Or perhaps my lifelong devotion to Clarissa Explains It All is just too much to overcome. Regardless of whether I’m being rational, I love re-watching this show, which—in my mind—captures the life of a teenager better than most of the programming on today. Unlike Kenan and Kel's, Clarissa’s problems were grounded in reality: blind dates, sibling rivalry, and your best friend moving away because his mom is retiring from the roller derby circuit. (Okay, mostly grounded in reality.)

Maybe I’m just getting old, but man, Clarissa was cool in a way today’s TV teens aren’t. She wasn’t an outcast, but she wasn’t part of the “in crowd” either. She just didn’t care. Like iCarly, Clarissa breaks the fourth wall. Our hero isn't talking to an audience of adoring fans, though—she’s just explaining it all to us. For those who didn't host a popular web show growing up (cough, cough, Carly), Clarissa remains a highly relatable character, sharing the details of her sometimes quirky, often mundane life.

Doug

Doug

Oh, Doug. I didn’t realize the affection I have for this series until I started watching it again. Despite his fanciful imagination and penchant for creating (much cooler) versions of himself, Doug is aggressively average. He is even more grounded than Clarissa, living the kind of drab, vaguely angsty life that most of us experienced in middle school. Doug is tame and colorful enough to appeal to young people, but it has tremendous re-watch value because it feels like such an honest depiction of tween life.

Plus, this was a time before the concept of “tween” existed. There is an innocence to Doug that you can’t find anymore, precisely because no one gave a crap about 11-year-olds when the series aired—they weren’t being marketed to, and they certainly didn’t exert much control over contemporary trends. Doug is so self-contained: the town, the music, the movies—it’s all fiction. And it’s a comforting world to slip back into after all these years.

Have you been re-watching any of these shows? How do YOU think they hold up?

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that was an amazing shows xD
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how about Welcome Freshmen!
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Rocko's Modern Life still holds up. Check it out on Netflix Streaming. My favorite Nick show of all time.
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when do they air these? I don't think i've seen then on Nick.
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@jessmpro33

These classic 1990s "NICKELODEON" TV-sitcoms air on "TeenNick" every day @ 11:59pm until 5am EDT.



If you can't stay up this late to watch these television programs you could always record them on your DVR and watch them later on when you have time.
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Awww I love Doug and Clarissa. I don't have cable but now I want to find them on youtube or something!
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Kenan and Kel so utterly withstands the test of time. I don't think I can agree anything you ever write again. I am 22, and have seen every episode of Kenan and Kel over 7 or 8 times. (I have them all on my harddrive). I have seen them at least twice in the past year. I have introduced them to other people my age who NEVER watched them and they found it very funny. I think you need to lighten up and stop trying to find yourself above the kid-friendly material. There is something endearingly hilarious in the familial interaction we get from Kenan and Kel that is seemingly most modeled by Modern Family today.
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i would LOVE it is Nickelodeon would just make a new channel for all their old stuff, instead of just a 2 hour black of shows late at night on a "teen" network. maybe have it start around noon and go off air around 3 am, and air whatever else they want in the off hours.. i'd probably rewatch everything i could
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Doug was my favorite.
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All That and Kenan & Kel are worth rewatching simply for the uninhibited comic genius of Kel Mitchell. The only times I ever laugh at All That are sketches where Kel is involved; he has that rare ability to take mediocre comic dialogue and make it sound funnier than it is. Kenan & Kel was the perfect show for Kel to showcase all of his zany, off-the-wall comedic abilities, and the show still makes me laugh all these years later. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good farce.



I never watched Clarissa too often the first time around, but rediscovering it now, I'm actually a little disappointed--and confused. It's not very funny at all, yet I can never tell if the show is even trying to be funny in the first place. You can hear faint audience laughter in some places, but I'm very rarely laughing myself. It also suffers from being dated by its numerous early-'90s references (House of Pain, anyone?). That won't stop me from watching, though--Clarissa's wardrobe alone is enough to keep my eyes glued to the TV.



Doug is by far the best show of the four. It's the only one I watched consistently the first time around, and it is every last bit as good as I remembered. The topics it deals with--unrequited love, facing the school bully, being the new kid in town--are feelings that most everyone can relate to, and save for a few minor embellishments here and there, it mostly stays true to life. And even after all these years, I still know all the words to "Killer Tofu."



The '90s Are All That is the best idea Nickelodeon has had in years. I haven't missed a single episode of anything since it began, and it's a joy to see all these shows back on TV again. (However, I'm still waiting for them to add new shows into the rotation.)
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Salute your Shorts also.... Our programming was way better than today's tv!
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just set clarissa to record! so excited to get to watch them as only season 1 has been released on dvd. can't wait for are you afraid of the dark & alex mack! also, please bring back roundhouse!!!!!
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I'm glad they brought these great shows back to remind of us our childhoods but of course its all bittersweet since they dont have the feel the did once upon a time. I did however watch an episode of salute your shorts a few years back and noticed how as an adult I watched a completely different episode than I had as a kid. Its amazing how its not until your adult do you notice the plethora of adult targeted jokes in kids show... and there are a lot... I honestly thought the episode I watched was entirely about one of the kids trying to get with one of the older camp councelors and thought it was insane that I didn't notice this watching it as a kid. In any case... keep em comin
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After revisiting a few old favourites and being grossly disappointed I've learned what to revisit or not. There are some classics -- Battle of the Planets (G-Force), with it's rockin' 70's duds and cool story lines is still okay, and the scantily clad in Benny Hill will always be scantily clad regardless of era (hair-styles... well). As for sit-coms, I think the ones generally catered towards kids and only kids aren't generally worth revisiting as it usually leads to disappointment.



Now, I do agree that even if something IS crappy to a person later down the road nostalgia can play a big part in keeping it interesting for said person. All that blathering out of the way, I do think the trend of redoing anything and everything is getting to be a bit much.
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I agree, All That and Kenan & Kel aren't funny anymore but I'd be worried if I had the same sense of humor as I did in the 4th grade. But I do love watching these shows for the nostalgia factor. I'd love seeing The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Are You of the Dark and Alex Mack, love those shows.
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I hope they bring back "The Secret World of Alex Mack!"
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I agree. There was something wildly wonderful about average teens and tweenies. No ridiculous love triangles. No overly obsessed technology freaks. No insane drama or fakeness. They didn't idolize caricatures of people on reality shows and they didn't play up the extreme stereotypes of popular kids vs. outcasts. Normal characters doing typical, mundane, mediocre things. who knew one would get nostalgic and crave mediocrity.
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Worth nothing looking back.
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I miss having TeenNick.
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Ill watch Doug anytime!! too bad i watched in spanish and now ill have to adapt to the voices i have in my memory
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all that + kenan and kel + clarrissa explains it all + global gutz = summer morning tv show time
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This is about the same for me, too. All That is definitely not as funny as I remember, and the more ridiculous skits are the ones that get a chuckle out of me. I LOVE Doug, though. And it doesn't matter what episode it is, I'm always smiling at the end during Doug's little epilogue of writing in his journal. The nostalgia factor is incredibly high for all of these shows, which is the reason that I love watching them. I look forward to when they start re-introducing some of the other 90s shows they have lined up for us.
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I never cared for All That, and while I did enjoy Kenan and Kel back in the day, I quickly realized how annoying it was that they duo never ended an ep on a high note. Whatever they were doing, it was blown by the end and they were left with nothing. You say it was 'dark' I say it was just stupid and annoying after a while. Clarissa and Doug are still and always will be amazing though. I could not agree with this article more.
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You hit it pretty much on the nose for me too. Clarissa Explains it all and doug. :) I know this was a different network but I really liked Pepper Ann too.
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I agreed, the end.
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Oh Doug, you are so awesomely mediocre.
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It would be nice if they showed this on the original channel Nickelodeon, not on "the N"; People I know including myself still cant watch these shows because we have cable
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I've been watching most every night (and in real time I might add) and I still find All That and Kenan and Kel just as funny as I did when I was little. I'll admit I have a somewhat immature sense of humor, but it's much better than what's currently on SNL and even worse So Random. In the case of All That, watching as an adult I now know who they're impersonating and referencing when there's references to older shows and impersonations such as Roseanne and Ross Perot (which Katrina Johnson did spot on-- something I never thought about when I was young). Kenan and Kel just made a great team and the supporting cast on their show was just perfect and worked with them well. You made an excellent point about how their problems were rarely actually resolved though. Clarissa Explains it All I don't like as much this time around because it feels too dated and not as interesting now, but it is much more realistic and meaningful than current shows starring teenage girls are (I don't agree with the iCarly comparison at all.. she is nothing like Clarissa). And Doug... I completely agree with this. I don't remember being into it nearly as much as I am watching it now. I've never been a new kid in town, but growing up I was a chubby kid being bullied by the same person also always trying to get a certain girl to notice me also. I never looked at the similarities before. There's also new things to think about, such as why is Clarissa so angsty and against anything that wasn't her idea, and why was Doug so naive and had such a crazed view of things. And we'd never be shown a stolen lace bustier or hear the words hell or monogamy on a kid's show again. In short, the 90s are indeed all that, and I just can't get enough because of all the memories of simpler times I'm getting.
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All That really isnt as funny as I thought it was. Clarissa I remember watching all the time. And Doug was one of my tope faves, along with Rugrats.
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Was never really into Doug but I adored Clarissa. My DVR is jammed full of episodes since Teen Nick started airing them again. I was into the later seasons of All That, so I'm waiting for them to start being shown but what I'm really wondering is if they're going to air The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Salute Your Shorts and Are You Afraid of the Dark? They keep promoting them in their bumps but so far its just been the listed four. :/
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i used to love kenan and kel! but i havent watched it in forever so idk if i;d still like it. whatever happened to kel? i never watched clarissa explains it all but i love sabrina the teenage witch and i wish they;d show that on teenick, they dont show that anywhere anymore and sabrina never gets old!!
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doug was awesome back in the day shame the disney version ruined it. i'd have to say my favorite eps were the shoes ep, porkchop getting sent to the pound ep, the birthday present ep, chalkie cheats ep, the driving ep, and the party ep when roger gets his arse handed to him by a girl. with honorable mention going to the pets canvas ep, the racing ep and the one episode which i believe dougs sister takes credit for something he writes or whatever i'm a little foggy as i'm old and can't remember everything as clear as day lol. also i loved dougs neighbor and his weird stuff. always a joy to have him in any episode.
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I remember watching Kenan & Kel, but I don't remember if I watched All That. I know I didn't watch Clarissa... But I checked out this article because you mention Doug. I've watched almost 100 different cartoons growing up in the 90s, from reruns of the really old Looney Tunes, The Woody Woodpecker show, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Yogi Bear, etc. to shows like Recess and The Weekenders of the late 90s, and the many many cartoons in between. Of those 90+ cartoons I've watched, Doug was very likely my favorite. I remember thinking about Doug a couple weeks ago, wondering if I've hyped it up in my head over the decade since I saw it last. I was planning on downloading a few episodes in a few days, so it was interesting to read this article and it's slightly comforting to see that you still remain very fond of it. I'll certainly have to try and rewatch some episodes -- I don't get TeenNick.
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Man this sucks i dont get the teen nick channel
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"You hear "I dropped the screw in the tuna" enough and it sticks in your brain for life." So true!

Oh... these shows bring back so many memories...
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