26 years ago! Christ,
I'm you're old. I don't remember the debut in particular but I do remember my sister and I getting our affairs in order so we could enjoy the Saturday night programming that Nickelodeon had to offer back then. It was pitched as being the kid's version of "Saturday Night Live" and we didn't really have anything like it up to that point. Whatever they showed, we were going to watch. There were far fewer channels and we were at their mercy. But "All That!" debuted....and it was good! Really good!
From the jump, you hear TLC right before the peak of their powers with a great intro. Then you see the cast, and they look....surprisingly normal. Of a seven-person cast, they had four kids of color and four girls. There are shows now that don't have that kind of diversity. And it wasn't just diversity, it was talent. There were a number of classic sketches that I couldn't wait to re-enact with my friends the next week:
- "Everyday French" with Pierre Escargot
- Good Burger....home of the Good Burger
- Vital Information for your everyday life
- Baggin' Saggin' Barry
- Repair Manmanmanman......*maniacal laughter*
And on top of that, they had great musical guests, week after week: TLC, Aaliyah, Destiny's Child, Outkast, Usher, and Ice Cube. They had *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, and Mandy Moore. And many of these songs were HORRIBLY inappropriate to be performed in front of children:
- Aaliyah- "Age Ain't Nothin But A Number". Yikes.
- Changing Faces - "Foolin Around". A song about infidelity.
- Xscape- "Who Can I Run To?". A song about who to run to after infidelity.
And that GOAT, close personal friend Ice Cube:
Tremendous. Just tremendous.
The show ran for 11 seasons and launched a number of spinoffs. "Kenan & Kel" was a hit show in its own right. Amanda Bynes had her own show before she lost her goddamn mind. Nick Cannon got his start on "All That!" and his own show on Nickelodeon. The skit "Good Burger" turned into a movie that made three times as much as it cost at the box office.
Noted cineaste Jeff D. Lowe takes it away below with a look back at some of the all-time skits.
Maybe I am wrong, but 'All That' is consistently overlooked I think when people discuss iconic 1990s Nickelodeon shows. There were a handful of iconic skits and moments that impacted people's childhoods.
I learned more about a different language from Pierre Escargot than I did in Spanish classes from middle school through college…
Without 'All That', there is no 'Good Burger', either…
Cooking with Randy might be my favorite sketch and Chris Farley even made an appearance once…
(the Jack Campbell, Fat Cop and Cooking with Randy crossover was also electric)
…and Ishboo was hilarious despite the fact I am still not sure what the fuck it was about…
Shoutout to Amanda Bynes in Ask Ashley, probably my first ever television crush back when I was in elementary school (and the original vlogger)…
Lori Beth Denberg had a few memorable characters, from the Vital Information sketch to the Loud Librarian (another two of my favorites)…
Lastly, Kel Mitchell… Coach Kreeton…
Absolutely creep and absolutely a classic! (He makes a 'The Warriors' reference!)
Peak 'All That' was better than anything SNL has put out in years. That shit still makes me laugh. Nickelodeon needs to fire up some old episodes late at night (along with some game shows).