Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Zone

When I was a young kid, the channel I primarily watched was YTV. That was the mid-late 1990s and early 2000s...between the ages of maybe 3 and about 11-12 (1994-2003). There used to be (or still is today) this programming block called "The Zone."


It's been a long time since I ever watched The Zone or even remember everything about it. It was today that I was hit with a big spell of nostalgia.


They were classic times. PJ Phil would host The Zone, with his companion, the talking television named 'Snit." Shows like Rugrats (my primary favorite), Pinky and the Brain, Groundling Marsh, Rocko's Modern Life, ReBoot, Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Big Comfy Couch, and (later) The Wild Thornberries and Rocket Power were all shows I used to watch after school or on weekends. It was always fun and seems historic now. You can't find anything like that on TV now.


What I really remember fondly were the graphics and interconnecting skits that YTV often employed between shows and/or commercials. There was a robot performing ballet; a skit advertising The Zone consisted of an old-style professor pointing out a diagram of the earth, and when he's about to point out the ozone layer, Phil (off screen) interrupts with the slogan "The Zone!" before he completes the word. He yells "who said that!?" before his head is zapped into a cartoon eyeball. Then Phil shows up armed with a magical ring on his finger:



Even the old commercials were good, better than today's ones. My mother recorded a videotape of over something like twenty Rugrats episodes back-to-back, and many of these graphics/commercials/skits ended up on them too.


With great enthusiasm I watched all this on YouTube today. It was a great thing to see again. A lot of it had been just an old, faded memory to me, and now it's fresh in my mind again. Our generation's TV shows were classic. The 90s were great for that. YTV used to be on channel 25. Nowadays it's all Anime, reality TV and stuff that doesn't seem nearly as good as it was back when we were young. My half-siblings watch YTV, just like I did at their age, except they're watching it a full generation ahead. In a way I feel a bit of pity for them; they weren't alive for the good stuff back in 1995 or around that time. I can still picture that girl from The Big Comfy Couch, dressed in orange coveralls and a purple hat, stretched out on a large clock on the floor, acting out the clock's hands to pass the time to the next segment. Or seeing Hanson perform "MMMBop" on The Hitlist, or those old "Don't you put it in your mouth" PSAs that ran around that time. There was even this old PSA where a tiny hippopotamus roams a kitchen at night, eating peanut butter, and the message was about asking children questions about whether what's on TV is actually real or not.


Those were the good old days. I kind of wish I could relive them. I've got my videotapes, still, and YouTube seems to have a great many stuff available. Today's cartoons aren't nearly as good as yesterday's. They're all controlled by Seth McFarlane, and they're all awful in my opinion. The Simpsons have lost any kind of reality - It's 2010. It's the year Lisa was supposed to almost marry a British guy as told in an episode from 1995. Their storylines just keep getting more unrealistic and different and unusual as the series progresses, making me loose sight of the original back stories/histories/timelines. Had the series been realistic, Bart would have been 31 this year and Lisa 29.


Anyway, it's just great to relive those old times. YouTube saved the day again. Remembering one's youth is always a great thing to do. It's refreshing.


Justin C.

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