For the relaunch of my blog as a hub for Canuck TV (among other things), I decided to look back at the TV network that started my love affair with television — YTV. They just hit their 25th anniversary, a landmark achievement and my hats off to them for acknowledging it with a micro site. (Family Channel also reached their 25th anniversary recently but as far as I know they were silent about it.)
YTV still has a soft spot in my heart. As a kid, there was probably nothing that really caught my imagination and went crazy with it like some of the classic toons on YTV. I’m talking Stickin’ Around, The Rugrats, Rocko’s Modern Life, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Hey Arnold, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly Odd Parents the list could go on from here to the moon. I credit a lot of my creativity to growing up watching a bunch of the wildly imaginative shows on YTV.
Who could honestly forget the crazy awesome Snit Station on weekends? Its predecessor BrainWash was perhaps even more so. I, personally, vaguely remember the BrainWash days as I was very young when it originally aired. If it wasn’t for some old VHS tapes and clips on the net I might’ve forgotten about it entirely. When I came across the tapes, I realized that you would’ve found some great toons on there, The Pink Panther and Bump in the Night come to mind.
During the era when I watched YTV, the late nineties and a hair in to the 2000s, there were a few live action shows on the air, certainly not as many as there are now, and they were mostly homegrown stuff. System Crash, Breaker High, and Radio Active are a few that I remember. Other live-action shows were, Uh-Oh, which was also the greatest game show in the land and who wouldn’t want to be on Video and Arcade: Top Ten. You get to play video games on TV and win stuff, how cool is that?
YTV also aired sanitized music videos for kids and teens on The Hit List. They’re not quite sanitized as the FamJams that air between shows on Family but you certainly wouldn’t catch Jeremy on The Hit List. The Hit List also inexplicably went British every once in a while, something I don’t think I’ve even seen replicated on Much or its sister channels ever, unless you count French Kiss, but that was just Much airing french music videos for around an hour or so early in the morning.
From time to time, I like to check back in with YTV. It’s kinda like passing by the old house you used to live by. You look at it, and memories start to flood in, but then you start noticing the changes. Then you get set back into reality that it isn’t quite what it used to be. YTV certainly isn’t what it used to be. It’s as if someone tore down your old family home and built something new there. Even so, there are things that are hard to change, and you immediately recognize them. In the case of YTV, it’s the fact that pillars like SpongeBob, The Fairly Odd Parents and The Zone are still on the air albeit slightly different from what I remembered them being.
But the new houses in the analogy are things like reality shows such as The Next Star, In Real Life and Extreme Babysitting. There’s also a far greater emphasis on live-action shows especially in prime-time these days. YTV also seems more family oriented than it did in the 90s, an effort to have parents watch with kids (mostly because YTV wants them to watch the ads along with their kids to rake in advertising dollars, shhh). The family appeal of the network was something that they stressed at launch, but it seemed to die out by the mid 90s. Come the You Rule era, it was virtually a kids and teens only zone. Unfortunately, one element YTV still keeps around is that they air shows sometimes months behind their original airdate in the US, for seemingly no good reason. You’d think that’s something they’d get on top of considering all of what’s available on the internet.
Regardless of that, it’s YTV’s time to shine. Over the next few days you’ll see a few reviews of some current YTV shows as I rediscover the network. It’s not going to be pretty, it has changed a lot, and not for the better, but granted neither has almost anything else on TV. Remember when you could learn something from The Learning Channel (now TLC is mostly trash reality shows), watch news non-stop on the Cable News Network (CNN is now getting into reality shows) and hear country music on Country Music Television (only God knows what’s going on at CMT)? Prime, The Nashville Network, Canadian Learning Television and Talk TV have morphed into Dtour, Spike, OWN and MTV respectively, and are completely unrecognizable from their former selves. YTV hasn’t fallen that far yet. They still air NickToons (you’ll see a review of one of the latest on the site in a few), homegrown sitcoms (again, you’ll see a review of a modern one in a bit), pre-schooler stuff in the daytime and yes, as I mentioned earlier, SpongeBob, Fairly Odd Parents and The Zone. So, buckle up kids this is going to be a bumpy ride as uncle dxtr rediscovers YTV (again).
Part Four: Review: Sanjay And Craig lacks bite