Anniversaries come and go, but sometimes one comes around that makes us feel really old. Like, really, really old. This year, the anniversary that hurts the most is the 20th anniversary of the pioneering Nickelodeon show, KaBlam!
KaBlam! premiered in October of 1996 during everyone’s favorite weekend programming block ‘SNICK’ – or “Saturday Night Nick” for the layman. Consisting of animated shorts that blended aspects of live action and puppetry, KaBlam! felt revolutionary, especially to my adolescent eyes. I had never seen anything like it before, and there is nothing quite like it on television today.
Henry and June, the crudely drawn yet completely lovable hosts, introduced us to worlds that were both foreign and instantly recognizable. 20 years later, the shorts featured within stuck with me in ways other cartoons did not. It might be because the animation of KaBlam! was actually kind of scary.
Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable segments of KaBlam!
Action League Now!
Chronicling the adventures of some not so super superheroes, Action League Now!was arguably the most successful of all the animated shorts, appearing in every episode of the show. Featuring heroes named The Flesh, Stinky Diver, Thunder Girl, and Meltman (“with the power to… MELT!), Action League was recognizable for using action figures as characters and props long before Robot Chicken stole the show.
Memorable Episode: “Rock-A-Big Baby”
Prometheus and Bob
Prometheus and Bob was a slapstick short done in claymation. Its stars were Prometheus, an brilliant alien from another planet, and Bob, a caveman from prehistoric Earth. Each episode, Prometheus would attempt to teach Bob a skill like boxing, using fire, or using soap to wash with. Nothing ever went as Prometheus would have liked, mostly due to a monkey that ruined everything.
Memorable Episode: “Bob’s Birthday”
Life With Loopy
Of all the shorts featured on KaBlam!, Life With Loopy was the most likely to induce nightmares. The subject matter, 12-year-old Larry tells tales of his crazy sister Loopy, wasn’t especially terrifying, but the art and animation certainly was. A mix of cutouts, puppetry, and classic animation, Life With Loopy was strange, yet mesmerizing. Just look at the above image. It’s cute for sure, but something about the look in Loopy’s eyes makes us feel pure terror.
Memorable Episode: “Goldfish Heaven”
Sniz and Fondue
Sniz and Fondue told the tale of a couple of ferrets who just happened to be roommates. This was one of the few shorts to be traditionally animated on the show. Sniz, the younger of the two, was hyperactive and loved getting into trouble. Fondue, the older and more world-weary, was what I like to call a “Nervous Nelly”. The two clashed with each other constantly, creating plenty of hilarious situations. The director of the pilot episode, John R. Dilworth, later went on to create Courage the Cowardly Dog.
Memorable Episode: “Mod Stylin'”
Many more shorts appeared in KaBlam! but these four left a lasting impression on us. We hope that one day Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, or another channel will be willing to take a risk on a program with such an adventurous spirit. The kids of the world deserve a show as strange as this.