VOICE OVER: RB
Script written by Nick Spake
These kids tv shows makes us feel nostalgia AF! Mister Roger's Neighborhood, The Muppet Show, Bill Nye the Science Guy, The Suite Life of Zach & Cody, Goosebumps, Wishbone, The Amanda Show, Punky Brewster and Reading Rainbow were some of the best shows we watched back in the day!
Top 10 Shows from Your Childhood That'll Make You Nostalgic
Remember PBS Kids? Remember Fox Kids? Remember Kids’ WB? We remember. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Live-Action Kids Shows That Give Us a Feeling of Nostalgia.
For this list, we’re taking a look at children’s programs that make us long for a simpler time. We’ve excluded shows that were marketed more to the teen crowd, such as “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” regardless of how nostalgic they might make us feel. Also, some animation use is okay, as long as as there is live action in the show.
#10: “Zoboomafoo” (1999-2001)
We grew up with several educational programs that made us appreciate nature and wildlife, some of the best of which was this Daytime Emmy winning series. “Zoboomafoo” followed brothers Chris and Martin Kratt, but it was the titular lemur who stole the show. Brought to life through puppetry and a real life Coquerel’s sifaka, Zoboo was just one of the many creatures that dropped by Animal Junction. Each episode contained a theme that helped audiences understand how animals live and how we can aid them. The creators got these messages across with fun animation, infectious music, and an all-around upbeat attitude. Plus, how many shows actually encourage you to get off the couch and go exploring?
#9: “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” (1986-91)
Fresh off the success of “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” was every bit as bizarre and hilarious as Mr. Herman’s silver screen outing. The series naturally centered on comedian Paul Reubens as Pee-wee, whose outlandish attitude was only matched by his over-the-top playhouse. The playhouse boomed with so much personality that it practically sprung to life. No seriously, virtually everything in the house could spring to life! While the show had its fair share of animated segments, the live-action material somehow managed to be even cartoonier. Where kids gravitated towards the lively set pieces and colorful characters, adults appreciated the surreal humor and the wacky sentiment that captured the wonder of being a child.
#8: “Reading Rainbow” (1983-2006)
Making an educational show is easy. Making an educational show that’s engaging, however, is an entirely different story. For over two decades, “Reading Rainbow” entertained children and kept them hooked on books. Often enlisting a celebrity narrator, each episode promoted a different book and explored how it could appeal to young readers. Speaking of which, kids also gave their two cents in the Book Reviews segment. At the center of everything was Kunta Kinte himself, LeVar Burton, whose welcoming presence always made kids excited to read. After the show’s cancellation in 2006, a 2014 revival campaign on Kickstarter accumulated $6 million. So yeah, it’s safe to say that fans still think of it fondly.
#7: “Punky Brewster” (1984-88)
This series followed a wide-eyed girl who gets ditched by her parents, looks after a canine sidekick, and eventually finds a loving home with a foster father. Think Little Orphan Annie with a 1980s twist. “Punky Brewster” is perhaps best remembered for its quirky characters and wacky escapades. In the midst of all the shenanigans, though, the show also addressed more mature issues, such as abandonment, divorce, and what it really means to be a family. On top of that, it wasn’t afraid to go DARK at times. “The Perils of Punky” two-parter still gives us nightmares even years later. Of course for every grim moment, there was something colorful to even things out.
#6: “Wishbone” (1995-97)
Another show that encouraged children to pick up a book, “Wishbone” followed a Jack Russell Terrier with a surprisingly advanced reading level. No matter what was going on in the lives of Wishbone and his human owners, our well-read protagonist could always find parallels within a respected work of literature. Alongside the contemporary story, each episode reenacted a classic tale with Wishbone taking on a leading role. While the show was cute, funny, and whimsical, it rarely dumbed down its source material. Even with a dog actor involved, It treated stories like “Romeo and Juliet” and “Frankenstein” with sophistication and respect, which in turn made young viewers want to visit their local library.
#5: “Goosebumps” (1995-98)
Deep down, there’s a part of every kid that wants to be challenged with something scary. That’s why so many of us read R. L. Stine’s bestselling book series and watched the “Goosebumps” TV show. An anthology of horror, “Goosebumps” adapted some of Stine’s most popular stories to the small screen. It was both spooky and delightful to see tales like “Welcome to Dead House,” “A Night in Terror Tower,” and “The Haunted Mask” brought to life. It also made us forever afraid of dummies and basements. Creative, atmospheric, and darkly humorous, “Goosebumps” was easily the creepiest show kids grew up with in the 90s… well, with one exception, but more on that later.
#4: “Bill Nye the Science Guy” (1993-98)
Back in your school days, chances are your class got excited whenever the teacher put on a video. If the video happened to be an episode of “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” it was considered the ultimate jackpot. Even outside of school, though, Bill Nye never failed to entertain his audience. With a background in comedy and science, Nye made the series not just educational but also seriously fun. Experiencing science from this unique perspective, kids were able to learn without even realizing they were doing it. You might not remember anything you read in a textbook, but Bill’s lessons on everything from flight to motion continue to stick with us.
#3: “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” (1990-96; 1999-2000)
The ‘90s were a relatively child-friendly time for television with plenty of light-hearted programming made for kids, but there were still a few shows that pushed the envelope by delivering a refreshing dosage of darkness. Every episode of this anthology series was told in the form of a campfire story, courtesy of the Midnight Society. Though it revolved a group of teenagers, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” is considered a children’s fantasy and sci-fi series, and it sure knew how to make our kiddie hearts race and spines tingle, dreaming up eerie monsters that would fuel our nightmares for weeks. If you think you can handle the show now that you’re older, we dare you to go back and watch “The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner” without jumping out of your seat.
#2: “The Muppet Show” (1976-81)
If “Sesame Street” shaped your preschool years, then “The Muppet Show” more than likely defined your elementary school days. Of course this Emmy-winning variety show wasn’t exclusively for kids. Creator Jim Henson set out to make a series that could appeal to the whole family, and he succeeded with catchy songs, inspired comedy, and unforgettable characters, not to mention a slew of memorable celebrity guest hosts. While the show ended its run in 1981, the gang reenacted the “The Muppet Show Theme” almost thirty years later in a 2011 feature film. For anybody that grew up with Kermit the Frog, it was impossible not to get choked up with happy tears and nostalgic chills.
#1: “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” (1968-2001)
It’s hard to believe that this childhood classic concluded way back in 2001, a mere two years before Fred Rogers himself passed away. “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” had an incredible run, however, epitomizing childhood for over thirty years. Sporting a cardigan and a kind, gentle persona, Rogers would welcome viewers into his home and speak to them directly about various life lessons. Above all else, Rogers taught us about the power of make-believe, demonstrating how you can create so much with so little. To this day, The Neighborhood Trolley acts as a symbol for everything Rogers stood for, reminding us that every person is special. For that, Fred will forever be our neighbor.