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You Can’t Do That on Television
Those of us lucky enough to have access to Nickelodeon in the early 80s saw the birth of the channel’s iconic green slime on the classic kid’s sketch comedy show, “You Can’t Do That on Television”. Not only did it launch the career of Canadian songstress Alanis Morissette, but it also made me look skyward every time I uttered the phrase “I don’t know” out of fear of being hit by green slime.
The show debuted on February 3, 1979, on CJOH-TV, a CTV affiliate in Ottawa, Ontario. It was meant to be a local non-educational Saturday Morning kids show, but it became so much more. The show was initially a hit, but it went through a format change, a name change, and most damaging, a time slot change. In its new Tuesday evening time slot, the show suffered and was eventually canceled.
In 1981 production of the show resumed, and the new youth-oriented network called Nickelodeon took an interest in it. They tested out the classic “Work. Work, Work” episode, and ratings were high. Production, partnered with Nickelodeon began, and by 1984 it was the highest-rated show on the network.
At first, the show was topical and skewed to an older demographic than what people might expect from Nickelodeon today. The show dealt with such important topics as smoking, drugs, sexual equality, and peer pressure.
The show ceased production in 1986 but returned for two seasons in 1989-1990. The network had started aiming lower on the age range and the show became less issue-based and more bathroom humor based. In 1990 the show ended.
If you watched the show during it early run you might remember this classic promo:
My favorite character was the show’s host Moose, who was played by the talented Christine McGlade. Here is a compilation of her work on You Can’t Do That on Television. It is over an hour long.