I'm not ashamed to admit that I spent most of my childhood watching reruns on Nickelodeon, in fact, it's something I've come to be quite proud of. Some people collect ceramic eggs, I dedicate my craft to hunting down episodes of Littl' Bits and dreaming of taking a dive down the Pie Slide. Where other nostalgia fans gave up on Nick years ago, I have still managed to see every episode of My Dad The Rock Star about 126 times. Even when engaged in conversations about old Nick I can throw in a, "I always wanted to ransack the house on Finders Keepers," and have people cock their eyebrows into their hairline.
I can only imagine how completely embarrassed my boyfriend was in high school when would sit together at lunch and I would loudly discuss my latest tape trade victory in front of all his friends. I once traded a 3 hour VHS of Pinwheel and in return received 10 videos including Littl' Bits, TMNT, Hey Dude, She-Ra, Monchichis, Super Mario World, Real Ghostbusters, and a slew of other great stuff. That was a proud day. The digital age has taken a huge chunk out of the trading market now that you can download entire seasons of AHHH! Real Monsters instead of piecing them together video by video. But, there's nothing like the thrill of getting a little nostalgia package in the mail and finding a full line-up, commercials and all.
One thing I never could obtain by trade was Out of Control. I once found about 90 seconds of it at the end of a video, and I thought that I'd be doomed to rewind and rewatch that 90 seconds for the rest of my life. As much as Nick reran those 26 episodes of their first American made exclusively for Nickelodeon show, you'd think getting copies would be easy. I never found a collector with what I so intimately desired, but lo, discovered one episode in a cluttered digital package of Nick nostalgia.
One of the key elements of Out of Control was the Hurry Up machine, which was victim to an unfortunate tap-dancing disaster in this episode. The cast, troopers that they are, still tried their best to utilize the machine to help some kids fast forward through their school day. They zoom though the school day just before flames spark and the machine malfunctions, causing the occasional drop backwards in time.
Luckily, this provides a great tie-in because Angela "Scoop" Quigley is covering a hot tip about a boy that has his own pet dinosaur. We're not talking one of those huge tropical lizards, either. It's a huge, realistic, brontosaurus. As a child, I honestly thought this child had a real dinosaur. Nickelodeon obviously didn't have the budget in these early years to fake a dino, so my only conclusion is that it was on loan from some place. Or the result of alien zookeeper and space pirate warfare like the kid said.
After finding dinosaurs, the next strategic move is for Out of Control to hunt down the world's best taco. Dave jumps in to a mariachi band, watches tacos being made, samples some spicy tacos, and even delivers a trophy for the best taco. But, in the ultimate display of one-ups-manship Hern presents THE SINGING TACO.
If there's any food product more hilarious when singing and dancing than a taco, I've never eaten it. There's something about Hern that reminds me of the dirty traveling amusement park guy from Follow that Bird. Maybe it's the haircut, maybe it's the voice, I can't really pinpoint it without watching the movie again, and I'm not prepared for a dose of Dodo's right now.
A popular segment from Out of Control was How (NOT) To Do Things. The bit was an instructional video featuring the wrong and right ways of performing basic operations. In this episode, they cover the ins and outs of building a go kart. Two stooges attempt to build a go kart out of bottlecaps and toilet lids, and are trumped by a kid with a hammer and a dream.
Angela presents a new "interactive" connect the dots presentation, turning her face into a live Wooly Willy. This is followed by the ornery cartoon dude doing a speech on astronomy. I'm not sure if the little animated guy had a name, but he was generally the asshat that provided a buffer zone from skit to skit by insulting the show and being victim to zany cartoonist-inflicted situations.
Despite the great filler material, the Hurry Up machine is still acting up, and Dave uses it to his advantage by going back in time. Far back to sixteenth century England. Dave takes a tour of the games they had to offer back then, and even offers to show some games of the new age, like "pocket" video football, which is only pocket sized if you make a habit of carrying bricks in your jeans. It's still enough to freak the villagers into naming him as a witch, and calling to have him burned at the stake.
The on-site handyman and inventor, Waldo, managed to fix the machine in time to save Dave. Everyone gives a woot woot of celebration, especially Diz, even after overexerting herself raiding Cyndi Lauper's wardrobe. I still don't know if that high-pitched squeal of hers was real or a soundbyte, but a good chunk of my childhood was spent trying to imitate it to aide in annoying my older brothers.
Out of Control was one of those shows that aired so unbelievably much, I thought it would be on forever. Back then, Nick wasn't the merchandising empire it was today so even official VHS tapes are nonexistent. In fact, you had to mail in for a copy of their schedule. The show continued into the 90s with reruns, then rode gently into the sunset with the likes of DangerMouse and Pinwheel.