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Reprise the theme song, roll the credits, and for the love of God, revive Roundhouse! - VIDEO

by Eliot Glazer, posted Apr 15th 2009 6:07PM
roundhouse nickelodeon snick crystal lewisAs a kid, my parents were totally cool with my television viewing habits, as long as it never became excessive or kept my face from being kissed by the light of day every once in a while. Not that they had anything to be worried about, of course, considering that all I was watching was Nickelodeon.

While my fellow prepubescents were slowly but surely migrating to more grown-up programming on MTV (and Playboy, if you had a cable box), I spent the bulk of my time between 1992 and 1996 fully devoted to Roundhouse, a 30-minute sketch show sandwiched between the more popular Clarissa Explains It All and Are You Afraid Of The Dark? on SNICK, Nickelodeon's Saturday night programming block.

Roundhouse catered to so many different types of nerddom: sketch comedy nerds, musical theater nerds, the nerds who wished they could dance ... Roundhouse had it all. What made the show revolutionary, however, was that it disguised biting social satire as children's programming (and this was pre-Pixar).

In order to be funny, Roundhouse wasn't condescending or patronizing or needlessly loud. Instead, it was actually good, and not once do I remember feeling as if the show pandered to its audience in the same way that more buffoonish, heavy-handed nonsense might (All That paled in comparison, but made a star of Amanda Bynes).

Sure, the sketches may now read a tad more juvenile than fifteen years ago and, yes, the hip-hop routines may feel a bit ... embarrassing. But at its core, Roundhouse still stands on its own as something markedly original. The grungy aesthetic, for one thing, proves that the cast and writers could probably have put on just as good a show in a garbage dump (and, considering that all the props are made from cardboard, markers, and ... well, rubbish, it's not far off).

The disregard for race in casting storylines feels "very Obama" (ironically, cast member Crystal Lewis has gone on to massive success as a Christian singer). And with clear references to the pop cultural zeitgeist, it's clear that the writers of Roundhouse chose to not write material inside a timeless, kid-friendly vacuum, but to, instead, embrace national watercooler chat in a nod of respect to its young audience.

With just a quick YouTube search for clips from Roundhouse, the overlords behind today's tween market could learn a thing or two from the underrated series.

Below, the series theme song, plus S105 episode "First Date" in three parts:

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Shenell Martin

Are we showing our Age!! MOS DEF!!!
what a great age it was!! Creative, fun, energetic, no sitting on the couch. It made you move, made you laugh, and made you think!! T.V nowadays need to take cues from these shows to come up with new innovative stuff!!
I remember and miss all of those shows!!
Hey they can still bring Double Dare Back!! Im old enough!! LOL

April 12 2011 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I feel like this show was wayyy ahead of it's time. Thanks for the blast from the past!!! :)

April 20 2009 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My friends and I constantly talk about how incredible a show this was. It surprises me that in this age of HSM, Camp Rock and even Fox's upcoming Glee that this show hasn't made a return on Nickelodeon.

Decades ago people used to respect the triple threat talent. People like Kristen Bell and James Marden should be the biggest stars in Hollywood with their abilities to perform on every level.

I understand that times change but we have kids interested in watching people sing and dance on television and in movies. If I was Nickelodeon I would have been on the phone getting this thing together the weekend after the original HSM blew up and put Disney Channel on the map.

The moderately sarcastic tone that was used in Roundhouse could move into the totally sardonic and kids today would fall in love with it. You could edge it up and instead of cutesy pie squeeky clean we'd have an opportunity to actually go after the ridiculous nature of our modern pop culture.

This show or at least a show with this template should be on Nickelodeon or even The N's current schedule. Something to separate from the idea that you have to be one of the morally bankrupt girls on The Hills or some kind of alcoholic rage fueled moron like RW/RR Challenge to matter in the world.

April 16 2009 at 2:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
matthew m. barnes

yeah... i'm curious about the comment about Crystal. i know her and know that she is DEFINITELY NOT a racist. i'm also a Christian and not only do i know that Christian does not equal racist, but there are Christians of every race.

just curious what you meant by that.

April 16 2009 at 12:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

omg this brings back some memories!!!

April 16 2009 at 12:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Stewart

I don't even need to see the video to remember the theme music, it was so catchy. Growing up and watching this show during it's original run, I remember enjoying it very much. SNICK was a great block of programming.

April 15 2009 at 10:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Growing up, all my imaginary friends were the people on Roundhouse. I would learn all the songs and my sister would learn all the dances, then we'd put on a show for our family. Additionally, my wardrobe choices were influenced by Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All, family time was centered around Ren and Stimpy, and my siblings and I tried to start our own Midnight Society. SNICK was the best children's programming ever to grace television, in my professional opinion!!!!

All this to say, right on.


April 15 2009 at 9:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This has been on my TiVo wishlist for 2 years.

April 15 2009 at 8:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love Roundhouse and would LOVE it if it came out on DVD. (Along with Salute your shorts and Season 3 of Pete and Pete please.)

April 15 2009 at 6:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Please explain this sentence: "The disregard for race in casting storylines feels "very Obama" (ironically, cast member Crystal Lewis has gone on to massive success as a Christian singer)."

Are you saying that it's ironic that a racist Christian was involved in the show, or that it's ironic that someone who got her start in such a race-free environment would become popular among a bunch of racist Christians?

You might want to rethink what you've written. I'm not a church goer, but that statements reeks of an entirely different sort of prejudice.

April 15 2009 at 6:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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