Illustration by Nick Wanserski

Recently, Nickelodeon announced that it was considering re-launching several of its classic shows, from Rugrats to You Can’t Do That On Television. And while that’s all well and good—modern kids deserve good TV, too—some nostalgia purists blanched, imagining horribly bastardized versions of their childhood favorites. But for everything that “the place for kids” could ruin by adding digital animation or wacky laugh tracks, there are just as many Nick properties that could shine with a fresh coat of paint. The A.V. Club’s picks for everything Nickelodeon that could stand a re-make are below, complete with our elevator pitches.

1. Doug

Illustration by Nick Wanserski

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Nickelodeon has always been fairly forward-thinking in its programming, yet somehow still never had a show with a gay protagonist, an omission that seems more glaring by the year. Who better to normalize being gay than Doug, perhaps the most normal of all kids in the Nick universe? Making Doug gay wouldn’t change the fabric of the show all that much—he’ll still draw comics, eat beets, dodge bullies, and embarrass himself in front of his crush—but it’ll have the benefit of lending interest to a character whose problems sometimes tended toward the mundane, while sending an important message. LGBT youth face intense bullying and a higher risk of suicide than their straight peers. Perhaps Doug Funnie can play a small role in reassuring them that it gets better. [Evan Rytlewski]

2. Double Dare

Though game shows generally have at least a degree of timelessness, save the Rice-A-Roni plugs and lowball cash prizes, today’s kids might not be able to grab right onto the original iteration of Double Dare. It needs a 2015 remake complete with video screens, flashy graphics, and updated physical challenges. Hell, throw some social media participation on there too, encouraging fans watching at home to hashtag their favorite teams. It would be nice if some of the show’s simplicity would hang around, and please, by all means, bring Marc Summers back. With just a few more interactive touches, the show could be brought into the new millennium. Keep the gak, though, because gak is timeless and there’s truly nothing better than watching a total stranger get disgustingly messy. [Marah Eakin]

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3. Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide

Fashions change, technologies get upgraded, fads come and go, but one thing remains constant about Nickelodeon comedies: School is an absolute nightmare. The tips compiled in the dossier that gives Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide its title are similarly timeless, ready-made pointers that could help class after class live through their James K. Polk Middle School experience. A Ned’s Declassified follow-up would find a new trio of oddballs stumbling upon Ned Bigby’s School Survival Guide on their first day of seventh grade, heeding its sage, living-cartoon advice on classroom perennials like detention and pep rallies, dances and friends moving away. And two seasons later, when they move on to high school, they’ll pass it to another set of kids struggling to fit in—and so on, and so forth. With evergreen themes being applied to changing times/cast members, the self-perpetuating cycle that keeps Degrassi alive could sustain Ned’s Declassified as well, eventually pulling the author into its orbit, as new vice principal Ned (Devon Werkheiser) pals around with wisecracking mentor/janitor Gordy (Daran Norris) and struggles with becoming an authority figure—the type thwarted by advice he scribbled down years ago. [Erik Adams]

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4. The World Of David The Gnome

Originally broadcast in Spain, then dubbed in English for Nickelodeon, The World Of David The Gnome took most of its ideas and characters from a series of imaginary field guide-type books by Dutch author Wil Huygen. But neither version was fully able to capture the dark beauty of Rien Poortvliet’s illustrations—just look at how much scarier the trolls from the book are compared to the trolls from the cartoon. Since The Weinstein Company has already announced its own reboot of the series, we suggest it trades in the past folksiness for sylvan mystery by drawing the show in light colors on black paper á la Batman: The Animated Series. Also, please consider delving further into the books’ universe by focusing each episode on a different gnome in a different part of the world. Kick off the pilot with David, then move to Siberia (an area only touched upon during the first series) and elsewhere. [Dan Caffrey]

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5. Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

Illustration by Nick Wanserski

Are You Afraid Of The Dark? was an early taste of both horror and excellent anthology television for kids. Spruce it up with some modern horror stories (a ghost who haunts Instagram photos; a new cellphone model that makes people over 30 go insane), dedicate the money and resources to make it prestige-level television, and Are You Afraid Of The Dark? is American Horror Story for kids. With this iteration, young viewers can offer their own ghost stories via social media, contributing creepy stories and life lessons that Nickelodeon then makes into new episodes. Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story Are You Really Afraid Of The Dark?, produced by Ryan Murphy. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

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6. All That

The internet is made for the sketch. The best bits of SNL, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and the dearly departed Key & Peele build brands even for those who don’t bother to tune at the appropriate time. That’s why it’s high time Nickelodeon bring back All That. Its “for kids, starring kids” formula would work even better with the ascension of the YouTube star. The Kids’ Choice Awards already has a category for web star, so why not put those photogenic youngsters to work? Give these content creators, who have already built their own followings, a chance to bring those millions of subscribers to terrestrial TV. And let ’em do what they do best. Give them a camera and let them create their own sketches built on brands that have already proven successful. [Molly Eichel]

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7. Nick Arcade

The idea of reinventing Nick’s Knightmare-esque virtual reality game show for the Oculus era isn’t exactly original; the show’s creators (plus host Phil Moore) launched an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign to put kids back “inside the game” earlier this year. But even though Enthlevel only managed to scrape up 1 percent of its funding goal—possibly owing to its lisp-inducing title and use of 1992’s most stiff and awkward CGI—that doesn’t mean marrying trivia-based competition and head-to-head video game challenges isn’t a potentially lucrative idea. After all, the massive success of Let’s Play videos and eSports proves that kids want to watch each other play video games; we just need to tap into (and/or co-opt) those nascent communities to get their members to tune in. The formula seems pretty simple: Hire a handful of popular Let’s Players and commentators to host, steal some trivia questions from the old Double Dare vaults, and then strap a couple of headsets to uncoordinated tweens’ heads. Then, we’ll boot up Call Of Duty or Minecraft, hit start, and let the money roll in. [William Hughes]

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8. Salute Your Shorts

Kids so often become the adult they once despised, and there’s no person Budnick despises more than his counselor, Kevin “Ug” Lee. So for a reboot of Salute Your Shorts, what better vehicle for self-loathing comedy than making Budnick the head cheese at Camp Anawanna? The show itself even foreshadowed this in the episode “Counselor Budnick.” In addition to coming to terms with maturity, he’d have to begrudgingly seek advice from his former rival on how to run a summer camp, plus deal with the oafish nature of his assistant counselor, Eddie “Donkeylips” Gelfen. But how to get back the rest of the cast? By having their kids attend Anawanna, of course. Naturally, the adult versions of Z.Z., Telly, Dina, Sponge, and Pinsky are all doing a lot better than Budnick, making their encounters at drop-off all the more frustrating for him. This would make for a much darker Salute Your Shorts that draws its comedy from failure and middle-age frustration (most of the actors are pushing 40), but hey, everyone has to grow up sometime. [Dan Caffrey]

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9. Invader Zim

Nickelodeon didn’t have any interest in continuing Jhonen Vasquez’s Invader Zim after its second season, but a lot of other people sure did. If the fevered internet masses ever get their way, it would be fun to move the timeline of the show ahead a few years. In the remake, Earth has finally fallen under the control of the Irken Empire—though not by Zim, but his robot companion Gir. Gir’s rule is dominated by his insane rated-PG style of Caligula excess. He’s even created a new robot, Arg, to join him in indulging in every random whim. Now Zim has to join the Earth resistance movement along with Dib and Gaz, his goal being to usurp Gir and take his place. This new story arc would keep the original’s tone of gross banality intact. Make it a central recurring joke that most humans are either unaware or indifferent that Earth is now under the control of an insane robot overlord. [Nick Wanserski]

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10. Space Cases

Co-created by Peter David and Lost In Space alum Bill Mumy, Space Cases essentially reimagined Mumy’s old show with an all-kid crew (with requisite adult and AI chaperones), setting up a seven-year journey through the cosmos that only lasted two seasons and 26 episodes. But the series managed to integrate an impressive amount of mythology (involving a villainous race known as the Spung) and appearances from science-fiction idols (including Mark Hamill, George Takei, and Mumy himself) in that time, a tradition that would carry over to Space Cases: The Next Generation. Reprising the role of rainbow-haired Saturnian Catalina—who was knocked into another dimension at the end of the first season—Firefly star Jewel Staite leads a new band of bickering Starcadamy cadets as they comb the galaxy for Catalina’s former crew mates, still missing nearly two decades after their disappearance. Along the way, they’ll renew tensions with Spung leader Warlord Shank (Takei, arguably a bigger get now than in 1996) and encounter plenty of new lives and new civilizations, represented by alumni of the many cultishly adored sci-fi series that sprung up (and got cut down too quickly) in the years since Space Cases left the air. (Staite’s Serenity captain Nathan Fillion is a lock for the premiere episode.) [Erik Adams]

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11. What Would You Do?

During the run of Family Double Dare, Marc Summers pulled double duty at Nickelodeon Studios (“at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida”), running vacationing families through the audience-participation stunts and increasingly complicated pie-based machinery of What Would You Do? The closure of Nick Studios means the captive audience is gone, but YouTube and other video platforms have shown that the public retains a strong desire to embarrass itself in front of a national (or international) audience. A What Would You Do? redux would find Summers (on his off-time from the new Double Dare) emceeing from Nick’s current homebase in L.A., conducting a team of roving WWYD? correspondents live from a soundstage at Nickelodeon On Sunset. Those correspondents would orchestrate new man-on-the-street challenges, while audience polls would pull from social media. It’d be harder to take the pie machines on the road, so those would stay put on Sunset, where audience members waiting for tapings of Nick’s multi-camera sitcoms would subject themselves to the whipped-cream treatment. [Erik Adams]

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12. T.U.F.F. Puppy

The whole reason Nickelodeon is even considering rebooting its old properties might be attributed to the fact that its current CGI reboot, Alvinnn!!! And The Chipmunks, is a huge hit for the network (never mind the fact that it’s just a European show Nick bought for American audiences). That being said, Fairly Oddparents is entering its 10th season and is clearly a shell of its former self; T.U.F.F. Puppy is the show that needs another go. Butch Hartman’s new cartoon was a potential fresh of breath air to Fairly Oddparents’ stagnation, but fell victim to belabored gags and lazy characterizations (in contrast to Fairly Oddparents’ surprisingly close look at childhood loneliness). A TV movie could force its moronic lead, Dudley Puppy, to take real stock of his new occupation as a spy and help to ground the inherently wackier cartoon, allowing subsequent episodes to be silly while at the same time savvy about the instability of millennial employment. [Kevin Johnson]

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13. Livewire

It’s easily arguable that there hasn’t been a talk show like Livewire on the air since Livewire itself went off the air. Even now, it’s hard to imagine someone saying, “First we take an audience full of kids. Then we’ll bring in musical artists ranging from Buckner & Garcia to Manowar, actors from Jimmy Baio to Marty Feldman, and—what the hell—let’s bring in the Grey Panthers, too. And then whoever’s on the show that week, we’ll let the kids ask them questions.” Yes, it’s already a major tightrope act to produce a talk show that captures the attention of a younger audience while neither underestimating their intelligence nor taking things in too highbrow a direction, and on top of that, you’ve also got to get someone to accept that kids care about more than just the big Hollywood names and would be just as enthralled with nontraditional pop culture figures who aren’t necessarily topping the charts or surfing a wave of mainstream popularity. But if you can find someone with the power to get a Livewire reboot off the ground and the will to stick to the format, the result could be some of the smartest TV around. [Will Harris]

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14. Reggie Jackson’s World Of Sports

A straight reboot of Reggie Jackson’s World Of Sports would be of zero interest to today’s kids. After all, while the baseball slugger was a star when he hosted the show in the early ’80s, chances are the current generation has no emotional attachment to his name or achievements. Still, the show’s premise—Jackson introduced kids to different ways to become physically fit by exploring various types of sports—is easily updated by enlisting a contemporary athlete for star power. The obvious choice? LeBron James, who absolutely has enough sway to convince kids to put down their phones and go outside and exercise. It’s easy to see the charismatic Cavs player delving into sports that kids could explore—from the usual suspects (soccer, football, basketball) to 2016 Summer Olympics-caliber sports (synchronized swimming, volleyball, gymnastics). As James is a surprisingly good actor (and not wooden on camera), he’d be a natural host—and, as a bonus, the show would be a springboard for his burgeoning non-NBA acting career. [Annie Zaleski]

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15. The Secret World Of Alex Mack

Illustration by Nick Wanserski

With superheroes gradually taking over TV, it makes perfect sense to reboot this story of an ordinary teen given ordinary abilities via chemical accident. As shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Chuck, and iZombie have proven many times over the last 20 years, going from average to extraordinary after one event is a great machine for storytelling, and all of the show’s core ideas are still relevant: the sense of being alienated because of gifts, growing up into someone you don’t recognize, and the evils of corporate greed. Retain the relationship between Alex and her sister Annie to keep the strong female character focus, and take advantage of the vast improvements in CGI to make Alex’s powers of telekinesis, electricity, and shape-shifting even more impressive. And for a bit of nostalgia value, bring back Larisa Oleynik as a mentor to the new Alex Mack and work in the occasional reference to her previous misadventures. [Les Chappell]

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16. Clarissa Explains It All

Clarissa’s creator Mitchell Kriegman has talked before about the longevity of Clarissa Explains It All—and wrote a book continuing Clarissa’s adventures into adulthood—so there are plenty of ways the Darling family could return. The best option would be to update Clarissa’s commitment to breaking the fourth wall using the mockumentary form of recent years, making the talking head segments a perfect refuge from her crazy life. Or, if you wanted to make a project for the Nick At Nite audience, blend the Clarissa format with a bit of The Wonder Years and have Melissa Joan Hart chiming in as a narrator over Clarissa’s explanations, occasionally correcting her younger self in a wry tone of “Oh, I thought I knew it all.” Whatever you do, make sure there’s plenty of Elvis the alligator. [Les Chappell]

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17. The Adventures Of Pete & Pete

One of Nick’s first scripted live-action series was one of its best, as creators Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi set their wistful look at childhood in a town full of eccentrics led by two brothers, both named Pete. The show perfectly mixed offbeat humor, wamrth, and a parade of character actors and indie rockers playing the town’s kooky residents. The show was so good, in fact, that it shouldn’t be remade—it should simply come back. McRobb and Viscardi are still on the Nick payroll, having worked on nearly a dozen shows and movies for the network, including the excellent Sanjay And Craig. Nearly the whole cast is available. Just bring everyone back, Girl Meets World-style. Narrator and oasis of sanity Big Pete is married (but not to Ellen, who’s still his platonic best friend), with a kid of his own named (what else?) Pete. Little Pete has replaced Bus Driver Stu, and on the weekends is a rival ice cream vendor to Mr. Tastee, though he’s frequently dragging Pete Jr. into surreal adventures. Ellen’s now a teacher at the high school, where her dad (Steve Buscemi) is still the guidance counselor. Fill out the rest of the town with a new generation of colorful supporting players (and in doing so, address the one legitimate criticism of the show—its overwhelming whiteness), and nostalgic Gen X-ers everywhere will be tuning into The Adventures Of Pete & Pete & Pete right alongside their kids. [Mike Vago]

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18. Avatar: The Last Airbender

Some fictional universes are best kept small. As great as Star Wars is, expanding it beyond the original trilogy diluted the unique fairy tale quality of the premise into a conventional sci-fi universe that just happens to have lightsabers in it. By contrast, the world introduced in the two Avatar series only gets more interesting the more of it you see. Both The Last Airbender and its sequel, The Legend Of Korra, cultivate observations about culture, politics, and human behavior that would be astute for show meant for adults, much less one directed at kids. And while it’s been fun watching the development of two very different Avatars, what is everyone else up to?

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Avatar: Anthologies would be a series of unrelated, stand-alone episodes visiting different eras in the elemental kingdoms to tell the stories of a variety of people: benders, heroes, and the regular folks who live in a world filled with potent magic. Avatar: Anthologies would be a comprehensive world history course for a very deserving world. Plus we’d get to see even more of the series signature animal portmanteaus. Like a donkey-tiger. Or a hawk-fish. [Nick Wanserski]

19. Figure It Out

Basically What’s My Line for kids, Figure It Out asked Nickelodeon celebrities to surmise what a random kid’s talent, physical quirk, or obscure interest was. With minor updates, like a digital clue board, the show could work again today, especially if—again—it incorporates a large social media component. (#RatTail.) Guessers get 10 to 15 questions to try and figure out some kid’s deal, all while facing falling water, slime, and random clues. It’s classic stuff, with the question game being almost as old as TV itself. Why not try it again? [Marah Eakin]

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