"Reprise the theme song and roll the credits!"
Meredith A. Lee
- firstname.lastname@example.org - http://locket.net/roundhouse/ -
P.O. Box 15257
c/o Viewer Services
New York, New York 10036
Dear Mr. Scannell,
I grew up watching Nickelodeon. In those days, I truly believed that Nick was the network for kids. Nickelodeon could do no wrong in the eyes of a ten-year-old. Even after I was too old to watch Nick on a regular basis, I had respect for the network. Imagine how crushed I must have been at age 15 if I decided that Nick didn't represent kids at all.
Nickelodeon ripped Roundhouse - my favorite TV show - off its lineup over five years ago. In fall 1997, my cousin, Kathleen Ludewig, and I organized a petition to get Roundhouse reruns back in Nick's line-up. After all, Roundhouse was one of the best shows that Nick had ever aired, with one of the most dedicated fan bases of any kids' program. We spent months collecting signatures. Fans signed eagerly; they missed Roundhouse and wanted it back. In spite of all the enthusiasm, Kath and I knew that there was no guarantee that our wish would come true. Even so, Nick's strong reputation for representing kids led us to believe that we'd at least make an impact. In April 1998, we mailed signatures from 679 supporters of the Roundhouse cause to Nickelodeon and optimistically waited for a reply.
I can't even describe our disappointment when the so-called "first network for kids" didn't even acknowledge us. We didn't even get so much as a letter saying, "Thanks, but no thanks." No one visited our web-site, e-mailed us, or called us. The cold truth was that we were kids, and the first network for kids had snubbed us.
I was 15 years old when I started seriously doubting if Nick even cared what kids wanted. Maybe a girl at age 15 is too old to be classified as a kid. Still, since I had grown up watching Nick, I believed that the network would have some respect for my opinions. Guess I was wrong.
Kath and I continued our petition anyway. Maybe, we thought, there's some channel out that cares about what its viewers want and is willing to do something about it. Maybe Nick will at least consider our pleas. Maybe, if we keep trying, something will come of this.
Perhaps not everyone at Nick remembers Roundhouse. Well, Roundhouse was a show like no other. What other show was a sketch comedy, a concert, a dance recital, and a sitcom all in one? It was funny, it was hip, and it was popular. A child couldn't help being amazed by the way that regular sitcom plots could also contain advertisements in the midst of scenes and songs tying up loose ends before commercial breaks. I remember watching Roundhouse at slumber parties and marveling at the talented cast members who could act, sing, dance, and do anything else they needed to do! As we got older, we had a new appreciation for the versatile band, who provided the music for the singers and dancers, and the brilliant creative team at Rebel Entertainment, who conjured up spoofs, gags, and sketches on a weekly basis that made kids laugh until their sides ached. We loved Roundhouse's abstract cardboard props and sets on wheels. Together, each aspect of the show created a uniqueness that could never be matched.
One of Roundhouse's strong points was its ability to construct a plot, venture off with various sketches attached to that plot, and ultimately return to the plot with a solid moral: Be an individual! Stay in school! Save the earth! Despite this, Roundhouse occasionally received unnecessary criticism for being "too adult" for Nickelodeon. Roundhouse's bathroom jokes were frowned upon, even though they weren't half as descriptive as the images being shown a half hour later during Ren & Stimpy. A few parents blasted Roundhouse for scattered references to sex, even though none of these sketches mentioned anything about sex other than the word itself. In my opinion, a song where students express their common fear of sex-ed class can't possibly be as harmful to kids as an All That sketch that I had the misfortune of seeing where one kid pulled out his friend's appendix so that he'd have something to share during "Show and Tell." If parents would have been watched a full episode of Roundhouse, they would have realized that any "offensive" skits only served the plot as bad examples. In a show with a mess of unrelated skits, children aren't taught a moral. Since Roundhouse's sketches all revolved around a central plot, Roundhouse was able to have "Race Krispies" cereal spout off snide comments in the show's "Prejudice" episode because the sketch showed just how awful stereotypes can be. Later, the main character learned more than the simple moral that prejudice is wrong; he learned why it is wrong. As the cast sang the line "Our hearts speak the language of love" in that episode's pinnacle musical number, Roundhouse reminded kids to understand and accept each other. Of course, the episode ended with a cast member shouting "Reprise the theme song and roll the credits!", leading the group together to do just that as the show ended with another amazing dance number.
This summer, my anger toward Nickelodeon started to melt. First, Nick chose Roundhouse's "New Kid" episode to air as part of a special Snick screening at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York. Apparently, I wasn't the only excited fan - kids of all ages gathered to watch Roundhouse (along with Clarissa Explains it All and Are You Afraid of the Dark?) in the screening room. Roundhouse was even more exciting on a big screen with stereo sound! That screening gave me and Kath hope that maybe Nickelodeon did care about us after all.
To say that Kath and I were happy when we received news that Nick would air two episodes of Roundhouse in June 1999 as part of Nickelodeon's 20th Birthday special would be an understatement. Seeing Roundhouse on TV again after so long was one of the highlights of the year for us! Kath and I wondered if our efforts had somehow influenced Nick's decision. Either way, those two episodes were two dreams come true for Roundhouse fans. Older fans tuned in to see the classic show they missed so much, while younger Nick watchers were mesmerized by this incredible show that they had never seen before. Now this new generation of Roundhouse fans is waiting for more.
Don't underestimate Roundhouse just because it's been off the air for a few years. I can't even describe the excitement most teenagers express when I ask them to sign the petition. "Wow - Roundhouse!" they say as they sign enthusiastically. "That was, like, my favorite show!" Plus, Kath and I receive countless e-mails asking if we know of any way to find a few episodes on tape. Maybe that's why fans are bidding $40 on eBay for a mere two episodes of the show. Two episodes isn't even an hour, but fans are dedicated. Our generation may be a little young for School House Rock memorabilia, but at least we have Roundhouse. We were watching when Snick premiered; this is a part of our childhoods. Memories don't fade just because a show is cancelled. In fact, that cancellation just makes us work harder to prove how powerful Roundhouse really was.
I hope that our petition will encourage
Nickelodeon to bring Roundhouse back for good! Two episodes were wonderful,
and I hope that this new batch of 488 signatures convinces Nick that Roundhouse
fans want their show back in reruns for good. Together, the 679 signatures
from our original petition in April 1997 and the 488 enclosed here add
up to the signatures of 1167 Roundhouse fans and supporters. Across the
country (and even in Canada!), over a thousand fans are waiting for Roundhouse's
grand return to the air. A year ago, I didn't think that Nick cared about
us at all, but now, I have more faith in that first network for kids. Please
don't let me - and those 1166 other fans - down.
An optimistic fan,