It’s no surprise that 90s Nickelodeon captured the perfect blend of creativity, imagination, and goofiness to make it the mecca of kid-friendly programming. From the younger-aimed Nick Jr. day times to the Stick Stickly afternoons, Nick at Nite’s classical-era sitcoms and a flawless Saturday SNICK line-up, Nickelodeon was the king of family entertainment.
One of my favorite Sesame-Street-esque pieces of the Nickelodeon entertainment puzzle was a little children’s variety show of sorts called Eureeka’s Castle. Co-created by R. L. Stine, of Goosebumps infamy (Say cheese and die, bitch!), this puppet-driven kids’ fantasy land ran from September 4, 1989 to June 30, 1995.
The show takes the viewer into the daily lives of various puppets and chronicles their wacky adventures that all involve some sort of important life lesson.
There’s the titular Eureeka, an ever-optimistic wizard-in-training who lives in a wind-up castle music box with all of the other characters. According to the awesome theme song and intro, the castle music box is actually owned by a friendly giant who takes pleasure in winding the crank and partying down to its tunes.
Aside from Eureeka, there’s the kind-hearted dragon named Magellan whose tail is always in the way and the peanut-butter-sandwich-addicted twins, Bog and Quagmire, who live in the castle sewers. Then there’s the inventor, Mr. Knack, who pushes around a cart full of his own junk creations for sale and the near-blind flying rodent, Batly, whose terrible flying skills cause him to crash into everything. He also has an unexpectedly cute pet spider named Webster.
Add in a few mice, pet slurms (slug worms), and singing fountain fish called the Fishtones and you’ve got the ingredients necessary for a zany, fun, colorful kids show. Throw in a few animated segments and there was enough to keep any attention-deficient kid parked on the couch in complete silence for its duration.
I remember being in kindergarten and watching this show almost every day. Our kindergarten class ran in the AM/PM format where it was basically a half-day every day. For 5 year olds, even a half day of boring ass school was hard to handle, but being in the AM class meant that I could get home around lunch time and have the whole afternoon to watch glorious 90s Nickelodeon.
I remember loving Eureeka’s Castle and especially loving all the segments with Batly, Bog and Quagmire. A hipster bat with Buddy Holly glasses and a spider for a pet and two fuzzy twin monsters who live in filth water and eat peanut butter sandwiches all day were too perfect not to love.
Like any good 90s franchise, the characters were also punctuated with a brief run as Pizza Hut hand puppets. Much like the Land Before Time and other mega-successful intellectual properties, the core cast of Eureeka’s Castle would be forever immortalized as hollow rubber hand puppets.
Puppet-driven shows like Eureeka’s Castle are rare nowadays with increasing production costs and an ever-growing reliance on computer-generated animation, but there’s still room for the good old days of family-friendly television shows like this one in your home video library. The show is more than just a passing phenomenon, and I believe any kid would find something to love about it.
Eureeka’s Castle ran in syndication for so long that many children from vastly different generations got to experience its magic firsthand. I appreciate syndication for that very reason. If it means that shows like Full House, Saved by the Bell, and Home Improvement will reach all sorts of audiences for decades to come, I am in full support of recycled television programming.