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Focus Group Guy: "How many of you kids would like Itchy & Scratchy to deal with real-life problems, like the ones you face every day?"
Long-running (1984-1993) children's musical show which started life in syndication, and ended up on the Disney Channel.
The series revolved around a literal Five-Man Band (the number did inflate to six for two seasons) of children and teenagers who encountered a very random assortment of plots. Most of these were standard After-School Teen Drama stories. Every so often, however, they'd face a more outlandish adventure involving Time Travel, magic robots, Leprechauns and other, crazier things. Whatever the story involved, it'd always be punctuated by often-Bowdlerized covers of popular songs.
The show was formulaic in nature: with only a few exceptions (a few all-musical "concert episodes", and once featuring kid breakdancers competing for a Karaoke Machine), each episode began with the band performing a number on-stage at "The P*lace", a local hangout with an illustrious history. (It had once been called "The Palace", and was renamed after the 'a' in the marquee had burned out.) After this, a short scene would set up the plot before the band returned to the stage to perform a second number. As the plot unfolded, two more songs would be performed off-stage, usually one solo number by whichever member of the cast was spotlighted that week (which in almost all cases is a slow ballad or love song), and one song worked into a Dream Sequence or Imagine Spot. In the final minutes, the plot would be resolved, and the band would perform a closing number on-stage, sometimes accompanied by a Montage Out of the guest characters. The third and fourth songs were always directly relevant to the plot (for example, a cover of "As Time Goes By" during a Casablanca-themed Dream Sequence), the second and fifth songs were usually linked no more than thematically, while the first number was generally unrelated to the action of the story (The final season dropped the second song for three extra minutes of dialog).
The show's longevity (it predated the Disney Channel's policy of imposing a 65-episode limit), despite being aired during a period when the Disney Channel was a commercial-free premium station, is taken by fans as evidence of the quality of writing and acting, in spite of the crazier episodes being prime Snark Bait. The show launched the careers of Stacy Ferguson (aka Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas), Mario Lopez (of Saved by the Bell), Scott Wolf (of Party of Five), and (Jennifer) Love Hewitt. Note that the cast swapped people in and out nearly every season. So by the time the show ended, the titular fictional band was an entirely different group of people from where they started!
Two platinum-selling albums of cover tracks by the cast were released.
- Ambiguously Gay - The Kid, though this is mostly due to the actor, who is now openly gay.
- Also, it was The Eighties. Popular standards of masculinity were very different.
- Ambition Is Evil - It gets especially awkward when it dawns on you that the writers never really state how successful Kids Inc. is as a band.
- Annoying Younger Sibling - Stacy seems to be portrayed as this in some early episodes.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead - This seemed to be the case with the girls in the band during the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
- 1988 lineup: Stacy (blonde), Connie (brunette), Devyn (redhead)
- 1989 lineup: same with the exception of Robin (brunette; Jennifer Love Hewitt's character)
- Book Dumb - The Kid, as inferred in the 1984 "School's For Fools" episode (with Germany's favorite singer in a guest role).
- Bowdlerise - As mentioned in the section referencing the show on the trope page, this tended to be done with surprising inconsistency.
- Cloudcuckoolander - Stacy
- Continuity Nod - After the kids narrowly prevent the demolition of The P*lace, a historic landmark plaque is visible on the facade of the building in the Title Sequence for the rest of the series.
- The Danza - Only three or four of the actors did not use their own first names.
- Deadpan Snarker - Renee is the most prolific example, with Ryan, Kid and to a lesser degree Devyn not far behind.
- Directed by Cast Member - Moosie Drier (who played Riley) directed the 1988 episode "Kahuna Kids".
- Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune - With Martika, Rahsaan Patterson, Stacy Ferguson, and Jennifer Love Hewitt providing the lead vocal for Seasons 1-7. By Season 9, the whole cast had a verse.
- Dream Sequence - Often mixed with an "I Want" Song.
- Embarrassing First Name - Rahsaan.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" - Rahsaan Patterson as "The Kid".
- Executive Meddling - For whatever reason, the producers decided to remix Stacy's voice as the 1989 season went to broadcast. The result was that most songs had her sounding quite squeaky at times, as this video of the season-opening cover of "Edge Of A Broken Heart" demonstrates: with meddling and without meddling.
- Expository Theme Tune
- Also a Bragging Theme Tune
"Kids In-co-por-ated/K! I! D! S, yes!..."
- Fable Remake - being a kids' show, it makes sense
- Fake Band
- Fashion Show - A 1992 episode featured Haylie as a fashion designer preparing for one.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry - Renee and Stacy. It got so bad that, in 1984's "Her or Me" episode, the band was considering keeping only one of them.
- Imagine Spot - Usually during the middle of each episode.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes - The main reason that the show has not returning to TV and/or been released on DVD is twofold: one being the difficulty in clearing the rights to the songs (which, while still difficult, would not be as pricey as these are kids singing them, not the actual artists), while the other is the fact that the show's rights are split between MGM (owner of the actual series), 20th Century Fox (MGM's DVD distributor) and Disney (in possession of the actual videotapes).
- Limited Wardrobe - Only a few costumes are shown in a season during the period Disney Channel aired the show (1986 until the show's 1993 cancellation)
- Lower Deck Episode - Featuring on normally-non-speaking characters, such as the drummer and dancers.
- Local Hangout (also Malt Shop) - The P*lace
- Mood Whiplash - Comes when you try to tackle serious subjects like drug abuse or bullying in a series that (to paraphrase The Simpsons) was also completely off-the-wall and swarming with magic robots. All that is missing is to win things by watching.
- One Born Every Minute
- Paper-Thin Disguise - One early episode had the Kid and Mickey use a few of these to try to get in where the girls (having left them out) are shooting a music video with guest star Siedah Garrett.
- The Power of Rock - Can reverse the effects of Time Travel and destroy a robot, it seems.
- Pretty in Mink - During their cover of "You're a Friend of Mine" in the episode "The Gift". One girl tried on a white fur coat, and another tried on a white fur stole.
- Snap Back - Like you cannot even imagine. This editor's favorite is the episode built around Renee having to get new glasses. She becomes very self-conscious about it and the gang try to cheer her up. She grows to like her eyewear -- which of course she is never seen wearing ever again.
- There is a season 4 episode where Renee uses her glasses as reading glasses...she probably uses contacts and uses her glasses for reading
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute - None of the original cast members saw the show out, nor did any of the cast members who replaced them. BTW, Stacy Ferguson was the longest tenured; from '84-'89.
- Techno Wizard - Riley, the P*lace's soda jerk from '84-'88. His bizarre inventions drove a good number of the more outlandish plots.
- Uncanceled - The first show to jump from Syndication to Cable.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight - Riley's inventions are treated as just business as usual. Hmm, not to mention the all-under-eighteen cover band.
- Vague Age - Most blatantly Stacy, who is assigned at least three different ages during her run.
- Very Special Episode - A few, though only the dysfunctional family episode was advertised as such.
- What Could Have Been - The show went on what was supposed to be a two-year hiatus, have done so once before, in order to rest the show before a massive Retool, include reducing (and in some proposed scripts, completing removing) the songs in each episode, and moving production from LA to Vancouver. However, by the time the show was to resume in 1995, the Season 9 cast declined to return or aged out.
- Also, a proposal to add reruns of the show to Disney Channel's Saturday night lineup in 2005 fell through because of suggestions by Disney executives attempting to get around the copyright issue by sticking blooper reels into many of the slots where the songs would be.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield? - Word of God says the show was set in Fort Greene, New York. And not an accent in sight.