The Rugrats Timeline -- 2002

January: The Australian version of Nick had 2 big Rugrats marathons this month, running from 6AM to 12 Midnight Sydney time -- one on New Year's Day, and another on 1/26, which is Australia Day, a national holiday down under.

January 1: Rugrats In Paris makes its US premium TV debut in the US on Showtime.

January 6: Baby Blues returns to the air, this time, to Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" block.

January 13: Blue's Big Musical Movie makes its TV debut on Nick; while it was technically the first real movie from Nick to be seen on Nick US, it should be kept in mind that it was a direct-to-video release in October 2000.

January 17: Nickelodeon announces the cancellation of Invader Zim, after 1.5 seasons on Nick. Within a week's time, it was off of Nick entirely. This is depite the fact that the show had won awards at the Emmys and the Annies, it had a solid fan base and its ratings were technically not in danger.

January 19: The 10th season of Snick begins, after a delay of about 4 months. Shows to be featured are All That, Nick Cannon, Taina and Amanda.

February 9: The Rugrats' 11th season begins on Nick US. One major change is that Nancy Cartwright replaced the retiring Christine Cavanaugh as the voice of Chuckie, starting with Quiet Please!.

February 16: Rocket Power's first TV movie, "Race Across New Zealand", debuts on Nick.

February 23: Chazz & Kira opened up a coffee shop in The Fun Way Day episode.

March 12: The first 2 SpongeBob SquarePants videos, "Nautical Nonsense" and "Sponge Buddies", will be released on video and DVD. This will be the first Nicktoon TV series to have a DVD release, with the DVD version having both videos on one disc, plus extras. The videos retail for US$12.95 each, with the DVD retailling at US$19.95.

March 22: Chalk Zone premiered as a regular series on Nick. Prior to this, this Oh Yeah! spinoff was only seen once, when its pilot was televised as a special on 12/31/1999.

March 26: Nick's third live show tour, Maximum Rocket Power Live, premieres in Columbus, OH, at the Nationwide Arena. Unfortunately, on April 8, the rest of the tour was cancelled (it was to have run through the summer and early fall). In addition to Columbus, the tour played in Chicago, Cleveland & Detroit, before the cancellation. The cancellation was a business decision -- even though about 33,000 tickets were sold in all, the tour was still losing money.

March 29: Clockstoppers, a live-action sci-fi from Nickelodeon, was released in theaters.

March 29: The Door To Door & FBI Warning episodes of Invader Zim is finally televised in the US on Nick; these episodes were to have been televised on 9/14/2001, but major events at the time kept that show off the air. These episodes are part of a batch of episodes that were previously unseen (for various reasons) on Nick US. After all the episodes were televised, Zim will end its run at 26 episodes (out of a contracted 40 shows).

April 20: The 15th Kids' Choice Awards was televised on Nick. This year, the Rugrats finally lost in the "Favorite Cartoon" award to The Simpsons.

April 20: The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genious, the full-length TV series, premieres as a special, after the Kids' Choice Awards. The series itself will begin in September.

April 20: Rugrats In Paris is released theatrically in Japan; it's the latest theatrical release of this film so far.

April 22: Steve's brother, Joe (played by Donovan Patton), becomes the new host of Blue's Clues. Patton was chosen as host by a panel of 1500 preschoolers. This episode is part of a 3-part special, where Steve shows Joe how to run the show before leaving for college (part 3 of that episode, Steve's last, was on May 5).

May: Nick's Latin American service has closed its website to everyone outside of Latin America and most of the Caribbean.

May 1: A special "Facsimile Edition" (reprint) of the first issue of Sugar and Spike scheduled for release. The series is one of DC Comics' most wanted characters for reprinting. This is probably the first reprint of Sugar and Spike since the series folded in 1971. The issue retailled for US$2.95. (see 1956)

May 1: Nicktoons TV, the TV channel, went on the air. The Nicktoons TV channel will feature practically the entire Nicktoon library, around the clock. Nicktoons TV debuted on this date on Cablevision and Charter systems in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Miami Beach, Long Island and Atlanta, among other markets, and will expand to other systems and satellite during 2002 and 2003.The channel will also replace Nick Too (the main Nick feed for the opposite side of the country) on some cable systems. Nicktoons TV was originally created in 1998 as a name for a mish-mash block of assorted Nicktoons (see 5/16/1998).

(Left: Nicktoons TV logo, from Nick.Com; ©2002 Viacom.)

May 3: The final name for the Rugrats / Thornberrys crossover film was announced -- "The Rugrats Go Wild!". However, they later changed their minds and went back to "Rugrats Mert The Wild Thornberrys".

May 30: On CNBC's Kudlow and Cramer talk show, guest Herb Scannell revealed that there will be a SpongeBob SquarePants theatrical feature, due for release sometime in 2004.

June 2: Les Razmoket, Le Film has its Canadian broadcast premiere in Canada on TQS. It is also the Canadian over-the-air broadcast premiere of The Rugrats Movie in any language.

June 7: The Latin American Nick repeats The Rugrats Movie at 5PM Mexico City Time (CT), and 2 more times this weekend.

June 10: The 100th episode of Blue's Clues, a clip show featuring the best parts from the show, airs. Both Steve and Joe hosts.

June 14: Harriet The Spy had its world Nick premiere at 5PM Mexico City Time (CT) on Nick's Latin American service.

June 18: A Nick News special on same-sex parenting (where two parents are of the same gender), "Nick News Special Edition: My Family Is Different", airs. Guests included Rosie O'Donnell and, in a pre-taped segment, Jerry Falwell. Due to the controversial topic being brought up on a children's channel, many Christian groups and parents are considering banning Nickelodeon and all its products and sponsors, if this special aired. During the telecast, Nick announced a phone number e-mail that viewers can call to register complaints and compliments about the show. They have received over 100,000 e-mails and phone calls in protest against the show, though most of the e-mails were generic form letters submitted by a single organisation. Ratings-wise, for adults aged 18 to 49, it was the most-watched episode in Nick News history (at 976,000 viewers), and for teenagers aged 12 to 17, it was the series' third most-watched episode (145,000 viewers), behind specials for Martin Luther King, Jr. (1999) and "What Are You Staring At?", a special on disabilities (1997).

June 21: An all-night Nicktoons marathon aired from 8PM ET to 6AM ET. Not only this was the first Nicktoons marathon of its kind in the US (not counting the Nicktoons TV channel), but it is also only the second time that all Nick-At-Nite programming was bumped in favor of regular Nick programs (Nickmillenium was the first on New Year's Day 2000).

June 27: The final episode of Hey Arnold, entitled "The Journal", debuted in Canada on YTV. This episode, which was to have been the prequel to the second theatrical feature, had Arnold discovering the whereabouts of his parents in a journal.

June 28: Hey Arnold -- The Movie was released in theaters. Originally to have been titled "(Arnold Saves) The Neighborhood", Arnold will save his neighborhood from a greedy developer; also, Helga will finally tell Arnold her long-suppressed secret (which was already given away in the film's trailer). Originally slated as a TV movie for Nick (with the 3rd half-hour being the series' 100th episode), it was released in theaters instead. It ended up being the worst-performing Nick film ever -- on its first weekend, it earned only US$5,706,332 -- ranking it at #6; and on its second weekend, it dropped to #14, earning US$2,008,222. However, despite its shortcomings and the competition, the film still almost turned a profit for Nick -- it costed only US$3 million to make (not including ads, which costs $13 million).

(Left: Poster for "Hey Arnold -- The Movie", from eBay; ©2002 Viacom.)

June 29: For the fourth year in a row, Nick Flicks bump Snick off the schedule. Apparently, they'll mostly show the same ones as last year. This year's version ran through 9/21. For a look at last year's Nick Flicks, plus information on this year's, click here.

July 2: The Jimmy Neutron movie is slated for video release in the US & Canada.

July 14: Nickelodeon debuts on cable systems in Pakistan.

July 22: The Nicktoons TV channel launches in Britain.

(Left: Nicktoons TV UK channel logo, from Nick.Co.UK; ©2002 Viacom.)

July 23: The 11th season of Rugrats debuts in Australia on Nick.

July 26: The Jimmy Neutron TV series debuts in Australia on Nick. The US debut won't come until September 6.

July 29 (sale date): Angelica & Charlie Brown will share one of may covers in the US TV Guide's special "50 Greatest Animated Characters" issue, dated August 3.

August: (exact date unknown): The Wild Thornberrys Movie had its test screening for invited families at the Pacific Theatres Galleria 16 multiplex in Sherman Oaks, CA.

August 5: Chick Hearn, a legendary basketball announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers who also did his bit on Rugrats as himself in Touchdown Tommy, died of brain swelling after a fall.

August 7: Nickelodeon has bought out Sesame Workshop's share of the Noggin channel, making that channel 100% owned by Nick; the reason being is that Sesame needed extra money for programming and research, plus the funds needed to purchase the ownership rights to the Muppets seen on Sesame Street (which will continue on Noggin for at least another 7 years).

August 22: At the South Shore Plaza shopping mall near Boston, MA, a near riot broke out when a 3-hour appearance of SpongeBob SquarePants ended on schedule, while over 2000 people were still waiting in line. Due to the circumstances, "SpongeBob" left under security escort.

August 25: Nickelodeon Slam ("Super Large Action Madness"), an action-oriented block, slated to debut on Nick. Originally created in 2001 in Australia (and later expanded to Britain & Latin America), this block will feature a junior version of Robot Wars, plus episodes of Butt Ugly Martians, Invader Zim and the US television debut of the 1997 version of Speed Racer (called "Speed Racer X"), which, until now, was seen only in Japan. In the block's debut launch in the US on this date, all shows were new episodes, except for Zim, which, in Nick's usual disrespect for the show, was changed to a repeat. (see October 13)

Apparently, Nick US had a general disrespect for the block, which was subject to frequent schedule changes and pre-emptions. Also, BUMs was eventually replaced with a DIC toon, Super Duper Sumos, which was reviled by fans even more than BUMs. Another later replacement was the animated Men In Black.

The Slam block ended its run in late March 2003, but remained on the schedule until 5/11/2003 -- until then, Nick would frequently schedule the block at the start of the week, only to replace it with something else by the weekend.


(Upper Left: Logo for the Australian version of the Slam block; also used in Britain and Latin America; from Nick Australia; ©2001 Viacom.)
(Lower Left: Logo for the US version of the Slam block, from Nick.Com; ©2002 Viacom.)
(Right: Speed and the gang in the Mach 5, from Speed Racer X; from Toonzone; ©2002 Speed Racer Enterprises.)

August 27: SpongeBob's Halloween video is released on VHS and DVD. On the same day, Rugrats' Halloween video is releaed on VHS only.

August 29: In a report released by Forbes Magazine, "Attack of the Rugrats" (written by Elisa Williams), Klasky-Csupo, the producers of various Nicktoons series, including Rugrats, complained that Nick's parent, Viacom, is not paying enough money or ordering enough episodes of any of their series to support the animators working at the studio. Also, Klasky-Csupo's near-exclusive agreement with Viacom, coupled with Nick's underordering of episodes, has led to the layoff of 75 animators (out of 350), due to lack of available work -- only 20 new episodes of K-C's Nicktoons were ordered from Nick in 2002, as compared to 76 in 2000. This is despite Nick's claims that they are using more new shows than ever before. According to Gabor Csupo, "Viacom is getting by on fewer episodes of its shows as it realizes that kids are content to stare, mothlike, at the same video over and over again."

And, Klasky-Csupo said that Viacom has yet to pay back-end profits, beyond some advances, for the 2 Rugrats films. Gabor Csupo has hired a team of auditors to go over the accounting books of Paramount Pictures. He says, "Unless you are Tom Cruise, then you are basically

To sum up this whole situation, Csupo comments, "I knew when I started it's a town of sharks, and you have to survive it. I know we're going to be able to do a drastically different deal. If not with them, then with somebody who is willing to."

September 2: Tiny Toons returned to Nick. But, unlike Animaniacs or Pinky and The Brain, the episodes are uncut and the intros were original -- including the bumpers that were used to introduce the show on Nick the last time it aired.

September 4: The Preschool Daze episode makes its world premiere, and French-language TV debut in France on France 3. French title: "Chouette, La Maternelle".

September 6: The Jimmy Neutron TV series debuted in the US on Nick.

September 8: The Preschool Daze episode makes its Canadian TV debut on YTV -- at this time, it has yet to debut in the US.

September 8: The Wild Thornberrys Movie had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

September 14: A 2-hour block of regular Nick programming, aimed at ages 6 to 11 (the same demographics as the main channel), will debut on most CBS stations. Programming will feature Ginger, Hey Arnold, Thornberrys and Pelswick. Nick Jr. programming will still be seen, though they'll be relegated to only one hour a week on CBS, and consist of only Blue's Clues and Dora; with some stations also showing Franklin & Oswald.

(Left: Logo for Nick on CBS, from Nick.Com; ©2002 Viacom.)

September 14: The Rugrats' All Growed Up pilot did not win an Emmy for "Outstanding Children's Program".

September 21: The Rugrats episode Happy Taffy, introducing Taffy (Amanda Bynes) as the Rugrats' babysitter, airs in the US on Nick. That episode had its world premiere in Australia on Nick, 4 days earlier, on 9/17. In the US, this was followed by Bug Off, instead of Imagine That.

September 24: The Rugrats' Decade In Diapers is finally scheduled to be released on DVD, after a delay of almost a year. Also, sold separately, is the Rugrats' latest direct-to-video episode, Babies In Toyland, which debuts on the Rugrats' "Christmas" video and the Nick Jr. Holiday DVD.

September 26: Nickelodeon announced that production has started on the All Growed Up series.

September 30: The national edition of Variety publishes a salute to the 20th anniversary of Klasky-Csupo's studios. Also in that issue, Gabor Csupo debunks the rumor that the studio's relation with Nickelodeon is on the rocks, and that the Forbes report (see 8/29) was misleading. Csupo is searching through Viacom's books, as the studio is finding a way to get financing on its own, while maintaining is relationship with Viacom. According to Csupo:

"There is no bad blood at all between Viacom and us. It has never been the case. People with big investment opportunities are knocking on our door and asking us to consider them bring money to the table. Our goal is to work out a different structure with Viacom where we co-finance our projects with them."

October 6: A new Nick Flick series, called Sunday Movie Toons, debuts; it's seen Sundays from 12:30PM ET to 2PM ET, and includes 13 films produced by the DIC studio. The first film was the animated Sabrina, in "Friends Forever". Other titles will include classic adaptations of "The Time Machine", "The Lost World - Dinosaur Island", "Treasure Island", and "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea", plus movie adaptations of cartoon characters that DIC already has the rights to, such as Inspector Gadget, Madeline, The Archies and Dennis the Menace (the US comic strip created by Hank Ketcham). In an US$80 million deal, DIC will provide Nick with 13 new 90-minute telefilms each year for 3 years.

October 8: A report in The Wall Street Journal mentions that SpongeBob SquarePants is a big hit among an unlikely demographic group for a Nicktoon -- the gay community, especially men.

October 13: In the Slam block, Nick has taken Invader Zim, Butt Ugly Martians and Robot Wars off the air entirely, and has replaced them with an hour of Speed Racer X, and an hour of DIC's Super Duper Sumos. In various boards and forums, many fans of the cancelled shows ranted against Nick's decision to change the block; in addition, they also complained that the quality of Sumos were even worse than the BUMs.

October 14: U-Pick Live started on Nick US on a very rough note -- Nick has promised to show an all-new episode of the winning Nicktoon at 5PM ET. In that case, it was Hey Arnold. But, despite all that buildup, they accidentally shown a repeat episode, "Married", instead, along with a message that a new episode will follow at 5:30PM ET. After the commercial break, "Married" continued. But, something bizarre happened -- shortly after the show returned, the screen went to black, then to green for about a second, then back to black, then it joined the real new episode, "The Racing Mule" / "Curly's Girl" in progress, about a minute into "Curly's Girl". But that's not all -- during "Curly's Girl", the technicians and the hosts were talking to each other in an exasperated manner, live, on the air. This apparently included preparations for the "SpongeBob Shoutout" segment, where the hosts were talking to a boy about his favorite SpongeBob episode, to follow Hey Arnold. Then, while the closing credits were rolling, the techs, still live on national TV, confessed that they goofed up, and told the hosts to "pretend that nothing had happened". Three hours later on Nick's western and Nick Too feeds, the entire incident unfolded again, with one exception -- the closing credits were cut out, probably to avoid further embarassment.

October 15: The Preschool Daze episode makes its Australian TV debut on Nick.

Mid-October: After over 10 months of promotion and reminders that it was "coming soon", Nick UK has pulled its Rugrats e-cards promotion, For details, click here.

October 21 (sale date): In the 10/26/2002 issue of TV Guide (US), Invader Zim was listed as "Favorite Alien" in the biannual "Parents' Guide To Kids TV". Here's what it said:

A deluded alien from the planet Irk, Zim has gone undercover in an elementary school while plotting the conquest of earth. But the little green dude with the antihuman attitude is so cosmically and comically incompetent--and the worldview of this darkly funny Nickelodeon cartoon so bleak--that it almost makes you want to root for impending doom. Zim is slyly satiric cartoon series that is definitely out there.

However, while the article mentions its timeslot of Sundays at 4:30PM ET on Nick, by the time this issue has hit the stands, Nick has taken the show off the air completely, to the chagrin of the loyal fans of the show. (see October 13)

October 27: Nick US debuts Scaredy Camp, a limited-run reality series involving children as contestants; the series was seen nightly from 10/27 to 10/30, and Sundays from 11/3. The host of this series was Emma Wilson, the daughter of Weakest Link host Anne Robinson.

October 28: The 11th season of Rugrats debuts in Britain on Nicktoons TV, starting with Preschool Daze.

November 1: Nickelodeon changes the name of the new Rugrats spinoff from "All Growed Up" to the more gramatically-correct "All Grown Up".

November 2: AFRTS starts their new 11th season of Rugrats, beginning with one episode that remains "top secret" to civilians -- Preschool Daze.

November 10: Repeats of the TV series version of Clueless joins the Nick US line-up, as part of the TeeNick block.

November 11: "The Journal" episode of Hey Arnold airs in the US on Nick.

November 28: A balloon featuring Little Bill will debut at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; it's the first balloon of an African-American character in the parade's history.

December 8: The Wild Thornberrys Movie had its Hollywood premiere at the Cinerama Dome Theater.

December 9: The Rugrats' second Christmas special, Babies In Toyland, has its TV debut in Canada on YTV, and an hour later on Nick US.

December 10: "The Most Horrible Xmas Ever", a special Christmas episode of Invader Zim, is slated to air on Nick. In this final episode of that series (both televised and in production), Zim disguises himself as Santa Claus in order to attract people to the North Pole; awaiting them are not toys or presents, but Zim's greatest gift of all -- doom.

December 18: Hey Arnold -- The Movie opened to horrible results in Australia -- it opened at # 18, and grossed only $25,000 (presumably in Australian dollars; A$1 = US$.50).

December 20: The Wild Thornberrys film is released in theaters in the US & Canada. It opened at #6 and earned only US$6.1 million on its first weekend, almost tying Hey Arnold -- The Movie as the Nick film to have the worst first weekend.

In Canada, It was preceeded on YTV the day before with the "Sir Nigel" episode of The Wild Thornberrys, where Nigel becomes a knight in England. It wouldn't be until the end of March 2003 when the Americans get to see this special episode on Nick.

(Left: Poster for "The Wild Thornberrys Movie", from eBay; Above: Banner ads for the film, from Nick.Com; both ©2002 Viacom.)

December 20: The Club Cooltoons Newsletter released the very first still from the Rugrats Meet The Wild Thormberrys film. Also, starting on this date, the first trailer for the film, a 60-second teaser, preceded The Wild Thornberrys Movie.

December 24: The Latin American Nick repeats The Rugrats Movie at 8PM Buenos Aires Time in an unscheduled showing -- to date, no other Nick service anywhere has presented this film.

December 26: Nickelodeon Central opens at the Dreamworld theme park in Australia, south of Brisbane on Australia's Gold Coast (in Queensland, on the Pacific Ocean). While Universal's parks in Hollywood & Orlando, Paramount's theme parks in the US & Canada (such as King's Island), and Alton Towers in Britain have Nickelodeon attractions, this is practically the world's first Nickelodeon-based theme park, as it features several attractions in a dedicated area of the park, rather than just one or two attractions.

(Left: Logo for Nickelodeon Central, from Nick Australia; ©2002 Viacom.)

December 31: Les Razmoket, Le Film has its France broadcast premiere on France 3.

December 31: The Hey Arnold movie is slated for video release in the US & Canada.

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