Picture this circa 1995: a young girl comes in from a day of playing outside. She switches on Nickelodeon and watches The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Now, fast forward to the present: a young girl switches off her Wii so that she can watch another episode of Spongebob Squarepants. Welcome to the current state of Nickelodeon.
The network now revolves around such shows as iCarly - about a teenager who has her own web show and lives with her 26-year-old brother and Spongebob Squarepants, which has a rather weak plot.
Unfortunately these days you won't find some of the shows that built that network:Doug, Rugrats, Hey Arnold, Salute Your Shorts, and even Welcome Freshmen. Though some of those shows now air on TeenNick as part of their The '90s Are All That block, it's still not enough.
Great children's programming has the ability to entertain people of all ages. Case in point: Mickey Mouse, who has been around since 1928 and remains popular. Yes, it helped that he's a mascot for a major entertainment corporation, however, he and the cartoons he stars in are still popular because they have good plot lines and the company still heavily promotes his cartoons. Nickelodeon does not do this with its TV shows.
One of the big criticisms of the current state of Nickelodeon (aside from TeenNick) is that it doesn't air any of the shows of the '80s or '90s -- even though they could still be a ratings hit. Shows like You Can't Do That On Television, The Tomorrow People, Standby: Lights, Camera, Action Hocus Focus and Mr. Wizard's World deserve airtime today. They premiered during the golden era of Nickelodeon, but are fun even by today's standards.
All this could be remedied with a Nickelodeon classic channel. There was something of an attempt to do so with the now-defunct Nick GAS network, Nick Rewind on Demand, Nick Rewind DVD's, and The '90s are All That lineup. It's still not enough. The network could air Hey Arnold, Livewire, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, Clarissa Explains It All and countless others. They could even air all of those old game shows they used to air such as Finders Keepers, Guts, Nick Arcade, and Double Dare.
The Nickelodeon of today has lost its plot lines in favor of sight gags, stupid humor, and outlandishly bad stories. It has the potential to do so much more.