In 1994, Doug ended its run on Nickelodeon and I was more than sad to see it go. Re-runs would keep it in the minds of children, and in 1996 it was picked up by Disney for its “One Saturday Morning” lineup (another staple of my childhood). This is where the Doug divide begins; most people who grew up watching the old show completely hated it. Me? I actually dug it.
Disney’s Doug did feel different and in retrospect, you can tell that a completely different creative team was behind it. Old school fans, my friends in particular, were venomous towards this because everything changed. But you see, that’s why I liked it, because once again, the show mirrored real life.
Take the series premiere for example. The show moved Doug and friends up a few years and into the middle school setting and it deals with all the changes in their lives. The Honker Burger, their old hangout, has been bought out and changed into a snooty French restaurant. Roger’s mom won the lottery and he became rich, much to the chagrin of B.B. Other changes were afoot as well; Patty cut her hair (yes, that’s a big change, and one that sparked a debate years later on whether she was a lesbian or not) and started only going to school half-time, spending the other half being home-schooled. Connie, one of Patty’s friends, lost a bunch of weight. The twin nerds even began to separate as one stayed nerdy and the other became “cool” (which resulted in a really sweet episode where the moral is “no matter how your brother changes, he is still your brother and you still have a bond”). Mr. Dink’s wife became the new Mayor, and former Mayor Bluff became the principal of the new middle school (built in the image of his daughter B.B. and called “B.B. Bluff Middle School”).
I absolutely loved that, and will defend Disney’s Doug. Even if these changes were just supposed to distinguish the two versions from one another, they accidentally mirrored real life again; people change, locations change, and the things you loved in your youth will eventually change as well (The Beets break up). Doug Funnie and his pals continued to be the most realistic animated show, even on a different network.