Nickelodeon gets a lot of credit for its older programming while the Disney Channel is best known for its ability to generate profitable starlets and franchises…but what about the shows? Before anyone had even heard of a Waverly Place and high school musicals were only relevant to actual high schools, there were still a few solid reasons to turn to Disney (preferably on Saturdays and afternoons). I was just moving outside of Disney’s target audience when most these shows first ran, but I watched them nonetheless.
I have no problem admitting that Lee Thompson Young as Silverstone/Jett Jackson was my main reason for falling in love with this show. I never understood why Kayla and Jett didn’t get together or how such a simple theme song could be so ridiculously catchy. This was also when I first realized that making a movie was the Disney Channel equivalent of letting you know a show was cancelled.
#2 – That’s So Raven
I actually still watch Raven’s extra over-the-top hijinks thanks to Netflix. While they were so desperately trying to keep her appearance Disney-safe (I still take issue with those pantsuits, bedazzled or not), I was busy falling in love with yet another made-for-TV boy band, Boyz in Motion.
#3 – Phil of the Future
This show centered on a family who had time traveled from the futuristic 2121. As with most things on the Disney Channel, you had to understand that nothing about this show was realistic and simply appreciate the humor….and Ricky Ulman (Phil).
#4 – Flash Forward
Tucker and Becca are best friends and through flashback footage we get to see them at 5-years old and as their present day, 8th-grader selves. It sounds a lot more intricate than it was, but they were older than me at the time so everything that happened to them was cool and adult. I wish everything had flashbacks, coupled with voice-overs, the world would be so much more fun.
#5 – Even Stevens
Shia LeBouf may be the obvious reason to like this show now, but back then the draw for me was Louis Stevens’ best friends. Alan Twitty was cute and played in a band (swoon inducing), while Tawny Dean showed how crappy it can be having guys for best friends and what it’s like to be an outsider (Disney, of course, made sure she was goth as well to really drive that point home visually).