A preteen crowd, 9 to 11, should be prime for the show. The appeal of older stars, slightly on-the-edge music and a plentiful supply of witty one-liners and razor-sharp zingers places it as a bridge from “Sesame Street” to “Seinfeld.”
Several sequences stand out: “Good Burger” is deftly handled by a dreadlocked Kel Mitchell as a surfer dude; the very funny “Vital Information,” with Lori Beth Denberg, is precisely the stuff of SNL’s “Deep Thoughts.” Young Kenan Thompson is a standout, his facial expressions and ability to play it funny while under-acting are uncommonly strong.
Opening sequence is hipper than the actual show, with pop chart lovelies TLC providing the vocals — the influence of sister network MTV’s programming.
By parading “All That’s” wholesome nature, Nick hopes the Nick at Nite audience will keep the station tuned in on weekends with the kids. There are, after all, a bounty of more unsavory choices for kids during weekend primetime. This is a fine alternative.
(Sat. (7), 8-8:30 p.m., Nickelodeon)
Filmed at Universal Studios, Fla., by Tollin/Robbins Prods. for Nickelodeon. Executive producer, Brian Robbins, Mike Tollin; producer, Nick Donatelli; supervising producer, Magda Liolis; director, Robbins; segment producers, Chuck Vinson, John Fortenberry, Alan Rosen; head writer, Dan Schneider; camera, Barbara Drago, Dave Kinney, Ken Kraus, Mike Lacey, Paul Klekolta, Mike Murray; editor, Andrew Hirsch; production designer, David Ellis; art, Babo Brown, Rusty DeYoung; sound, Roger Strauss, Mike Small, Mark Deadman; music, Richard Tuttobene. #Cast: Angelique Bates, Lori Beth Denberg, Katrina Johnson, Kel Mitchell, Alisa Reyes, Josh Server, Kenan Thompson. #With: Dan Schneider, Liz Feldman, Kristen Truelsen, Rick Stanley. #Musical guest: Naughty by Nature. Taking its cues from "Saturday Night Live"-- both in format and emphasis on irony as humorous fodder -- Nickelodeon's sweet and smart sketch comedy half-hour has much to offer in the way of wholesome entertainment for kids. Kicking off its second season, the show has a solid teenage cast, several of whom stand out with real comic ability and timing. The segments move right along under the sure hands of director Brian Robbins and head writer/supervising producer Dan Schneider, both "Head of the Class" grads. Nickelodeon and producer NickDonatelli have conceived a terrific little nugget here -- wholesome and well-meaning -- that could teach kids much about what is attractive, funny and exciting about being a teenager. Providing "All That" with a prime Saturday night spot and other programming tie-ins, Nickelodeon is investing wisely in its potential.
With an emphasis on childish themes -- a crazy librarian and a chocolate-only cooking show -- and a musical guest, rap group Naughty by Nature, the question lingers: What age group is the Nick netlet after here? Certainly not that of the cast.