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Summers with Camp Anawanna

When I was a kid, the idea of cable television was mostly foreign to me, as I was mostly able to see it whenever I visited my grandparents twice a year in Long Island. After a few hours spent with them, if my brother and I got bored, they’d let us go in to their room and we’d sit there for most of the day watching Nickelodeon. For that one afternoon my brother and I sat through some of the best kids’ programs around, and our favorite was “Salute Your Shorts.”

“Salute Your Shorts” is a relic of a time where Nickelodeon was just… “better.” As a time capsule, it’s barely shown its age since it premiered almost. Sure, there’s the neon clothing and mullets are bound to make an appearance, but Salute Your Shorts still works as an exaggeration of the summer camp experience…something akin to Nickelodeon’s “wholesome” teen sitcom take on Meatballs. “Salute Your Shorts”‘s diverse range of characters, all of whom end up in some wacky mishap during their time at Anawanna, adds to the series high entertainment value. Despite being polar opposites, they have some great chemistry.

There was Michael, your average new kid; Bud (prominent voice actor Danny Cooksey), the bully; Donkeylips, Bud’s overweight enforcer; and Sponge. There’s also Telly, Dina, and the more down to Earth optimist of the group, ZZ. Sadly, mid-way through the series, main character Michael inexplicably goes home and he’s replaced by the more charismatic and mischievous Ronnie Pinsky. Ronnie would become one of my favorite characters almost instantly, as he was a lot more in the realm of Zack Morris when we meet him. Kirk Bailey, who plays head counselor “Ug,” handles the physical comedy like a pro and is probably my favorite aspect of the series.

Even when the show misses on rare occasions, Bailey is great. Salute Your Shorts is pretty great considering its limited setting (and budget). There are so many great episodes that I fondly remember, and the nostalgia factor is admittedly a contributing factor. To me this was just 90s-era Nickelodeon programming. Like several other shows on Nick at the time, there’s some really risqué humor on display that probably wouldn’t make it into today’s youth-oriented television. Bud offers Michael a look at a nude magazine, and in one scene Sponge tells Ug that Donkeylips gave a police office “half a peace sign.” Another hilarious gag is when “Ug” is accidentally egged and feathered, and Bud tells him to go “pluck himself.”

It always works, though, because the show embraces the silliness of its premise. The series sadly ended in 1993 (a year before my house was wired with cable) when, allegedly, the location of the series was set to be relocated and the cast didn’t want to move. Rather than recast, Nickelodeon merely cancelled the series and one of the rare treats from the time where Nickelodeon were a bit more original disappeared. Thankfully the nostalgia hasn’t fogged the entertainment value for “Salute Your Shorts” as it still manages to be hilarious and bizarre. The show has remained one of the best of its age for so many years, even attracting a new generation that can appreciate its quirks and novelty.

Even today I wouldn’t have minded going to Camp Anawanna.

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comic_book_fan Posted on Sep 13, 2019 at 06:05 AM

yeah i loved this show it should be on dvd

Benjanime Posted on Sep 06, 2019 at 08:50 PM

kinda bums me out how this show didn't get a dvd release, but hey dude and the adventures of pete

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