This is my first article and there is nothing more I would love to start off with on RetroJunk.com than remembering "Doug" as the sole reason I made it through middle school (Junior High).
I remember it like it was yesterday (currently age 28). The carefree days of my youth passed me by before I knew it. After Elementary school had come and gone I went into that summer as if it were any other summer. I had no idea what horrors awaited me just around the corner in September… Middle School!
Every school in every state is different. Some Junior High Schools are grades 7-8, others are “Middle Schools” grades 6-8, and even still, I have heard of some being 7-9 (which seems odd to me, but I digress). My school happened to be 6-8. I remember the awkward pre-teen blues (zits, weight gain, growth spurts, peach fuzz, longing for the most beautiful girl in school, changing in gym class with kids older and more mature) it was a mess. What cruel and sick dictator invented “Middle School”?
I sat at home most afternoons just sulking in what teens now would call an “emo” mood. One day I finally got cable in my own bedroom. I no longer had to sit through dopey teen angst shows my sister enjoyed in our living room. I sat on my bed, turned on the television and looked around. I spotted a BLUE teen with a “Flash” t-shirt. I thought “How odd, but strangely cool.” Then I watched my first episode of “Doug.” I was hooked. Maybe at eleven I was above the average viewer’s age, but I didn’t care. No one understood me (as far as I was concerned) anyway.
I’ll never forget, it was “Doug Bags a Neematoad” which coincidentally happened to be the first episode (I later found). He was trying to fit in and was having trouble. Skeeter introduced him around and showed him the ropes. He gets a crush on Patty Mayonnaise, and the episode pretty much shows you his world in a 22 minute premiere.
I enjoy drawing, it’s my passion. Doug loved to draw. It inspired me to sketch my own comics and artwork from my favorite movies, games, cartoons, etc. When Doug started drawing his adventures of “Quailman” I was inspired. This show spoke to me in ways no show ever did before (or has since in many ways). I had a crush on a girl in class, we were in the “friendzone.” We played basketball together after school (Doug and Patty played Baseball). I was sitting in class one day when a few of my sketches hit the floor (fell out of my JanSport Backpack). A kid named Charlie saw my drawings and I was HUMILIATED! I just knew he would laugh at how juvenile my work was. He looked at my work for what seemed like hours (maybe 30 seconds) before saying, “You like Doug?” I just smiled and said “Yeah, I like cartoons, and drawing comics and stuff.” We talked about Doug and how he felt too. He loved to draw and we spent time making our own comics. We shared music, movies, and games. I think we spent the entire 6th and 7th grade doodling and creating things. That was probably my most fond memories from a rough patch in my life. I leaned on “Doug” like a crutch through a few very hard years. Now, it’s hard to remember the bad things, but I fondly remember the good things.
I remember how the show made me feel. I would go home after school and watch “Stick Stickly” in the afternoon and even though I really got into “Kablaam!” “Ahhh! Real Monsters” “Ren + Stimpy” and even "Hey Arnold" etc, “Doug” was always my favorite. Then after realizing I was watching syndicated episodes (re-runs) Disney created “Disney’s Doug” about his next phase of life.
Disney’s Doug wasn’t anything close to the quality of Nickelodeon’s (or maybe I was just out growing that phase in my life) but I remember being let down after season one. I remember watching “One Saturday Morning” for one year… “Pepper Ann” “Doug” and so on. However, at this point, I was turning thirteen, going into eighth grade, Charlie moved away the summer between seventh and eighth grade. I shot up to six foot two by this time and joined sports.
You don’t realize it at the time, but phases come and go so quickly in our lives. Two years today seem like the blink of an eye. I haven’t changed much since I was 26 years old until now, but when I think back on my changes between 11 and 13, it’s like I was a whole different person. One thing that sticks with me to this day is how “DOUG” made me feel. You may forget details about episodes, details about everyday life, but the last thing you forget is the way things make you feel. I could relate to “Doug” at that particular time in my life better than any other fictional character at any other chapter so far.
“Doug’s Huge Zit”/”Doug Flies a Kite”
“Doug is Quailman / Doug Out in Left Field"
"Doug and the Yard of Doom / Doug's Garage Band"
"Doug En Vogue / Doug's Mail Order Mania"
Any episode featuring “The Beets” or “Quailman with Silver Skeeter and of course “Doug Bags a Neematoad.”