Series: Kids Incorporated

Focus Group Guy: "How many of you kids would like Itchy & Scratchy to deal with real-life problems, like the ones you face every day?"
The Kids: "Oh, yeah! I would! Great idea! Yeah, that's it!"
Focus Group Guy: "And who would like to see them do just the opposite — getting into far-out situations involving robots and magic powers?"
The Kids: "Me! Yeah! Oh, cool! Yeah, that's what I want!"
The Kids: "That's right. Oh yeah, good."
Milhouse: "And also, you should win things by watching."
The Simpsons, The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show (Not a quote from this show, but it fits.)

Long-running (1984-1993) children's musical show which started life in Syndication through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and ended up on the Disney Channel.

The series revolved around a literal five-man band (the number did inflate to six for two seasons) of children and teenagers who encountered a very random assortment of plots. Most of these were standard After-School Teen Drama stories. Every so often, however, they'd face a more outlandish adventure involving Time Travel, magic robots, Leprechauns and other, crazier things. Whatever the story involved, it'd always be punctuated by often-Bowdlerized covers of popular songs.

The show was formulaic in nature: with only a few exceptions (a few all-musical "concert episodes", and once featuring kid break-dancers competing for a Karaoke Machine), each episode began with the band performing a number on-stage at "The P*lace", a local hangout with an illustrious history. (It had once been called "The Palace", and was renamed after the 'a' in the marquee had burned out.) After this, a short scene would set up the plot before the band returned to the stage to perform a second number. As the plot unfolded, two more songs would be performed off-stage, usually one solo number by whichever member of the cast was spotlighted that week (which in almost all cases is a slow ballad or love song), and one song worked into a Dream Sequence or Imagine Spot. In the final minutes, the plot would be resolved, and the band would perform a closing number on-stage, sometimes accompanied by a Montage Out of the guest characters. The third and fourth songs were always directly relevant to the plot (for example, a cover of "As Time Goes By" during a Casablanca-themed Dream Sequence), the second and fifth songs were usually linked no more than thematically, while the first number was generally unrelated to the action of the story (The final season dropped the second song for three extra minutes of dialog).

The show's longevity (it predated the Disney Channel's policy of imposing a 65-episode limit), despite being aired during a period when the Disney Channel was a commercial-free premium station, is taken by fans as evidence of the quality of writing and acting, in spite of the crazier episodes being prime Snark Bait. The show launched the careers of Stacy Ferguson (aka Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas), Mario Lopez (of Saved by the Bell), Scott Wolf (of Party of Five), Eric Balfour (of 24 and Haven), and (Jennifer) Love Hewitt. Note that the cast swapped people in and out nearly every season. So by the time the show ended, the titular fictional band was an entirely different group of people from where they started!

The show has had a very convoluted production and broadcast history. During the show's first season, MGM distributed and co-produced the show alongside Lynch-Biller Productions, the production company of creators and executive producers Thomas W. Lynch and Gary P. Biller, and K-Tel Entertainment, a music company best known for producing compilation albums advertised on television which could only be purchased through direct-response mail order by calling a toll-free number. After the first season ended, however, K-Tel filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and Hal Roach Studios, which, coincidentally, had previously collaborated with MGM on The Little Rascals and Laurel and Hardy, took K-Tel's place. At the conclusion of the second season, the show was cancelled from syndication due to low ratings. This was largely due to shuffling time slots from the local television stations that carried the show. However, reruns were picked up by CBN and they received positive ratings which convinced Disney Channel to put the show back into production. In addition to resuming production with new episodes and using the same cast, Disney's buyout package also included the entire syndicated run. As a result, edits were made to remove fee plugs and commercial outros. After the fourth season, HRS merged with RHI Entertainment and the combined company was named Quintex after an Australian media company of the same name which had purchased a share in the new venture. The show temporarily went on hiatus after the sixth season in 1989, and returned in 1991. By this time, in addition to a major cast overhaul, Quintex had also filed for bankruptcy and RHI acquired their assets. Also during this time, Biller sold his share of Lynch-Biller Productions back to Lynch, and the company was renamed Lynch Entertainment. This continued until 1993, when the show was unofficially cancelled.

Four platinum-selling albums of cover tracks by the cast and produced by K-Tel were released while the show was still in syndication. No further albums were made with the move to Disney, however, due to K-Tel's aforementioned bankruptcy.

This series provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Gay - The Kid, though this is mostly due to the actor, who is now openly gay.
    • Also, it was The '80s. Popular standards of masculinity were very different.
  • Ambition Is Evil - It gets especially awkward when it dawns on you that the writers never really state how successful Kids Inc. is as a band.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling - Stacy seems to be portrayed as this in some early episodes.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead - This seemed to be the case with the girls in the band during the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
    • 1988 lineup: Stacy (blonde), Connie (brunette), Devyn (redhead)
    • 1989 lineup: same with the exception of Robin (brunette; Jennifer Love Hewitt's character)
  • Book Dumb - The Kid, as inferred in the 1984 "School's For Fools" episode (with Germany's favorite singer in a guest role).
  • Bowdlerise - As mentioned in the section referencing the show on the trope page, this tended to be done with surprising inconsistency.
  • Celebrity Star - Guest appearances included visits by David Hasselhoff; U.S. Olympic gymnast Kathy Johnson; singer Siedah Garrett; Brian Robbins; boxer Ray "Boom Boom," Mancini; Tae Bo creator Billy Blanks and comedian Paul Rodriguez.
  • Cloudcuckoolander - Stacy
  • Continuity Nod - After the kids narrowly prevent the demolition of The P*lace by getting it designated as a historic landmark, a historic landmark plaque is visible on the facade of the building in the Title Sequence for the rest of the series.
  • Cowboy Episode - Two of them: "Rockin' Saddles" and "When the Clock Strikes Twelve".
  • Cute Clumsy Girl - Connie's first appearance (in the 1987 episode "A Kid's Line") shows her as this due to being nervous about auditioning for Kids Inc.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Renee is the most prolific example, with Ryan, Kid and to a lesser degree Devyn not far behind.
  • Disabled Love Interest - The 1985 episode "I Love You Suzanne" has Ryan develop a crush on a cousin of Riley's. Then he learns she's blind.
    • A later episode features Ana adjusting to her crush requiring a wheelchair.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune - With Martika providing the lead vocal for Seasons 1-3. By Season 4, the whole cast had a verse.
  • Dream Sequence - Often mixed with an "I Want" Song.
  • Early Installment Weirdness
    • The original pilot had Renee and Stacy as relatively minor characters while many of the songs were performed by miscellaneous kids at "The MaltShop". Additionally, Rahsaan Patterson was cast between the production of the pilot and the first season, resulting in additional scenes being added before the pilot was released on VHS. Also, the manager of the malt shop was named Michael and he was played by Michael Lewis, being replaced by Riley (Moosie Drier) in the first regular episode.
    • If you look closely, you can see above the stage area a marker labeled "Asbestos". About a month after the series premiere, it was revealed that prolonged asbestos exposure could lead to illnesses such as mesothelioma. By Season 2, the label was changed to "Fire Curtain".
  • Embarrassing First Name - Rahsaan.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep - Rahsaan Patterson as "The Kid".
  • Expository Theme Tune
    "Kids In-co-por-ated/K! I! D! S, yes!..."
  • Fairy Tale Episode - Typically at least one per season
  • Fake Band
  • Fashion Show - The 1992 episode "Fashion Forward" featured Haylie as a fashion designer during the fantasy sequence (set to a cover of Paula Abdul's "Promise of a New Day").
  • Green Aesop - Starting with 1988's "Kahuna Kids"; there was at least one episode per season with this aesop for the remainder of the show's run.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry - Renee and Stacy. It got so bad that, in 1984's "Her or Me" episode, the band was considering keeping only one of them.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen - Billy the Gweeb, an unseen character in the first few seasons who is often teasingly suggested to have a crush on Stacy.
  • Hopeless Auditionees - Parodied in the original song "Wrong for the Part" (from the 1987 season opener)note 
  • Imagine Spot - Usually during the middle of each episode.
  • Limited Wardrobe - Only a few costumes are shown in a season during the period Disney Channel aired the show (1986 until the show's 1993 cancellation)
  • Lower Deck Episode - Featuring on normally-non-speaking characters, such as the drummer and dancers.
  • Local Hangout (also Malt Shop) - The P*lace
  • Long Runner - Almost ten years first run, the first two in syndication (9/1/84-2/9/94), reruns lasting until 5/30/96, making this Disney Channel's overall longest-running series.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover - At least one member dropped out and was replaced every season. Usually two or three dropped out each season.
  • Mistaken Message - The 1987 episode "You've Got the Wrong Date" involves Stacy convincing sister Renee to ask a guy Stacy has a crush on to go out on with her to a Sadie Hawkins Dance; only for the boy to think Renee was the one asking him out.
  • Mood Whiplash - Comes when you try to tackle serious subjects like drug abuse or bullying in a series that (to paraphrase The Simpsons) was also completely off-the-wall and swarming with magic robots. All that is missing is to win things by watching.
  • Nice Hat - A trademark of the Kid.
  • One Born Every Minute
  • Paper-Thin Disguise - One early episode had the Kid and Mickey use a few of these to try to get in where the girls (having left them out) are shooting a music video with guest star Siedah Garrett.
  • The Power of Rock - Can reverse the effects of Time Travel and destroy a robot, it seems.
  • Pretty in Mink - During their cover of "You're a Friend of Mine" in the episode "The Gift". One girl tried on a white fur coat, and another tried on a white fur stole.
  • Recap Episode - "Rock in the New Year"; the New Year's Eve special that aired in 1986 showed the kids reminiscing following rehearsal for a New Year's Eve concert; working in opportunities for clips of the previous two seasons.
  • Recurring Riff - Several portions of various original songs would also be used as this, among them:
    • A slower version of the theme for particularly dramatic scenes.
    • Portions of at least 5 original songs (among them "My Special Friend"; "Bad, Bad Trouble"; "That's What Friends Are For"note ; "Come the Night" and "You're My Friend"note  were also used frequently as background music.
  • Rearrange the Song - The closing theme during Kids Incorporated's final season was revised into a more rock-oriented version.
  • Recycled Soundtrack - A few examples
    • Some songs performed by Jerry Sharell (who played Mickey) for the 1984 season were reused in the 1986 and 1987 seasons with Ryan Lambert.
    • The original song "Music for the Modern World" debuted in the 1985 season; then was reused in 1987note  and finally 1988.
    • The song "That Dream" from the 1987 episode "You've Got the Wrong Date" was originally used on the TV show Fame in their Season 3 (1984) episode "A Way of Winning" (both series were produced by MGM and initially had much of their music written by Michael Cruz). Another song shared by both shows was "That's Dancin'", which appeared in the Fame episode "The Rivalry" and the Kids Inc episode "The Wallflower".
  • Revolving Door Band: Every season except the first produced for Disney Channel in 1986 had at least one cast member replaced.
  • Sesame Street Cred: Celebrity guests like David Hasselhoff and Florence Henderson fit this trope. Actual Sesame Street cast members Ruth Buzzi and Alaina Reed guest starred as well.
  • Sibling Team - Renee and Stacy serve as this for the band in Seasons 1-4.
  • Small Name, Big Ego - The Kid; whose ego can rapidly run out of control.
  • Snap Back - Like you cannot even imagine. For instance, one episode was built around Renee having to get new glasses. She becomes very self-conscious about it and the gang try to cheer her up. She grows to like her eyewear — which of course she is never seen wearing ever again.
    • There is a season 4 episode where Renee uses her glasses as reading glasses...she probably uses contacts and uses her glasses for reading
  • Storybook Episode - Along with the Fairy Tale Episode; this is one of the most common formats.
  • Superhero Episode - A 1989 episode has Kenny imagining he was a superhero named "Cosmoboy".
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute - None of the original cast members saw the show out, nor did any of the cast members who replaced them. Stacy Ferguson was the longest tenured; from '84-'89.
  • Techno Wizard - Riley, the P*lace's soda jerk from '84-'88. His bizarre inventions drove a good number of the more outlandish plots.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight - Riley's inventions are treated as just business as usual. Hmm, not to mention the all-under-eighteen cover band.
  • Unwanted Glasses Plot - This trope was played out to the letter in one episode: "Best of all, I got contacts for when I'm onstage singing!" And, apparently, for every time ever, since we never see Renee in her glasses again.
  • Vague Age - Most blatantly Stacy, who is assigned at least three different ages during her run.
  • Very Special Episode - A few, though only the dysfunctional family episode was advertised as such.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield? - Word of God says the show was set in Fort Greene, New York. And not an accent in sight.