Acceptable Political Targets: The slobbish father, Lance Prevert, is a Senator. Specifically, a Canadian Senator note Unelected, appointed for life, notoriously prone to chronic absenteeism, and even more notoriously just a rubber stamp on nearly all government actions — Canadians frequently have serious debates about either eliminating the senate, or reforming it radically. (an even more acceptable target). Originally, the writers wanted Lance Prevert to be a prime minister, but they thought American audiences wouldn't get it, so they made him a Senator since U.S. and Canadian Senators have more in common than people may think.
The Cast Showoff: Averted with Alanis Morissette, as she never got to sing on the show. Although Roger Price and Alanis's fellow cast members knew she could sing and was already writing her own songs (Vanessa Lindores says she still has a copy of Alanis' self-pressed first 45 single), Roger was adamant about not letting her perform on YCDTOTV, as he feared the hassles with record companies, agents, etc. that would have ensued had Alanis become a star during her time on the show, as had happened with some of his actors back in England.
In-universe, played straight with Kevin Somers in the local 1979 season. And for part of one episode, with Kevin Schenk as well.
Ear Worm: The opening theme, a Dixieland rendition of the William Tell overture.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: While the show was a success in Canada, it was a cultural phenomenon when it hit the United States of America and the green slime on the show became associated with Nickelodeon.
Harsher in Hindsight: George Bush Shoots The Wrong Quail, from "Mistakes," comes off a bit more harshly in retrospect after George W. Bush's Vice President, Dick Cheney, did aim at the wrong target during a quail hunt and consequently shot a friend in the face.
That scream in opening theme song sounds an awful lot like the scream that cost Howard Dean the Democratic primaries in the 2004 Presidential election.
Les Lye's Senator Lance Prevert is a lot funnier when you realize he's more or less like Canadian mayor Rob Ford.
Former Nickelodeon president Geraldine Laybourne recalled that the show got some flack from parents and educators because of the green slime gag, the likes of which hadn't been seen on North American television previously. No one thinks twice about someone being slimed today since Nickelodeon "mainstreamed" slime, but back in the '80s, Laybourne recalled, one educator considered sliming an act of violence, akin even to beheading someone.
Hollywood Pudgy: Christine McGlade and Lisa Ruddy were often the target of "fat" jokes, although neither one was even close to being obese. The same was true of Jennifer Brackenbury and Rekha Shah in the 1989-90 seasons. On the flip side, Alasdair Gillis often got Hollywood Thin jokes aimed his way. One memorable scene from 1983's "Medicine" episode combined both:
Alasdair: The doctor said I'm suffering from malnutrition.
Christine: Sounds like a pretty fair verdict to me. To look at you, you'd think there was a famine in this country.
Alasdair: Well, to look at *you*, you'd think you'd *caused* it!
[Christine slugs Alasdair with the cast on her leg and he falls behind the risers]
Klea Scott, a cast member from 1982-1984, went on to star in several American network shows including Brooklyn South.
And Rekha Shah, a minor cast member in 1986 and 1989, starred in the Canadian teen soap opera "Hillside", which was broadcast on Nickelodeon in 1990-1991 as Fifteen.
"Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Modern day viewers who are accustomed to more recent kid-focused sketch shows like successor series All That may have a hard time appreciating how revolutionary YCDTOTV was in the 80's.
Values Dissonance: The show's title was very prophetic, when you think about the stuff it did on television that you totally can't do now:
A Les Lye character from the first season, Frederick the wardrobe master, was a pretty flamboyant and blatant gay stereotype. In another sketch, one of the kids lets his wrist hang limply in a stereotypically gay way; and in one of the live links, it's mentioned that same-sex couples are welcome to participate in the couples disco dancing contest, which, although it would raise fewer eyebrows today than it would have in 1979, likely also wouldn't have been played for laughs today as it was in 1979.
The Firing Squad sketches. No way they'd show a trigger-happy dictator hell-bent on executing a kid these days. In addition, these sketches played on 1980s white America's stereotype of what Latin America was, and such sketches might very well be perceived as racist today.
The earlier episodes had no problem with showing adults smoking on-camera in front of the kids, which would cause today's Moral Guardians to have apoplectic fits.
In the 1981 "Safety First" episode Christine instructs viewers who smoke on how to properly dispose of their cigarette butts, although she does grimace and refer to smoking as a "disgusting habit" first. This suggests that, despite Christine's referring to smoking as disgusting, that the show was aware that some of the viewers in their target audience were smokers. The show did in fact tackle the topic of smoking later that same season and again in 1989, but both episodes were done in typical YCDTOTV fashion, intended more to entertain than to preach. (The same was true of 1981's "Drugs" despite Christine's explanation of the episode's premise - taking drugs is as stupid as hitting yourself with a custard pie - in her opening monologue.)
Similarly, in the early years the kids drank coffee a lot - not a big deal in Canada, but the coffee drinking was toned down in later years, possibly at Nickelodeon's insistence. In one (1986) episode Ross flat-out tells the kids they can't have coffee because "it's for grown-ups."
Viewer Gender Confusion: Vanessa looks rather gender-ambiguous, having medium-length hair and typically dressing rather masculine, though she does wear earrings.
And Doug during the seasons when he had long hair (in the "Illness" episode, he outright states that he got his hair cut because he was sick of people saying he looked too girlish). In the 1985 season, his hair was actually longer than Vanessa's.
1986 cast member Jody Morris may have been mistaken for a girl by some viewers at first, due to his unisex first name as well as his own shoulder-length hair.