Nickelodeon Weinerville is an American television program on Nickelodeon that was produced in 1993 and 1994, aired in reruns until 1997. The show was based around a giant puppet stage which was designed to look like a city, called Weinerville. The show was hosted by Marc Weiner.
Marc Weiner teamed up with Nickelodeon with the premiere of Nickelodeon Weinerville, a half-hour variety show using classic elements of kids' programming, including puppeteering,animated shorts and interaction with a live studio audience, to entertain kids and their parents. Since its premiere, Weinerville has drawn the attention of such shows as Entertainment Tonight, Good Morning America and The Early Show for being television's first and only half-man/half-puppet variety show where kids are transformed into puppet citizens.
Another major factor of the show aside with the puppets was the fact that in between all the main segments with Weiner and his creations were animated shorts from a variety of sources shown to fill out time. The first season featured old Paramount and UPA cartoons including Mr. Magoo and Gerald Mc Boing Boing shorts. In the second season segments from The Alvin Show were used. In later reruns, the shorts were shuffled, and in 1996 the Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse cartoons and Batfink shorts were exclusively shown.
The show has also received numerous award nominations, including two CableACE Award nominations, and has received acclaim from The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, Newsday, TV Guide and the Los Angeles Times.
The show premiered on July 11, 1993. During the first season, all episodes ran in a two-hour marathon every Sunday. However, Weinerville quickly gained popularity: in the middle of the first season Nickelodeon began running the show on weekday afternoons. For the second season, which premiered on May 2, 1994, the episodes aired daily. The show aired on Nickelodeon until June 30, 1997, although the Chanukah special reran on December 21, 1997.
Weinerville provides examples of:
- Audience Participation: Kids and their parents sitting in the audience could expect anything from being put on Captain Bob's ship, sitting around Boney's cave, or even getting "Weinerized," or turned into one of Marc's trademark head puppets, for a game in playland.
- Arc Number: Everything sold in the Weinerville General Store, the total number of points awarded in the talent show and "That's not Fair" segments, and a variety of other numbers all equal 13.50.
- Argument of Contradictions: Pops and Louie were famous for this, to the point where they were even called in whenever an argument was necessary.
- Ascended Extra: Boney goes from being a one-joke character to the main character in the second season and TV specials. Probably has to do with him being Marc's favorite puppet.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Made stranger by the fact that most of the puppets are actually Mark Weiner playing different characters.
- Butt-Monkey/Beleaguered Assistant: Zip, Mayor Dottie's helper. He was characterized by the agonizing scream he made when disaster befell upon him.
- Brooklyn Rage: Displayed by both Socko and Boney. Another connection with Marc Weiner, as he was born in Queens, New York.
- Catchphrase: Dottie's "Welcome to Weinerville", Zip's scream of pain, and Boney's "Now, get outta here!"
- Celebrity Paradox: Marc normally played Captain Bob, so in the scant moments when both characters were seen together, it was another actor wearing Bob's uniform, his face turned away from the camera. Also, puppet characters played by Marc were usually shown on a video screen.
- Most of the head-puppets are pre-recorded on monitors, but Shnitzel the parrot is represented in wide shots by a stage hand performing the puppet with his face mostly covered by Shnitzel's beak, while pre-recorded close-ups of Weiner as Shnitzel are only seen by the TV viewers.
- In one episode, Socko posed as rapper Ziggy-Zag and performed on a stage backed by Cocktail Frank and his Weenies. Since Weiner was performing Socko, Cocktail Frank was performed by a stage hand with a rainbow wig draped in front of his face.
- Cloudcuckooland: Let's see: Kid-friendly city full of puppets with human heads in a foam rubber TV set world centered around a Jewish comedian? Yep. Also, silly activities are frequently legitimized as Weinerville traditions.
- Covered in Gunge: No surprise as this is an early Nickelodeon show. Audience members got frequently splashed with water on Captain Bob's ship, hit with pies, made to eat whipped cream treats, and the lucky winner of the "Playland" segments got covered in Weinerville's green slimy "Special topping."
- Depraved Kids' Show Host: Boney. Although there are many situations where he doesn't even pretend to be nice.
- In the Election Special, Boney's opponent used this against him.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Most of what became Weinerville originated in TV segments Marc Weiner created for Showtime, Comedy Central and Saturday Night Live. In these segments Socko was originally a bronx boxer named "Rocko," and Baby Jeffery was a kid named "Mikey" who rode a trike. Marc came on stage during a monologue in the '81 season of SNL playing Captain Bob.
- Fake Shemp: Used in episodes like "Ziggy Zag" and "Budget Cuts", whenever Weiner and one of his characters needed to be onscreen simultaneously. The double would have his back turned to the camera, or obscure their face with a wig or a handheld prop.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Quite a few. "Everybody's a comedian!" - Dottie
- Jerkass: Boney and Socko. The TV specials gave them a chance to be Jerks With Hearts of Gold.
- Leitmotif: Cocktail Frank and his Weinies play different tunes for each character or sequence. Socko has a different one each season.
- Medium Awareness: Various quotes from the characters show that they know they're on a soundstage show. And on a even more meta-level, the puppet characters know they're puppets!
- Loads and Loads of Roles: Whether it's as a pre-recording, a live puppet performance, or just a voice, there isn't a character on this show NOT played by Marc Weiner.
- Name Drop: Constantly. Especially in segments with celebrity-obsessed Dottie.
- No Fourth Wall: Every single episode made reference to the fact this was all a show, and the puppet characters frequently referenced themselves as being puppets. This was a good thing since if there was ever a mistake on air, the audience wouldn't be too dissappointed.
- Only Sane Man/Straight Man: Marc. Made stranger by the fact that he's the only "man" on this show, period.
- Polly Wants a Microphone: Shnitzel, who sometimes even acts as the show's announcer/color commentator.
- Rimshot: After just about EVERY one of Marc, Captain Bob, or Socko's jokes.
- Retool: Season 2 focused more on Boney, added Mad Scientist Professor Phosphate, added a high-tech motif with squirt guns and catapults to "Playland," and featured a lot more of Commander Ozone.
- Running Gag: The digits 1350 keep popping up in various forms.
- Shout-Out: Some of the fake names for TV executives in the show were references to the names of the then-executives of Nickelodeon. One of the street signs reads "Max" and "Rebecca" after Weiner's own children.
- Boney:...Why, Compared to Beavis and Butthead, I'm Mother Teresa!!
- Take a Third Option: In one Boney segment, two kids are arguing over which one of them gets a balloon. Boney settles the argument by popping it.
- The Ace: Socko.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Sometimes those outfits Dottie wears get real, REAL, elaborate.
- Who Writes This Crap?!: Briefly in the episode where cutbacks were made to the show; Marc realized that Captain Bob was writing his dialogue.
- Yellow Snow: Subverted. Boney likes to do this using a juice box filled with lemonade.
- You Have to Have Jews: Weiner, a proud Jewish comedian, actually kept his heritage under wraps until post-series, when he produced Nickelodeon's first ever Chanukah TV special.