Do kids today know who Charles Nelson Reilly is? If not, the joke was on them this weekend when Nickelodeon aired special April Fools’ Day episodes of two of its biggest shows, Victorious and iCarly. Not only were they a week early, but the random absurdity of the episodes featured a slew of dated film and TV references that the average tween enjoying the show would have no way of understanding.

Much like the best Pixar movies, Victorious and iCarly have something for kids and adults. As a 30-year-old man, I might not be the target demographic of these shows, but when they include references to Saved by the Bell and Back to the Future, I can’t help but be entertained.

On Victorious, the April Fools episode was a completely absurd series of unrelated plots and dialogue. There were cameos from Dennis Haskins as Saved by the Bell‘s Mr. Belding and Drake Bell as himself.

The Bell appearance was one of many in-jokes from the man who created Victorious and iCarly, Dan Schneider, as he also created Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh. The episode also had the Dancing Lobsters from The Amanda Show (another Schneider creation) wandering through the background. If that’s not enough, the iCarly episode had the characters watching an episode of Head of the Class, the ’80s sitcom Schneider starred in.

There were two masterful vignettes that made Victorious a truly remarkable comedic achievement. First was a parody of The Wizard of Oz that ended when a production assistant came in and told one of the actors he was late for the next scene.

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The second, and most impressive, was a parody of the classic game show Match Game. Not only was the set and premise perfect, but the cast also did impressions of the show’s iconic panelists like Nipsy Russell and Charles Nelson Reilly. As Tori later said when the entire cast said “Where’s the beef?,” kids won’t get that reference.

victorisicarlyaprilfools.jpgBut adults will, the same way adults will get the iCarly episode which acted like a clip show, only the cast reshot clips from past episodes with new material. There was also an on-going I Dream of Jeannie reference and, at the end, Spencer dressed up like future Doc Brown from Back to the Future (complete with clear tie) and promised to take the cast to a future episode.

Fans who watched both episodes will recognize that the time travel bubble the iCarly gang hops into at the end of the episode actually makes an appearance in the opening credits of the April Fools episode of Victorious.

This nonstop barrage of dated references made Victorious and iCarly must-watch television for TV fans of all ages. Don’t be turned off just because they’re kids shows on Nickelodeon. After all, in the past, Victorious dedicated an entire episode to a parody of The Breakfast Club while iCarly famously made a reference to HBO’s gritty series The Wire. Obviously Dan Schneider and his writing staffs aren’t just making kids shows, they’re making bizarre, brilliant and creative television that feels more like NBC’s Community than some Disney Channel fluff.

Check the Nickelodeon schedule for repeats of Victorious‘ “April Fools Blank” and iCarly‘s “iApril Fools.”

(Image and videos courtesy of Nickelodeon)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.