Kids' Court (partially found Nickelodeon non-traditional court TV series and other media; 1988-1994)

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KidsCourt.jpg

Title card for the original series.

Status: Partially Found

Kids' Court is an American children's non-traditional court TV series that aired on Nickelodeon from September 10th, 1988 to 1989. The show was created by Alan Goodman, Albie Hecht, and Fred Seibert for Chauncey Street Productions Inc. and Nickelodeon.[1][2]

Premise[edit | edit source]

A flyer advertising Kids' Court.

Hosted by actor and comedian Paul Provenza, the show profiled kids acting out problems with friends and family sent into the show within a courtroom setting. Like an actual court, the show would have two kids act as the plaintiff and defendant, with a child audience acting as a jury and giving commentary on the matter.[3]

These kids talk about and act out these problems in various forms, such as a court artists drawing artwork based on aspects of the case, or the plaintiff and defendant physically acting parts of the case. Once all of the evidence and commentary is presented, a robot called the "Judge-O-Meter" judges both sides of jury by how much louder one side of the jury is. This determines the outcome of the case.[1]

The ending segment included Provenza asking the kids in the jury what they deemed "unfair", where the jury would respond by shouting "unfair" to various things Provenza asks that kids may find unwelcome.[1]

The show was also interspersed with segments teaching kids about the American judicial system. These segments included:

  • "Gavel Busters", a segment featuring facts and trivia about the judicial system.[4]
  • "You be the Judge", a segment about determining an outcome to a criminal case.[4]
  • "Kids' Court Reporter", a segment featuring a news story involving a specific topic that aimed to be debatable towards kids.[5]

History[edit | edit source]

Kids' Court would run for one 26 episode season on Nickelodeon between September 10th, 1988 to sometime in 1989, with reruns continuing until August 1st, 1993. It would air on Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 AM and 6 PM EST. However, after May 1989, the show would air at 6 AM EST for the rest of its run.[2]

The show was also one of the three shows Nickelodeon would contribute to the "Cable in the Classroom" initiative,[1] a program created in 1989 by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association to broadcast educational and informational cable television programs in classrooms.[6] The other shows Nickelodeon would first contribute to the program were Mr. Wizard's World and Eureeka's Castle.[2]

Other Kids' Court Media[edit | edit source]

The Three Pilots (1985-1988)[edit | edit source]

Status: Lost

Kids' Court would spend around three years in development, with much of the early development dating back to 1985. Between the concept and release of Kids' Court, at least three test pilots were filmed to test the show.

While the specific nature of these pilots are unknown, one of the pilots was reported to have an "adult judge" character. An interview with then-Nickelodeon president Geraldine Laybourne states why this character did not make the final show:

"The kids didn't want an adult judge, because they thought the adult judge was always going to bend over backwards to be on the kids' side and not be fair. They couldn't count on an adult to be fair - that, I thought, was really amazing."[2][7]

No footage or screenshots from these pilots have ever been released online.

The "Re-Pilots" (1991)[edit | edit source]

Status: Found

Two years after the original run of Kids' Court ended, in 1991, two more "re-pilots" were produced to pitch to Nickelodeon as a second revision of the show. This version was hosted by actor and announcer for the Nickelodeon show Outta Here!, Greg Lee. The pilots were filmed in front of a live audience at Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando, Florida on January 6th, 1991.[8]

These pilots featured various different changes and differences from the original show, though the general format would still stay the same. Some of these differences include a button voting system being used to determine the outcome of a case rather than the volume of the jury being determined by the "Judge-O-Meter" and the sketch artists being completely missing from this version of the show. A new visual identity and branding for Kids' Court was also present in these pilots.

The "re-pilots" were not picked up for another revision of the show, and were mostly unknown and lost for more than two decades. However, on September 4th, 2011, Fred Seibert uploaded both of the pilots onto his Vimeo account.[8][9]

The first "re-pilot" of Kids' Court.
The second "re-pilot" of Kids' Court.

Kids' Court UK (1993-1994)[edit | edit source]

Status: Partially Found

On September 1st, 1993, the first international version of Nickelodeon would launch in the United Kingdom on the Sky cable provider. Several original programs premiered on this version of the network, including a British adaptation of Kids' Court.

Not much is known about the specifics of this version of the show, although it was hosted by British actor Andrew O' Connor and it seemed to be very similar to the original US version of the show. The show would run for four months on Nickelodeon UK, ending on January 29th, 1994.[2]

Only two promos of the British adaptation of the show exist online, and they can be found in YouTube user poparena's video on Kids' Court here and in the videos section.

Availability[edit | edit source]

Despite VCR's and home recordings being very common during the original run of the show, Kids' Court had very poor time scheduling for much of its run and a lack of any official home video release. As a result of this, much of the original run of the show has fallen into obscurity over time and become lost media. Only one full episode of Kids' Court and various scattered clips and promos have ever been released online.

The various other productions of show (such as the pilots and the British adaptation) have also proven to be very hard to find, with much of their content and information about them also becoming lost.

Kids' Court has a low chance of ever being released by Nickelodeon in full, as the show is largely forgotten by the general public and the channel has not acknowledged the show in almost thirty years.

Videos[edit | edit source]

Episodes & Clips[edit | edit source]

Part one of a full episode of Kids' Court.
Part two of a full episode of Kids' Court.

Promos[edit | edit source]

A promo for Kids' Court.
Another promo for Kids' Court.

Other Videos[edit | edit source]

Poparena's "Nick Knacks" video on Kids' Court.

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Rediscover the 80s page on Kids' Court. Retrieved 16 Oct '21
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Poparena's Nick Knacks video on Kids' Court. Retrieved 16 Oct '21
  3. An Abebooks page featuring the flyer advertising Kids' Court. Retrieved 16 Oct '21
  4. 4.0 4.1 Part 1 of an episode of Kids' Court on YouTube. Retrieved 16 Oct '21
  5. Part 2 of an episode of Kids' Court on YouTube. Retrieved 16 Oct '21
  6. Education World page on the Cable in the Classroom initiative. Retrieved 17 Oct '21
  7. "Double Dare Pays Off for Nickelodeon", Star Tribune, November 13th, 1988. Retrieved 17 Oct '21
  8. 8.0 8.1 The first "re-pilot" of Kids' Court on Vimeo. Retrieved 17 Oct '21
  9. The second "re-pilot" of Kids' Court on Vimeo. Retrieved 17 Oct '21