Salute Your Case

Hey Cassettes! Here are the show notes that we wrote while researching our episode on Salute Your Shorts.

If you’re unfamiliar, Salute Your Shorts was a live-action Nickelodeon show in the early 1990s. It followed a group of young kids and their shenanigans at summer camp.

A brief history 

  • Salute Your Shorts was a Nickelodeon TV show that aired from 1991-1992
    • It was based on a book called “Salute Your Shorts: Life at Summer Camp,” written by Steve Slavkin and Thomas Hill
      • Slavkin went on to write the show as well, after he pitched the idea to Nickelodeon; They were looking for kid-centric show ideas for the network
      • The book and the show don’t have a lot of overlap; essentially the only similarity is the title and the theme of going to summer camp
    • Here’s a quote from The A/V Club “it was a show built on characters, ostensible stereotypes that, through clever writing and earnest performances, were able to (mostly) transcend their quirks to offer an identifiable portrait of adolescence”
    • According to The Los Angeles Times, it originally aired on July 4th, 1991
    • The show lasted for two seasons, each with 13 episodes, and its final air date was June 30th, 1992
    • After Nickelodeon green-lit a pilot episode, they sat on the pilot for over a year. By the time the show was picked up, the kids were too old to play the parts and had to be re-cast. All of the actors had to re-audition with a couple of them getting cast in the regular show
    • The theme song
      • The theme song was written by Ed Alton who also composed theme songs for Head of the Class, The Single Guy, Suddenly Susan, Nikki, My Boys, and Whitney
      • It’s the only theme song in history with the word “fart”
        • Robin’s brother got in trouble in school for singing it
      • A lot of the acting in the theme song was improved by the kids
    • The show was cancelled mostly for logistical reasons, the studio wanted to relocate the kids after two seasons and most of them were already settled in Los Angeles where the show was being filmed on location
    • Actors & Guest Stars
      • When Slavkin was tasked with casting the show, he wanted kids that seemed as natural as possible. There wasn’t much hair or make-up on the set, and when one of the actresses had to get braces, Slavkin wrote it into the show
        • A lot of the kids had no previous acting experience
      • The show starred:
        • Kirk Bailey as camp counselor “Ug” Lee
          • Kevin “Ug” Lee is the main counselor and the only recurring adult on the show. In the first episode, Donkleylips starts the chante “UG-LEE” with the other campers which is where his nickname comes from
          • Kirk Bailey has done a lot of voice work since the show, such as additional voices for Bumblebee, Frozen, and Big Hero 6
        • Danny Cooksey as Bobby Budnick
          • Budnick starts out as the camp bully, picking on the new kid in the first episodes of the show, though he matures a little more over time
          • Danny Cooksey was in other Nickelodeon titles throughout the 90s. He did an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, but his crowning achievement as an actor was when he played “Stoop Kid” in Hey Arnold
        • Michael Bower as Eddie “Donkeylips” Gelfin
          • Donkeylips is best friends with Budnick, but he’s more like his lackey; He’s known as being one of the bullies, and for being a smelly camper
          • Michael Bower was one of the original actors in the first version of the pilot episode, and had to re-audition for the role
          • Before Salute Your Shorts, he had roles in The Wonder Years and Doogie Houser
        • Venus DeMilo as Telly Radford
          • Telly is the “tomboy” of the girls’ bunk. She’s less shallow than Dina, often clashing with her about the importance of fashion and good looks
          • Venus DeMilo went on to have roles in Family Matters, Sister Sister, Smart Guy, and The Bold and the Beautiful
        • Megan Berwick as Z Z Ziff
          • Z Z is the resident sweet girl, always kind to the other campers despite what they do to her
          • Berwick didn’t do much acting after the show, though she was in a TV movie called, “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom”
        • Tim (or Trevor) Eyster as Eugene “Sponge” Harris
          • Sponge was the camper known for absorbing information (you know, like a sponge)
            • He’s bullied by the Budnick and Donkeylips, though he becomes friends with them as the series progresses
          • Tim Eyster changed his name to Trevor and has acted before and after the show; his last credit was a short in 2015
        • Heidi Lucas as Dina Alexander
          • Dina is the “girly” girl in the camp, preferring to do nails than play sports; she’s also known for being rich
          • Heidi Lucas has acted in a few things since the show, though her last IMDB credit is from 1996. She was on a science fiction show called Hypernauts
        • Erik MacArthur as Michael Stein
          • Michael is a character that only appears in the first season of the show. He is the main focus of many of the episodes in the first season like “Michael Comes to Camp,” “Brownies for Thud Mackie”
          • Michael Stein’s last acting credit was in 2007; he’s done bit parts since the show
        • Blake Soper as Ronnie Foster Pinsky
          • At the beginning of season 2, Michael has contracted chicken pox and will not be returning to camp. In his place, a scheming ans street-smart character named Pinsky is intro
          • He also was Joey the Rat on Boy Meets World
        • Steve Slavkin as Dr. Kahn
          • The creator of the show lent his voice to play the unseen Dr. Kahn, to fill up space on the show. Slavkin says he made up most of his lines on the spot and was just meant to fill space between shots
        • Christine Kavanaugh
          • The late actress that voiced Chuckie and Oblina played Ug’s girlfriend Mona
  • Favorite Episodes
    • The Ghost Story
      • Zeke the Plumber is arguably the most famous episode of the show
    • The Radio Call-in Contest
      • In this episode, Sponge gets help from other campers so he can answer the 1000$ question on a radio call-in contest
    • Mail Carrier Mona
      • When Ug’s girlfriend dumps him, the kids in camp set him up with Mona the mail carrier
    • Park Ranger Mona
      • Mona returns in this episode and is now a park ranger. Ug has to improve the camp to make sure they pass inspection
    • Budnick Loves Dina
      • In this two-part episode, Budnick falls for Dina and they begin to date

Fun Facts

    • No one really knows for sure what an awful waffle is–they never actually do it in the show. It involves maple syrup and a tennis racket, but that’s all we know!
    • They’re making a documentary about Salute Your Shorts, it’s in pre-production! We’ll be sure to let everyone know about it once it comes out!
    • The way the show was shot was groundbreaking
      • In “Slimed, an oral history of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age,” producer Courtney Conte was quoted in saying that Slavkin had directors push the show in terms of directorial style. It was a one-camera show that was shot on location, versus many other kids shows of the time which were shot on sound stages with laugh tracks
      • It was also groundbreaking that the show was scored; generally the music in the show was classical and was added to scenes to increase suspense or excitement
        • The guitar rifs in some episodes were performed by Danny Cooksey’s band
      • The Show was shot at Franklin Canyon Park, and Franklin lake which is the same place that some scenes of the Andy Griffith show was shot!
        • AND, it was shot at a real camp
    • Danny Cooksey had Michael Bower and Kirk Bailey as groomsmen in their wedding
    • Donkeylips was originally the bully for the show, but after the year between the pilot and the show started filming, Danny Cooksey had gone through a growth spurt and was changed to be the camp bully
    • Even though the show stopped airing new episodes in 1992, it continued to be one of the most popular on the network. It was among the top 15 highest-rated, regularly scheduled basic-cable series in 1996 (four years after it ended)

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