Why 'Doug' Changed So Much From Its Early Days On Nickelodeon

Let's reminisce about Doug. It was a popular cartoon in the '90s, created by Jim Jinkins, about an average kid going through average trials and tribulations. He had an active imagination, some low-key social anxiety, an unrequited crush, and a great taste in music. For all those reasons, Doug was immensely relatable. The show ran on Nickelodeon from 1991-1994, took a brief break, and ran for another few years – from '96-'99. Over its two distinct runs, however, Doug underwent some changes, many so seemingly minor that they didn't register to casual viewers. To fans, the difference was unmistakable.

This list explains the many on-screen and behind-the-scenes changes that led Doug to become a subtly yet unmistakably different experience.

  • The Original Theme Song Was Sorely Missed

    The Original Theme Song Was Sorely Missed
    Video: YouTube

    The Nickelodeon Doug had a jaunty little number for the intro of the show (doo, do-do, do-do-do, doo, do-do, do-doo!), but the updated version was a whistled tune that tried to keep the spirit of the original's but fell short. It maintained some elements, like a background electric guitar for points of emphasis, but also added some things to try to make it its own.

    While that's totally reasonable, there was a section of the new theme song that inexplicably had a Scottish lilt, and it was just weird.

  • Music Stopped Being As Important To The Show

    The Beets – an obvious homage to the Beatles – was Doug's favorite band. The thing about the Beets, though, was that they legitimately had some good songs! "Killer Tofu" and "I Need More Allowance" were absolute jams. And, for whatever reason, they were just 86ed. It was part of a larger degradation of music in the new version as a whole.

    Music was a staple in Doug. It was part of the show's identity, its DNA. Whether it was the awesome original theme song or just the little musical riffs between segments or associated with characters (the scatting and makeshift drumming), it was all a part of Doug's fabric and it was unique to the show. It deviated from the formula of other cartoons, much to the show's advantage.

    Over the years, though, Doug's middle school shenanigans took more and more of the focus away from music. There was still some musical presence, but it was a mere echo of the early days, and it just didn't feel like Doug in the same way.

  • Voice Actor Billy West Didn't Stick Around

    Voice Actor Billy West Didn't Stick Around
    Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Billy West voiced the titular main character, but he did not remain on the show when it switched networks due to contract disputes. It doesn't matter what the show is, when the main character's voice actor changes, it can be bad news.

    Then there's the fact that Billy West is one of the most well-known and skilled voice actors around: He voiced a number of characters on Futurama – including the main character, Fry; a variety of Looney Tunes characters; both Ren (for a couple seasons) and Stimpy; and of course, the red M&M from the commercials.  

    Thomas McHugh took voer for West and acquitted himself nicely, but for fans of the initial aural Doug performance, the sound was never quite the same.

  • The Show's Creator Was Less And Less Involved

    The Show's Creator Was Less And Less Involved
    Photo: Aaron Lenard / AaronLenard.blogspot.com

    Jim Jinkins struggled a bit creatively when his animated series was acquired by a new company. “The switch made up some of the most painful evolutions I’ve ever had to go through,” he told HuffPost.

    While Jinkins went on to argue the show had a chance at "rebirth" from that point, his initial feelings on the matter were loud and clear. He fought to keep Billy West as the voice of Doug, but was shot down for financial reasons. He lost much of his staff and had to start from scratch.

    Jinkins even recognizes that fervent fans lost some of their passion for the series. "I mostly agree with Doug fans who think the original 104 eleven-minute Doug stories made for Nick were the best," he said. And due to other responsibilities, he was less involved in the new product.

  • The Voice Actors Stopped Recording Their Dialogue Together, Resulting In Less Dynamic Interactions

    The Voice Actors Stopped Recording Their Dialogue Together, Resulting In Less Dynamic Interactions
    Photo: ABC

    Voice of Patti Mayonnaise, Constance Shulman, noted that the change in procedure, in terms of recording, diminished the show. "I missed all the gang crammed in the studio, waiting for their turn for the big group scene. Someone just dimmed the magic a bit."

    She's right about that. There was less pop between characters, less cohesion. It was a small change, and one the average viewer might even have trouble putting their finger on, but on some level, even kids could probably feel something lacking in comparison. 

  • Connie Benge's Transformation Made Her A Less Unique Role Model

    Connie Benge was a friend of Patti Mayonnaise, and while she wasn't a main character, she was noteworthy because she had a body-type that was woefully under-represented in cartoons: she was curvy.

    Over time, however, she apparently went away to a "beauty farm" and came back noticeably thinner.