For my once in a blue moon post on SBC's forums, I thought I'd share the results of the research I've been doing on SpongeBob's premiere dates (and Nickelodeon in general). Long story short, if you've noticed the air dates changing recently on Encyclopedia Spongebobia, that's because some of my tape collector friends and I discovered some old TV recordings and forum posts that essentially proved that the dates we've long assumed for Season 1 & 2's premieres were in fact wrong!
Rather than type a whole new explanation, I'm just going to repost the thread I made on ESB which lead to the airdate changes. It's hard even for me to accept, but at the same time it's also hard to dispute the evidence at hand. I guess the only thing left to do is to keep on hunting for old VHS recordings of the show, and any other sorts of evidence that can support (or somehow debunk) these finds.
05/01/1999 01 Help Wanted / Reef Blower / Tea at the Treedome
07/17/1999 02 Bubblestand / Ripped Pants
07/31/1999 03 Jellyfishing / Plankton!
08/07/1999 04 Naughty Nautical Neighbors / Boating School
08/14/1999 05 Pizza Delivery / Home Sweet Pineapple
08/21/1999 06 Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy / Pickles
08/28/1999 07 Hall Monitor / Jellyfish Jam
09/11/1999 09 Nature Pants / Opposite Day
09/17/1999 08 Sandy's Rocket / Squeaky Boots
09/18/1999 10 Culture Shock / F.U.N.
10/02/1999 11 MuscleBob BuffPants / Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost
10/28/1999 13 Scaredy Pants / I Was a Teenage Gary
12/31/1999 14 SB-129 / Karate Choppers
01/17/2000 15 Sleepy Time / Suds
02/14/2000 16 Valentine's Day / The Paper
03/08/2000 12 The Chaperone / Employee of the Month
03/15/2000 17 Arrgh! / Rock Bottom
03/22/2000 18 Texas / Walking Small
04/01/2000 19 Fools in April / Neptune's Spatula
10/20/2000 22 Something Smells / Bossy Boots
12/06/2000 28 Christmas Who?
01/27/2001 24 Dying for Pie / Imitation Krabs
02/03/2001 23 Big Pink Loser / Bubble Buddy
02/17/2001 21 Your Shoe's Untied / Squid's Day Off
02/24/2001 25 Wormy / Patty Hype
03/03/2001 20 Hooky / Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy II
03/09/2001 33a You Wish! (aka Shanghaied)
04/14/2001 30 No Free Rides / I'm Your Biggest Fanatic
04/28/2001 26 Grandma's Kisses / Squidville
05/05/2001 27 Pre-Hibernation Week / Life of Crime
05/12/2001 32 Pressure / The Smoking Peanut
05/19/2001 29 Survival of the Idiots / Dumped
09/07/2001 35 The Secret Box / Band Geeks
09/14/2001 31 Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy III / Squirrel Jokes
09/21/2001 38 Sailor Mouth / Artist Unknown
09/28/2001 39 Jellyfish Hunter / The Fry Cook Games
10/12/2001 40 Squid on Strike / Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm
10/19/2001 37 Procrastination / I'm With Stupid
01/21/2002 34 Welcome to the Chum Bucket / Frankendoodle
09/06/2002 36 Graveyard Shift / Krusty Love
07/26/2003 33b Gary Takes a Bath
Following somebody's recommendation on the ESB Discord, I'm starting a thread here so the community can try and sort out a debate that's been going on and off for the last couple months or so.
So... let me provide some background info first for those who haven't been a part of the discussion. My friends and I are very passionate collectors of old Nickelodeon TV recordings, and naturally SpongeBob falls into that category. For a while, we were stumped by a recording of "Your Shoe's Untied / Squid's Day Off" that is promoted as a "NEW!" episode with commercials that would place the broadcast on February 17, 2001. This is in direct contradiction with the ESB/Wikipedia/TV.com air date of November 2, 2000. Furthermore, "Wormy / Patty Hype" is said to have premiered on the February 17th date.
Confusing, right? We were too, but then somebody on the ESB Discord found air dates in the SpongeBob Exposed! book which largely differed from what's been assumed for years. And to my friends' and my surprise, "Your Shoe's Untied / Squid's Day Off" was listed for February 17, 2001 -- the same date that our tape indicated. Additional surprise were found, such as "The Chaperone / Employee of the Month" premiering during March Toon Mania and "Hooky / Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy II" being held over until 2001.
The Discord user provided images of the entire episode guide from that book, and for a moment it looked like the real air dates had been found! But some Discord users weren't convinced, claiming that the "Exposed!" book and newspaper listings weren't enough proof, and they made it very clear that they didn't think the newly discovered air dates should be added to the wiki. They stood their ground, and my friends and I stood ours.
Nevertheless, I continued to do research with my friends on other Nickelodeon recordings we've found since then. In the process, we uncovered forum postings on an old SpongeBob fan site where, naturally, new episodes were discussed. And to our surprise, many of these posts matched up with the "Exposed!" air dates and the ones indicated by tapes we've discovered since.
"Dying for Pie / Imitation Krabs" and "Big Pink Loser / Bubble Buddy"
"Your Shoe's Untied / Squid's Day Off" and "Wormy / Patty Hype"
Well-known TV archivist NickandMore has done similar research to me and my friends, and run into the same disputes.
It's extremely unlikely that fans who were consistently watching a weekly series would post excitedly about episodes being new if they'd aired that many months prior (surely by then, there would have been reruns), so I stand firm on the grounds that these four air dates are correct.
January 27, 2001 - Dying for Pie / Imitation Krabs
February 3, 2001 - Big Pink Loser / Bubble Buddy
February 17, 2001 - Your Shoe's Untied / Squid's Day Off
February 24, 2001 - Wormy / Patty Hype
Unfortunately, the forum posts aren't without their additional mysteries. While many mysteries are seemingly wrapped up, several posts exist on spongebobsquarepants.net which suggest that some Season 2 episodes originally premiered by themselves and then re-aired as a "NEW!" pairing. Regrettably, I haven't uncovered any TV broadcasts or schedule listings which line up with this suggestion one way or another, but I can say with full confidence that the airdates listed on NickandMore, SpongeBob Exposed!, and further supported by the TV recordings I have are accurate to the best information that currently exists.
January 27, 2001, 8:00pm
February 17, 2001, 8:00pm
Rather than continue this debate on the Discord, I'm carrying it over to the Wiki's forums directly, in the hopes that we can uncover more TV recordings and other resources which prove--one way or another--when these episodes truly premiered.