Generations, TV

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day and we hope you had a great holiday weekend. Labor Day became an official federal holiday in the United States in 1894. For many of the Gen X kids who grew up in the seventies and eighties, there are two distinct generational memories associated with the day.

We all remember watching The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon. The show aired with Lewis as host from 1966 to 2011. At its peak, it aired on 213 stations around the country. In many of those markets, it aired on the biggest station in town. Often the local TV News anchors would put on tuxedos and ball gowns and host the local segments. You would also see local citizens on the phone banks and the town’s big wigs present a large check to the host. You might hear or see your name on TV if you called in and made a donation.

In our day, the telethon would come on at 9 pm Sunday and air until around 6:30 pm on Labor Day. When that tote board would appear with the final tally, it would mark the end of summer for many of us. A majority of our kids and grandkids now start the school year in August, but back in our era, the first day of school usually was the Tuesday after Labor Day.

For the kids who ruled the hallways, the ones who found refuge from troubled home life, or the students who truly loved school, there was excited anticipation in the air on Labor Day Night. For the bullied, ignored, unpopular or the kids who just planned struggled, the night was filled with dread and June could not come fast enough. For others, it was a drag because you could not watch The Price is Right at 11 am anymore.

What are your favorite memories of the telethon or the holiday?

TV

Prime Time Saturday Night TV.

Quick, name a show that currently airs on Network TV in primetime on Saturday night. Yeah, we can’t either. Saturday night is no longer a big night for TV and it hasn’t been that way in a good while, but that was not always the case.

Some first wave Gen Xers might remember watching Kung Fu and Emergency in the mid-seventies. Many also remember their parents watching the blockbuster CBS lineup which included All in the Family, M.A.S.H., The Jeffersons, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Bob Newhart Show. CBS also had the show that is probably most associated with Saturday nights in the seventies, The Carol Burnett Show.

In the late seventies, Saturday became home to some classic shows such as Rhoda, Welcome Back Kotter, and Good Times, which were all winding down and would soon be canceled. This time period would also include the debut of two long-running staples of Saturday night, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island on ABC. NBC also had a hit with CHiPs at 8 pm.

CHiPs moved to Sunday in 1980 and was replaced with another big hit, Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters. In 1981, ABC made their powerful lineup even stronger with the addition of T.J. Hooker. With all of the CBS comedy hits from the seventies now canceled or moved to another night, NBC became the sitcom king with a slew of new shows like Silver Spoons, Bosom Buddies, Gimmie a Break, and Mama’s Family. Diff’rent Strokes also made the move from Thursday and stayed there until 1985.

By the mid-eighties, the classic ABC line up was gone. The network and CBS both filled Saturday night with a revolving list of short-lived shows while NBC added to their dominance by adding The Golden Girls, Amen, and 227 to the list of sitcoms. They also added the cop drama Hunter at 10 pm.

FOX became the fourth network in 1986 but really struck gold with the addition of COPS in 1989. The show would go on to air in primetime for 32 seasons. The late eighties also saw the addition of yet another hit sitcom on NBC, Empty Nest.

In the nineties, the number of hit shows became fewer but there were still some bright spots. FOX had another long-running hit with America’s Most Wanted which ran for 25 seasons. CBS had Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and the show that defined Saturday nights in the nineties for the network, Walker Texas Ranger. NBC had Sisters, which could be looked at as their last original hit on a Saturday night.

Network TV on Saturday night is now comprised of sports, news shows like Dateline, and repeats of programs that air on another night. It’s also a night that is aimed at older viewers. Gen X might be the last generation that really grew up watching primetime TV on Saturday nights. What were your favorite shows to watch on Saturday night?

Film, Music

GREASE 2

Grease 2, the sequel to the 1978 blockbuster was released on this day, June 11, back in 1982. The opening of this film however took a back seat to another film released on the same day. A little film that you might have head about that was directed by Steven Spielberg called E.T.

E.T. went on to become the highest-grossing film of the decade and knocked off Star Wars as the all-time box office champ. Grease 2 made a small profit with 15 million at the box office against a 12 million dollar budget. The film also opened to mostly bad reviews.

Grease 2 found a bigger audience on pay cable stations like HBO, Showtime, and The Movie Channel. The film also found a Gen X audience who many were too young to really appreciate the first film when it came out in 1978. Another big impact on Gen X can be summed up in two words: Michelle Pfeiffer.

Many a young Gen Xer fell in love with Pfeiffer who was playing a female version of the John Travolta role in the first film. Her co-star Matthew Caulfield played the clean-cut cousin of Olivia Newton John’s Sandy. Pfeiffer had been in a few movies before Grease 2, but this was her first starring role. She made a bigger splash the following year with her role as Al Pachino’s girlfriend in Scarface. By the end of the decade, she was one of the most in-demand leading ladies in film.

Were you a fan of the movie? Did you have a favorite song or musical sequence from the film?

Music

Private Dancer

Private Dancer, the fifth studio album by Tina Turner was released on this day back in 1984. The record was a huge success and kicked off a resurgence in Turner’s career.

The album peaked at #3 on the album charts and went on to sell over twenty million copies. It contained the hit singles, Let’s Stay Together, Better Be Good to Me, Private Dancer, and her only #1 hit, What’s Love Got to Do with It.

Turner had been a solo artist since 1976 when she left her husband and duo partner, Ike Turner. Prior to the release of Private Dancer, she was playing mostly clubs and hotel ballrooms. The album’s success led to Turner going on an area tour that lasted from February to December of 1985.

A number of artists, who like Turner, became well known in the sixties made comebacks in the eighties. Acts like The Kinks, The Moody Blues, and The Monkees all had hits for the first time in years. No other comeback led to the level of Superstardom as Tina Turner’s did.

Film, Generations, TV

May the 4th be with you!

It’s May 4th and this is the day that we celebrate Star Wars. The original film released in 1977 is by far the most important film of our generation. From the first film and the two sequels, and for all the toys, t-shirts, lunch boxes, and posters we purchased, there was never another film franchise in the Gen X era that came close to it in terms of profit or influence.

Here’s how some of us first found out about a new movie called Star Wars that would be hitting theaters soon. This is the original TV spot that aired in 1977.

Film, Generations

The top 25 Gen X films.

These are the essential 25 Gen X films that we feel every member of our generation should watch at some point in their lives. The list is made up of films that are about us and not just the biggest hits that came out during our era. That’s why you don’t see a Star Wars, Rocky, or Indiana Jones movie on the list. Tell us what you think about our choices and let us know if you think we missed a film.

Reality Bites

The Breakfast Club

Farris Bueller’s Day Off

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Risky Business

Pretty in Pink

16 Candles

The Karate Kid

Back to the Future

Heathers

Singles

Less Than Zero

Boyz n the Hood

Clerks

The Lost Boys

Weird Science

War Games

Red Dawn

Secret Admirer

Some Kind of Wonderful

Breakin

Better Off Dead

Foxes

Lucus

Music

The Joshua Tree

On this day in 1987, U2 released their album, The Joshua Tree. It was their biggest selling album of all time and went on to sell over 25 million copies. The record went to #1 in over twenty countries and was the fastest-selling album in British history.

The album contained several U2 classic hits. With or Without You and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, both went to #1 and are the band’s only hits that topped the singles chart in America. Where the Streets Have No Name was also a top forty hit and In God’s Country gets frequent airplay to this day on Classic Rock radio.

The Joshua Tree won the Grammy for Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. It is listed as one of the greatest albums of all time by many critics and was selected by The US Recording Registry for preservation as The Library of Congress deemed it culturally, and historically significant.

U2 were already major stars before the album was released, but it certainly took them to another level. If you were a fan of the album, what was your favorite song? Why also do you think this album made such an impact at the time that it was released in the late eighties?

Music, Uncategorized

PHYSICAL

The number one song in America this week back in 1982 was Physical by Olivia Newton-John. The song spent 10 weeks at the top spot from November 21, 1981 to January 23, 1982. It was also Billboard’s number one song of the year as well as being the top song of the decade.

Physical was Newton-John’s biggest hit. It was her fifth and final #1 on the Hot 100. The song also reached the top spot in five other countries. It was also a cross over hit and went to #28 on the American R&B charts.

The song was originally intended for Rod Stewart. It was also offered to Tina Turner who took a pass on it. With its suggestive lyrics and controversial music video, Physical forever changed the squeaky clean image that Newton-John has had since bursting on the music scene in the early seventies.

Film, Music, TV

1989

As we welcome in 2020, we say goodbye to 2019, the last year of the 2010s. Since this was the last year of the decade, all this month on our social media sites, we looked back at the last year of the eighties, 1989.

1989 looked much different than 1980 did in regards to TV. Most of Generation X can probably remember their family or others they knew who still had antennas on top of their TV or their roofs in the early eighties. Only 17 million homes in America had cable TV in 1980, by 1989, that number was at 50 million.

Another significant change was the fact that if we missed a show on TV, we no longer had to wait for the summer reruns in order to watch it. Video Cassette Recorders were the norm in households by the end of the decade. Not only could you record your favorite show, but you also could rent a movie at the local video store, or at your neighborhood grocery store. The video revolution also included making your own videos. By 1989, some younger Gen Xers had much of their early childhood recorded on the family VHS camcorder.

When it came to recorded music, audio cassettes were at their peak in the mid and late 80s. This was due in part to the popularity of The Walkman and boom boxes. Although Compact Disc came out in 1983, they did not outsell cassettes until the early 90s.

For broadcast TV, sitcoms ruled the small screen. The Cosby Show and Roseanne tied for the #1 show of the year. 8 of the top ten shows for the year were sitcoms.

When it came to movies in 1989, The most anticipated film of the year was Batman. The summer blockbuster earned over $411 million and became the highest-grossing movie in North America for the year. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was the worldwide #1 film of the year and Batman was #2.

Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel was the #1 albums of the year. Look Away by Chicago was Billboards #1 song of 1989. This is despite the fact that it never hit #1 in 89 but did top the charts in Dec of 88. The debut album of Garth Brooks was released in 1989 and Country Music was never the same again.

What were your fave TV shows, movie or music of 89?

Music

The Producers

It’s been New Wave November on our blog and social media sites this month and since today is the last day of the month, we want to go out on a high note. We will do just that by introducing you, or re-introducing some of you to a great New Wave/Power Pop band out of Atlanta, GA called The Producers.

The band released two albums on Portrait Records in the early eighties. The debut album was self-titled and was released in 1981. The follow-up, You Make the Heat came out in 82. She Sheila from that album went to #48 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

Although the band never hit the top 40, they did have success on an upstart cable channel that also premiered in 1981. Music videos for She Sheila, What’s He Got and a few other songs got airtime on MTV in the very early days of that station. They also appeared on MTV’s New Year’s Rockin Eve in 1982.

The band was dropped from Portrait Records after the second album. They released a third album on an indie label but was back to the major leagues with MCA for their fourth album, Coelacanth. Before that album was released, the band was let go from MCA as part of a label purge in 1989.

The Producers “retired” in 1991, but they still get back together for shows every once in a while. If they come to your town, check them out for sure. They were a band that created great music and every New Wave and Power Pop fan should know who they are and know their music. Take a few minutes and watch the videos below and we think you will agree with us!