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, 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, 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, TV

New Wave Theater

In June of 1981, a few months before the premiere of MTV, The USA Network started airing a late-night weekend variety show called Night Flight. The show featured music videos, cult and B movies, music-themed documentaries, animation, stand up comedy and a program that is now somewhat legendary among the early shows of cable, New Wave Theater.

Originally airing on KSCI in Los Angeles, the show featured LA-based New Wave, Punk and underground bands and artists. Well known acts such as X, The Blasters, Fear, The Circle Jerks, 45 Grave, and The Dead Kennedys appeared on the show. It was hosted by musician and songwriter Peter Ivers.

New Wave Theater usually aired during the last hour block of Night Flight. With that late time slot, Iver’s offbeat monologues, and the public access look about the program, you truly did get a feeling that this was underground television being piped into homes all across the nation via this new thing called cable tv. It truly brought the LA alternative scene to folks who previously could only read about it in music magazines.

Sadly the show came to an end with the death of Peter Ivers. He was found bludgeoned to death in his apartment on March 3, 1983. The case remains unsolved to this day.

New Wave Theater lives on at the Night Flight plus website: https://www.nightflightplus.com/

Music, TV

Jeopardy

Flashback Friday Music Video.

For the month of October, all of our Flashback Friday Music Videos will be horror-themed. Today’s video is a true MTV classic, it’s Jeopardy by The Greg Kihn Band from 1983

Jeopardy went as high as #2 on the singles chart and was kept from the top spot by Michael Jackson’s Beat it. Along with Jackson’s Thriller, which also featured Zombies, it’s one of the best know music videos of the 80’s that had a horror theme. It was the band’s only top 10 hit on the singles chat. 

The following year, Weird Al Yankovic released a paraody of the song called I lost on Jeopardy, which featured a cameo by Greg Kihn. 

TV

Scooby-Doo turns 50!

Happy birthday Scooby-Doo! Fifty years ago this weekend at 10:30 am on Saturday morning, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You premiered on CBS. The show was an instant hit with 65% of the Saturday morning audience tuned in each week to watch Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, Velma, and a Great Dane called Scooby, investigate a new mystery.

The original show was thirty minutes in length and stayed that way until 1972 when it was expanded to one hour. The new version was called The New Scooby-Doo Movies and featured a guest star (fictitious and real) helping the gang solve a mystery. This version ran until 1974 and then reruns of the original show aired until 1976 when the show left CBS.

Scooby moved to ABC and was partnered up with a new show to form The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour. The following year the show became Scooby’s All-Star Laff-a-Lympics. In 1979, The title changed again to Scooby’s All-Stars.

1979 was a big year for Scooby and not just because of yet another title change. The forty episodes produced between 76 and 78 went into syndication as The Scooby-Do Show and ABC aired a prime time special called Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood. That same year, a new character was added to the gang.

Scrappy-Doo, Scooby’s nephew shared top billing in the new show Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo. The series was a hit and differed from past versions in that the bad guys were actual supernatural beings and not humans with a mask on. Mystery Inc. continued on in various incarnations during the eighties on ABC including the last version on the network, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. The show was a hit and featured the gang as youngsters in their hometown of Coolsvills. This version stayed on the air until 1991.

In the late eighties, Hanna-Barbera Productions who owned the series started to make Direct to Video Scooby-Doo movies. Like the show with Scrappy, these movies also featured real supernatural villains. In the early nineties, Scooby reruns started to air on the Cartoon Network and Hanna-Barbera was sold to Turner Broadcasting. The reruns brought a resurgence to the franchise.

In the late nineties, Warner Animation (Turner had merged with Time Warner) began producing direct to video Scooby-Doo movies. The success of the reruns and the movies led to a theatrical live-action film that came out in 2002. Scooby-Doo was a hit at the box office and earned $130 million in the USA. A less successful sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed came out in 2004.

The Great Dane returned to Saturday mornings in 2002 when The WB started to air What’s New, Scooby-Doo. That show was replaced with Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! which ran for two more seasons on The CW. In 2010, The Cartoon Network premiered Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, which aired for three years. It was followed by Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! which aired for two years and was also seen on The Cartoon Network. The Boomerang streaming service introduced Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? in June of 2019.

The original audience for Scooby-Doo in 1969 was the youngest of Generation Jones and the oldest of Generation X. During these last fifty years, the series entertained not just the kids of those generations, but also the Xennials, the Millennials, Generation Z and now the youngest group, which some call Generation Alpha.

Scooby-Doo has never gone away in the fifty years since it hit the airwaves. We all know what a Scooby snack is. Say Shaggy and Velma, and everyone knows who you are talking about. Scooby-Doo merchandise has earned a few billion in the five decades since that first Saturday morning. Scooby is as beloved by the youngsters as much as he was and is by our generation.

Although we have to share Scooby with other Generations, the series is inherently ours. In a time when we did not have videotapes, DVDs or 24 hours of access to cartoons on TV or online, Scooby-Doo reigned supreme. It is with all of this history, longevity and enduring popularity, that we at Generation X Rewind proclaim that Scooby-Doo is the greatest Saturday morning cartoon series of the Gen X era.

TV

Tabitha

If you asked Gen X kids of the seventies and eighties to name their top five TV programs from the sixties that they grew up watching, it’s a good bet that Bewitched would be one of the top picks. The show debuted on ABC in 1964 and stayed on prime time until 1972. After the show left the network, it became a staple of afternoon syndicated TV on stations all across the country. It continues to live on cable and nostalgia channels to this day.

Bewitched featured a suburban couple comprised of a modern-day Witch and her mortal husband who worked in advertising. In the third season in 1966, a daughter Tabitha came along and was followed in 1969 by her brother Adam. Both kids had the same powers as their mom.

The show’s success in syndication was probably the reason why ABC aired a spinoff show, Tabitha, in 1977. A pilot was produced in 1976 but was not picked up by the network. Another pilot was produced the following year, this time with a new Tabitha and this version was picked up for the 1977-1978 season.

Tabitha from Bewitched would have been eleven in 1977, however, in the new show, she was a twenty-something production assistant at a TV station in Los Angeles. Another way the show strayed from the original was that Adam was older than his sister and he was a mortal. Tabitha also featured a character named Aunt Minerva, who was not a part of the original show.

Tabitha was portrayed by Erin Murphy on the originals show and by Lisa Hartman on the spinoff. Hartman went on to greater fame as a cast member of Knotts Landing in the eighties. She also had a #1 song on the Country chart in 1999 with When I Said I Do, a duet with her husband, Clint Black. The show also featured Robert Urich as Tabitha’s love interest. A year later he would have the leading role on Vega$, which was also on ABC.

The pilot aired in May of 1977. The series made it debut on Sept 10 but the second episode did not air until November. It was then regularly airing on Saturday nights and getting good ratings at first, but then started to go down and got even worse by the time the show moved to Friday nights. The show was canceled and reruns aired up until August of 78.

Music, TV

Love Stinks

Flashback Friday Music Video.

MTV debuted at 12:01 am on Aug 1, 1981. To celebrate the channel’s 38th birthday, every Flashback Friday music video in August will be a song that appeared on the first day of MTV. Today’s video is Love Stinks by The The J. Geils Band

Love Stinks hit #38 on the American singles charts and went up to #15 on the Canadian charts in 1980. The song was written by the band’s lead singer Peter Wolf and keyboardist Seth Justman. The lyrics have been rumored to be inspired by Wolf’s marriage to film star Faye Dunaway which ended in divorce in 1979.

To stream or purchase Best Of The J. Geils Band via Amazon, click on the image below.

Music, TV

Thank You For Being A Friend.

Flashback Friday Music Video.

MTV debuted at 12:01 am on Aug 1, 1981. To celebrate the channel’s 38th birthday, every Flashback Friday music video in August will be a song that appeared on the first day of MTV. Today’s video is Thank You For Being A Friend by Andrew Gold.

Thank You For Being A Friend was the first of four music videos from Andrew Gold that aired on that first day on MTV. The other three videos were Go Back Home Again, Never Let Her Slip Away, and his biggest American chart hit, Lonely Boy, which hit the top 10 in 1977.

In 1978 Thank You For Being A Friend hit #25 on the Billboard singles chart and #11 on Cash Box. Seven years later in 1985, the tune was used as the theme song for The Golden Girls. It was re-recorded for the show and featured vocals by Cynthia Fee. That version has become one of the best-known TV theme songs of all time.

Stream or purchase Thank You for Being a Friend: The Best of Andrew Gold via Amazon by clicking on the image below.

Music, TV

I’M GONNA FOLLOW YOU

Flashback Friday Music Video.

MTV debuted at 12:01 am on Aug 1, 1981. To celebrate the channel’s 38th birthday, every Flashback Friday music video in August will be a song that appeared on the first day of MTV. Today’s video is I’m Gonna Follow You by Pat Benatar.

The second video ever played on MTV was You Better Run, which was the lead single off of Benatar’s 4 x platinum album, Crimes of Passion. Later in the day, I’m Gonna Follow You, another song from the same album made it’s MTV debut. What’s interesting is that the album’s highest-charting song, Hit Me with Your Best Shot, never had a music video released for it, but one was made for I’m Gonna Follow You, which was not a single.

Click on the image below to stream or buy Crimes of Passion by Pat Benatar via Amazon.