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?

TV

Farrah Fawcett

Farrah Fawcett passed away on this day 10 years ago at the age of 62.
She was the first pop culture phenomenon of the Gen X era.

As we have stated before, we consider the Gen X era to be from the mid-seventies to the mid-nineties. For first wave Gen Xers, this covers middle childhood in the mid and late seventies, late childhood and teen years/ college in the eighties and college and young adult life in the early and mid-nineties.

So with that being said, it really is the mid-seventies when older Gen X kids are starting to be aware of the culture around them. Charlie’s Angels debuted on ABC in the fall of 1976. The show was an instant hit and the most talked about new show of the year. Besides Fawcett, the show also starred Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith as a trio of beautiful private eyes who work for a mysterious boss named Charlie whose face you never see on screen. All three actresses become household names, but with the success of the show and an iconic poster in millions of young men’s bedrooms, Fawcett is the standout star of the show. It also doesn’t hurt that she is married to Lee Majors who stars as The Six Million Dollar Man, also on ABC.

Many folks would think that Star Wars would be the first pop culture phenomenon of the Gen X era, but that movie did not come out until May of 1977. That is the reason why we consider Farrah as our generation’s first pop culture phenomenon.

TV

Happy Birthday Lee Majors

Happy Birthday to Lee Majors, who played two of the greatest TV characters in the Gen X era. Lee was born on April 23, 1939 in Wyandotte, MI.

Long before there was a Stone Cold Steve Austin, Majors portrayed Col. Steve Austin on The Six Million Dollar Man in the seventies on ABC. Austin was an Astronaut who was severely injured during a crash and was rebuilt with bionic implants that gave him super speed, super strength in his right arm, and an eye with a zoom lens and infrared vision.

He came back in the ’80s as a Stuntman who also did some part-time work as a bounty hunter on The Fall Guy which also aired on ABC. Let’s also not forget that he was married to Farrah Fawcett during her time on Charlie’s Angels when she was a cultural phenom in the mid-seventies.

Click the image to watch the first episode of The Fall Guy via Amazon Prime.

TV

Fridays premiered on ABC on April 11, 1980

At 11:30 pm on Friday, April 11, 1980, ABC premiered their own version of Saturday Night Live. It was simply called Fridays and aired for three seasons. At the time of the premiere, SNL was a little over a month away from ending their fifth season. This would also be the last season that featured members from the original Not Ready for Primetime Players.

Unlike SNL, Fridays did not have a house band. The show also embraced the New Wave music scene more so than SNL. Their musical guest ranged from Devo, The Cars, and Split Enz to The Marshall Tucker Band, Kiss, and Paul McCartney. AC/DC, The Clash, and The Stray Cats all made their American TV debuts on Fridays.

The sixth season of SNL was met with bad reviews and low ratings. The next few seasons started an upward rise again with Eddy Murphy joining the show and becoming a breakout star. Fridays rode high until ABC expanded NightLine to five nights a week and pushed the start time to midnight. The show was canceled on April 23, 1982.


TV

The #1 TV show this week in 1979.

Laverne and Shirley premiered on ABC in January of 1976. The show was a spin-off of Happy Days and aired right behind it at 8:30 pm as part of the network’s powerhouse Tuesday night lineup. By the third season, it was the number one show in the nation. In the fall of 79, the show was moved to Thursdays at 8 pm up against The Waltons and Buck Rogers in the 21st Century. The ratings went down and before the end of the season, the show was moved back to Tuesday night. Ratings went back up but they never again reached the levels that it had before the move.

In season 6, The setting of the show was moved from Milwaukee to California. Cindy Williams left the show after two episodes in season 8. ABC wanted to renew the show for a ninth season but Penny Marshall wanted to move the production base to New York City but ABC canceled the show in May of 1983.

Laverne and Shirley were without a doubt one of the signature shows of the seventies. If you have never seen an episode before or you have not watched it in a few decades, go check out, but we suggest the earlier seasons when the girls were still in Milwakee.