It's Friday! And for some, that means the end of the work-week and weekend plans. For others, it's the day of Friday-night TV shows, including the return of Fringe and Grimm's move back to its regular time-slot. Some say Friday night is a bad night for TV, and granted, there's probably far less competition on the last night of the work-week than there is on any other weeknight. But that doesn't mean there's nothing to watch on Fridays.
Grimm is a prime example of a great Friday night show. The supernatural series balances some procedural elements, a monster-of-the-week (or case of the week, depending on what's going on with Nick at work), and an overall mythology that continues to develop with each episode, rewarding those viewers who tune in for each new episode. Monday nights might earn it a bit more attention, but for those of us already on board with the show, Grimm is a great way to cap off the week. So we're not complaining about its return to Friday nights.
In honor of Grimm's move back to Fridays, and the return of Fringe for its fifth and final season this Friday night, we came up with a list of other past and present Friday night shows that gave us one more reason to look forward to the end of the week.
ABC's TGIF line-up.
In the late 1980s, ABC introduced a new programming initiative under the moniker “TGIF” (Thank Goodness It’s Funny). I was an early watcher of the series; after Friday night dance classes I would come home to watch Full House, Perfect Strangers and the newly introduced Family Matters, savoring the episodes at least as much as I savored my off-brand Dr. Fizz soda. The latter two were a little over my head, but I loved Full House, a program I affectionately called “The Little Girl Show” and tried to emulate with varying degrees of success. The original TGIF programming had a great run, airing from the 1988-1989 TV season through the spring of 2000. The focus was on family based programming, which was perfect for myself, my parents, and my two differently aged siblings as we grew up.
For a decade-long span and a new generation, character actor William Daniels became the beloved Mr. Feeny, Bob Saget never uttered a dirty joke, Urkel pulled his pants too high, a family of dinosaurs had very human problems, Sabrina tried to land Harvey, Holly Robinson Pete kept her man waiting, and Cody lived in a van in the driveway. Friday nights were a magical time when I was growing up, and I wouldn’t have had my weekends any other way. -Jessica Rawden.
When a show can keep you at home on a Friday night through your teens and into your early 20’s, that’s the only proof you need that it’s a winner. The X-Files was that show for me. The show was unlike anything else I had seen before, the first to really draw me into a world where the question of what is really out there might be answered on a weekly basis. It had the “monster of the week” that could leave you feeling satisfied at the end of every episode, but also the ongoing mystery that kept you coming back.
Friday was the perfect day for The X-Files to air. It was the kind of show you could invite your friends over to watch with you and kick off the weekend together. It was a show that called for grabbing a drink and a bowl of popcorn and sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what mystery Mulder and Scully would face, and whether they would get any closer to discovering the truth that was out there. Every episode felt like it could be a revelation. Although many similar series have taken up residence on Fridays since The X-Files, none will ever really hold the same place in my heart. -Leslie Kasperowicz
Battlestar Galactica had a brief run on Sunday nights, but for most of its run on Syfy (or Scifi), it was a Friday night show, and that's where I liked it best. I didn't start watching Battlestar Galactica until the start of the third season. A few episodes in, I went back and watched Seasons 1 and 2 as fast as I could. After that, I was fully on board, happily dedicating part of my Friday evening to each new episode.
The story of a group of humans struggling to survive in space after a race of humanoid robots called Cylons wiped out their planets and most of their population had me captivated. And at the time, I was still working a steady office job, so Friday nights were for relaxing and unwinding after a busy workweek. Battlestar Galactica took my mind away from the stresses of everyday life and up into space where human drama and a struggle for survival was playing out. I couldn't get enough of it. In fact, before that, Firefly was the only space-set TV drama I'd ever seen. The series was suspenseful and exciting, and for a while, one of the best series airing on TV. -Kelly West
From J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci and Robert Kurtzman, Fringe originally aired on Tuesday nights before Fox made the switch to Thursdays for the science fiction saga’s second season. After another year and a half, and trouble finding viewers on its highly competitive new slot, Fringe was once again prepped for a move and starting with “The Firefly” (Season 3, Episode 10) on January 21, 2011, the series would run on Friday nights. And, unlike most controversies involving the network, it proved a pretty solid strategy by Fox and the always on the cusp of cancellation series did well enough to earn a fifth and final season.
“Fringe Fridays” became a term (and time slot) embraced by showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman and they also acknowledge how it’s quite fitting for the show to air on the same night as The X-Files, the former in many ways the heir apparent of the later. Fox even tried to use the show as a way to reclaim, sorry, “re-animate” Friday night programming, commically addressing the perceived death slot with the promotional videos for the rescheduling. And in the end, Fringe is the perfect way to end the ‘mindless’ mid-week programming and start our brains working for the weekend. -Jesse Carp
In the absence of Battlestar Galactica, Spartacus has become my favorite Friday night TV show during the winter months in recent years. At first glance, it may seem like little more than a blood-drenched period piece, full of sex, swords and violence, but it's so much more than that. Sure, there's plenty of blood and naked to go around, but there are also great characters, a hero's story, romance, a tale of brotherhood and a fight between good and evil playing out each season.
At the end of a long week, my imagination is ready to let go, and Spartacus has proven to be a great series for that mindset. Each episode feels like a movie in terms of its scale, but also fits neatly into the flow of the series, always leaving me satisfied and at the same time, eager to see what happens next. There's nothing quite like it on television, which makes it a great series to cap off the week. With the upcoming Gods of the Arena set to be the last season of the series, I have no idea how I'll quench my thirst for Spartacus drama on Friday nights when the Starz series comes to an end. -Kelly West
Despite Fox mishandling Firefly from the very beginning, like playing the episodes completely out of order (Serenity, the intended two hour pilot, became the ninth forcing Joss Whedon and Tim Minear to whip up the script for “The Train Job” in two days), those 11 weeks in the fall of 2002 offered a lot of joy. ‘Shiny, browncoated, go tsao de’ joy but it was short lived. Scheduling woes aside, I wouldn’t attribute its Friday night broadcast as a primary cause of the sci-fi western’s cancellation.
As a fan of Whedon’s Buffy, a Monday night series and perfect start to the week (especially when paired with Angel), I was obviously interested in checking out his new show but it didn’t take long for the series with its Han Solo-esque lead to have me forgetting all about the vampire slayer and her brooding spin-off boyfriend. The week seemed too long waiting for another installment of Firefly to see how the crew of the smuggling vessel Serenity would start my weekend. Then too long quickly became too short and, in the end, Firefly probably aided the myth of the death slot. Tai-kong suo-yo duh shing-chiou sai-jin wuh duh pee-goo! -Jesse Carp
The Dukes of Hazzard
Growing up, my dad loved The Dukes of Hazzard, and that meant we all sat down to watch those Duke boys get into a weekly heap of trouble. At the end of a long work week, my father wanted to have a laugh and enjoy a little escapism at the same time, and that made The Dukes of Hazzard the perfect choice for his Friday evening viewing.
You could count on some fantastic car chases, some butt-kicking in short shorts, and of course the Duke boys always coming out on top – somehow. It was a show that parents could enjoy watching with their kids, because somehow in between the “yee-haws”, the horn playing Dixie, and the inevitable car flying through the air, it still had family values – those Duke boys stuck together along with Uncle Jessie and of course Daisy, who may secretly (ok, not so secretly) have been the part my dad looked forward to the most. While it may not have been Emmy-award winning television, it was a show we could look forward to all week. The Dukes of Hazzard was without pretension and reveled in it. Just the good ol’ boys keeping us entertained on a Friday night. -Leslie Kasperowicz