The year was 1988. ABC launched its fall Friday night line-up and it was the beginning of a long and humorous era of good clean family fun. The “TGIF” line-up that year, in case you’re trying to remember it (or if you’re too young to have been around for it) was, ‘Perfect Strangers’, ‘Full House’, ‘Mr. Belvedere’ and ‘Just the Ten of Us’. The year after that, ‘Mr. Belvedere’ got booted in favor of ‘Family Matters’. Each year the line-up was changed little by little but one thing stayed the same: they were all moderately funny and family friendly. TGIF was the line-up to watch on Friday night when I was a kid.
“TGIF” on ABC fizzled out towards the late 90s and was barely around by the turn of the century. Since then, there’ve been other networks willing to offer families a fairly decent line-up on Friday nights. The WB for instance, had a pretty good set of family-friendly shows this season. ‘What I Like About You’, ‘Reba’ and ‘Twins’ were all entertaining shows which I’m not ashamed to admit I either watched or DVRed and watched later on. I wasn’t hooked on them or anything but they were always good for a laugh when I didn’t feel like watching anything too ‘heavy’.
So what is the point of this article, you ask? As I was compiling the fall 2006 schedules I realized that since WB and UPN became CW, they’ve dropped the sitcom line-up and replaced it with wrestling. Now I’m not anti-wrestling or anything but I saw the WB Friday night as the last bastion of simple, clean Friday night TV (without having to resort to Nickelodeon).
Now, before you jump on me about how great ‘Ghost Whisperer’ is, I realize there are some good programs on Friday nights. In addition to ‘Ghost Whisperer’, ABC has two new one-hour comedies premiering and Fox is offering two hours of family-reality shows (the kind where lessons are learned by people airing their dirty laundry on national television). But this fall when you jump from CBS to ABC to NBC and so on, you wont find any sitcoms. No Steve Urkel. No Cody. No Tanner family. No Larry or Balki. No Sabrina. No Eric Matthews and now that WB has dropped the torch, no Reba or random funny show with Amanda Bynes. Maybe you won’t miss it right away but perhaps when you have kids old enough to watch TV on a Friday night (if you don’t already), you’ll wonder where those shows went.
Perhaps the networks will bring the sitcoms back to Friday nights but in the meantime, rest in peace TGIF. You served America well.