Tag Archives: Cosby Show

Gratuitous Search Term Bait of the Day: A New Hope

Today’s Search Term is “Johnny Dakota,” which, of course, means you readers out there are looking for the Saved by the Bell episode “No Hope With Dope.”  And sure, we could give you a clip from that episode featuring fictional mega-hunk Johnny Dakota, played by dancer/choreographer Eddie Garcia, but that would be the easy way out.  We prefer to present you with a clip that offers the biggest guest star in the episode, the truly special guest star, NBC Chairman Brandon Tartikoff.

By this point  – 1991 – Tartikoff had a habit of popping up in NBC shows as himself, or as a version of himself, and this was a particularly meta appearance where he posited the idea of an NBC sitcom about a principal and his students.  He ultimately ruled the idea out, but of course, that very idea was the show that he was on, one of a string of a hits on NBC under Tartikoff’s reign.  It does say something special about Saved by the Bell’s specific success that it inspired the network chairman to appear on a Saturday Morning teen show, which is decidedly a different hosting SNL, which Tartikoff did in 1983.  But always adept at self-promotion, Tartikoff knew an opportunity when it presented itself.

And speaking of promotion, you can read more about Tartikoff’s tenure at NBC in the new book Top of the Rock: The Rise and Fall of Must See TV, just like we did last week.  Written by Tartikoff’s protege and successor Warren Littlefield (well, more curated than written by), the book takes a look at NBC’s dominance in the 90s.  And while most of the tome focuses on the post-Tartikoff era at the Peacock, he was an important figure in shaping the network and laying the groundwork (Cheers, Cosby, Hill Street Blues, etc.) on which Must See TV was built.  It’s that perfect gift for anyone who likes to read oral histories but hates anything of substance.  But, be warned, there’s no talk of Saved by the Bell in the book, so you’ll have to rely on Behind the Bell for that.

Remember kids, say no to drugs! Or you could end up like Dustin Diamond.

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Filed under Literarally, Must See TV, Saved by the Bell

On a Very Special ‘It Gets Betterish’

For the better part of the last year we’ve had the privilege of producing the wonderful little web series It Gets Betterishcreated by and starring our dear friends Eliot Glazer and Brent Sullivan.  And this week we premiered our most bonkers video to date, they were generous enough to let us direct.  It’s our tribute to one of the great sitcom tropes of the late 80s/early 90s, equal parts Golden Girls, The Cosby Show and Growing Pains.  Except our take involves trannies, home birth and Tilda Swinton.

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Filed under Golden Girls, Growing Pains, Huh?, Virulent

Nostalgia Corner: ‘Valerie/Valerie’s Family/The Hogan Family’

Every era has its own specific genre of TV show, and within that genre there’s a hierarchy: the forerunners, the second-rate but solid middle class and the imitators.  For example, in the late ’90s you had shows like Friends and Seinfeld at the forefront of the “good-looking single young people in NY” genre, and then a second tier, with shows like Mad About You, that were good, not great, but still run for over 100 episodes, and then you had outright copycats like The Single Guy and It’s Like…You Know that burn out after one or two seasons.  Or in the 1970s (as you can read much more about in the AV Club’s70s Sitcom Primer), you had the top dogs like All in the Family and Mary Tyler Moore, then a second level with series like Maude and Rhoda, and then the bottom rung with shows we’ve never heard of because we’re too young (but possibly including Bridget Loves Birney).  Likewise, the late ’80s/early ’90s was the golden age for saccharine, safe, wholesome family sitcoms, a genre which basically dominated the airwaves from about 1986 until Seinfeld and Friends changed the game in the mid-’90s.  Your preeminent shows in this era included The Cosby Show, Growing Pains and Full House, who were a cut above other successful shows like Who’s The Boss?, Family Matters and Major Dad; and then you had the bottom layer, cheap xeroxes and flashes in the pan like Baby Talk, Getting By, and Day By Day.  Right there, in that second tier – the shows that never set the ratings world on fire, programs that are not looked back on as innovators in the genre, and yet ran for many seasons in first run broadcast and in syndication – you can find The Hogan Family.  Premiering in 1986 as Valerie, starring Valerie Harper (of MTM and Rhoda, mentioned above), and morphing into Valerie’s Family and ultimately the Hogan Family after Harper left the show due to creative differences following the second season (killed off via car accident on the show), the show ran for 6 seasons with 110 ten episodes across two networks.  It never won any major awards, was never critically acclaimed, and was never atop the Nielsens.  And yet it was a staple on NBC for many seasons (paired with ALF, natch), and could be seen for years in reruns on local channels and basic cable networks.  Buoyed by Sandy Duncan, who stepped in for Harper as Aunt Sandy (creative!), it was a workhorse; a dependable, middle of the road sitcom that perhaps defines the era.  Also, no other show featured Edie McClurg and Willard Scott.

Before he was Michael Bluth, Jason Bateman was David Hogan, and if not for the brilliance of Arrested Development (which couldn’t be further from The Hogan Family on the sitcom scale) that could have been his most memorable role (besides Teen Wolf TooAnd this).   But The Hogan Family is where he cut his chops (and for which his work as director qualified him as the youngest ever member of the DGA), and you can see a little bit of oldest brother David Hogan in most responsible brother Michael Bluth, both of whom often had to play the father figure in their respective TV families.

Indeed, one could argue that Bateman’s finest work can be found in the Hogan Family episode “Burned Out, as the Hogan clan, still reeling from the loss of their matriarch, must watch helplessly as their house burns down, the result of a rogue lamp in the attic (because that sort of thing happened in those days).  Scroll to approximately 6:00 to see Bateman work his magic.

Interesting bit of trivia about this episode, courtesy of Wikipedia:

The episode had a commercial tie-in with the McDonald’s Corporation, who financed the expenses accrued in damaging the set for the fire. As a sponsor that evening, McDonald’s commercials aired promoting fire safety.

Because that makes sense.

McDonald’s, we know we speak for Jason Bateman  when we say thank you.  Thank you.

And, because it’s somewhat relevant, let us again remind you about Justine Bateman.

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Filed under Bob Loblaw, Good Humor, Growing Pains, Lists, Nostalgia Corner, Seinlanguage, TGIF, Wake Up, SF!, Who's the Boss?