Friday, April 28, 2017

#1 in 1989: Roseanne

For Roseanne Barr's first season, her show was nipping at the heels of The Cosby Show, their ratings almost exactly the same. By Roseanne's second season, the show pulled ahead of Cosby. Viewers found Roseanne's humor to be more relatable. It also didn't help that Bill Cosby had been publicly dismissive of shows he believed were lowbrow compared to his upper class show. Time would prove that The Cosby Show wasn't the unstoppable juggernaut it once seemed to be.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

#1 in 1988: The Cosby Show

The Cosby Show continued its reign atop the Nielsens, but more realistic depictions of late 1980's families were nipping at its heels. Roseanne Barr's lower middle class family seemed more relevant to viewers as the 1990's beckoned. 1988 would be the last year that the Huxtables would stand alone at number one.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bizarre TV Tie-Ins: Gavin by Hormel

In the late 70's and early 80's, The Love Boat was one of the biggest shows on television. Hollywood's hasbeens lined up to board the adventurous, romantic Princess cruise. Overseeing the operation was Captain Stubing, portrayed by Gavin MacLeod. He often dispensed wise advice in addition to keeping a steady hand in piloting the ship.

That's why it must have seemed like a good idea to introduce a cologne named after the balding, middle aged actor who eagerly presided over a "Bang Boat". And who else could make you smell like a Captain than the company known for processed meats, Hormel?

Yes, that's a real advertisement for "Gavin by Hormel", a short lived cologne produced by the meat packing company in a strange diversification attempt. The product and the Hormel chemical division were quickly killed off when the meat producer came to its senses.

Friday, April 14, 2017

#1 in 1987: The Cosby Show


The Cosby Show continued to dominate television, inspiring all three networks to rush Family sitcoms into production. Meanwhile, the upstart Fox Network greenlit a sitcom whose  working title was Not the Cosbys, better known these days as  Married... with Children.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

#1 in 1986: The Cosby Show


The Cosby Show continued its reign atop the Nielsens in 1986, becoming a huge hit that propelled everything around it into huge hits- Cheers, Family Ties and other shows were beneficiaries of the Cosby juggernaut. While these shows were brilliant in their own right, The Cosby Show brought boatloads of viewers to NBC, shining a spotlight on the network's programming.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#1 in 1985: The Cosby Show


The death of the sitcom was very short lived. Perhaps the critics were premature in declaring it dead; in any case, sitcoms came roaring back led by the quintessential 1980's comedy The Cosby Show. Originally turned down by both CBS and ABC, it's debatable as to whether NBC was smarter than the rest or just more desperate. Either way, the show would almost singlehandedly save NBC.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#1 in 1984: Dynasty


The reign of excess continued with ABC's Dynasty. Dallas and Dynasty were considered soapy rivals despite airing on different nights. While Dallas had America wondering Who Shot J.R.?

Monday, April 10, 2017

#1 in 1983: Dallas


Dallas would continue its reign atop the Nielsens, riding the excess of the 1980's to number one. The show's huge success would have networks worried; Dallas' soapy episodic format was not as profitable as other formats because it didn't play well in reruns. The real television profit center was in sitcoms and those types of shows were considered dead.

Friday, April 7, 2017

#1 in 1982: 60 Minutes


The mighty news juggernaut 60 Minutes found itself back on top in 1982, possibly due to its coverage of the Tylenol product tampering scare. While the show would remain a highly rated Sunday mainstay, it would never reach number one again.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

#1 in 1981: Dallas


Still enjoying the massive success of the "Who Shot J.R?" cliffhanger, Dallas would reign atop the Nielsen ratings yet again. Soon an explosion of prime time soap operas would take place, with all three major networks producing multiple Dallas-style shows. Only CBS and ABC would be successful at it, however. At the time, NBC was adrift and would remain on the sidelines while CBS' Dallas and ABC's Dynasty faced off each week.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

#1 in 1980: Dallas


It seemed to come out from nowhere; an hour long primetime soap opera set in a less than glamorous town. It would take the world by storm, however, setting the stage for a decade of excess. A cleverly crafted marketing campaign focusing on the attempted murder of the main character played by Larry Hagman made this already popular show's ratings shoot to the stratosphere.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

#1 in 1979: 60 Minutes


Perennial juggernaut 60 Minutes finally found itself atop the ratings heap in 1979. At this point the show had been on the air for eleven years, but it had hit its stride with its most familiar lineup of reporters.

Monday, April 3, 2017

#1 in 1978: Laverne & Shirley


The Happy Days spinoff Laverne & Shirley exceeded its parent show by sitting atop the Nielsens for two years. The show spawned merchandise tie-ins and even an album which, oddly enough, didn't feature the show's catchy theme song. This high point for sitcoms would end with a huge drop that it would take a few years to recover from.