What Was Your Favourite TGIF Lineup?

by Jaime Weinman

Wikipedia is a very useful resource for information that isn’t generally considered useful. For example, without Wikipedia, I wouldn’t have been able to link to a chart showing ABC’s TGIF lineup for each season of the programming gimmick’s existence. Actually, the chart has been up for a while, but I didn’t link to it because it was inaccurate for a while (including shows that either weren’t part of the lineup or weren’t regularly there); someone seems to have corrected it now.

For people who are in a certain age group, “TGIF” stands as one of the great TV marketing gimmicks: the proof is that virtually everybody referred to (and still refers to) ABC’s Friday night lineup as “TGIF,” meaning that we all accepted and adopted the marketing slogan. (“Must-see TV,” by contrast, was adopted ironically; people called it “Must-See TV” to point up the fact that some of the shows clearly weren’t must-see.) And it allowed ABC to stay strong on Friday nights well into the late ’90s, even as Friday night was becoming harder and harder to program. They finally lost their touch when they fell out with the Miller-Boyett gang in 1997-8 over the then-recent ABC/Disney merger: Miller-Boyett and their parent company Warner Brothers felt they were going to be out in the cold now that ABC was going to show favourtism to Disney product, so they took Step By Step and Family Matters over to CBS, where both shows died. Meanwhile ABC filled the gaps on Friday with Sabrina clones, leading to a mostly desperate, gimmicky lineup. It was the end of the line not only for TGIF but for the whole concept of major-network TV that appealed to viewers under 18: kids and teens, after all, are just as much outside the 18-49 sweet spot as senior citizens, and if anything the big networks want their viewership even less.

So, that said, for those of you who remember watching these shows on Friday night, what was your favourite lineup of the ones listed on that site? My favourite is, inevitably, the first I can remember watching. Which happens to be a lineup that wasn’t actually under the TGIF banner: the 1988-89 lineup. (The TGIF slogan was introduced officially the following year.)  I think, to be perfectly honest, that I usually tuned out after Full House, because my memories of the other two shows are much vaguer (even though Just the Ten of Us was the best of the lot), but I remember being glued to virtually every Perfect Strangers that year. That’s why I’m not well-adjusted. Anyway, I lost a certain amount of interest in the lineup the following season because they moved Perfect Strangers to 9:00, though that was the season Family Matters arrived to really cement the TGIF gimmick in the minds of my fellow kids.

Quality-wise, though, the best lineup was probably 1996-7. You had to get through a long-in-the-tooth Miller-Boyett show at 8 (Step By Step, it says, though an earlier version said Family Matters was there), but after that you had really strong shows by any standard: The first, wonderful season of Sabrina; the first season of the TV adaptation of Clueless, with much of the film’s cast (including Wallace Shawn) and crew; and the fourth and best season of Boy Meets World, which was none too happy about being moved to the end of the lineup:




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What Was Your Favourite TGIF Lineup?

  1. If you'll allow me a Simpsons quote:

    Lisa: All right! It's time for ABC's "TGIF" line-up!
    Bart Simpson: Lise, when you get a little older, you'll learn that Friday is just another day between NBC's "Must See Thursday" and CBS' "Saturday night craporama".

  2. You're certainly right that 1996-1997 was the best lineup, quality-wise. But the TGIF lineup I remember best is Family Matters-Boy Meets World-Step by Step-Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. When I think of "TGIF" as a concept, that's always the lineup in my head.

  3. I was just checking out the Miller-Boyett Productions Wikipedia page, and came across Meego (?):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meego_(sitcom)

    Kind of made me wonder what other shows were probably pitched as 'can't miss' to the tv executives and were canceled after one season. "Guys, look, it's a Miller-Boyett show, starring Bronson Pinchot and a bunch of cute kids! How can it NOT work?"

    My favourite part is that the alien passes himself off as Canadian.

    • Meego really was the perfect storm: a Miller-Boyett production with one of their most ubiquitous stars that was also a desperate attempt to imitate the Sabrina-like fantasy-sitcoms that had ousted them from their ABC perch. Featuring that little kid with the glasses from Jerry Maguire.

      Mid-1990s, thy name is Meego.

  4. In the 90s I was in Uni, and Friday night meant par-tay, not TV! My fave Friday night lineup as a kid though, was CBS– for years it was always Dukes of Hazzard/Incredible Hulk/Dallas/Falcon Crest.

    • Oops and I just realized, it goes Hulk first, and then Dukes etc etc… Weinman, I apologize for TV inaccuracy!

  5. My favorite had to be 89 – 90, (pregnant with my first child, I watched a lot of tv, sad but true!) Larry and Balki were the biggest and most adorable idiots and Steve Urkel, became quite the sensation, did I do that? What happened to him?

  6. In my memory, the definitive TGIF is probably 1991-1992: Family Matters, Step by Step, Perfect Strangers, Baby Talk

    I remember preferring Step by Step to Full House, but my absolute favorite was Perfect Strangers, which was about the pinnacle of contemporary television comedy for me at the time. (I was even more engrossed in Nick at Nite – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_programs_bro… – particularly The Dick van Dyke Show, which remains my favorite sit-com.)

    I still remember the introduction of Dinosaurs the following year, which I didn't like. I know that the next year I watched Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, but I don't think I responded well to Boy Meets World. (I usually hated shows about people my own age.) There must have been something else on that I switched to, but I don't remember what.

  7. I'd say the 89-90 and 90-91 lineups were probably the best, with Full House, Family Matters and Perfect Strangers. (I vaguely remember Just the Ten of Us, and not at all Going Places and Baby Talk — well other then their names and, with Baby Talk, the general concept — so I suspect I turned off the TV after Perfect Strangers.) And you know, while Full House and Family Matters are heavily repeated, Perfect Strangers has barely been seen in at least a decade, outside of a very brief run on ION a few years back. It's kind of surprising, and also disappointing, as I remember Perfect Strangers easily being my favorite of those three shows.

    • And so funny, now you can buy them on DVD by the seasons.

      • I thought seasons 1&2 were the only ones out.

        • Yes they are the only ones right now, but it's a start : )

          I don't know why it took them so long to get TV series on DVD (I guess VHS wasn't good!) but I love it especially the oldies that I really liked!

  8. Actually, the best ABC TGIF lineup was the 1971-72 season: The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222, The Odd Couple and Love, American Style.

    • I think the best of the ABC TGIF lineups were the following seasons:

      1965-66: The Flintstones, Tammy, The Addams Family, Honey West, Peyton Place, and The Jimmy Dean Show

      1970-71: The Brady Bunch, Nanny and the Professor, The Partridge Family, That Girl, Love, American Style, and This is Tom Jones.

      The worst TGIF lineup was the 1966-67 season: The Green Hornet, The Time Tunnel, The Milton Berle Show, and Twelve O'Clock High. All four shows died either at midseason or season's end. Twelve O'Clock High was replaced in January of 1967 by The Avengers, the British import which introduced Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg to North America.

  9. I didn’t realize that the joke about the little boy having his favorite tv show on 9 was actually supposed to be about how BMW got the last spot of the TGIF line- up back then. Now the joke is even funnier. At least they can make fun of themselves about it though.

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