Earlier today I had a thought that I wish there was a station that showed reruns of all the TGIF programming. If you’re not familiar with TGIF, throughout the late 1980s and 1990s there was a block of programming on ABC where family friendly programming was aired. It was called TGIF. The block stood for (officially) Thank Goodness It’s Funny and aired on Friday nights. Some of the most memorable (even if they weren’t good) shows of my childhood aired during this block.
Shows like Webster (which was actually pre-TGIF but lead the way towards its creation), Full House, and Perfect strangers helped kick off the TGIF schedule. While I hate to admit it now, I watched all these shows and loved them. I wanted to have a dumbwaiter in my house that I could ride in like Webster. I wanted to live in that huge house in San Francisco (though without the Full House cast except maybe my crush Lori Loughlin). I never wanted to be anything like Perfect Strangers. I never really did find it to be all that funny.
As time went on, more shows were added to the schedule. Family Matters, starring the cop from Die Hard, came on the air and poor Jaleel White became famous for perhaps the nerdiest character in history, Urkel. But we loved him. I’m sure that he still gets called Urkel wherever he goes. His catchphrases made it into everyone’s vernacular (Did I do that?). There were Urkel dolls, t-shirts, and toys. There was even an Urkel dance.
In 1991 a new Brady Bunch inspired show hit the airwaves. Yes, I’m talking about Step by Step. This show was awesome. The opening scene of the rollercoaster going down the track always gave me a queasy feeling (I hate rollercoasters!), but I always wanted to go to that theme park located along the lake. The show typically delivered numerous laughs in each episode. That is until the actor that played Cody beat his girlfriend and he left the show. It was never as funny without the dim-witted nephew of Patrick Duffy’s character.
Not the Mama! What does that remind you of? If you said the TV show Dinosaurs, you truly are a child of the ’90s and a TGIF fan. While it only lasted one season on TGIF, it was a memorable one. I remember my friend Rich and I loving that show and playing with the toys when they came out. The show that eventually replaced it was perhaps the best show of my childhood, Boy Meets World.
What can I say about Boy Meets World? Every guy wanted to be as cool as Shawn and date Topanga. It was fun family show that had laughs and heart. I still wonder whatever happened with Minkus and Mr. Turner. Also, what was with that season where Cory and Eric’s sister disappeared? Despite some obvious flaws, it was one of the best shows to ever air on TGIF. Unfortunately, it tried to stay around too long and followed Cory and friends into college, but I like to pretend those episodes never happened.
As I got older, TGIF shows lacked the same quality I grew up on. There was the Mark Curry series, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper. I don’t remember much about this show other than it was sometimes funny and featured the lovely Holly Robinson Peete. Later, Sabrina the Teenage Witch was added to the lineup. While many girls of my generation liked the show, I never got into it. A TV spinoff the the movie Clueless also briefly aired on Friday Nights.
TGIF was an integral part of my TV viewing habits when I was growing up. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find good programming, let alone good family programming, on a Friday night. Thinking back through this iconic period in television I can’t help but wonder, where is this generations TGIF? Where can my nephew and his family go for a whole night of family friendly television that everyone can enjoy? You don’t see shows like the ones in the TGIF lineup anymore. You especially don’t see them airing on the same night. It’s a shame really. I miss TGIF.