A look back at Must See TV

A long time ago, just before the invention of 700 television channels, there was a station called NBC that used to rule the world on one night of the week in particular. That night was Thursday nights. Otherwise known as Must See TV. A powerhouse in the entertainment industry. Flashforward to today. Must see TV is gone. And with that lose, NBC has also seen a large drop in profits. Now, let’s for the record state that Thursday nights still have quite a bit of quality to it. But it’s different today. During the 80’s and 90’s Must See TV was a completely different animal then what we see today.

They used to call Thursday nights “Must See TV” on NBC. It involved 4 comedies from 8-10, and then a drama afterwards for an hour. And the reason I am talking about Must See TV today, is because one of the greatest comedies ever ended 17 years ago on this date. WOW. Time flies. I am talking about the original staple of Must See TV, and that is of course Cheers. It’s been a long time since Cheers went off the air, but let me tell you that even watching it today it can be a bit dated at times, it still overall holds up as one of the all-time greats.

Now, while Cheers became a huge show, and it was part of the original Must See TV lineup, but the truth is that Cheers did very poorly in the ratings when it first came out. It was not until Dr. Bill Cosby came around that Must See TV REALLY took off. With the powerhouse of the Cosby Show, Family Ties and Cheers (I loved Night Court, but I don’t know if I can consider it to be a powerhouse), ratings skyrocketed, and NBC started to rack in the dough every Thursday night. As the years went on, new shows entered the picture. Wings, A Different World, Just Shoot Me, Will & Grace, Veronica’s Closet, Dear John to name a few. All a mix bag of quality, and never the real money makers for the peacock. The REAL moneymakers were Cosby, Cheers, and then Friends, Seinfeld, and ER.

So what happened? Because today Must See TV is dead. Long gone. What happened, from a business perspective, to this once mighty beast?  Well, to start with, other channels had long been looking for anything to use to combat the mighty peacock on Thursdays, but never had any luck. That is until CBS found a small show called “Survivor”. Survivor presented the first dent in the Must see TV armor. Once that crack was opened, all the other networks rushed in to try to get a piece of that Thursday night pie. NBC didn’t do it self any favors of course. Once Friends went off the air, they just never had that solid replacement. Frasier and Will & Grace had it’s fans, but nether were a Seinfeld, Cosby, Friends level show. Then came the horrible decision to put Donald Trump and The Apprentice on Thursday nights! That move could almost be considered to be admitting defeat. Instead of staying to your formula, you decided to copy the other guys (CBS). Horrible decision making on that one. AND let’s not forget the other parade of crap that got a spot on Must See TV over the decades. Just from 2000-2006 we saw shows like Battery Park, Stark Raving Mad, Jesse (how yooou doin), Four Kings, Leap of Faith and Inside Schwartz. How can you have MUST SEE TV when you have shows like this? And even if you do want to try some of these shows in the prime Thursday spot, give them more than a few weeks to try to find it’s rhythm. The majority of these shows got perhaps 3 or 4 episodes at most.  So after all these mistakes, the once mighty beast known as Must See TV died. In it’s grave we have some of TV’s greatest shows like Cheers, Seinfeld, Night Court(to me at least), ER, Taxi, Friends, Frasier, The Office (first season of Office was during the last year of Must See TV), Cosby Show, Family Ties, L.A. Law and Hill Street Blues.

And today? We have “Comedy Night Done Right”. Sorry NBC, just not as nice of a ring to that one. And the shows that we get with Comedy Night Done Right is Community, Parks & Recreation, The Office and 30 Rock. Now for me, love The Office, really like 30 Rock, P&R is ok, never watched Community. The Office is NBC’s top rated comedy, so it has carried on the tradition of Cosby, Cheers and Seinfeld to a certain degree, but due to the previous poor decision making, nothing can bring back that Must See TV vibe.

WOW….17 years since the last episode of Cheers. Blows the mind.


About theprogram101
From reading this everyday, you should get an idea about me.

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