Sitcom Graveyard-The Dark Side of “TGIF”
Much like NBC and their Must See TV, ABC had a fantastic block of programs under the brand TGIF. These family friendly shows aired on Friday nights and were perfect. The concept lasted ten years before being dropped, and then brought back, and dropped again.
There were some great shows on TGIF including Perfect Strangers, Family Matters, Step By Step, Hangin’ with Mr Cooper, and Boy Meets World. But the truth is, there were some less than stellar shows that came and went to. So let’s talk a look at the dark side of “TGIF”
Not all the Miller/Boyett shows were big hits. Meet one of the exceptions. I never watched it either, but the truth is the show didn’t look all bad. It was about a group of comedy writers who lived together in a beach house. It featured some big names such as Alan Ruck, Hallie Todd, Staci Keanen before appearing in Step By Step, and Heather Locklear. For whatever reason it just didn’t find the audience the other Miller/Boyett shows did and quietly disappeared. I think the problem with this show was there wasn’t enough kid appeal. Every show on TGIF has kids in the cast somewhere. Also the four were successful so there was nothing to make the characters interesting. It was almost a rip off of Friends except that came out years later. They did shake up the premise by adding a kid and giving the group more interesting job, but to little to late. There is a reason The Hogan Family never aired on Friday’s, it was stronger on Monday nights which is not so kid heavy and if ABC had put this show on a different night it may have had a chance.
The always annoying Billy Connolly starred in this show which featured his character from Head of the Class. He was annoying in that show and was still annoying here. In the show he married a woman to get his green card and the woman, of course, had kids.
Mary Page Keller starred in this show about a woman who opens up her house and allows the neighborhood kids to hang out there. It was a weak premise and the show faded.
Aliens in the Family
Dinosaurs was another TGIF show which did great. So great, the creators decided to rip off their own creation! A guy marries an alien. But unlike Mork & Mindy where this made sense because Mork looked human, in this show the aliens were pink puppets with hugs heads. Sure, why not? This got even dumber because unlike other alien shows, the aliens do not hide. They walk among the people who seem to have accepted them. I mean, really? YOU NEED TO BE AT LEAST A LITTLE PLAUSIBLE!!!
This show did manage to run a couple years, on two different networks, but still sucked. It was another Miller/Boyett bomb. While they were smart to make it another family show, this one still did not stick. Wonder why Telma Hopkins disappeared from Family Matters? She starred in this show with Cindy Williams as two friends who happen to be single mothers that are sold the same house. Oops! It was basically a blended family show, the problem being that they weren’t related in any way so it didn’t really work. Now to be fair, this show did fine on TGIF but when the network moved it to Saturday’s that basically killed it.
On Our Own
What if they made Party of Five into a cheesy sitcom? You’d get On Our Own, which has the same premise. After the parents of seven kids are killed, the oldest son takes over and runs the family. The hook? In order to be legal the oldest son has to dress in drag and pretend to be an aunt who was actually raising the kids. Does that sound stupid? It was, and even when they dropped that concept it was to late to save this series.
When Sabrina, The Teenage Witch became a big it only figured there would be a lot of knock off’s. Meet knock off #1. A boy is followed by his recently deceased best friend, who is deceased because he ate a six month old hamburger found under his friends bed, as a guardian angel. It was lame with lots of fourth wall jokes. The series had a quick life and was soon forgotten.
And Knock off #2. Remember how cute I Dream of Jeannie was? Well what if we take the concept but take all the charm out of it? In this show it’s a male genie who lives with a family. Yep, that’s about it. Jerry Van Dyke also starred as Genie’s Grandpa Max. It only lasted seven episodes.
Oh, and don’t believe me when I call these knock off’s? They did a huge crossover event (that I actually liked) which tied Sabrina and Boy Meets World to these two shows and of course Melissa Joan Hart made cameos. Salem the cat had swallowed a time ball and….ah, that’s another article.
This was another bad idea. A man who is raising his son alone is forced to live with his football playing brother who of course is irresponsible. As you can imagine, hijinks ensued! They tried to make it a little more adult in its humor which probably did the show in. If Two and a Half Men could work why didn’t this?
Two of a Kind
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to mention this one, but decided that I would. After Full House was gone ABC tried to keep the Olsen cash cow going by featuring Mary Kate and Ashley in this harmless little show. It is notable as being the last Miller/Boyett show ever produced. The premise is about a single father trying to raise two twin girls. He hires a part time babysitter who is young and kind of wild. Yeah this was a mish mesh of several different sitcom formulas, and that was probably the problem. The show just didn’t know what it wanted to be. About two precocious kids? About a romance? About a blended family? Gone after one season but has lived on in re-runs.
Hope & Faith
This came along when TGIF was revived. The revival included 8 Simple Rules which was good, Life with Bonnie which was OK, and this awful show. I think the only reason it had any audience was because Kelly Ripa had a day job, of course on Regis & Kelly. Man was this show lame. It also starred Faith Ford and the two girls would just get into all sorts of wacky situations. This was a laugh track show with no real laughs in it. Badly written, badly acted…and how it lasted as long as it did is beyond me. It did give us Megan Fox so I guess that’s something.
TGIF was a fantastic idea, despite its bumps and mistakes. It provides fond memories to all who enjoyed it, whether they enjoyed when it first came along like I did or later on when it was a fixture of ABC.