tv The Eighties CNN August 19, 2016 10:00pm-12:01am PDT
>> it's a time of enormous turmoil. >> we intend to cover all the news all the time. we won't be signing off until the -- >> isn't that special. >> any tool for human expression will bring out both the best and the worst in us and television has done that. >> doe don't pay me enough to deal with animals like this. >> people are no longer embarrassed to admit they watch television. >> we have seen the news, and it is us.
television world, the landscape was on any given evening, 9 out of 10 people watching only one of three networks. >> more than 30 million people are addicted to it. social critics are mystified by its success. what is it? it's television's primetime prairie pot boilers "dallas." >> a move like that will destroy all of ewing oil and ruin our family name. >> i assure you, a thought like that never crossed my mind. >> brother or no brother, whatever it takes, i'll stop you from destroying ewing oil. >> "dallas" established new ground in a weekly hour-long show. that literally captivated america for 13 years. >> "dallas" is a television show which is rooted in the 1970s and one of the crazy things that emerges is this character, j.r. ewing, as a pop phenomenon. >> tell me, j.r., which slut are you going to stay with tonight. >> what difference does it make? it's got to be more interesting than the slut i'm looking at right now. >> such a delicious villain. everyone was completely enamored
by this character. >> at this point, so many people were watching television that you could do something so unexpected that it would become news overnight. >> who's there? [ gunshots ] >> the national obsession in 1980 around who shot j.r. it's hard to imagine how obsessed we all were with that question. but we were. >> who shot j.r. is about as ideal a cliffhanger as you possibly could get. >> who did shoot j.r.? we may never get the answer to that question. the people who produce that's program are going to keep us in suspense as long as they possibly can. >> we shot j.r. and then we broke for the summer. then the actors went on strike. it delayed the resolution, and it just started to percolate through the world. >> i remember going on vacation
to england that summer and that's all that people were talking about there. >> we know you don't die. you couldn't die. >> we don't know that's. >> how could you die? you couldn't come back next season. >> i couldn't come back but the show could still go on. >> but you wouldn't. what is that show without j.r.? >> that's what i figure. >> i guess if you don't know by now who shot j.r., you probably do not care. last night some 82 million americans did. and they watched the much touted "dallas" episode." it could become the most watched television show ever. >> who shot j.r. is a reflection of old-fashioned television. it gathers everybody around the electric fireplace which is now the television set. >> one special american television program. critics said it transcends in popularity ever other american statement about america. and something special happened today to medical army surgical
hospital 4077. that will touch millions of americans. it was the kind of event that would grab the world's breath. the television version ar. "m.a.s.h." >> it's been an honor and privilege to have worked with you. i'm very, very proud to have known you. >> there were those landmark times when shows that had been watched through the '70s and into the '80s, like "m.a.s.h." had its final episode. and we were all sad to see them go. >> i'll miss you. >> i'll miss you. a lot. >> all over the country, armies of fans crowded around television sets to watch the final episode and to bid "m.a.s.h." farewell. >> the finale of "m.a.s.h." was unprecedented. 123 million people watched one television program at the same time. >> i really should be allowed to go home. there's nothing wrong with me. >> when we ended the show, we got telegrams of congratulations
from henry kissinger and ronald reagan. the size of the response and the emotional nature of the response that we were getting was difficult for us to understand. >> who shot j.r. and the last episode of "m.a.s.h." are the last call for the pre-cable world of television. it's like they are the last time that that huge audience will all turn up for one event. >> all right. that's it. let's roll. hey. let's be careful out there. >> dispatch, we have a 911. armed robbery in progress. >> when quality does emerge on television, the phrase" too good for tv" is often heard. one recent network offering that's seems to deserve that phrase is "hill street blues." >> "hill street" is one of the changing points of the entire industry in the history of tv.
>> we had all watched a documentary about cops and had this real hand-held in the moment quality that we were very enamored of. >> the minute you looked at it, it looked different. it had a mood to it. you could almost smell the stale coffee. >> we didn't want to do a standard cop show where, you know, you have a crime and you have your two cops and you go out and catch the bad guy and you sweat him and he confesses, and that's it. cops have personal lives that impact their behavior in profound ways. >> is he here or elsewhere? >> don't get excited. we're working on it. >> how is this for logic. if he's not here, and if he's not elsewhere, he's lost. >> we didn't say that. >> you lost -- >> never in my entire life have i listened to so much incompetence covered up by so
much unmitigated crap. find my client, or, i swear, i'll have you up on charges. >> there would be these ongoing arcs for these characters that's would play out over five, six episodes, sometimes an entire season. and in a way for certain stories, over the entire series. and no one had really done that in an hour-long dramatic show. >> these past four months, i've missed you. i had to find that out. come on. >> in the past, people had watched television passively. and the one thing i think we did set out to be were provocateurs. >> you fill it out. >> what the hell is the matter with you, man? >> they don't pay me enough to deal with animals like thus. all they see is a white face and and all they want to do is -- >> listen to me. it was a white man that pulled the trigger, not a black one. >> it set a trend.
the audience can accept characters being deeply flawed even though they are caring this uniform. i thought that was important to finally get across. >> we wanted to make a show that made you participate. made you pay attention. and i think that worked pretty well. >> and the winner is -- >> "hill street blues." >> we got 21 nominations. and we went on to win eight emmys. it put us on the map, literally. that's when people finally checked us out. >> programming chief of one of the networks used to say to me about shows like "hill street" and "st. elsewhere" what the american people want is a cheeseburger. what you are trying to give them is a french delicacy. and he said, your job is to keep shoving it down their throat until after a while, they'll say, that's doesn't taste bad. and maybe they'll even toward themselves when they go to the restaurant. >> nice of you to join us. >> the success of "hill street
blues" influenced everything that's came after. and then "st. elsewhere." >> you know what people call this? not st. alegious. st. elsewhere. a place you wouldn't want to send your mother-in-law. >> when it first came on, it was promoted as "hill street hospital." >> you gave your patients the wrong antibiotics. you don't know what medications they're on. you write the worst progress notes. you're pathetic. >> bill? >> what? >> dr. morning needs you right away. >> i'm sorry. >> "st. elsewhere" broke every rule there was and then built some new rules. >> the blood bank called a little while ago.. they ran a routine panel. t-cell count was off. >> they would have tragic things happen to these characters. there was real heartache in these people's lives and you really felt for them. >> i've got aids? >> television at its best is a mirror of society in the moment. >> "st. elsewhere" challenged people and challenged you as an
actor, much less the audience to think the stuff they gave you was extreme. and what they did, whether they were dealing with aids or having one of their main doctor characters raped in a prison. >> they tackled lots of difficult subjects. >> "st. elsewhere" was run by people trying to stretch the medium and in the '80s, television producers were encouraged to stretch the medium. >> clear. hey, ready foyeah. big meeting? >>uh, hello!? a meeting? it's a big one. too bad. we are double booked: diarrhea and abdominal pain. why don't you start without me? oh. yeah. if you're living with frequent, unpredictable diarrhea and abdominal pain, you may have irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, or ibs-d. a condition that can be really frustrating. talk to your doctor about viberzi, a different way to treat ibs-d. viberzi is a prescription medication you take every day
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a lot of people used to say, i was there. now people say, they watch it on television. >> a lot of excitement connected to sports in the '80s. you used to have to depend on the five minutes at the end of your local newscast. there just hadn't been enough. give us a whole network of sports. >> there's just one place you need to go for all the names and games making sports news. espn "sportscenter." >> what happened in the 1980s is sports becomes a tv show. and what are tv shows built around? characters. >> you can't be serious, man. you cannot be serious! you got the absolute -- >> mcenroe, the perfect villain. the new yorker that people loved to hate. the cool swede never giving any emotion away. >> what tennis really wants is
to get its two best players playing over and over again in the final. whether they are john mcenroe and bjorn borg and chris everett and navratilova. that's what we want to turn in over and over. >> three match points to martina navratilova. >> this man has a smile that lights up a television screen from here to bangor, maine. >> and that there is magic johnson, this urban kid from michigan and larry bird, this guy who worked carrying trash. one plays for the lakers. the other plays for the boston celtics. it's a great story. >> lakers had several chances. here's larry bird. >> magic johnson leads the attack. >> look at that pass. oh, what's a show! oh, what a show! >> when the championship games are in primetime and people are paying attention to that, television feeds into those rivalries and makes them bigger
than they've ever been before. >> primitive skill. they're just as good as dead. >> every mike tyson fight was an event. every fight was like an ax murder. when he fought michael spinks. the electric thety, you can just feel it watching on tv. tyson was made for tv because there was drama. >> it's all over! mike tyson has won it! >> not a lot of junior high school kids can dunk. especially at -- >> everybody tries. >> i think that he is starting to transcend his sport that he's becoming a public figure. >> michael jordan becomes the model every other athlete wants to shoot for. they want to be a brand. and that's what television does for these athletes. turns them into worldwide iconic brands. >> the inbounds pass comes in to jordan. here's michael at the foul line. a shot. good!
the bulls win. >> athletes in the '80s became part of an ongoing group of people we cared about. we had an enormous pent-up demand for sports and the '80s began to provide. thank goodness. >> cable television is continuing to grow. it's estimated that it will go into 1 million more u.s. households this year. >> with cable television offering an array of different channel choices, the audience bifurcated. that's an earthquake. >> i want my mtv! >> i want my mtv! >> i want my mtv! ♪ >> a new concept is born. the best of tv combined with the best of radio. this is it. welcome to mtv music television. the world's first 24-hour stereo video music channel. >> music television, what a concept. mtv was, pow, in your face. you were not going to turn us off. >> mtv did nothing but play current music videos all day
long. so let me get this straight. you turn on the tv, and it's like the radio? >> i'm martha quin. the music will continue nonstop on mtv music television's newest component of your stereo system. >> when mtv launched a generation was launched. 18 to 24-year-olds were saying, i want my mtv. i want my mtv videos. i want my mtv fashion. >> yo. >> mtv was the first network really focused on the youth market. and becomes hugely influential because they understand each other. the audience and the network. >> mtv had a giant impact. visually and musically on every part of the tv culture that came next. >> freeze, miami vice. ♪ >> friday nights on nbc are different this season thanks to "miami vice." it's a show with an old theme but a lot of new twists. described by one critic as containing flashes of brilliance, shot entirely on location in south miami, the
story centers around two undercover vice cops. >> i don't know how this is going to work, tubbs. i mean, not exactly up my alley style and persona-wise. heaven knows i'm no box of candy. >> television very much was the small screen. it was interesting about tony's pilot screen play for "miami vice." it was not that. very much the approach was, okay, they call this a television series. but we're going to make one-hour movies every single week. >> here we go. stand by. >> action. >> police. >> just describing the show as a new wave cop show. >> it's a cop show for the '80s. we use a lot of mtv images and rock music to help describe the mood and feeling of our show. >> in a lot of ways you don't get "miami vice" without mtv because in a lot of ways "miami vice" was a long video. the music was such a big part of that show. >> there was an allure to using great music that everybody was
listening to as opposed to the routine kind of tv scoring of that period. ♪ i can feeling it coming in the air ♪ >> it was only not afraid to let long scenes play out. it would drag -- a car going from point a to point b could be a four-minute phil collins song. and it was. ♪ oh, lord >> being able to take a television series like "miami vice" and let's rock 'n' roll with this until somebody says stop or are you guys crazy, you can't do that? and nobody ever did. >> freeze! police.
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energy economy has created more than half a million jobs. i'm tom steyer. just when we're making progress, the oil companies are trying to weaken our clean air laws. but we can stop them. send them a message. we're going to protect our kids - not their profits. ♪
♪ magnum? >> hammond? >> private investigator? >> oh, you are probably wondering about the goat. just let me drop off my friend, and then we'll talk. >> when we entered the '80s, a lot of one-hour dramas that were lighthearted like "magnum p.i." were very popular. after "m.a.s.h." went off the air, the next season there wasn't a single sitcom in the top ten.
first time that had ever happened in tv history. the prevailing feeling was that the sitcom w dead. >> brandon tartikoff, nbc programming chief, says reports of the sitcom's death were greatly exaggerated. >> time and time again, if you study television history, just when someone is counting a forum out, that's exactly the form of programming that's leads to the next big hit. ♪ >> 1984 "the cosby show" comes on. bill cosby is not new to tv but "the cosby show" is different. stands apart from everything else he's done. >> i wanted my scrambled. >> coming up. >> they talked about parenting. before that, the kid were cool and the parents were idiots. "cosby" says the parents are in charge and that was something new. >> instead of acting disappointed because i'm not
like you, maybe you can just accept who i am and love me anyway because i'm your son. >> that's the dumbest thing i've ever heard in my life! >> it helps the casting a lot in television. the kids were just great. >> if you were the last person on this earth, i still wouldn't tell you. >> you have to tell me what you did. just tell me what's they're going to do to you. >> unlike every other show on tv, it's showing an upper middle class black family. this wasn't "all in the family." they weren't tackling deep issues but that was okay. the mere fact they existed was a deep issue. >> the decade was waiting for something real. in other words, unless it's real, it doesn't seem like it moves anybody. if someone is feeling something, you get to the heart and the mind. if you can hit the hearts and minds, you've got yourself a hit. >> how was school? >> school? dear, i brought home two children that may or may not be ours.
>> "the cosby show" brought this tremendous audience to nbc. and that was a bridge to us. our ratings went way up. ♪ sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name ♪ >> even the theme song to "cheers" puts you in a good mood. >> hello, everybody. >> norm! >> what's shaking, norm? >> all four cheeks and a couple of chins, coach. >> by the end of the "cheers" pilot, not only did you know who everybody was, but you wanted to come back and see what was going to happen. it's like all you have to do is watch it once. you're going to love these people. these are universal characters, and the humor worked on so many levels. >> i was up until 2:00 in the morning finishing off kierkegaard. >> i hope he thanked you for it. >> you have to create a community that people are identifying with. and "cheers" gives you that
community. >> i've always wanted to skydive. i've just never had the guts. >> what's did it feel like? >> i imagine a lot like sex. >> i have to imagine what sex is like. but i have plenty of sex. and plenty of this, too. why don't you just get off my back, too. >> in the first episode, there was a rather passionate annoyance. something is going on here. a really intelligent woman would see your line of bs a mile away. >> i never met an intelligent woman that i would want to date. >> on behalf of the intelligent women around the world, may i just say, phew. >> you saw what ted and shelly had together. we said, oh, no. we've got to do this relationship. >> ted and i understood what they were writing right away. >> if you'll admit that you are carrying a little torch for me,
i'll admit that i'm carrying a little one for you. >> oh, i am carrying a little torch for you. >> well, i'm not carrying one for you. >> diane knew how to tease sam. sam knew how to tease diane, and i guess we know how to tease the audience. >> incredible chemistry between the two of them ignited the show. that's what's drove the show for the first five years. >> what's the matter? >> i'm devastated. i need something brutal to blast me into sweet oblivion. make it a mimosa. >> we had the luck to be able to rotate cast and every time we put somebody in, they were explosions. >> there was something very special about that setting, those characters that i never got tired of writing that show.
>> sophisticated surveys, telephonic samplings, test audiences. all of those help to separate winners from losers and make midcourse corrections. you can't cut all comedies from the same cookie cutters. all you can hope is every night turns out like thursday. >> yo, angela! >> next. >> how rude. >> quick, i'll give him that. >> all television and, oh, maybe sitcoms are alive again. and that's all that it took. it took one success. >> a few years from now, something new may tempt the people that pick what we see. it's save whatever gets hot for a season or two those who create good television comedy will be laughing all the way to the bank.
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this is my last broadcast as the anchorman of the "cbs evening news." for me it's a moment for which i long have planned but which nevertheless comes with some sadness. for almost two decades, after all, we've been meeting like this in the evenings, and i'll miss that. and that's the way it is, friday, march 6th, 1981. i'll be away on assignment and dan rather will be sitting in here for the next few years. good night. >> uncle walter had dominated, certainly cbs, but in a way, the country.
people used to say he was the most trusted man in the country. >> once walter cronkite retires, all three network news anchors within a period of a couple of years switch over to a new generation. the '80s may have been the last gasp where people liked and trusted the media. >> nuclear arms and how to prevent global destruction expected to be the major topic of president reagan's news conference tonight. that conference will be nationally televised within the hour. leslie stahl is at the white house. >> the white house is hoping -- >> in the '80s, women came into the newsroom. when i first joined, it was '72. there are very few. by the '80s, there were more and more. the decade of the '80s was still sink or swim. you had to be resilient in your own way to survive in a period when you were going up against a lot of people who still didn't think women had what it took. >> these are some of the most famous faces in broadcasting. all of them happen to be women. >> the best producers, i'm going to get fired -- the best
producers at cbs news are women. and they're at the level of taking hold and making decisions about individual pieces. they are not yet executive producers of all the news shows. but they will be. >> the past 24 hours, christine craft has taken her cause to many of the nation's news and talk programs. >> i didn't set out to be joan of ark, but i think what happened to me deserves some attention. >> reporter: christine craft had a very successful career but there she was in her late 30s and the tv station said to her, we're taking you off the air because you've gotten older and you aren't as attractive as you once were, which was outrageous. she decides to make an issue of it. she filed a lawsuit and it became a huge national topic of discussion. >> a jury said she got a raw deal because she is a woman. >> women in television news everywhere were asked, what do you think about christine craft. >> unfortunately in recent years the emphasis has been on physical appearance and to the extent this decision helped
swing the emphasis back to substance and to good journalism, i think we've got something to be happy about. >> it was important to make the point that what mattered was, what's kind of reporter are you? it took the christine craft incident, i think, to bring that conversation out into the open. >> this coming sunday, a new television network opens for business. cnn. cable news network. you are throwing all the dice on this one. >> why not? nothing ventured, nothing gained. >> well, on that original point, mr. turner, thank you very much, indeed. >> i wanted to see what was going on in the world. and it was no way that you could do it watching regular television stations. news only comes on at 6:00 and 10:00. but if there was news on 24 hours, people could watch it any time. >> we decided on june 1 and barring satellite problems in the future, we won't be signing off until the world ends. >> it was widely believed it was
a fool's errand. how could this possibly find an audience? >> well, he did. >> camera three. >> good evening. i'm david walker. >> i'm lois harp. >> television news before this was stuff that had already happened. for the first time, cnn brought the world to people in realtime. >> cnn, the world's most important network. >> i didn't do cable news network because somebody told me it couldn't be done. i figured it was a very viable concept, and i went ahead and did it. it was after we announced we were going to do it that the detractors showed up. >> is cable news network just going to be a new means of delivering the same kind of fare? >> no. it already does provide different fare. cable news network is a perfect and maybe the best example of that. >> people love news.
and we had lots of it. and the other guys had not very much. so choice and quantity won out. >> new york city, hello. >> the major catastrophe in america's space program. >> i am lou dobbs along with myron kandel. >> jessica mcclure trapped for almost three days in a try well. >> the iron curtain between east germany and west berlin has come tumbling down. >> i'm pat buchanan, the conservative on "crossfire." >> the american people appreciated the new television. they certainly came to cnn in droves. >> mr. gorbachev and i both agree on the desirability of freer and more extensive personal contact between the peoples of the soviet union and the united states. >> we began to realize that the best way to get a message to a foreign leader was to have the president go in the rose garden and make a statement. because everybody was watching cnn. >> cnn was a breakthrough. it changed the whole world. >> it changed quickly. the network news business.
that business that we weren't the only ones. and it was hard. it's hard to be on the top little perch and have to come down off it. >> a special segment tonight, the network news. the first in a two-part series on the profound changes taking place in television news. changes being brought about by business, competition and technology. >> there were a variety of reasons why people who worked at the broadcast networks were freaked out in 1980s. one of them was cnn. and the rise of cable. another was being taken over by foreign entities in corporate america. >> new owners spend billions buying the networks recently, and all of them want their money's worth. >> people began to find out that news could be a profit center. and that focused a lot of attention on us. a lot from people in wall street, for instance. >> if you think about the news divisions of cbs, nbc and abc, they were part of a really proud tradition. a journalistic tradition that
really matters. we serve the public. this is not about profit and loss. the people who worked at those news stations were very freaked out by what it meant they were now owned by these larger corporate entities. >> the television news isn't profitable at some point there won't be any more television news on the networks. >> i worry about people only worried about money and power getting a hold of television. it has higher purposes than that. >> we have seen the news, and it is us. ♪ great grains cereals are made fromreal fruit,clusters, wholesome nuts and crunchy flakes. good things come together to make one great thing. great grains. why be good when you can be great?
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♪ sometimes ambition in a woman is considered to be a dirty word unfortunately. >> i don't hear the female voices reverberating in the halls. >> i'm sure there aren't more shows about women. >> it seems to be an area almost impossible to break through. >> i think the '80s were the era when women were being looked at. with a little skepticism, but definitely with more acceptability. you could see the door opening. but it wasn't wide open. >> cagney and lacey was huge. that there would be two women and they had a serious job and they solved crimes and were out
on the streets and tough. that was emblematic or ot in front of what was happening in the country. >> so we're a terrific team. >> by that point, hundreds of buddy cop shows. these buddies were women. it had never been done before. >> i didn't go after this job because i couldn't find anything else. all right. i did not come here because i needed some kind of work to help pay the orthodontist. this means something to me. >> what the hell are we talking about here? >> we didn't even realize this was going to be such a big deal. and strangely, all these guys would say to us, well, yeah. i mean, it's a good script, but who is going to save them in the end? >> come on. we're getting out of here. >> you don't take one more step. >> sergeant nelson, you have until 8:00 tomorrow morning to
turn yourself in. if you don't, i will. >> it was the time where you really saw an emergence of women on television who were not necessarily just 20 and blond and had a small role. but women who had substantial roles. ♪ thank you for being a friend ♪ traveled down the road and back again ♪ >> it was unpredictable that an audience, a young audience, a not so young audience and lots in between, could relate to those older ladies. >> ma, you couldn't see, why didn't you call me to come get you. >> i tried to. every time i put in a dime and dialed, a condom popped out. i got five in my pocket. here, dorothy. a lifetime supply. >> she was recently named as one of television's most gifted
creative writers. when you look back at the past women's role models on tv, it's easy to see susan harris' impact. >> susan harris was the greatest writer of her generation at that time, singularly. so all credit to her for coming up with so many iterations of something so amazing. >> do you think there is a woman's voice as a writer? >> woman's voice? they speak higher, softer? >> i should know not to ask that of a writer. >> yes, of course, there's a woman's voice. women have a different perspective. women laugh at different things. so, yes, there very definitely is a woman's voice. >> oh, do you know how many problems we have solved over a cheesecake at this kitchen table? >> no, dorothy. exactly how many. >> 147, blanche. >> cut-throat primetime time this fall as some 23 new shows compete in one of the hottest ratings races in years.
here is one just about everybody predicts will be a big hit. designing women on cbs. >> suzanne, if sex were fast food, there would be an arch over your bed. they were a different group of women than you really saw on television. they were feisty, they were sexy. and linda's voice came through shining. >> a man can get away with anything. look at reagan's neck. it's sagged down to here. and everybody raves about how great he looks. can you imagine if nancy had that neck? they would be >> they had given me this 23 minutes to address whatever
topic i want. it's such a privilege. it's more than the president of the united states gets. and it's kind of thrilling to have that every week. i would be lying if i didn't say i put my opinions in the show. >> excuse me, but you lovely ladies look like you're in need of a little companionship here. >> trust me when i tell you have completely misassessed the situation at this table. >> moving on the scene b. >> i am a woman, and i am a writer. but i don't really enjoy being called a woman's writer. i think labels are harmful to us. >> with murphy brown, just about everything about that program felt new. the civil rights movement and the women's movement had just begun to sort of be reflected in the programming that you saw on television in the '80s. >> murphy, you know the club is for men only. >> and they have great dinners with great guests, and i don't get to go for one reason and one reason only, and it has to do with something you've got and i don't, a tiny, pathetic little y
chromosome. >> murphy brown was sea change because she was so popular and such a strong, independent, tough woman. >> no matter what you think of a guest or your views, you're obligated to ask the questions in a dignified manner. she was unprofessional, am i right? >> he thinks it's neat that his office chair swivels and he is calling me unprofessional.
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you are in a good mood tonight. and i tell you, we have put a great show together. it will be on a week from thursday. >> johnny carson in the '80s is making the transition from being the king of late night to being a national treasure. he was a throwback to that old show business stuff. >> i've been on with you for some time. >> it's been a long time. >> well, you've been busy with other things. >> the tide is starting to turn in terms of where late night television is going to go. but johnny is kind of holding out. he was not necessarily of his time in the '80s. but he did sustain a certain timelessness. he is the king. >> in your chair.
>> he's all right. he's just playing. >> playing! >> my next guest not only has a college degree, but he also has a high school degree. >> that's right. i do. >> as well. >> he has hosted the tonight show practically as often as johnny carson, and now he has his very o show, weekday mornings at 10:00 on nbc. >> what you're witnessing here is a good idea gone awry. yes, a fun-filled surprise turning into an incredible screw-up, right? >> david letterman originally had a one-hour daytime show. and nbc, after like 13 weeks decided to cancel it. >> today is our last show on the air. monday, las vegas -- [ booing ] >> have these people been frisked? >> it was a dismal failure in terms of the ratings, but not in terms of introducing us to letterman.
>> david, thank you for being with us tonight. >> thank you very much for having me. i appreciate it. >> in spite of all this nonsense that goes around in the background, stay with it. don't give up. and stay with us here in new york. >> thank you very much. >> dave is back in new york. you're going to host a late night television program that premiers monday night. what are critics likely to say tuesday morning? >> i don't much care because i found a way to deal with that. pills and whiskey. [ laughter ] >> you're on. >> oh, i'm on. >> come oranges proceed. >> i'm enjoying listening to you snort. >> they gave him the late night show after "the tonight show." and at the time, people thought who is going to watch television at 12:30 at night? who is up. i'll tell you who is up. young people, college people. >> is it going well? i know this is the first show. and i think this guy needs a little support. dave letterman. >> he was anti-establishment at his core. he was thumbing his nose to any
existing social structures. >> who are those women out there, by the way? >> neighbors. >> i'll get rid of them. hey, excuse me. keep it moving. come on. get up. >> he kind of spoofed the whole notion of talk shows. >> it's the late night guest cam. please say hello to tom hanks. here he is. >> no one can go on the david letterman show and try to steer it towards a point of view or push something in particular. it just wouldn't stand for it. you're on for one thing and one thing only. be as funny as the rest of the show. >> you know, we can get in a two-shot here today. we can actually send the crew home, couldn't we. >> as a comedian, you want the biggest audience that you can get. for dave, he knew a lot of things he were going to do would alienate people. he didn't care. he wanted his thumbprint out there. and that's the most important thing. >> it's time for small-town news.
excuse me, paul, paul, you have any accompanying music here for smalltown news? paul shafer. >> ladies and gentlemen. >> the show making fun of itself and turning itself inside out that way was something kind of new. >> don't we look like guys that you would see hanging around together? >> absolutely. >> would you like to hang around with me? >> nope. >> how are you doing? >> and i'll say it again, this is the stupidest show. >> i thought that i would never want to do this show with you. >> now why? >> because you thought i was a [ bleep ]? >> there is one rule i keep trying to abide by. and unfortunately, i only get to it about 12% of the time. and that is it's only television. we're not doing cancer research. if the 40-odd year history of commercial broadcasting has taught us one thing, there is nothing sacred about television. >> steven is upstairs. >> hey, dave, i was just curious. is there any way i can get mtv on this? >> actually, steve, that's just
a monitor. and all you can get on that is our show. >> oh. that's okay. >> there was a degree of cynicism that was needed in the art form at that time. and it's a cynicism that just became common sense after a while. because it never got old. >> i've watched johnny carson. and you are no johnny carson. >> welcome to the great white north corner. today we've got a real big show -- >> there was a second city chicago company there was a second city toronto company. the toronto one is the one that fueled the se tv series which originally was syndicated and got to the states that way. >> hey! >> hail, hail, thank you very much for that marvelous reception. i particularly want to thank my supporters over there in the cesarean section. >> it's healthy to be an outsider. you know, as a comedian and
canadians are always outsiders. but they're looking at the other culture which is right next door to them. >> i love you. i want to bear your children! >> it was the type of comedy that had only been accessible if you could have gotten into the improv clubs in chicago or toronto. i had never seen anything like second city tv. >> james bridgeman, parkdale. >> i'm sorry. no, never mind. i'm sorry. >> it was far more conceptual in its humor, because it didn't have to be performed in front of an audience. there is also just the idea that there is this sort of low rent thing. it was sort of by the seat of their pants kind of operation that gave it an authenticity. >> now that our programing day has been extended, i'm going to be -- >> to put the kielbasa. >> put it in the fridge. >> you were rooting for the show and the characters they created. there was just something you got behind.
whereas, "snl" right from the gate and through the '80s was this big enterprise. >> after five golden years, lauren decided to leave. and so did those close to him, including me, al franken. so nbc had to pick a new producer. now most knowledgeable people, as you might imagine, hoped it would be me, al franken. >> well, it was real question of whether "saturday night live" would continue at all or whether it would die. >> the press hasn't been overly kind. >> yeah, i read that stuff. >> "saturday night live" is "saturday night dead"? >> come on. >> from yucks to yak. >> my favorite is vile from new york. >> it's funny, it's funny. >> they were having a hard time. and then came the man that saved the show, eddie murphy. ♪ there was a buzz about him. so you tuned.
in and there was this kind of explosion of talent in front of your eyes. >> hey! >> it really kind of rejuvenated the show. >> i am gumby, damn it. you don't talk to me that way. >> after a while, the show regained its status and its clout and became even more of an institution than it had been. >> hey, bob. >> hey, looks great today. >> if you're unhappy with my work, tell me now. >> you hear me? you'll never work in this town again. >> don't leave me hanging by a thread. tell me where we stand. >> we were a little worried at first because we had a new cast. but everyone loves us. >> you guys have been so nice to us during our stay. isn't that special? >> i am hans. >> and i am franz. >> and we want to pump you up! >> a lot of things that they could do on "saturday night live" they couldn't do on a sitcom. the humor was more daring and more satirical. and it was political.
>> you still have 50 seconds left, mr. vice president. >> let me just sum up on track, stay the course, a thousand points of light. >> governor dukakis' rebuttal? >> i can't believe i'm losing to this guy. >> i'll get it. >> it's garry shandling show. >> people were taking all the old principles of comedy and trying to turn them into something new. we spent years and years watching sitcoms and dramas and talk shows. by then we knew them by heart, that if somebody played on them and parodied, that we got it about instantly. >> i appreciate you coming in under these conditions, lewis. i really. do you want to hold the credits? okay. we were going to show the credits and you screwed that up because you're late. >> the garry shandling show was aware of the fact that it was a situation comedy. it highlighted the cliches in funny ways. >> are you look booing the camera? >> no.
>> no. >> don't look into the camera. >> i didn't. >> don't. you don't come in here and look in the cam race, i didn't! >> i'll bop you. i will. if i see a tape of this show. are you looking into the -- >> well, it's about that time. >> "peewee's play house" on cbs, a so-called saturday morning kid's show that adults could watch and wink at each other as they were watching. it was very clever. >> today's secret word is good! >> it was a show certainly for kids. and it was for stoned baby boomers who were totally wasted on saturday morning and watched peewee's play house and saw god. >> i sure had a lot of fun. see you all real soon. until then, everybody be good.
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show. and a great performance by that entire young cast. >> hey, steve! it looks like my baby brother and his girlfriend have found each other. >> she is not my girlfriend. >> kevin arnold has to cope with all the timeless problems of growing up during one of the most turbulent times we have known. >> kevin arnold is like a regular kid, except in the 1960s. and he is not really aware of many of the events, like in one of the episodes the whole family is watching the apollo 8 take off. but i'm just sitting there trying to call a girl. >> the first episode of "the wonder years," anybody who saw it remembers the ending where, you know, the first kiss with winnie and kevin arnold. the song that they play is "when a man loves a woman." that moment seemed so pure and so real. ♪ when a man loves a woman. can't keep his mind on nothing
else ♪ >> the tone of the baby boomers of the 1960s is about rebellion, about being students. by the 1980s, it's time to grow up. so they shave their beards, give up their dashikis, and put on power suits. >> ah, the yuppies. last year the politicians were talking about winning their votes. now the young urban professionals and the rest of their baby boom generation are being wooed by advertisers and their agencies. >> by the '80s, it was pretty clear that the generation after the generation of the '60s may be embodied by alex keaton on "family ties" seemed to be a lot more interested in the corner office than the new jerusalem. >> you're a young man. you shouldn't be worried about success. you should be thinking about hopping on a tramp steamer and going around the world. >> the '60s are over, dad. >> thanks pour the tip. >> you weren't laughing at michael j. fox's character for being too conservative. you were actually laughing at
the parents for being too hopelessly liberal. >> what is this? i found it in the shower. >> that's generic brand shampoo. >> agh! >> this is him. this is a guy i have been telling you about. and this everything is you want in a president. >> the genius of family ties, it allows a kind of youthful reaganite to emerge that is focused more on the future, that is focused more on a critique of the '60s. >> michael j. fox as alex keaton really became the center of the show. and writers were smart enough to see that they had something special. and they wrote to that. >> it's not fair, alex. >> yeah. there is nothing you can do about it. my advice to you is that you just enjoy being a child for as long as you can. i know i did. it was the best two weeks of my life. >> aleksa little bill buckley. he -- "the wall street journal" is his bible.
he has a tie that goes with his pajamas. very conservative and very intense 17-year-old. >> the first thing your teacher is going to ask is what you did over the summer. now a lot of kids are going to say i went to the zoo or i went to the beach or i went to a baseball game. what are you going to say? >> i watched the iran/contra hearings. >> if mom and dad thought this generation was going to the dogs, think again. this is the generation that discovered hard work and success. >> american culture is changing in the '80s. and in terms of television, there is a whole notion of demographic segmentation. >> networks were beginning to not be afraid to appeal to a very specific demographic. >> hey, handsome. look at that shirt. that a power shirt or what? >> nice suit. good shoulder pads. you looking to get drafted by the eagles? >> "30-something" said we're not going to have cops, lawyers or doctors. we're just going have people. >> what are we doing here? why did we start this business? >> to do our thing. >> but right now we've got two
wives three, kids, four car two, mortgages, a payroll. and that's life, pal. you be the breadwinner now. >> is that what i am? >> "30 something" is a very important show as you're going into this era of television being more introspective and more emotional. some people weren't buying it. but for other people they were talking things like having kids and who was going to go back to work and some of these issues that hadn't been talked about a whole lot, it was important to people. >> i was so looking forward. i was so looking forward to doing this. being grownup for just an hour. >> in the beginning, there was talk of this being the yuppie show. you mentioned it tonight. you said if there was a category for the most annoying show, this might win as well. >> what some people perceived as annoying has nothing to do with yuppie. i think yuppie is a word made up by demographers. it has nothing to do what the show is. >> "30 something" was not a
giant hit, but it was niche hit. it attracted an enormously upscale group of advertisers. >> the network cared who was watching, not how many were watching. and that was more and more catching on in the '80s. >> the prosecution will ask you that you look to the law, and this you must do. but i ask of you that you look to your hearts as well. thank you. "l.a. law" was partly a classic lawyer show. but it was intertwined with their personal lives and different lawyers who were sleeping together and trying to get ahead. >> the reality level on that show was like a foot or two off the ground. and you're willing to go with that because there was a whole new spin on a law show. >> huh-uh. tell the truth. if you had to do it all over again and she walked into your office and she said take my case, would you? of course you would, because it is juicy, newsy, exciting stuff. >> it was really fun to take the
hill street blues format and use it to frame an entirely different social and cultural strata with vastly different results. >> i wonder if i might engage with my client privately. >> certainly. >> what are you doing for dinner tonight? >> i was planning on having you. >> in that case, skip lunch. >> the formula had gotten established of how you can do a dramatic show and yet still have an awful lot of fun. we didn't used to be able to accept that very easily in a tv hour, and even before the '80s are out, it's like okay, i get it. so it's all right, what are the rules now? >> what are you doing? >> i'm doing what i should have done all along. what i wanted to do originally. what i should have done last night. stop that, david! i'm calling the police, david. hello, police? >> the networks realized there was an audience looking for
something less predictable than prime time fair. >> "moonlighting" was another of the shows that said okay, i've seen the formulas we've had up to here. let's do different things. >> hello. >> hello. >> we're looking a little pale today, aren't we? who have we here? >> i don't know. >> moonlighting was a really experimental show. they had a shakespeare episode. they had a black and white episode. they did a musical episode. they tried a lot of different stuff. >> i don't give a flying fig about the lines in my face, the crows feet by my eyes, or the altitude of my caboose. >> well, i'm at a loss. i don't know what a flying fig. >> that's okay. they do. >> there is no trouble on the set there is no trouble on the set. >> well, we have a very volatile relationship. there is a hate-0 element to it the flirtations were great.
and bruce and cybill were great. glen karen kept them apart for a long time. and bravo to him. >> what they did is they took the sam and diane dynamic from "cheers" and escalated it. "cheers" was will they or won't they. "moonlighting" was do they even want to. >> stay away from me. >> here i come. >> but i don't want you. i never wanted you. >> yeah, right. >> does entertaining mean at some point stopping the tease of dave and matty? do they get together? >> that's going to be resolved this year. we like the think of it as two and a half years of foreplay. >> people who have been watching for two and a half years are waiting for the moment. your emotions are already there, built on to the emotions you're seeing on the screen. so when "be my baby" by the ronettes start playing, it's like a perfect storm of romance. ♪ the night we met i knew i needed you so ♪
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phil donahue. and that sort of a maturation of women's issues, and he seemed to talk to them in the audience. he seemed to talk to them through the tv screen. >> i'm glad you called. kiss the kids. we'll be back in just a moment. >> if you look at the body of work we've had, you know, you're going the see the '80s there. >> i'm not here to say you're wrong. but let's understand this. when you bring a moral judgment without knowing them against them for the way that they look, they feel that confirms the reason for their rebellion, if that's what you want to call it. >> he really believed that daytime television needed to talk about the ideas we were thinking about, the issues we were concerned about. >> i don't want to characterize his question, but why don't you get this fixed instead of doing this screwy stuff? >> there is not a single recorded case in history of any transsexual that ever through psychological treatment changed. it has never happened yet.
>> and we were putting very important people on the program. all kinds of people. gay people, people going to jail, people running for office. sometimes the same people. it was a magic carpet ride. >> you really do paint a very, very grim picture of the sitting president of the united states. >> let me just say this. i think he is probably the laziest president i've ever seen. >> the audience for phil donahue built and built and built and built, and led the way to oprah. >> hello, everybody. >> oprah has a particularly magical combination of her own background, her own experience, her own incisive mind, and empathetic spirit. >> thank you.
i'm oprah winfrey and welcome to the very first national oprah winfrey show! >> i was surprised at the rocket pace that oprah took off. because it took us a lot longer. the donahue show rearranged the furniture, but oprah remodelled the whole house. >> there are a lot of people out there watching who really don't understand what you mean when you say we're in love. i was questioning my gay friends. you mean you feel about him the way i feel about -- it's kind of a strange concept future a lot of people to accept. >> oprah was connecting with people in a way that no one had on tv before. and it was really special to see. >> well, did you know that for the longest time i wanted to be a fourth grade teacher because of you. >> i was not aware of inspiring anyone. >> i think you did exactly what teachers are supposed to do. they create a spark for learning. that's the reason i have a talk show today. >> oprah winfrey now dominates the talk show circuit both in the ratings and popularity.
>> i want to use my life as a source of lift people up. that's what i want to do. that's what i do every day on my show. you know, we get accused of being tabloid television and sensational and so forth. but what i really think we do more than anything else, we serve as a voice to a lot of people who felt up until perhaps my show or some of the others that they were alone. >> this is what 67 pounds of fat looks like. i can't -- i can't lift it. it is amazing to me that i can't lift it, but i used to carry it around every day. >> there is nothing more endearing to an audience than to have that kind of honesty and humility and courage on the part of a host. and that i think has a lot to do with her power. >> it feels like i can do some good here. and i really do think that the show does a lot of good. >> american television is drowning in talk shows. but it's never seen anything like morton downey jr.
>> sit down and shut up! >> other competitors come and take the television talk show into two different directions. so you start seeing the phenomenon of daytime television shows becoming less tame and more wild. >> the '80s brought a lot of belligerence to television. whether it was morton downey jr. being the offensive caricaturish person that he was or geraldo. he did his own outlandish things. >> stay with us, ladies and gentlemen. we're going to get into the mind of another all american boy who came under the influence of satanism and took part in a crime without passion or motive. >> geraldo rivera takes the power of the talk show who a whole another level trying to put people on stage who hate each other, who are going to fight. >> in the case of the temple of set and the church of satan, we have not had any problems with criminal behavior. >> yet when you hear story after story after story of people committing these wretched crimes, these violent crimes in
the devil's name. >> the more tension there is, the more conflict there, the more violence there, the ratings go up. the american people love to complain about it, but they also love to watch. >> geraldo rivera is back in a controversy tonight. rivera drew sharp criticism with his recent television special on devil worship. but today he found himself in a real free-for-all. >> i get sick and tired of seeing an uncle tom here try took white boy. >> go ahead, troy, go ahead. >> hey, hold it. hold it. >> rivera suffered a broken nose, but he said the show will be broadcast later this month in its entirety. >> well, that's not something i would have done. but there was a lot of hypocrisy. and one of the major magazines put the picture of geraldo getting hit with a chair on the cover. and the article said isn't this
awful? look what's happened to television. yet they couldn't wait to use it to sell their own magazine. >> let's go to the audience, right? i want to stick to you guys. >> over the years, broadcasting has deteriorated. and now this era of deregulation, it's deteriorating further. >> give people light, and they will find their own way. relax. america will survive the talk shows.
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♪ >> the big thing that changes in the '80s is the number of hours spent watching television goes up. the number of hours spent talking about television goes up. one of the simplest phenomenons is "entertainment tonight." >> hi, i'm tom halleck, and welcome to our opening night, the premier edition of "entertainment tonight." >> all of the critics were kind of unanimous in that they said it will never last because there simply isn't enough entertainment news to fill a half hour every night. >> "entertainment tonight" has surveyed critics in the united states and canada to find out which television shows have the most impact on viewers over the years. >> now, up until this time, nobody had done television like this. nobody. >> burt reynolds, the hottest actor in hollywood. >> i'm surprised to see you here. >> well, i'm glad to see you.
>> well, thank you. >> we can meet every night. >> a lot of what makes successful television programing is being in the right place at the right time. it was the right time. >> entertainment journalism evolved as the audience got more curious and had more access. until that point, the entertainment business had been something we didn't know all that much about. >> we could go behind the scenes in our effort to really give an insiders look. >> the crafty old j.r. of "dallas" fame was with actress mary martin as he was presented a star on the walk of dpaim fame. >> they would do serious coverage of it. it wasn't salacious. and you would see actors speaking as actors instead of on a john my carson show. >> what are you like off camera? >> i'm look this. oh, this is on camera. >> it was the beginning of a lot of money being made talking about entertainment and celebrities. >> robert redford plays the good
guy in the movies. but don't tell that to his neighbors in utah. they're still bitter, and redford is the target of their ire. >> the audience grew and grew. and that was showing us that the appetite for celebrity news was big. it was big. >> get ready for lifestyles of the rich and famous, television's most dazzling hour of excitement. >> hi, i'm robin leach in monaco, the glittering gem of the riviera. >> and you have a private ticket to prince ranier's private party. >> your sunday newspaper is still delivered with the comics around the news. and that was what i always thought lifestyles was. we were the comic around the news, except we did it as seriously as they did news. >> finally, there the driving seat of his own career, he burned rubber in a new direction. david hasselhoff, rock idol. >> it was a time where pushing the limits with wealth and ostentatiousness in a lot of
cases was very comfortable. >> one of the earliest stories that we presented to you on lifestyles was about the amazing real estate wizard donald trump. if he didn't surprise you back then, he has had plenty of time since. >> >> with all of this costing billions, not millions, do the answers every frighten you? >> no. it's my lifestyle. i love it, the good, the bad. >> does this bring with it political aspirations? >> no political aspiration. >> your show has gotten a lot of ridicule. there are people who say it's nothing more than trash. >> that doesn't upset me, because i think it's the best trash there is on television. i am not in the business of brain surgery. i am in the business of fluff. >> it's the fantasy element at a time when the access is possible. it's escapism. and it's aspirational. you want to stand in a hot tub with a glass of champagne? rock on! >> we'd never seen that kind of wealth ever before. we didn't mock it.
we didn't say it was right and we didn't say it was wrong. we were just through the keyhole. >> sometimes, you know, it absolutely amazes me. i walk away from shoot and i think, well, we did it again. >> there is more of everything in tv by the '80s. >> your opportunities for watching stuff is increasingly vast. >> nbc presents "real people". >> my name is michael wilson. it dawned on me a motorcycle on real estate might be a great thing. >> somebody will be a star for 15 minutes. i think that's probably going to happen. >> american culture used to be a chult their that celebrated privacy. in the 1980s as we were watching celebrities play out on stage, hey, i want to join too. all the world becomes a stage. and you start seeing shows like real people or the people's court. >> the people's court, where reality television is taken one step further. >> to see more tv, producers had to come up with new and
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with this ring -- >> with this ring. >> i thee wed. >> i thee wed. >> with my body. >> with my body, i thee honor. >> i thee honor. >> the biggest television event of the 1980s is the marriage of charles and diana. it's like the world stops when that happens. i mean, that was just massive. >> this was the final act of a spectacle that they may never again be seen in this century, if ever. >> the archbishop of canterbury called the wedding of charles and princess diana today the stuff of fairy tales. >> a lot of people in london tonight are still talking about the events of the day. >> when you have great moments like the royal wedding, they're a part of history. and it's done beautifully, and everybody has a chance to watch it all on television, everybody just wants to drink a toast to
chuck and di. >> a princess who must now be aware, as it was on this day, that every single move she makes in public will be recorded and observed. a very difficult life indeed. >> we'll be back in just a moment with some closing observations, and one final look at what has justifiably been called the wedding of the century. >> by the authority of the state of new york, i pronounce that they are husband and wife. you may kiss the bride. [ applause ] >> your wedding was seen by an astonishing number of people, 16 and 19 million viewers. how do you account for that kind of popularity? >> oh, i can't. i can't. the way it's grown is it's amazing to me. >> it did appear in the '80s that it was good time for daytime soap operas, especially for a show like "general hospital," which had that huge success with luke and laura's wedding. >> i remember when luke and laura got married. because it was nighttime
newsworthy. the open opera discovers the blockbuster mentality, the sweeps month mentality. what can we do to get even more people watching? you have a wedding. you have a kidnapping. you have an evil twin. and prime time stole from daytime. >> after "dallas" proved that ewing oil was better than real oil for cbs, the networks rushed to give the public more. >> the great prime time soap operas of the 1980s, "dallas," "dynasty," they're all about excess. this is about being over the top, stabbing each other in the back, going for the gusto, and having fun. >> i know what's wrong with you. the empty armed madonna, mourning the baby that she couldn't have, and the baby that she almost got to adopt. that is it, isn't it? >> you miserable bitch! ♪ >> there was a bigness to the stories, and they could afford to do on a network if you're
doing one episode a week. you can't do that if you're doing five episode as week for a daytime show. so just the production value gave it that pizazz. >> if you can't have it, watch other people with it, or so say the three networks who are programing nearly 40% of their prime time fair with series about the very rich. and the public is devouring it at such a rate that make-believe money has become ratings gold. >> the characters were larger than life. they were more evil. >> and more cunning and manipulative. and more gorgeous. i mean, really. look at the way they were dressed. look at the way they lived. everything, it was fascinating. >> alexis? >> yes. >> i didn't thank you for your present. >> it's he you should slap, dear, not i. >> we all wanted to live like we were on "dynasty" like the carringtons.
and it all just ended up being a wonderful picture of fun and debauchery. >> greed was encouraged in the '80s. there was a sense of conspicuous consumption as being okay. and those shows kind of exploited that. >> prime time families like the carringtons who live here in luxury on the "dynasty" soundstage are not the only rich folk on tv. in the last five years more than half of all new shows have featured the wealthy. ten years ago that figure was zero. >> it was an accident. your father is dead. >> "falcon crest" was a wine family there is lorenzo llamas, and ronald reagan's first wife, jane wyman is on that show. >> emma is pregnant. >> i know a doctor who can take care of it right away. >> that will never happen. >> all of those shows where oh my god, what's next? what is going to happen with that? he can't get away with that. you tune in, it was appointment television. >> what will become of the
missing twins on "knot's landing". >> they all had spinoffs. dallas had to spin off knot's landing. the colbys was a spin-off for dynasty. they had to see how much they could max this out because it was really successful. >> where is your son miles? isn't he going to be part of this venture, or is he just playing polo as usual? >> the colbys can always find room for another trophy. >> you had these people fighting over oil and mansions. it was fantasy. but in a -- in a kind of so over the top way that it was fun. >> there is nothing devious about using your femininity. >> these shows took themselves so unseriously that they were camp. but that was okay with the central audience that was loving them. it was entertainment. we weren't trying to do high drama. we were there to entertain. we were glossy. there is no getting around it. we knew what we were there for. and we did it as best we could. well she loves to say,
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extensive media empire in history. >> a huge development in television, rupert murdoch having disrupted the newspaper business in australia, the television business in britain, he says, i don't know why there should only be three broadcast networks. i'm going to make another one. this was a big bold bet. >> meantime, he is going to have to become an american citizen if he is to own tv stations here, something murdoch is saying he is willing to do. >> it will take 20 years to get your fox network. are you prepared to wait that long? >> sure. i certainly intend to live that long but i don't believe in the 0 years. >> the reaction to murdoch's idea for a fourth network was similar to the reaction of ted turner starting cnn. it's ridiculous. you know, what does he know about television? >> we don't think of ourselves as abc, cbs or nbc, we don't have to reach everyone. there's no question we have an inferior line-up of stations to our counterparts, we have to work harder to get our message across and get shows sampled. >> they had an idea that in
order to succeed, we have to differentiate ourselves in the networks. we have to do things they would not do. >> fox started throwing anything against the wall. not knowing what was going to go. first shows were things like "21 jump street." . >> what exactly are we looking for here? >> joan rivers in terms of late night. >> we have been banned in boston, which i think is wonderful. wxne, pick a finger. >> and the tracy ullman show. >> oh, please. >> it was a sketch show and they needed something to go between the sketches. again, they were looking for something different. >> i've got to have those candy bars. >> you better not be thinking of stealing those candy bars. >> that's it. >> the simpsons would never have come along had it not been for the tracy ullman show. >> ultimately, crime hurts the criminal. >> that's not true, mom. i got a free ride home, didn't i? >> bart. >> fox was thrilled that it was
different. they said, sure, be experimental, do whatever you want. we're just happy to have a show on the air. >> i'm home. >> married with children was their first big, big hit in that way that said, if all the rest of television is going this way, we're going that way. >> bud, kelly, you want to come down and help me in the kitchen? that should buy us about ten minutes. seven more than we'll need. >> the title of "married with children" on the script, not the koz booe show. how great. you have to love that. they were taking the piss out of american families, fun, great fun. >> never want to get married, got married, never wanted to have kids, i have two of them. >> the bundys were a purposeful reaction to the perfection of the huks tabls and you had this wonderful perfect black family
and these horrible miserable white people and each show works on its own terms. >> howdy, neighbor. >> yeah, yeah, i hate these people. >> why don't we sit down. >> there was a lot of fun to be had in al and peg bundy. >> after fox introduces married with children, it does very, very well, then back on abc, they come up with another major hit, rose ann. >> you think this is a magic kingdom where you just sit up here on nour throne pfr oh yeah? >> yeah. and you think everything gets done by some wonderful wizard. oaf, poof, the laundry's folded. >> you want me to fix dinner? i'll fix dinner. i'm fixing dinner. >> oh, but honey, you just fixed dinner three years ago. >> typical american families weren't on television for the longest time. the donna reed days, you know, the early days, father knows best, hardly anybody ever lived like that. that was the way advertisersmented you to live. >> i know what just might make
you feel better. >> me too but i bet it's a different list than you've got. >> the ideal situation is if you can subvert whatever common stuff is said about families and parenting. >> what's in this, lead? >> oh, i got you kids new leg irons. >> her loudness and her unfilteredness were key to why we liked her. she was saying stuff about working class people, about men and women. so, it was about marriage and about raising kids and about how hard it is. >> oh, great, i'm just going look like a freak. that's all. >> what else is new? >> shut up. >> sthis is why some animals ea their young. >> tv in the '80s was a big decade for the evolution of comedy, for the evolution of drama. it just pushed everything forward. >> do you think perhaps this generation are paying more attention to the dialogue, to the relationships that they see on television than in years previous? >> well, kreeclearly, the peopl that are watching our shows are, and 30 something and cheers and
st. elsewhere. these are shows that are smartly written. it's their words that define them, and i think that's what people like. >> what we're supposed to be here is the one thing people can trust. if you go out there like a bunch of night riders, what the hell are you but just another vicious street gang? >> that decade spawned an extraordinary number of shows that really carved out a unique niche for themselves. we began to turn television into an art form and for the first time, people were proud to say, i write for television. >> up until that point, television was second class. in the '80s, it was something else entirely, and it was new, and it was kind of interesting. >> it's like everyone in the '80s starts to want to tell their stories. that's what really changes things. >> the unexpected was more welcome in the '80s. predictability lost its cache. >> television has an impact on
every era, every decade. >> television still shapes the thinking of america like no other element in our country. sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. >> it gave rise to people pursuing artistic content in a way that i think has raised the bar in television production exponentially. >> i love you guys! >> there's a shift in the '80s from just wanting to placate the audience to wanting to please and challenge the audience. and that's the decade when it happened. >> well, we had one hell of a run didn't we, partner? >> we sure did, sonny. >> i'm going to miss you, man. >> i'm going to miss you too, sonny. >> give you a ride to the airport? >> why not.
tonight, television takes a look at itself. >> what's on the idiot box? it's only an idiot box if an idiot is watching it. >> i'll tell you about the golden age of television. this period in time will be looked upon as the platinum age. >> our obligation is to entertainment. if we've left something to think about, so much the better. >> television should not be just entertainment. >> charges were leveled at the commercial television networks. >> congress has no right to interfere in the media. >> excuse me! >> we have the responsibility to give the audience what it tuned in to see. ♪ ♪