tv The Eighties CNN September 18, 2021 6:00pm-8:00pm PDT
it's a time of enormous turmoil. >> the '60s are over dad. >> we intend to cover all the news all the time. we won't be signing off until the world ends. >> isn't that special? >> any tools of human expression can bring out both the best and worst of us and television has done that. >> people are no longer embarrassed to admit they watch television. >> we have seen the news and it is us.
what a decade it is coming up. happy new year. >> as you begin the '80s in the television world the landscape was in the evening 9 out of 10 people were watching only one of three networks. >> social critics are mystified by its success. what is it? it's television prime time potboiler, dallas. >> it'll 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 in oil. >> dallas literally captivated america for 13 years. >> dallas is a television show which in some ways is rooted in the 1970s and one of the crazy things that emerges is this character, jr ewing as a pop
fe phenomenon. >> he was 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? >> 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 cliff-hanger as you possibly could get. >> who did shoot j.r., we may never get the answer to that question. the people who produce that program are going to keep us in
suspense as long as they possibly can. >> we shot j.r. and broke for the summer and coincidently the actors went on strike, and 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. >> well, we know you don't die. you couldn't die. >> we don't know that. >> well, how could you die? you won't come back next season. >> i couldn't come back but the show would still go. >> but you wouldn't. what is that show without j.r.? >> last night some 82 million americans did and they watched the most touted dallas episode. it could become the most watched television show ever. >> who shot j.r. is a reflection of old-fashioned television. it's a moment that gathers everybody around the electronic fireplace which is now the television set. >> one special american television program a critic says
it trends in popularity every american statement about war. and something special happened today to mobile army surgical hospital 407. that will touch millions of americans. >> 20th century fox studios, the end of the korean war, the television version mash. >> it's been an honor and privilege to work with you, and 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 mash had its final episode, and we were all sad to see them go. >> i'll miss you a lot. >> the inally of mash was
unprecedented. 123 million people watched one television program at the same time. >> the size of the response and the emotional nature of the response we were getting was difficult for us to understand. >> who shot j.r. and the last episode of mash 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 this. all they see is a white face and all they -- >> 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." >> 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 order it themselves when they go to the restaurant. >> nice for you to join us. >> the success of "hill street blues" influenced everything that came after. and then "st. elsewhere." >> you know what people call this? 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 write the worst progress notes. you're pathetic. 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. >> bobby, 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 in 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. obile for business, unconventional thinking means we see things differently, so you can focus on what matters most. whether it's ensuring food arrives as fresh as when it departs. being first on the scene, when every second counts. or teaching biology without a lab. we are the leader in 5g. #1 in customer satisfaction. and a partner who includes 5g in every plan,
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my blood pressure is borderline. garlique healthy blood pressure formula helps maintain healthy blood pressure with a custom blend of ingredients. i'm taking charge, with garlique. a lot of people used to say, i was there. now people say they watch it on television. >> there's just 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, you know? 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? they're 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. borg 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 or chris evert and martina navratilova, that's what we want to tune in to over and 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 then 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 because every fight was like an ax murder. when he fought michael spinks, the electricity, you could just feel watching it on tv. >> he leads with the right hand. there he goes! >> 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. it turns them unit worldwide, iconic brands. >> the inbounds pass comes in to jordan. michael at the foul line. good! the bulls win it! >> athletes in the '80s became part of an ongoing group of people that 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 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 quinn. the music will continue nonstop on mtv music television, the 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 nonetheless, 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 you're 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! >> you were just describing the show as sort of a new wave cop show. >> yeah, 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 feel it coming in the air tonight ♪ >> not only was it 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, you know. and it was. ♪ >> being able to take a television series like "miami vice" and let's really rock and roll with this until somebody says, stop, are you guys crazy? you can't do that. and nobody ever did. >> freeze! police. get a month for $5.
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♪ >> thomas magnum? >> marian hammond? >> the private investigator? >> oh, you're 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 light-hearted like magnum p.i. were very popular. after "mash" 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 was 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 form out, that is exactly the form of programming that leads to the next big hit. ♪ >> 1984 "the cosby show" comes on. bill cosby is not new to tv. he's had other tv shows, but "the cosby show" is very different. it stands apart from everything else he's done. >> i wanted my scrambled. >> coming right up. >> they talked about parenting. previous to that, the kids 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! >> you know, it helps the casting of anything helps a lot >> 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 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, you know, 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's feeling something, you get to the heart. you get to the mind. and if you can hit the hearts and minds, you got yourself a hit. >> "the cosby show" brought this tremendous audience to nbc, and that was a bridge to us. i mean 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. >> evening, everybody. >> norm! >> norman. >> 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. >> last night 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 identify with. and "cheers" gives you that community.
>> i've always wanted to skydive. i've just never had the guts. what did it feel like? >> i imagine a lot like sex. not that i have to imagine what sex is like. i have plenty of sex and plenty of this too. why don't you just get off my back, okay? >> in the first episode, there was a rather passionate annoyance. i was saying, oh, something is going on here. a really intelligent woman would see your line of b.s. a mile away. >> i never met an intelligent woman that i'd want to date. >> on behalf of the intelligent women around the world, may i just say, phew. >> when we 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. >> this incredible chemistry between the two of them ignited the show. that's what drove the show for the first five years. >> what's the matter? >> i'm devastated. i need something expeditious and brutal to blast me into sweet oblivion. >> how about a boilermaker? >> make it a mimosa. >> we had the luck to be able to rotate cast, and every time we put somebody in, there 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 things help to separate winners from losers and make midcourse corrections. but 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. >> he's quick. i'll give him that. >> all of television said, oh, well, maybe the 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 who pick what we see. but it's a very safe guess that whatever gets hot for a season or two, the men and women who create good television comedy will be laughing all the way to the bank. for people who are a little intense about hydration. neutrogena® hydro boost lightweight. fragrance-free. 48 hour hydration. for that healthy skin glow. neutrogena®. for people with skin.
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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 years switch over to a new generation. the '80s may have been the last gasp where people watching the media liked and trusted the media. >> nuclear arms and how to prevent global destruction are 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 were very few. by the '80s, there were more and more. the decade of the '80s was still a time of 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 whom happen to be women. >> the best producers, i'm going to get fired -- the best producers at cbs news are women. and they are at the level of taking hold and making decisions
about individual pieces. they're 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. >> 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're not as attractive as you once were, which was outrageous. and she decided to make an issue of it. she filed a lawsuit, and it became a huge topic of national 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 increasingly on physical appearance.
and to the extent this decision helps swing the emphasis back to substance and good journalism, i think we've got something to be happy out. >> it was important to make the point that what mattered was, what 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 there was no way that you could do it watching the regular television stations. the news only comes on at 6:00 and 10:00. but if there was news on 24 hours, people could watch it anytime. >> we signed on on june 1, and barring satellite problems in the future, we won't be signing off until the world ends. >> there was a widespread belief
this was a fool's errand. how could this possibly find an audience? well, he did. >> ready, 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 that 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. >> a major catastrophe in america's space program. >> i am lou dobbs along with myron kandel. >> jessica mcclure trapped for almost three days in a dry artesian 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. you know, it's hard to be on the top little perch and have to come down off it. >> on "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 spent 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 divisions were totally freaked out by what it meant that they were now owned by these larger corporate entities. >> if the television news isn't profitable, at some point there won't be any more television news on the networks. >> i worry about people who are interested only in money and power getting a hold of television. it has higher purposes than that. >> we have seen the news, and it is us. denny's now has benny's. not just one, but many. it's the classic benedict plus two twist, so we really must insist that you try one, two or all three of our benny's. see you at denny's. you've been taking mental health meds, and your mind is finally in a better place. except now you have uncontrollable body movements called tardive dyskinesia td. and it can seem like that's all people see. ♪ some meds for mental health can cause abnormal dopamine signaling in the brain. while how it works is not fully understood, ingrezza is thought to reduce that signaling. ingrezza is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with td movements
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sometimes ambition in a woman is considered to be a dirty word unfortunately. >> i don't hear a lot of female voices reverberating in the halls of power in this business. >> i'm surprised there aren't more shows about women talking about who they are. >> directing seems to be an area that is 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 & lacey" was huge. that there would be two women and they had a serious job and they solved crimes and they were out on the streets, they were tough, that was emblematic or
maybe out in front a little of what was actually happening in the country. >> so we're a terrific team. >> this is true. >> there had been by that point hundreds of buddy cop shows. but 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 taking you out of here. come on. >> where are you taking my wife?
>> you don't take one more step. you understand me? sergeant nelson, you have until 8:00 tomorrow morning to turn yourself in to iad. 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 blonde and had a small role, but women who had substantial roles. ♪ thank you for being a friend ♪ ♪ travel 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, if you couldn't see, why didn't you call me to come get you? >> i tried to, but 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 along with norman lear and jim brooks 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? generally they speak higher, softer. >> i should have known 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. >> hi, brian. it's cutthroat prime-time time this fall as some 23 new shows compete in one of the hottest ratings races in years. here's one just about everybody predicts will be a big hit.
designing women on cbs. >> suzan if sex were food there'd by an art show over your bed. >> they created one of the funniest most unusual shows in design and women. 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. i mean look at reagan's neck. it sags down to here. everybody rags about how great he looks. can you imagine if nancy had that neck? they'd be putting her in a nursing home for turkey. >> they'd given me this 23 minutes to address whatever topic i want, and it's such a privilege, more than the president of the united states gets, and it's kind of thrilling to have that every week.
i'd be lying if i said i didn't put my opinions in the show. >> excuse me, but you little ladies look like you're in need of a little male companionship here. >> trust me when i tell you you have completely misassessed the situation at this table. >> i am a woman and a writer but i don't really enjoy being called a womans writer. i think labels are harmful to us. >> with mavy brown just about everything about that program felt new, the civil rights movement and the womens movement had just begun to sort of be reflected in the programming you saw on television in the '80s. >> you know the club is for men only. >> and they have great dinners and great guests and i don't get to go for one reason and one reason only, and it has something to do with something you don't, a tiny, pathetic little "y" chromosome. >> murphy brown was a seat
change because she was so popular and such a strong, independent, tough woman. >> no matter what you think of a guest or their views you're obligated to ask the questions in a dignified manner. jim, she was unprofessional, when i right? >> he thinks it's neat his office chair swivels and he's 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. [ laughter ] >> 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 biz stuff. >> i've been on with you for some time. >> it's been a long time. >> yeah, 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's the king. [ laughter ] >> he's all right, he's just playing. >> playing? [ bleep ].
>> 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's hosted "the tonight show" practically as often as johnny carson and now he has his very own show, weekday mornings at 10:00 on nbc. >> what you're witnessing here is a good idea gone awry. a fun-filled surprise turning into an incredible screw-up. >> 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.
stay with us here in new york. >> dave is back in new york. you're going to host a late-night television program that premieres 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. >> david, you're on. >> oh, i'm on? i'm sorry. >> 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's going to watch television at 12:30 at night? who's up? i'll tell you who's 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 out. >> he kind of spoofed the whole notion of talk shows. >> it's the late-night guest cam. please say hello to tom hanks. there he is. >> no one could go on "the david letterman show" and try to steer it towards a point of view or push something in particular. he just wouldn't stand for it. you're on to do one thing and one thing only, be as funny as the rest of the show. >> you know, we could get in a two-shot here, dave. >> we could actually send the crew home, couldn't we? >> you know, as a comedian, you want the biggest audience that you could get. for dave, he knew a lot of things that he would do were going to alienate people, and he didn't care. he wanted his thumbprint out there, and that's the most important thing. >> it's time for small-town news. paul -- excuse me, paul? do you have any accompanying music here for small-town news? paul shaffer, ladies and gentlemen. >> the show making fun of itself and turning itself inside-out
that way was something kind of new. >> i mean, don't we look like guys you'd see hanging around together? >> absolutely. >> would you like to hang around with me? >> nope. >> 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-year-odd history of commercial broadcasting has taught us one thing, there's nothing sacred about television. >> all right, steven is upstairs. >> hey, dave, i was just curious. is there any way i get mtv on this? >> actually, steve, that's a -- 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. ♪ goo goo goo goo goo goo goo goo ♪ >> welcome the great white north. i'm bob mckenzie, this is my brother doug. today we 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 sctv series which originally was syndicated and got to the states that way. >> hail, hail! >> 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! ha ha ha! >> it was the type of comedy that had only been accessible if you could have gotten into the improv clubs in chicago and toronto. i had never seen anything like second city tv. >> james bridgeman, parkdale. >> 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. and there was also just the idea that it was this sort of low-rent thing. it was this sort of by the seat of their pants kind of operation that gave it an authenticity. >> now that our programming day has been extended i'm going to be spending -- >> where do you want me to put the kielbasa, mrs. brickley? >> put it in the fridge, butch. >> you were rooting for the show and the characters they created. there was something you got behind. whereas “snl” right from the gate and through the '80s was
this big enterprise. >> after five golden years, lorne 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, there was a real question of whether "saturday night live" would continue at all, whether it would just die. >> the press hasn't been very overly kind. >> yeah, i read that stuff. is "saturday night live" "saturday night dead"? >> oh, man, come on. >> my favorite is "vile from new york." >> please, come on. >> that's funny, that's funny. >> they were having a hard time. and then came the man that saved the show, eddie murphy. there was buzz about him, so you tuned in. and there was this kind of explosion of talent in front of your eyes. ♪
>> it really kind of rejuvenated the show. >> i am gumby, dammit! you don't talk to me that way! >> after awhile, the show regained its status and its clout and became even more of an institution than it had been. >> hey, bob. >> hey, peters. looks great today. >> listen, if you're unhappy with my work, tell me now! >> you're through, you hear me, through! you'll never work in this town again! >> don't leave me hanging by a thread. let me know where i 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 just want to pump you up. >> a lot of things 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. president. >> let me just sum up.
on track, stay the course, a thousand points of light, stay the course. >> governor dukakis, rebuttal? >> i can't believe i'm losing to this guy. [ phone rings ] >> i'll get it. >> it's the garry shandling show. >> people were taking 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 that and parodied it, we got it instantly. >> i appreciate you coming in under these conditions, lewis, i really do. you want to hold the credits? okay. now see, we were going to show the credits and you screwed that up, okay, 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 looking into the camera? >> yeah. no, i didn't -- >> don't look into the camera. >> i didn't. >> don't. you don't come in here and look
into the camera. >> i didn't. >> i'll bop you. i will. if i see a tape of this show and you're looking into the camera -- >> well, it's about that time. >> “pee-wee's playhouse” on cbs, a so-called saturday morning kids' show that adults could watch and wink at each other as they were watching it, is very clever. >> good morning. >> what's today's secret word? >> the 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 "pee-wee's playhouse" and saw god. >> i sure had a lot of fun. see you all real soon. until then, everybody be good.
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my blood pressure is borderline. garlique healthy blood pressure formula helps maintain healthy blood pressure with a custom blend of ingredients. i'm taking charge, with garlique. 1968, the summer before junior high school, and i don't mind saying i was a pretty fair little athlete. >> "the wonder years" was a guy in modern times looking back on his childhood. that in itself is not new, but "the wonder years" did it with a wit and with the music. it was a brilliantly written 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's not my girlfriend. >> kevin arnold has to cope with all the timeless problems of growing up during one of the most turbulent times that we have known. >> kevin arnold is just like a regular kid except in the 1960s, and he's 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 the first kiss with winnie and kevin arnold. the song 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 in the 1960s is about rebellion, about being students. by the 1980s, it's time to grow up. and so they shave their beards, give up their dashikis, and put
on power suits, a whole new notion. >> oh, the yuppies. last year the politicians were all 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," seeming 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 for 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. >> no! >> this is him. this is the guy i've been telling you about. this is everything you want in a president. >> the genius of "family ties," it allows a kind of youthful reaganite to emerge that's focused on the future, that's focused more on a critique of the '60s. >> michael j. fox as alex keaton really became the center of the show. and the writers were smart enough to see that they had something special, and they wrote to that. >> it's not fair, alex. >> yeah. there's nothing you can do about it, jen. 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. >> alex is a little bill buckley. the "wall street journal" is his bible. he has a tie to go with his pajamas. he's a very conservative and very intense 17-year-old. >> the first thing your teacher is going to ask is what did you do over the summer? a lot of kids will 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 has discovered hard work and success. >> american culture is changing in the '80s. and in terms of television, there's 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. is that a power shirt or what? >> nice suit, alan. good shoulder pads. you looking to get drafted by the eagles? >> 30-somethings said we're not going to have cops, lawyers or doctors. we're just going to be about people. >> what are we doing here, why did we start this business? >> to do our thing. but right now we got two wives, three kids, four cars, 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 are going into this era of television being more introspective and more emotional. and some people weren't buying it. but for other people when they were talking about things like having kids and who is 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. to be a grown-up for just an hour. >> in the beginning, there was talk of this being the yuppie show. and you mentioned it tonight. you said if there were a category for the most annoying show, this might win as well. >> now what some people perceive as annoying has nothing to do with yuppie. i think yuppie is a word made up by demographers and advertisers to sell soap. it doesn't have anything to do with what the show is. >> "30 something" was not a
giant hit, but it was a 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 it was a whole new spin on a law show. >> uh-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? >> well -- >> 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 were out, it's like, okay, i get it. so it's like, 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 traditional primetime fare. >> "moonlighting" was another of those shows that said, okay, i've seen the formulas that 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 is. >> that's okay. they do. >> there's no trouble on the set. there is no trouble on the set. >> well, we have a very volatile relationship. there is a hate/love element to it. >> the flirtations were great and bruce and cybill were great. glenn caron 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, 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 mattie? do they get together at some point? >> well, that's going to be resolved this year. we like to think of it as two and a half years of foreplay. >> people who had been watching "moonlighting" for years were waiting for this moment. and your emotions are already there built on to the emotions that you're seeing on the screen. so when "be my baby" by the ronettes starts playing, it's like a perfect storm of romance. ♪ ♪ the night we met i knew i needed you so ♪ visible is wireless that doesn't play games. it's powered by verizon for as little as $25 a month. but it gets crazier. bring a friend every month and get every month for $5. boom! 12 months of $5 wireless. visible, wireless that gets better with friends.
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in recent years, it seems that television has become a kind of electronic confessional. where guests are willing to expose painful and sometimes embarrassing aspects of their lives quite readily to millions of viewers. >> at the beginning of the decade, we get the dominance of phil donahue, and that's sort of a maturation of women's issues, 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're going to 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's 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's 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 remodeled the whole house. >> there are a lot of other people out there watching who really don't understand what you mean when you say, we're in love. because i remember questioning my gay friends, you mean you feel about him the way i feel about -- it's kind of a strange concept, you know, for 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? >> my, i was not aware of inspiring anyone. >> i think you did exactly what teachers are supposed to do, they create a spark for learning. it'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 lifting 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 is we serve as a voice to a lot of people who felt up until perhaps my show or some of the others, they were alone. >> this is what 67 pounds of fat looks like. 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's 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. >> feels like i could do some good here, and i really do think that show does a lot of good. >> american television is drowning in talk shows. but it's never seen anything like morton downey jr. >> i want to tell you -- >> 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 to a whole other 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 -- >> but yet when you hear story after story after story of people committing these wretched crimes and violent crimes in the devil's name -- >> the more tension there is, the more conflict and violence there is, the more the ratings go up. and 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 uncle tom here, sucking up, trying to be a white man -- >> go ahead. go ahead. >> sit down. >> hey, hold it. hold it. >> sit down. >> 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. 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, all right? i want to speak to you guys. >> over the years, broadcasting has deteriorated. and now in 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. whooping cough. amusement parks are like whooping cough. even ice cream is like whooping cough, it's not just for kids. whooping cough is highly contagious for people of any age. and it can cause violent uncontrollable coughing fits. sometimes followed by vomiting and exhaustion. ask your doctor or pharmacist about whooping cough vaccination because whooping cough isn't just for kids.
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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 symbols of this phenomenon is "entertainment tonight." >> hi, i'm tom hallic. welcome to our opening night. the premiere 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 tv critics in the united states and canada to find out which television shows had 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. >> oh, thank you. >> we can meet here every night if you like. >> thank you. >> a lot of what makes successful television programming is being in the right place at the right time. and it was the right time. >> entertainment journalism evolved as viewers 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 insider's look. >> the crafty old j.r. of "dallas" fame was with his mother actress mary martin as he was presented with a star on the hollywood walk of fame. >> it was very honorific of the industry. they would do serious coverage of it. it wasn't salacious. and you would see actors speaking as actors instead of on a johnny carson show. >> what are you like on camera? >> i'm like this. this is on camera. >> 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 are still bitter and redford is the target of their ire. >> the audience grew and grew. and that was showing us 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've got a vip 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 in 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 shock and surprise you back then, he's had plenty of time since.
>> with all of this costing billions, not millions, do the figures ever frighten you? >> the answer is no, it's my business, it's my life. it's my lifestyle. i love it. the good, the bad. >> does this bring with it political aspiration? >> 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. >> that'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've 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 it absolutely amazes me. i walk away from a shoot and i
think, well, we did it again. >> there was more of everything in tv by the '80s. your opportunity for watching stuff is increasingly vast. >> nbc presents "real people." >> my name's michael lee wilson. this dawned on me, that the application of a small motor on a pair of roller skates might really be a great thing. >> somebody once said that each one of us will be a star for 15 minutes, and i think that that's probably going to happen. >> american culture used to be a culture that celebrated privacy. in the 1980s as we're watching celebrities sort of play out on stage, hey, i want to join too. all the world becomes a stage. 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 different ways to give them television. >> don't be stupid! >> get over here! >> i told you not to be stupid. >> what "cops" did was, it took
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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 happened. i mean, that was like just massive. >> this was the final act of a spectacle that may never again be seen again in this century, if ever. >> the archbishop of canterbury called the wedding of prince charles and lady diana spencer today the stuff of fairy tales. >> good evening. the royal couple at this hour is off on the honeymoon, while a lot of people here in london tonight are still talking about the events of the day. >> when you have great moments like the royal wedding, they are part of history. and it's done beautifully and everybody has a chance to watch it all on television, and
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. >> 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 just amazing to me. >> it did appear in the '80s that it was a 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 soap opera discovers the blockbuster mentality, the sweeps month mentality. like, what can we do to get even more people watching? you have a wedding. you have a kidnapping. you have an evil twin. and primetime 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 primetime 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 it on a network if you're doing one episode a week. you can't do that if you're doing five episodes a week for a daytime show. so just the production value gave it that pizzazz. >> if you can't have it, watch other people with it, or so say the three networks who are programming nearly 40% of their primetime fare 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 everyone 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. >> primetime families like the carringtons who live here in luxury on the “dynasty” sound stage 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's dead. >> "falcon crest" was a wine family. there's lorenzo lamas, and there's 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 the shows, where, oh, my god, what's next? what's going to happen with that? he can't get away with that. and then you tune in, it was appointment television. >> what will become of the
missing twins on "knots landing"? >> what? >> they all had spinoffs. the "dallas" spinoff "knots landing." "the colbys" was a spinoff for "dynasty." they were seeing how much they could max this stuff out. because it was really successful. >> where's your son miles? isn't he going to be part of this venture or just playing polo as usual? >> the colbys can always find room for another trophy. >> you had these people fighting over oil and mansions and -- it was fantasy, but in a kind of so over the top way that it was fun. >> there's 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 was no getting around it, we knew what we were there for, and we did it as best we could. ♪
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the most extensive media empire in history. >> a huge development in television. the hegemony of the three television networks presumed to be complete. and rupert murdoch having disrupted the newspaper business in australia, the television business in britain. he arrives in america. i don't see why there should only be three broadcast networks. he says i'm going to make another broadcast network. >> he is going to have to be an american citizen if he is to own tv stations here, something murdoch says he is willing to do. >> some people are saying it will take you 20 years to get your fox network on par with the big three. are you prepared to wait that long? >> sure, i intend to live that long, but i don't believe in the 20 years. >> the reaction to murdoch's idea of a fourth network was like ted turner starting cnn. it's ridiculous. what does he know about television? >> we don't have to reach everyone. there's no question we have an inferior lineup of stations to our counterparts. it means 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 from the networks. we have to do things they would not do. >> fox started throwing anything against the wall not sure what was going to go. first shows were things like "21 jumpstreet." >> what exactly we looking for here? >> joan rivers in terms of late night. >> we have been banned in boston, which is wonderful. >> and “the tracey 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 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 tracey 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? there, that should buy us about 10 minutes. seven more than we'll need. >> the title of "married with children" on the script was not "the cosby show." how great. you have to love that. they were taking the piss out of american families' fun, great fun. >> never wanted to get married, i'm married. never wanted kids, i got two of them. how did this happen? >> the bundys were like a purposeful reaction to the perfection of the huxtables. you had this wonderful black
family and these horrible white family. and each show worked on its own terms. you could find things to relate to in both. >> howdy, neighbor. >> i hate these pants. >> 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 well, then back on abc, they came up with another major hit "roseanne." >> you think this is a magic kingdom where you just sit up here on your throne. >> oh, yeah? >> yeah. and you think everything gets done by some wonderful wizard. poof, the laundry's folded. poof, dinner's on the table. >> you want me to fix dinner? >> honey. 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, the "father knows best." hardly anybody really lived like that. that was the way advertisers wanted you to live. >> i know what just might make you feel better.
>> me too but i bet it's different list than what you've got. >> the ideal situation is if you can subvert whatever common stuff is said about families and about parents. >> 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. she was staying stuff about men and women. so it was about marriage and about raising kids and about how hard it is. >> great. i'm just going to look like a freak. that's all. >> what else is new? >> shut up. >> this is why some animals eat 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. >> you think perhaps this generation are paying more attention to the dialogue to the relationships they see on television than years previous? >> clearly the people watching our shows are and "30 something"
and "cheers" and "st. elsewhere." these are shows 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 like a bunch of night riders, what 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 cachet. >> 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. >> we had one hell of a run, didn't we partner? >> yeah, we 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. ♪
don't touch that dial. we're to be flip it for you. >> in five, four, three, two. >> tv is changing dramatically now with 150 channels that might be available in the near future. >> there is a lot of things that we do that you couldn't have on network television. >> people are really trying to do something adventurous. >> shame on you! >> this is more celebration of culture and opening the doors and allowing america to come on inside. >> there is always something on television and some of it may be better than we deserve. >> that was cool. ♪ ♪