Reminiscing: TGIF: The 5 Best Shows From the Line-Up

For the month of September, we’re going to reminiscence on some favorite TV shows, movies, etc.  In today’s entry we’re looking at five of my favorite shows that aired on ABC’s TGIF.

It’s Friday night, and the mood is right. We’re gonna have some fun show you how it’s done, TGIF.

And with that opening theme, one of my favorite blocks of television began. Every week I eagerly awaited Friday evenings so I could watch ABC’s TGIF line up. From 1999 to 2000, Friday nights from 8 to 10 pm reigned supreme and featured some of my favorite shows growing up. Shows such as Full House, Perfect Strangers, Clueless and Dinosaurs hold a special place in my heart, but out of the many that came and went or were permanently part of the TGIF family, only five shows became my favorite.

1. Family Matters

This show introduced me to one of my favorite characters on TV, Steve Urkel. Who can’t quote “Did I do that?: or remember the Urkel Dance? Anytime Carl would tell Steve “Go home, go home, GO HOME!” I would laugh so hard. I loved Steve, because he was the first black nerd I was introduced to on television, and he was funny, smart, and caring.

I truly enjoyed watching the Winslows and their extended friends and family. It was an entertaining show and is in my opinion one of the best sitcoms of all time.

2. Boy Meets World

I remember watching the pilot episode not on TGIF but on Fox as it was part of the after school lineup (when I was a kid, the local stations would play cartoons in the afternoons during the weekdays). After watching it, I was hooked and stayed that way until the final episode of the series. I grew up right along with Corey, Shawn, and Topanga and watched them blossom into awesome adults.

I also fell in love with Cory’s quirky brother Eric and Mr. Feeny became one of my favorite father-figures on tv. I haven’t had a chance to watch Girl Meets World yet (I believe it’s on Netflix), but I’m sure it carried  the heart and soul of its predecessor.

3. Sister, Sister

Watching twin sisters Tia and Tamara Mowry on this show was always a treat. I loved how they broke the fourth wall either together or separately, by talking directly to the viewers about what was going on in the story line involving them and sometimes other main characters like Roger.

Roger, played by Jerome Isaac Jones aka Romeo of the 90’s R&B group Immature, (who I was also a fan of) was also one of my TV crushes. Jackée  Howard  and Tim Reid, who play the twins’ parents, perfectly complete the cast and make the show enjoyable to watch.

What makes this show particularly special for me is that I wrote to Tia and Tamara’s fan club and they sent me back an autographed picture of them that I still have hanging on my wall!

NEWSFLASH!  A Sister Sister reboot might be happening! 

4. Step by Step

This sitcom dealt with a blended family and was entertaining from the first episode to the last. Watching the family come closer together as they learned more about each other and embrace their differences made for great TV. One highlight of the show was cousin Cody and his scenes enriched each episode.

5. Sabrina the Teenage Witch

I loved Melissa Joan-Hart on Clarrisa Explains It All, so when I found out she was starring in this new show I had to watch.

Sabrina was already having a hard time fitting in among her high school peers, but things got more interesting when she found out that she was a witch. As a high student who didn’t fit in, I could relate to Sabrina. By watching Sabrina chant spells to help out her friends or improve something about herself, only for the spells to backfire and learn from her mistakes, I learned that it was okay to be myself.

TGIF was an important part of my childhood growing up and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I will cherish the memories forever.  Viewers will be able to make new memories this fall as TGIF returns with a new look and new shows but still featuring that famous jingle on October 5th.

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Reminiscing: 5 Fave Shows That Aired On UPN

For the month of September, we’re going to reminiscence on some favorite TV shows, movies, etc.  In today’s entry we’re looking at five of my favorite shows that aired on UPN.

 

During my high school and college years, I watched a lot of TV.  Nowadays I don’t watch much TV, guess I’m not as interested. But back in the day when the telly had my attention, there was one particular network which aired some of my favorite shows. It was the United Paramount Network aka UPN.

 

UPN was launched in 1995 and dissolved 11 years later in 2006. When it’s reign came to an end some of the shows that aired on on the network moved over to the CW (formerly the WB) network. During its time on the tube, UPN  featured a variety of shows in different genres such as sci-fi, sitcoms, dramas, reality, cartoons, sports, and more. Out of UPN’s vast programming, there were five shows that became my favorites to watch on the regular.

1. Half & Half (2002-2004)

Set in San Francisco, the show focused on the lives of two paternal half-sisters in their twenties, who were estranged in their childhood-Mona (Rachel True) and Dee Dee (Essence Atkins) Thorn. Now grownups, the siblings begin to reconcile their feelings about each other and develop a close bond while also dealing with other issues of adulthood such as dating, co-workers and bosses and dealing with each other as people.

Though I could relate to both sisters, I found myself relating more with Mona. Like her, I was raised by a single parent, Jewish, and growing up I was (and still am) the awkward, nerdy, black girl. I didn’t fit in with the black kids or anybody else. In Mona I found someone who was similar to myself and by watching a character who marched to the beat of her own drum, it gave me even more confidence to be myself.

2. Moesha (1996-2001)

R&B singer Brandy starred as Moesha Mitchell, a typical teenage girl from a middle class African-American family living in the Leimert Park are of Los Angeles. Moesha’s father Frank works as a car salesmen and is a widower who marries Moesha’s vice-principal Dee. Moesha also has a younger brother named Myles.

The series focused on the experiences of Moesha along with her friends and family as they dealt with a variety of challenges and situations. I loved the fact that though Moesha was headstrong, independent and stubborn, she stood up for what she believed was right. What I also loved about the show was that it dealt with real-life issues that teenagers such as myself were going through. Issues such as teen pregnancy, drug use, race relations, premarital sex, the death of a parent, and day-to-day issues teenagers faced at home and school.

One memorable episode featured former actor turned cult leader Andrew Keagan guest starring as Moesha’s childhood friend who she hadn’t seen in a long time. Once reunited, the two rekindle their romance, though some other folks don’t approve of the interracial couple.

3. Girlfriends (2000-2008)

This show focused on four ladies who are best friends, Joan Clayton (Tracee Ellis Ross), Maya Wilkes (Golden Brooks), Lynn Searcy (Persia White), and Toni Childs (Jill Marie Jones)-living in Los Angeles, as they dealt with the daily issues such as careers, relationships, sex, family, and more. Girlfriends was my Sex In the City. It was really cool to watch four successful black women who came from different walks of life on my TV. I had never seen that before and watching these characters empowered me.

4. America’s Next Top Model (2003-present)

This was one of the first reality shows that I got hooked on. It introduced me to the fashion world and despite its problematic elements, I learned that there is more to modeling than just having a pretty face. Tyra Bank’s creation continues on with spin offs around the globe and finished it’s 24th cycle this year.

5. The Parkers (1999-2004)

This Moesha spin off focused on Moesha’s friend Kim Parker (Countess Vaughn) and her mother Nikki (Mo’Nique) as they attend Santa Monica College together. When she was a teenager, Nikki had Kim and was forced to drop out of high school. When Kim becomes an adult, Nikki makes the decision to go back to school much to Kim’s dismay. Throughout the series, their mother-daughter relationship evolves.

This show was always funny and constantly provided me with laughs especially on days when I needed them. I also enjoyed watching Nikki’s antics in each episode as she pursued her love interest Professor Stanley Oglevee.

While UPN is long gone, these shows and the many others the network aired continue to live on in syndication and will always hold a special place in my heart.

Reminiscing: 5 Favorite Classic Commercials From The 90’s

For the month of September, we’re going to reminiscence on some favorite TV shows, movies, etc.  In today’s entry we’re looking at five of my favorite classic commercials from the 90’s.

5. Miss Cleo

Before her business went down in flames, Miss Cleo reigned supreme on the tube. Her catchphrase “Call me now” remains one of the most well known in all of TV land.

4. Pepsi Cola

Not to be outdone by its sibling, Pepsi Cola also had some memorable commercials to promote it.  Not only were the Pepsi Girl commercials cute, they also had a musical component, namely the girl belting out Aretha Franklin. Fun fact: Did you know that the young lady featured in these commercials is Hallie Eisenberg, Jessie Eisenberg’s (a.k.a. Lex Luthor) sister? It goes without saying, that in the 90s, Pepsi outdid itself with its commercials.

3. Diet Pepsi
You got the right one baby...uh huh.

That catchphrase made famous by the late Ray Charles and his lady singers, made a smooth commercial. There was always a brilliant spin on how it was said as each new entry in the franchise showed up on our TV screens.

2. Budweiser Wassup!

Budweiser has had a lot of great commercials, but the Wassup! ones are some of the funniest and most memorable. The way this group of friends said “Wassup!” as they held their beer made the catchphrase a part of pop culture.

1. Got Milk?

The very first of the Got Milk? commercials was not only funny but also a lesson in U.S. history. I’ve always remember the answer to the question posed in the commercial . It also taught viewers the importance of having a glass of milk nearby!

Needless to say,  watching TV during the 90’s was mostly fun. In addition to having some of the greatest television shows of all time, we also had some of the best commercials. Click here to see more memorable commercials from the 90’s.

Go West Young Fan: 7 Favorite Classic TV Westerns

In the the late 1940s and 50s when television became popular, TV westerns quickly became a favorite past time for viewers. Examples include The Rifleman, Rawhide, The Roy Rogers Show and Maverick. 1959 was the peak of the TV western with a total of 26 shows on air.

During the 1960s, traditional western shows declined in popularity and new shows that combined western elements with other genres such as family drama, mystery thrillers, and crime drama grew into popularity. The evolution of the TV westerns continues to this day with shows such as Walker: Texas Ranger, Firefly, and Justified carrying the torch.

Here are seven of my favorite classic western TV shows that got the tumbleweed rolling.

1. The Lone Ranger (1949-1957)

Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

Ignore that horrible film starring Johnny Depp and watch this show. Originally featured on radio, The Lone Ranger went on to TV and continued the adventures of the masked Texas Ranger and his friend Tonto, as they fought injustice wherever they went and and aided those in need. Each episode was full of action, and the interactions between the Ranger and Tonto conveyed their friendship excellently.

The Lone Ranger radio series also inspired a spin off called The Green Hornet (which also became a TV show) that depicted the son of the Lone Ranger’s nephew Dan Reid Jr., who was also featured a few times on the television show.

2. The Rifleman (1958 –1963)

The opening of the show featuring Chuck Connors as rancher Lucas McCain firing Winchester Model 1892 rifle, is widely recognized. As McCain, Connors portrayed a Union Civil War veteran, widower, and single parent to a young boy Mark (played by Johnny Crawford).  McCain is also known for his fast draw with his rifle that’s customized to allow repeated firing by cycling its lever action, enabling him to fire with one hand.

Throughout the run of the show, many episodes dealt with the common theme of second chances. It also showcased McCain’s flaws in how he sometimes didn’t want to give other people second chances.  I also loved his relationship he had with his son Mark. Even when McCain wouldn’t fully show it, viewers could still see the love he had for his son.

3. Wanted Dead Or Alive (1958 –1961)

Steve McQueen stars as Josh Randall a  Confederate veteran and bounty hunter with a soft heart. He doesn’t earn a lot as he often donates the money he receives from his bounties to the needy. He also helps the bounties he’s captured if they’ve been accused falsely.  In addition, Randall settles family feuds, finds long lost family members and much more.

Similar to other westerns, the tone of each episode featured drama and humor in balanced quantities. While Wanted only lasted 3 seasons there are plenty of excellent episodes in each.

 

4. Gunsmoke (1955-1975)

Another radio to TV show, this western drama take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the west, in the post-Civil War era.

The main character of the series is Marshal Matt Dillon, played by James Arness as he enforces law and order in the city. Accompanying Dillon on his adventures are his friends Doctor Galen “Doc” Adams (Milburn Stone), the town’s physician, Kitty Russell (Amanda Blake), owner of the Long Branch Saloon, and Chester Goode (Dennis Weaver), Dillon’s assistant.

Originally broadcast in black and white as a half-hour show, it eventually aired in color as an hour long show. The show remains the longest running prime time series of the 20th century as it ran for 20 consecutive seasons. Gunsmoke was an adult show and in its early years it featured more brutality and violence but later transitioned to focus more on social issues like racism and mental disability. The show shifted the dramatic burden from violent conflict to dramatic conflict.

5. Bonanza (1959-1973)

The second longest running western series was set around the 1860s and centered on the Cartwright family, who lived on their 600,000+ acre ranch called the Ponderosa near Virginia City, Nevada, bordering Lake Tahoe. Each week, viewers watched the adventures of the Cartwright family, led by the widowed patriarch Ben Cartwright and his three sons: Adam, Eric “Hoss”, and Joseph “Little Joe” Cartwright.

The show differed from its counterparts as it focused more on the Cartwright family and how they cared for each other, their neighbors and strangers, and just causes. Bonanza also had the difficult job of being a period drama that attempted to confront and discuss contemporary social issues. Episodes addressed various issues such as the environment, substance abuse, domestic violence, illegitimate births, racism, anti-antisemitism, and much more.

6. The Big Valley (1965-1969)

Set in 19th century Stockton, in California’s Central Valley, the show focused on Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck), a family matriarch and widower to a wealthy California rancher and her four children.

Stanwyck’s refusal to portray Barkley as fragile was a controversial choice at the time, but it was a good decision and helped the show stand out from amongst its fellow westerns. After the murder of her husband six years prior, Stanwyck’s character becomes the owner and head of the Barkley ranch. She’s very proud of all of her children including her late husband’s illegitimate son, Heath, who she refers to as my son.

Victoria Barkley goes from being a refined elegant lady to a tough jean-clad cowgirl. The episodes she’s featured in were usually dramatic and hard hitting like “Down Shadow Street” in which she was locked away in a lunatic asylum to prevent her from testifying as an eyewitness at a murder trial. In “Four Days to Furnace Hill”, she was taken prisoner by a prison wagon to replace a dead female convict, and in “Earthquake” she was trapped underground following a cave-in.

7. Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983)

This western drama is an adaptation of the best selling Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The show depicts the Ingalls family who live on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota during the 1870s and 1880s. Several themes such as adoption, alcoholism, racism, and blindness were explored as well as subjects such as drug addiction, leukemia, prejudice, and rape, which featured in several different plot lines throughout the show’s run.

Despite it being a drama, Little House also had many comedic moments. Michael Landon who played the Ingalls patriarch Charles, directed and wrote many of the storylines for the show. In fact some of the stories he wrote were recycled plots from his time on Bonanza. For example, season two’s “A Matter of Faith” was based on the Bonanza episode “A Matter of Circumstance”; and season eight’s “He Was Only Twelve” was based on the Bonanza episode “He Was Only Seven”.

These TV westerns stand the tests of time and continue to engage viewers old and new.

What are your favorite TV Westerns? Leave your list in the comments section below or on my Facebook page.