TV Week! (Part 4: The Programming Block)

Specifically so you don’t have to, I have mined YouTube and assembled almost 60 clips of theme songs, intros, bumpers and random nostalgic bliss from the past 25 years of television in honor of the almighty Programming Block. You remember the joy of the Programming Block: those 2-3 hours of weekly television that had a specific theme, intro/outros and hosted bumpers that tied everything into one nice, neat package. A time to change into your pajamas, gather a couch full of snacks and settle in with the only friend that will never betray you and force you to stab them to death behind the pet food store on Christmas Eve, the Television.

We’re focusing on six Programming Blocks in particular, as they were the ones that I grew up with. The years next to the titles represent the amount of time I made them a part of my weekly routine. If I got to decide how you read this post, I’d ask that you stay up late with it, checking out all of the links and allowing yourself to slip back in time a little bit, and hopefully feel a little warm and fuzzy in the process. Let’s go.

The Disney Afternoon (Syndicated) – 1990-1994

This was the first block that I really became a part of. Every day after school, I’d run down my driveway as fast as I could to see as much of The Disney Afternoon as possible. Due to me living in the middle of nowhere, I was typically the last one off of the bus, making it impossible to ever see the first show of the block. Luckily, Disney did something neat by adding a new series every season and pushing all of the older shows up a half-hour.

The Disney Afternoon Introduction
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers
Darkwing Duck
Goof Troop

Shows like Darkwing Duck and DuckTales were legitamately wonderful, boasting animation awards, feature films and theme songs that most of us know by heart. Even though it wasn’t on Saturday morning, The Disney Afternoon was a children’s programming staple for millions of kids in my generation. And hey, speaking of Saturday morning…

CBS Kids (CBS) – 1988-1994

What an eclectic mix of programming in the late 80’s/early 90’s CBS Saturday Block. Saturday mornings in the early 90’s were jam-packed with goodness on all three major networks, so having the schedule down was an absolute must in order to catch all of the best stuff. Getting up at 5am didn’t hurt, either.

Garfield & Friends
Hey Vern, It’s Ernest!
Muppet Babies
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

First, you had Garfield & Friends, which was two shows in one (remember U.S. Acres?). Hey Vern, It’s Ernest! was one of those shows that adults seemed to understand a bit more than their kids did (even if in hindsight, it was annoying as hell). Muppet Babies was, looking back, a truly bizarre and surreal show (with one of the best theme songs ever). Pee-Wee’s Playhouse was nothing short of revolutionarily awesome, and TMNT was possibly the most popular children’s cartoon of my generation. Seriously, the hype and merchandise sales were unbelievable during those years.

Must-See TV (NBC) – 1984-1991

Moving out of animation-based programming and into primetime network stuff, we have the long-running ‘Must-See Thursday‘ block on NBC. Even though it still exists with shows like The Office, 30 Rock and My Name Is Earl at the helm, I wanted to focus more on the roots of the block in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

‘It Must Be Thursday’ 1984 Intro
Gimme A Break!
Family Ties
Mama’s Family
The Cosby Show
Night Court
A Different World
Wings – (For some reason, I couldn’t track down the Wings opening theme, so I put this NBC Thursday night promo up. I think it’s better anyways, and look at the Seinfeld episode that was on that night!)

I didn’t remember that Mama’s Family was part of this otherwise-solid string of sitcoms until I went back to study it. I also remember that during the closing credits of Night Court, there was a guy laughing in the background of the theme song that always bothered me for whatever reason. Don’t forget the ‘Sit Ubu, sit‘ production company bumper to close out Cheers, as well as the fact that Lisa Bonet was hand-picked for A Different World because Bill Cosby wanted her off of his show as fast as humanly possible.

TGIF (ABC) – 1986-2000

This is as good of a definition of ‘Programming Block’ as I can think of. Two hours, every friday night, nothing but comedy, hosted bumpers, a theme song specifically for the block, and some really classic television programs to boot. It may have waned in the later years, and a lot of these shows certainly don’t hold up to save their fictional lives, but that’s not really the point, is it?

TGIF Intro Video
TGIF Closing Video
‘Things That Make You Go ‘Hmmm…” Intro
Mr. Belvedere
Full House
Perfect Strangers
Step By Step
Family Matters
Boy Meets World – (This isn’t the opening to Boy Meets World, but I liked this clip better. So will you.)

What I remember most about this block was that it was a ‘family’ block, which meant that the whole house got together and sat in front of the television, which I was quite fond of. I unapologetically loved Full House, Dinosaurs was…man…just unreal, and the guy that did the Full House theme song also did the Family Matters theme (really, listen to them).

And Topanga. Sweet, weird, curvy Topanga. I love you and want you to come back home now.

By the early 90’s, I was entering adolescence and was fortunate enough to get cable television. As it turned out, this turned me on to what was probably the most well-remembered programming block of my generation..

SNICK (NICK) – 1992-1999

SNICK had it all. The big orange couch. The Saturday night timeslot. The feeling that you were in on something really special; something that was made just for you. The ‘166 hours’ closing always bummed me out, as it reminded me that Sunday was tomorrow and I’d have to prepare for another week of school, but for those few hours, SNICK made everything better.

SNICK Opening Sequence
SNICK Closing Sequence
Clarissa Explains It All
Ren & Stimpy
Ren & Stimpy – LOG!!
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
The Adventures of Pete & Pete
All That
The Secret World of Alex Mack

The Ren & Stimpy phenomenon was completely justified, The Adventures of Pete & Pete makes me warm like a shot of whiskey, and Are You Afraid of the Dark? was legitamately terrifying at times; even more so than Tales From The Crypt. It’s a shame I never got the chance to start up that Midnight Society like I wanted to. If I did it now, I’d probably get arrested.

Another thing I want to mention. Amanda Bynes was on All That when she was exceedingly young, and I have to say that I found her to be absolutely hilarious, then and still. I don’t know what has been happening with her career since then, but she was really funny, spastic kid.

MTV Animation/Liquid Television (MTV) – 1991-2000

The mid-90’s couldn’t have been better for music. The rise of Alternative made MTV a must-watch network, and it was inarguably at its best for these few years. Eventually, reality shows took over, but before that, we had Liquid Television and the rise of MTV Animation; not necessarily a block in and of itself, but worth mentioning due to their popularity and nostalgic appeal.

AEon Flux
Beavis & Butt-head
The Head (Pilot Episode)
The Maxx

To this day, I could watch Beavis & Butthead tearing apart music videos until the end of time. The genius of Mike Judge’s satire was that a lot of fans didn’t realize that he was squarely making fun of them, anything but encouraging slacker and near-retarded behavior. Daria showed up a little later, but boasted a great soundtrack and a pitch-perfect Generation X outlook on High School life and society in general.

Man, we’re done already? But I don’t want to leave this world of nostalgic TV wonderment! Well, for those that have stuck it out this far, here are a few more great clips that I could’t help but toss onto the pile. Enjoy.

My Favorite Show Openings/Misc. Awesomeness

Picture Pages
Six Million Dollar Man
The Prisoner
Hawaii 5.0
The Greatest American Hero
Seinfeld – Greatest American Hero
Play It Safe Around Electricity
Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (Joel)
Mac Tonight Commercial

Thanks for going back in time with me. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. And hey, don’t forget that the Programming Block that has been CDP TV WEEK isn’t over just yet.

TOMORROW: TV Week Concludes With The 4th Annual CDP FALL TV PREVIEW!

2005 Fall TV Preview.
2006 Fall TV Preview.
2007 Fall TV Preview.

26 thoughts on “TV Week! (Part 4: The Programming Block)

  1. 1. I also loved Topanga.2. <>Mr. Belvedere<> has one of the greatest intros ever. I also really love the ones for <>Welcome Back Kotter<> and <>WKRP in Cincinnati<>.


  2. Oh, Topanga. Do you remember the last season or two with the African-American girl who was like 3846283 times as hot as Topanga? She was also ten years older than her with a couple of kids. Age was not kind to Miz Fishel.My friend and mentor and the woman who gave me my first job was a longtime Producer on Boy Meets World. I used to smoke cloves on the stage steps with Ryder. Good times.Also: I am old.


  3. I used to think Ryder Strong was SO hot. I guess in retrospect he was pretty cute, in an early 90’s sort of way.I was trying to explain to Ryan the Nickelodeon shows that I used to watch as a child during the afternoon: David the Gnome and the Little Koala. Also, the Get-Along Gang (which was not on Nick.) He had no clue what I was talking about.


  4. Oh, tv trivia time! <>Mr. Belvedere<> was set in the Pennsylvania town where I spent the first seven years of my life. It is also the Joe Namath’s home town. Hathery, I’m with you on <>David the Gnome<> and <>The Little Koala<> (I have a much younger sister). Anyone else remember <>Dangermouse<>?


  5. You people talk as if Topanga is dead. She’s still freaking hot on a terrible show, The Dish (Style Network). What’s wrong with the CDPeons!?!?!?!Tremendous post, Ryan. Seriously, this may be the best one to date…


  6. Snick was the greatest! Ren and Stimpy was so insane and Are You Afraid of the Dark? was legit scary.One intro I liked was Thunderbirds. It was a sci-fi show using puppets made around 1965.


  7. Thank goodness, maus! I was starting to think I was the only person who remembered those things…so far I haven’t found anyone who remembers the Get-Along Gang though. I know I’m not making it up; I have the stuffed animals to prove it! 🙂


  8. I think it was exceedingly dangerous to read this post with all of its enticing links on a day when I decided not to go to work so I could stay home and work on a paper instead …


  9. Oh man, I’d almost forgotten about Snick–which is weird, cuz I watched it all the time. I may or may not have also had a crush on Alex Mac.Hathery – I, too, watched <>David the Gnome<> and <>The Little Koala<>. Rad stuff.Also, I was a huge <>Daria<> fan. So much so that when some meat head in high school called me Daria as an insult, I was absolutely flattered.


  10. Emily – I have people who compare me to Daria <>now<>. It was one of my nicknames a couple of years ago. I also have a friend who calls me ‘Sunshine’ in an attempt at misguided irony. Oooooh – Montgomery Moose! *NOW* I know what we’re talking about! 😀Since we’re dredging shows out of the depths of obscurity, what about the slighty creepy < HREF="" REL="nofollow"><>Dr. Snuggles<><>? And <> Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings<>? The totally bizarre <>Today’s Special<>? Or Nickelodeon’s < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Pinwheel programming<> in general?I was a huge fan of the < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Ewoks cartoon<>, which may be before some of ya’ll young folks’ time…So I’ll just be over here guarding my lawn. Harrrumph.


  11. Maus: Dangermouse is a classic.On of the things I dig about kids’ TV is that sometimes that shows don’t stand up to the test of time so well, but nostalgia blurs that from memory. Which is why I’m screwed if I gotta start writing for people over 15.


  12. Pinwheel! That was my favorite show as a wee lass. I blame my obsession with crepes on the mime lady who showed us how to make them on one episode. I also blame my irrational fear/love of moles on Molly the Mole.


  13. I used to have a Montgomery Moose wind up toy where his leg propelled him along in his red wagon. If I can find it at my folks’ house*, I’ll post a picture of it.*<>It may be weeks before I go to visit them, and I’ll likely forget to look once there.<>


  14. I’m really glad that everyone is enjoying TV Week and reminiscing and whatnot. You’re all making me forget that I put about 30 hours worth of work into these posts. I’ll have more to say tonight, but I’m off to a dentist appointment right now.


  15. Can’t wait for the preview tomorrow!Also, I just got to try the new key lime rum that I’m carrying…it’s <><>way<><> too easy to drink.


  16. It’s been a really long time since we’ve had some BLAM! on here. I’m leaving it up for flavor.I can’t even remember the last time we mentioned BLAM! on here.


  17. I have a Get-a-Long Gang lunchbox! Does anyone know the children's program where the man and woman drew amazingly detailed and shaded pictures while telling a story? It is driving me nuts!!!

    And “Today's Special” is still awesome! My Mom has most of the on VHS! LOL!


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