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Nostalgia Tour: Must See TV -- NBC Mid-Season, 1986-1987
The Cosby Show and Family Ties promo, 1986
NBC's "Must See TV" was a brilliant and highly successful marketing campaign that featured its weekly Thursday night line-up from 8PM - 11PM, EST. It consisted of four consecutive thirty-minute sitcoms followed by a one-hour drama. These shows that comprised the "Must See TV" line-up dominated the annual TV ratings during the 1980s and 1990s, including some #1 rated shows during a season (some multiple times): The Cosby Show, Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends and ER. Currently, that Thursday night line-up is called "Comedy Night Done Right," but nothing perhaps in the history of television compared to some of those earlier three-hour TV blocks.
Perhaps the greatest season ever -- not just in "Must See TV" history but in all of television history -- was the mid-season of 1986-1987. Highlighted were not only stellar shows but shows that, for the most part, were at the peak of their own popularity.
NBC "Must See TV" Mid-Season 1986-1987 Line-Up
TV RATING THAT YEAR
8:00 - 8:30
The Cosby Show (third season)
8:30 - 9:00
Family Ties (fifth season)
9:00 - 9:30
Cheers (fifth season)
9:30 - 10:00
Night Courty (fourth season)
10:00 - 11:00
L.A. Law (just its first season!)
I can remember Thursday night being my most anticipated block of time each week. Even as a child, when I had limitations on how much TV I could watch each night, I recall negotiating with mom to make Thursday night an exception. Each show independently was brilliant and memorable. Together, this unparalleled three-hour television block is likely never to be replicated. Let's take a bit of a nostalgic tour of these five shows with some of my reflections on each, and let's enjoy some unforgettable scenes that epitomize each show.
Due to the growing length of this Hub, each of the five shows has been put into its own Hub, linked below.