On January 31, 1988, the Redskins defeated the Broncos by a score of 42-10 to win Super Bowl XXII. Directly after the game, over 28 million viewers stayed tuned for the premiere of the Wonder Years. In the pilot episode, we learn that Winnie’s older brother Brian has been killed fighting in Vietnam in 1968. Kevin meets Winnie (Danica McKellar) in an area in their suburb known as Harper’s Woods, where they share their first kiss. Over six seasons, the show went onto capture our hearts as Kevin (Fred Savage) made his way through high school and puberty against the backdrop of the tumultuous late 60s/early 70s. My favorite moments were the painful awkwardness exhibited by Kevin and Winnie, like when they would repeatedly say hi to each other without moving forward into any actual conversation.
Also a midseason replacement, Growing Pains spun Mike Seaver’s gym teacher Coach Lubbock and his family off onto Just the Ten of Us, which premiered in April 1988. The most memorable part of this show for me was the opening montage of the family packing up and driving cross-country from Long Island to Eureka, California.
Life is a race and I know I can win it,
'Cause I'm learnin' the rules of the game.
If I can stay on the ball, take it minute by minute,
I just might make the hall of fame.
What can I say?
I'm doin' it the best I can….
A writer’s strike delayed the start of the 88-89 TV season, pushing the premiere of Murphy Brown to November. Perhaps it was fitting that the show’s debut would coincide with the 1988 presidential election in which incumbent President George H.W. Bush, a frequent target of the show, would defeat Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. Murphy Brown saw Candice Bergen through a lot in ten seasons: in the pilot episode she returned from a stint at Betty Ford alcohol and smoke free; she gave birth to a daughter, Avery, in 1992; a real-life comment from then-Vice President Dan Quayle deriding the character Murphy’s decision to raise her child alone helped drive the show to the top of the ratings; and Murphy discovered she had breast cancer in the show’s final season. Murphy Brown is one of those shows that was extremely relevant and a joy to watch in its time but does not hold up well in repeat viewings due to the topical nature of its material.
Also delayed to a November premiere was Roseanne. A megahit right out of the box, the show inspired a slew of blue-collar ABC sitcoms in the coming years, most notably Home Improvement, Grace Under Fire and the Drew Carey Show. The show saw itself through many transformations, whether it was eldest daughter Becky played first by Lecy Goranson, then Sarah Chalke, and again by Lecy Goranson, or most notably the many cosmetic and weight changes of Roseanne Barr Arnold. On a personal note, I used to live with a boyfriend of mine who would come home from work late and watch the show on Nick at Nite as I tried to sleep. I would toss and turn, listening to Roseanne screech her husband, John Goodman’s, name repeatedly. “DAAAAAAANNNNNN!!!!!!” I should mention my boyfriend’s name was also Dan, and this racket made me want to strangle both of them.
The perennially creepy but hard to look away from Unsolved Mysteries, previously a series of specials, turned into a series this year. Hosted for most of its run by Robert Stack, the show profiled missing persons, real-life mysteries, missing person, and unexplained paranormal occurrences. As a child I didn’t realize that the show consisted of reenactments of the crimes; I thought this was actual footage, and the producers were just fortune to have captured the footage needed. I’m not ashamed to admit this now. I particularly enjoyed watching the repeats on Lifetime years later. The sheer excitement of not knowing if an “UPDATE” title card, coupled with tense music, would be tacked onto the end of a segment made the show all the more fun to watch. Was that murderer ever apprehended? Were those twins separated at birth reunited? Did someone confirm the existence of the Loch Ness monster?
On Saturday morning television, Garfield & Friends made its debut in 1988. I loved the adventures of lovable loser Jon Arbuckle and his pets in animated form. What I never understood was why the god-awful U.S. Acres occupied half of the hour-long show. Why not just give us 30 minutes of Garfield…..or better yet, make it the full hour! Why would I care about talking pigs, ducks and eggs(!) when I could be watching Garfield package Nermal up to send to Abu-Dhabi?!
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTOR:
Josh Kossack is a writer based in Los Angeles, California. When he isn't cruising around with his convertible top down or reading to the blind, he can be found putting Sriracha on pretty much everything under the sun.