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tv   The Eighties  CNN  July 7, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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transport you to a place that can't be seen in real life. >> it seems that television has become an electronic confessional. >> it is exciting stuff. >> what are we doing here? >> any tool for human expression will bring out both the best and worst in us, and television has been there. >> here's michael at the foul line. good! >> people are no longer embarrassed to admit they watch television. >> hello. >> people used to say "i was there." now they say they watch it on television. ♪
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♪ >> slowly but surely, the 1970s are disappearing. the 1980s will be upon us. what a decade it is coming up. happy new year!
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>> as you begin the '80s in the television world, the landscape was on any given evening nine out of ten people watching only one of three networks. >> more than 30 million people are addicted to it. social critics are mystified by its success. what is it? it's television's prime time prairie pot boiler "dallas." >> a move like that will destroy all of the oil. and it'll ruin our name. >> brother or no brother, i'll stop you from destroying oil. >> dallas did establish new grounds in terms oof a one-hour show that captivated america for 13 years. >> dallas is a television show rooted in the 1970s. and one of the crazy things that emerges is this character has a pop phenomenon. >> tell me j.r., which slut are you going to stay with tonight?
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>> it's got to be more interesting than the slut i'm looking at right now. >> he was such a delicious villain. everyone was 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 is he? >> >> 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 cliffhanger 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 then we broke for the summer. then coincidentally the actors went on strike. it delayed the resolution, and
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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. i mean, you couldn't die. >> we don't know that. >> how could you die? you couldn't come back next season. >> that's what i mean. i couldn't come back but the show could still go. >> oh, but you wouldn't. what is that show without j.r.? >> well, that's what i figure, yeah. >> i guess if you don't know by now who shot j.r., you probably do not care. last night some 82 million americans did. and they watched the much-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. critics said it transcends in popularity ever other american statement about war. and something special happened today to mobile army surgical hospital 4077. that will touch millions of americans.
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it was the kind of event that would draw the world's breath. stage 9, 20th century fox studios, the end of the korean war, the television season of "m.a.s.h." >> it's been an honor and a privilege to have worked 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 "m.a.s.h." had its final episode. and we were all sad to see them go. >> i'll miss you. >> i'll miss you. a lot. >> all over the country, armies of fans crowded around television sets to watch the final episode and to bid "m.a.s.h." farewell. >> the finale of "m.a.s.h." was unprecedented. 123 million people watched one television program at the same time. >> you know, i really should be allowed to go home. i -- there's nothing wrong with me.
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>> when we ended the show, we got telegrams of congratulations from henry kissinger and ronald reagan. the size of the response and the emotional nature of the response that we were getting was difficult for us to understand. >> who shot j.r. and the last episode of "m.a.s.h." 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. tv is growing up with cable. tv is growing up with content. tv is growing up with different genres. the fundamental thing that cable did and the vcr did or the remote control did is it gave consumers more choice. and everything was about to change. it is with a very gratesful heart that i write you about your amazing employees. eric volunteered to come to my rescue that evening.
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thomas magnum. >> the private investigator? >> 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 hour, the next season there wasn't a single sitcom in the top ten, first time that had happened in tv history. the prevailing feeling was the sitc sitcom 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's exactly the form of programming that leads to the next big hit.
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>> 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 eggs scrambled. >> coming right up. >> they talked about parenting. previous to that, the kids were cool and the parents were idiots. then "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. [ applause ] >> that's the dumbest thing i've ever heard in my life! [ laughter ] >> it helps the casting a lot in television. the kids were just great. >> if you were the last person on this earth, i still wouldn't tell you. >> you don't have to tell me what you did. just tell me what they're gonna
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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 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've got yourself a hit. >> how was school? >> school? dear, i brought home two children that may or may not be ours. >> cosby's 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.
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>> 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. >> 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 are identifying with. and "cheers" gives you that community. >> boy, i tell you, i've always wanted to skydive. i've just never had the guts. >> what's did it feel like? >> i imagine a lot like sex. >> i would have to imagine what sex is like. but i have plenty of sex. and plenty of this, too. why don't you just get off my >> in the first episode, there was a rather passionate annoyance. i was saying, ah, something's
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going on here. a really intelligent woman would see your line of b.s. a mile away. >> i've never met an intelligent woman that i'd want to date. >> on behalf of the intelligent women around the world, may i just say, whew! >> 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. >> well, 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's drove the show for the first five years. >> what's the matter? >> oh, i'm devastated.
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i need something expeditious and brutal to numb my sensibilities and 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, they were explosions. >> buh! >> 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.
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>> let's be careful out there. >> dispatch. we have a 911. armed robbery in progress.
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>> when quality does emerge on television, the phrase "too good for tv" is often heard. one recent network offering that seems to deserve that phrase is "hill street blues." >> "hill street" is one of the changing points in the entire industry of the history of tv. >> we had all watch aid documentary about cops and had this real hand held in the moment quality that we were very en 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 got a crime and you got your two cops, and you go out and you 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. >> well, what about it?
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is he here or is he elsewhere? >> don't get excited, costa, we're working on it. >> how is this for logic? if he's not here and he's not elsewhere, he's lost. >> we didn't say that counselor -- not 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 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 home, pizza man. >> i think in the past, people had watched television passively. and the one thing i think we did set out to be were provocateurs. >> you want action?
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you fill it out. >> what the hell is the matter with you, man? >> i'll tell you something, they don't pay me enough to deal with animals like this! the first thing they see is a white face and they want -- >> listen to me, it was a white finger that pulled the trigger, not a black one, it was a white! >> it set a trend. the idea the audience can accept its characters being deeply flawed even though they were in this uniform. i thought that was important to finally get across. >> no biting! >> 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." >> we got 21 nominations, and we went on to win eight emmys. and 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 public wants is a cheese burger and what you're
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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 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 of course you saw shows like "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 give your patients the wrong antibiotics. you don't know what medications they're on. you write the worst progress notes. you're pathetic. pathetic! >> phil! >> 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 on that pint of blood. t-cell count was off. >> they would have tragic things happen to these characters.
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there was real heartache in these peoples' 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 they 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 who were trying to stretch the medium. and in the '80s, television producers were encouraged to stretch the medium. >> okay. clear. >> as the '80s got serious, there was more drama. they were getting a little bit more adventurous with the types of shows that were getting a shot. >> 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
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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 prime time fair. >> moonlighting was another show that said okay i see the formulas 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
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relationship. there is a hate/love element to it. >> easy come, easy go! >> 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? >> i hope so. 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
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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 news cast. there just hadn't been enough. give us a whole network of sports. >> there's just one place you need to know for all the names and games making sports news,
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espn sports center. >> what happens 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 pits of the world. >> mcenroe, the perfect villain, the new yorker people love to hate, the cool swede never giving emotion away. >> what tennis wants is to get its two best players playing over and over again in the fi l final. that's what we want to tune into 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
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johnson, this urban kid from michigan, and larry bird, this guy who worked carrying trash. one plays for the los angeles 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! >> what a big play. >> oh, what a show! >> when those 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. >> the idea is to challenge me with somewhat 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 it watching it on tv. >> here comes mike spings in. 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.
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especially at -- >> but everybody tries. everybody tries. >> i think that he is starting to transcend his sport, that he's becoming something of 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, turns them into worthwide iconic brands. >> the inbounds pass comes in to jordan. here's michael at the foul line. a shot -- good! the bulls win it! >> athletes in the '80s became part of an ongoing group of people that we cared about. we just 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 that it will go into 1 million more u.s. house holds this year. >> with cable television suddenly 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! ♪
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>> 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
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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. 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, not exactly up my alley style and persona-wise. heaven knows i'm no box of candy. >> television very much was the small screen. what was interesting about tony yerkovich's pilot screen for "miami vice," it was very much 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.
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>> action! >> police, police! >> they were describing the show as a new wave cop show. how do you mean? >> 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 ♪ >> it was only 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. ♪ hold on >> being able to take a television series like "miami vice" and let's really kind of
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rock and roll with this until somebody says, stop, are you guys crazy, you can't do that. and nobody ever did. >> freeze! police! tell him we're flexible. don't worry. my dutch is ok. just ok? (in dutch) tell him we need this merger. (in dutch) it's happening..! just ok is not ok.
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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 fill donahue. that's a maturation of women's issues. he seemed to talk to them in the audience, 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 know, 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
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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 trans sexual that through treatment has changed. >> we were putting very important people on the program, gay people, people going to jail, people running for office, sometimes the same people. it was a magic car interpret 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.
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>> hello, everybody. yeah, hello. >> 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 "aoprah" 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 people out there watching had 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
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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 an 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, that they were alone. >> this is what 67 pounds of fat looks like. i can't -- i can't lift it. it is amazing 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.
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and that, i think, has a lot to do with her power. >> feels like i can do some good here, and i really do think that the 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 in 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 carricaturish person that he
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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 problems with criminal behavior -- >> but yet when you hear story after story after story of people who commit wretched 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. >> no. >> sit down. >> hey, hold it. hold it. >> sit down. >> rivera suffered a broken nose
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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. 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. [running through woods]
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♪ 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
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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
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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,"
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is it allows a kind of youthful reaganite 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. he -- "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 the teacher is going to ask is what you did over the summer. now, a lot of the kids will say i went to the zoo or i went to the beach or i went to a baseball game.
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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.
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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.
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>> 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.
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>> 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 respect all right, what are the rules now? >> what are you doing? >> you said you're part of the change now. what is it doing and where it is going? >> i think it has more to do with the networks being willing to put creative control in the hands of the producers who have strong viewpoints and who let them do what they want to do. >> it distinguished itself by its voice. >> what we're supposed to be here is the one thing people can
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trust. >> if you go out there like a butch of night riders, what the hell are you but just another vicious street gang? >> it was great writing in the '80s. that was a core group of brilliant people. >> it's obvious television was changed a lot since the first emmy was awarded 35 years ago. >> it's as though the contemporary audience was yearning for more stories about themselves. >> hi, everybody out there on tv. >> as the '80s came to an end, everything changed. >> i think when we look back at the 1980s, ten and 20 years from now we're going to be disgusted at some of the tv that you just mentioned. the superviolent programs, the terrible comedy shows, but one thing that's happening now and will continue to happen increasingly throughout this decade is the replacement of rotten entertainment programming by news and talk and information programming on all three networks very slowly. >> will it be rotten news? >> well, so far most of the
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news-oriented programs, magazine, information, talk shows on the networks have been surprisingly, at least to me, surprisingly good. ♪ ♪ ♪


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