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3/22 Evening OT: The Did I Do That? Edition




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TGIF was created and executive produced by Jim Janicek.[1] Before TGIF’s success, Janicek was a writer and producer for ABC Entertainment in charge of promoting Tuesday and Friday night comedies. Recalling his childhood when his family would gather to watch The Wonderful World of Disney, he was inspired to create a family-oriented comedy block. In 1988, Janicek began gaining support for his concept by approaching the studios and talent of independently-produced ABC shows, promoting the synergy and potential success of the family block brand. With four ABC family comedy programs on board, and the backing of network president Bob Iger, the initial lineup for the block was created.

Before ABC experienced its 1990s fame on Friday nights, its Friday night schedule consisted of hit comedies such as Webster, Benson and, for its final season, Diff'rent Strokes. The block of predominantly family-friendly situation comedies was inaugurated in the 1988-89 season with Perfect Strangers, Full House, Mr. Belvedere, and Just the Ten of Us. Since the 1987-88 season, Perfect Strangers actors Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pinchot (in character as Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous, respectively) had been doing program block hosting interstitials on the Perfect Strangers set, originally during the two-hour Wednesday sitcom block that their series was part of as that season began. In March 1988, Perfect Strangers moved to Friday, and the interstitials went with them. On Fridays, the hosting interstitials concept gained more traction before the family-friendly concept on that night took effect. Pinchot and Linn-Baker would remain the sole hosts of the Friday lineup throughout the 1988-89 season.

Meanwhile, ABC began reformulating its Tuesday night lineup which, for the past several seasons, had consisted of an 8-9 p.m. comedy block followed by two hour-long dramas, most notably with the hit series Moonlighting airing at 9/8c. Moonlighting, then in its fifth season and starting to fall in the ratings considerably (greatly thanks to the 1988 WGA strike, which delayed the premiere of many programs for the fall of 1988), was removed from the ABC schedule temporarily in February 1989 when the network decided to expand the Tuesday comedy offerings to two hours. Janicek, in response, came up with the idea promote the restructured lineup under a unified brand name, Terrific Tuesday, to draw audiences to the changes, to reference the two additional sitcoms being offered, and especially as a nod to Who's the Boss? and the freshman smash hit Roseanne, which now served as a strong anchor for the expanded comedy lineup.

The Terrific Tuesday branding was a success, and ABC urged Janicek to continue the banner name for the following season. At the time of fall schedule upfronts in May 1989, Janicek, as well as ABC, devised the notion of further promoting their family fun-themed Fridays with a brand name. Over the summer months, ABC began promoting the Friday sitcoms under the experimental title, "The Friday Fun Club". While Terrific Tuesday and What-a-Wednesday were both on tap for the 1989-90 fall season, the Friday branding concept was to undergo a revision in time for September.

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