NBC Saturdays, 1984-1985

Enjoy this comprehensive look at how NBC programming Saturday nights during the 1984-1985 season. The network tried launching several new shows, including Partners in Crime, Hot Pursuit, Double Trouble, and Berrenger’s. Nothing worked.

NBC, The Perennial Bottom Dweller

The 1983-1984 television season ended on Sunday, April 15th, 1984 after the traditional 30 weeks. CBS was the top-rated network for the fifth straight year, drawing an 18.1/28.4 Nielsen rating; ABC was second with a 17.2/27.1 rating; NBC ranked third for the ninth year running with a 14.9/23.5 rating [1]. NBC’s rating was the lowest earned by any network since 1957 [2].

Overall, NBC placed just six shows in the Top Thirty on the Nielsen charts. Only one was in the Top Ten (The A-Team placed 4th) and only two were in the Top Fifteen (the other was TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes, which placed 14th). By comparison, CBS had 15 of the Top Thirty shows, including seven of the Top Ten, and ABC had nine. The only night of the week NBC won was Tuesday, thanks to the strength of The A-Team and Riptide.

As the season was winding down, NBC’s programming chief, Brandon Tartikoff, was optimistic about its chances to climb out of third place. Changes implemented at mid-season were helping and going into the 1984-1985 season Tartikoff was worried primarily about the network’s Friday and Saturday line-ups, worried enough that he made the unusual decision to point 90% of NBC’s pilots towards those two nights, hoping to find a successful combination to counter CBS on Fridays and ABC on Saturdays [3].

NBC unveiled its 1984-1985 schedule on May 10th [4]. All ten of the programs it introduced in September 1983 were gone as were most of its mid-season replacements. The network would debut nine new shows, adding up to 7.5 hours of programming, and completely revamp its Friday line-up. The new shows were Highway to Heaven, It’s Your Move (both Wednesday), The Cosby Show (Thursday), V: The Series, Hunter, Miami Vice (Friday), Partners in Crime, Hot Pursuit (Saturday) and Punky Brewster (Sunday).

As expected, Tartikoff announced the two objectives for its new schedule were to sustain its existing Sunday-Thursday stability and deal with its Friday and Saturday weaknesses [5]. The network’s highest-profile new show was V: The Series, a weekly version of the network’s hit miniseries V (aired May 1983) and V: The Final Battle (aired May 1984).

The Associated Press saw V: The Series as the linchpin of NBC’s 1984-1985 schedule [6]. If the show was a hit and a solid anchor for the network’s Friday line-up, it might turn the tide for Friday and Saturday as a whole. Likewise, David Bianculli of the Philadelphia Inquirer called V: The Series “one of NBC’s two best moves for the coming season,” suggesting it might successfully blunt The Dukes of Hazzard on CBS and kick off an improved Friday for the network [7].

The New Saturday Line-up

The other “best move” according to Bianculli was scheduling Partners in Crime against ABC’s The Love Boat from 9-10PM on Saturdays because as ABC’s oldest series The Love Boat was “ripe for audience defection” [8]. Bianculli felt certain NBC would also easily beat Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer on CBS and the success of Partners in Crime would give Hot Pursuit a leg up on its competition at 10PM [9]. Overall, Bianculli predicted NBC would see big improvements on Friday and Saturday.

NBC’s Saturday Line-Up for the 1984-1985 Season
Debuted September 29th, 1984

  8:00PM – Diff’rent Strokes
  8:30PM – Gimme a Break (New Day & Time)
  9:00PM – Partners in Crime (New)
10:00PM – Hot Pursuit (New)

Kicking off the night with a sitcom block was an attempt to counter-program action/adventure shows on the other networks (T.J. Hooker on ABC and Airwolf on CBS). Diff’rent Strokes, going into its seventh season, would retain its 8-8:30PM time slot from the previous season. Gimme the Break, which had aired on Saturdays for part of the 1982-1983 season, would shift from its Thursday time slot.

The aforementioned Partners in Crime, starring Lynda Carter and Loni Anderson, followed from 9-10PM. In addition to ABC’s The Love Boat, it would also compete with Mickey Spillan’es Mike Hammer on CBS. Carter and Anderson played Carole Stanwyck and Sydney Kovak, two women with absolutely nothing in common. Nothing, that is, aside from their marriages to the same man (at different times, of course). After he is murdered, the two inherit his detective agency and decide to become partners and fight crime together.

Capping off NBC’s new Saturday would be Hot Pursuit from 10-11PM, a version of The Fugitive. Kerrie Keane and Eric Pierpoint starred as Kate and Jim Wyler, a married couple whose lives are turned upside down when Kate is framed for murder. Jim breaks her out of prison and the two go on the run, hoping to uncover the truth and clear Kate’s name. The series would air opposite two other new shows, Finder of Lost Loves on ABC and Cover Up on CBS, making the 10-11PM hour on Saturday the only time slot when new shows on all three networks would compete.

The Jingle: Let’s All Be There

NBC unveiled its promotional campaign for the 1984-1985 season during its annual affiliates meeting in Los Angeles, held May 20-22nd [10]. It featured the slogan “Let’s All Be There,” an updated version of the 1983-1984 season’s “Be More” campaign. The campaign was meant to convey the sense of closeness that viewers would feel watching NBC programming knowing that millions of other people across the country were watching the very same shows.

Loading the player…

Steve Sohmer, NBC Entertainment Senior Vice President, officially presented the campaign to an audience of some 500 affiliates on Tuesday, May 22nd. The audience was taped faking reactions to NBC’s The A-Team and its competition; the shots were then edited into a promotional spot aired that evening during a repeat of The A-Team [11]. The national NBC campaign was set to begin on Sunday, June 10th, customized local spots would be available for stations beginning June 8th and a print portfolio would be mailed to affiliates on August 9th [12].

Nell Carter, star of NBC’s Gimme a Break!, performed the “Let’s All Be There” jingle live at the affiliates meeting [13]. She would also sing a four minute version during the “NBC All-Star Hour” fall preview special broadcast on Monday, September 16th. A variation of the jingle was created for use promoting NBC’s Saturday morning line-up (“Saturday Let’s All Be There”).

The Fall Seasons Begins

The networks premiered many of their new and returning falls shows prior to the official start of the 1984-1985 season on Monday, September 24th. For example, ABC debuted Glitter on September 13th while CBS and NBC both premiered new shows on September 16th, E/R and Miami Vice. On September 15th, NBC introduced Gimme a Break to its new 8:30-9PM Saturday time slot with a repeat. That same night the network also aired the 1985 Miss America pageant from 10-11PM.

The following Saturday (September 22nd), NBC premiered Partners in Crime and Hot Pursuit. Rather than air the two-hour pilot episode of Partners in Crime, NBC instead decided to kick off the new series with its fourth episode guest starring Vanessa Williams, former Miss America 1984 who was forced to resign in July 1984. It was a blatant stunt intended to draw attention to the new series but one that risked alienating viewers confused at the lack of introduction to the characters and setting.

John J. O’Connor pointed this out in his review of the premiere for The New York Times while criticizing the plot for being obvious and the series overall for focusing too much on the “physical assets” of Loni Anderson and Lynda Carter [14]. The premiere aired from 8-9PM, pre-empting Diff’rent Strokes and Gimme a Break. It ranked 36th for the week (out of 58 programs) with a 13.4/25 Nielsen rating, beating Airwolf on CBS but not the first hour of a special ninety-minute The Love Boat on ABC [15].

NBC aired the two-hour premiere of Hot Pursuit opposite the two-hour premiere of Cover Up on CBS as well as the final half-hour of The Love Boat and the ninety-minute premiere of Finder of Lost Loves on ABC. It was a failure right out of the gate, ranking 50th for the week with an 11.2/21 rating, a weak third behind Cover-Up (33rd) and Finder of Lost Loves (40th) [16].

On September 29th, NBC’s full Saturday line-up debuted. Diff’rent Strokes and Gimme a Break performed well (34th and 36th for the week) and ranked a strong second in the 8-9 time slot. Partners in Crime fell to 46th for the week but actually rated only slightly worse than its premiere and ranked second in its time slot. Likewise, the second episode of Hot Pursuit rated almost identically to its premiere, although it was a weak third in the 10-11PM hour [17]. For the night as a whole, NBC was third behind ABC and CBS.

The pilot for Partners in Crime was finally shown on October 13th, airing from 9-11PM and pre-empting Hot Pursuit. NBC won the 8-9PM hour on the strength Diff’rent Strokes and Gimme a Break but, as David Bianculli of the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out, dropped to third from 9-10PM before rising to first again from 10-11PM for the second half of the two-hour pilot [18]. Bianculli suggested moving Partners in Crime to the 10-11PM time slot where it would have a chance of succeeding.

That’s just what NBC did.

NBC’s New Saturday

Five weeks into the 1984-1985 season, NBC was in first place in the Nielsen ratings, up an average of 14% from the previous year, far ahead of ABC (down 15%) and even doing better than CBS (down 6%) [19]. Everything was working for the network, both and returning shows, with the exception of Partners in Crime and Hot Pursuit on Saturdays.

In an October 24th article discussing NBC’s good fortunes, Tom Shales of The Washington Post called the two Saturday dramas “crime bombs” and predicted they would soon to be cancelled [20]. At the end of month the Associated Press reported NBC was planning changes to its Friday and Saturday line-ups in an attempt to shore up ratings on those nights [21].

The changes included moving Partners in Crime to the 10-11PM time slot and adding a pair of sitcoms. The first, Double Trouble, was a revamped version of a limited-run series starring twins Liz and Jean Sagal that NBC premiered in April 1984. The second, Spencer, was a new sitcom starring Chad Lowe as sixteen-year-old Spencer Winger trying to survive high school.

Said Tartikoff of the changes, “We associate much of our turnaround this fall to the performance of our comedies, which have made substantial gains for NBC in the key demographic groups” [22]. As for Hot Pursuit, it would shift Fridays at 10PM for three weeks in December before going hiatus. Tartikoff called it “an extremely well made television program that really has not been amply sampled” and explained “we believe programs that have exhibited a quality effort should be given more time to find an audience” [23].

NBC’s 1st Revised Saturday Line-Up for the 1984-1985 Season
Debuted December 1st, 1984

  8:00PM – Diff’rent Strokes
  8:30PM – Double Trouble (New Day & Time)
  9:00PM – Gimme a Break (New Time)
  9:30PM – Spencer (New)
10:00PM – Partners in Crime (New Time)

The original Saturday line-up aired for the last time on October 3rd. Diff’rent Strokes and Gimme a Break again won the 8-9PM hour; Partners in Crime ranked 64th for the week (out of 71 shows) and third in its time slot; Hot Pursuit ranked 69th, also ranked third in its time slot [24]. Partners in Crime and Hot Pursuit were both pre-empted on November 10th and 17th. Then, on November 24th, Partners in Crime moved to 10PM following an hour-long special from 9-10PM. That week it ranked dead last in the Nielsens with a lowly 8.6/16 [25]. The following week, the new schedule debuted. It was not an improvement.

Loading the player…

From 8-9PM, Diff’rent Strokes and Double Trouble ranked third behind “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on CBS and T.J. Hooker on ABC, the first time NBC’s sitcom block had lost to the cop drama [26]. From 9-10PM, Gimme a Break and Spencer averaged a 13.1/22 Nielsen rating, far behind The Love Boat on ABC but comparable to the 13.0/22 for Mike Hammer on CBS [27]. Finally, from 10-11PM, Partners in Crime averaged a 9.3/17 rating, up slightly from the week before but again last for the week and third in its time slot [28].

On December 5th, NBC officially cancelled Partners in Crime, making the series the network’s first cancellation of the season. Doug Mauldin, NBC’s Director of Drama Publicity, noted the ten weeks the network waited before axing its first series was longest it had held off on axing a low-rated series in quite some time, due to the Tinker/Tartikoff philosophy of “more patience with the series, giving them a chance to develop and find an audience” [29]. Partners in Crime would go off the air following its 13th episode on December 29th.

Mid-Season Changes

On December 18th, NBC announced it would replace Partners in Crime with Berrenger’s, a prime time soap set in an upscale New York department store [30]. Sam Wanamaker and Yvette Mimieux starred. Reviewing the pilot, Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times wrote “if the premiere is an indication, what it has going for it are beautiful and arresting characters being greedy in glamorous settings, a good cast and excellent production values” [31]. Advertising executives, however, felt scheduling a prime time soap opera on Saturday was a mistake [32].

NBC’s 2nd Revised Saturday Line-Up for the 1984-1985 Season
Introduced Debuted 5th, 1985

  8:00PM – Diff’rent Strokes
  8:30PM – Double Trouble
  9:00PM – Gimme a Break
  9:30PM – Spencer
10:00PM – Berrenger’s (New)

The special 90-minute premiere aired on January 5th, 1985 from 9:30-11PM, pre-empting Spencer. It averaged a disappointing 11.9/20 Nielsen rating, ranking 57th for the week (out of 63 shows) and badly trailing its competition on ABC and CBS [33]. The following week, in its regular 10-11PM time slot, Berrenger’s fell slightly to an 11.6/20 rating, ranking 60th for the week and again a poor third opposite Finder of Lost Loves on ABC and Cover Up on CBS [34].

Loading the player…

Viewers didn’t have much time to get used to the new NBC Saturday line-up. The network pulled Spencer in mid-January, only days after the sitcom aired its sixth episode on January 12th [35]. Although the network had intended to order additional episodes, star Chad Lowe’s demands led the network to take the series off the air instead [36].

NBC hastily scheduled a repeat of Gimme a Break in place of Spencer on January 19th. Beginning January 26th, a revamped version of It’s Your Move aired from 9:30-10PM. The sitcom, originally broadcast on Wednesdays at 9:30PM, starred Jason Bateman as a high school student and aspiring con man. In an attempt to revive sagging ratings, NBC decided to soften the tone of the series [37].

NBC’s 3rd Revised Saturday Line-Up for the 1984-1985 Season
Debuted January 26th, 1985

  8:00PM – Diff’rent Strokes
  8:30PM – Double Trouble
  9:00PM – Gimme a Break
  9:30PM – It’s Your Move (New Day)
10:00PM – Berrenger’s

It’s Your Move averaged a 12.6/20 Nielsen rating and ranked 56th for the week out of 65 shows, well below the 14.2/22 rating the last episode of Spencer had drawn on January 12th [38]. The fourth episode of Berrenger’s ranked dead last for the week with a 9.5/17 rating; a special Sunday broadcast on January 27th averaged a somewhat stronger but still disappointing 12.8/21 rating [39].

The attempted revamp of It’s Your Move failed to increase ratings and NBC announced it was cancelling the series in mid-February, to be replaced the following month by Under One Roof, a revamped version of Spencer [40]. The final episode would air on February 23rd, the same night that NBC presented a special live episode of Gimme a Break, reportedly the first live broadcast of a sitcom in close to 30 years [41].

Brandon Tartikoff suggested doing a live episode of a sitcom and Gimme a Break was chosen because much of its cast had Broadway experience [42]. The live episode averaged a 15.1/24 rating [43]. Apparently the novelty of watching an episode live made no difference to viewers; the previous episode averaged an almost identical 15.0/24 rating [44]. For the next several weeks, repeats of Gimme a Break would fill the 9:30-10PM time slot.

One Last Reshuffle

NBC announced it was cancelling Berrenger’s in late February due to low ratings (the first seven episodes averaged a paltry 9.8/16 rating), with the last episode scheduled to air on March 9th [44]. It would be replaced on March 23rd by Hunter, shifted from Fridays. Counting the special Sunday broadcast, a total of 11 episodes of Berrenger’s were broadcast, leaving two unaired.

NBC’s 4th Revised Saturday Line-Up for the 1984-1985 Season
Debuted March 23rd, 1985

  8:00PM – Diff’rent Strokes
  8:30PM – Double Trouble
  9:00PM – Gimme a Break
  9:30PM – Under One Roof (New)
10:00PM – Hunter (New Day & Time)

Under One Roof also premiered on March 23rd. Ross Harris replaced Chad Lowe in the leading role and there were a number of other cast changes. Under One Roof averaged a 10.8/18 rating, ranking 71st for the week (out of 72 shows), third in its time slot and well below how Spencer and It’s Your Move had performed [45]. Hunter, however, was first in the 10-11PM time slot with a 13.1/24 rating, ranking 51st for the week, a vast improvement over Berrenger’s [46].

Loading the player…

The 1984-1985 season officially ended on Sunday, April 21st. NBC, in a remarkable turnaround, finished the season in second place with an average 16.2/26 Nielsen rating, not too far behind CBS (16.9/27) but also not too far ahead of ABC (15.4/24) [47]. ABC’s performance was its worst since the 1956-1957 season [48]. .

NBC won only one night of the week (Tuesday) compared to four for CBS (Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday) and two for ABC (Wednesday and Saturday) [49]. Both ABC and CBS lost ground during the 1984-1985 season: CBS was down 6% from the 1983-1984 season while ABC fell 10% [50]. NBC placed five shows in the Top Twenty and three in the Top Ten.

None of the shows NBC aired on Saturday ranked in the Top Thirty for the season. In fact, only four of its Saturday shows were in the Top Fifty (out of 75 prime time shows): Diff’rent Strokes (35th), Gimme a Break (39th), Double Trouble (tied 41st) and It’s Your Move (tied 47th) [51]. The remainder of the shows NBC aired at least partly during the season fared poorly: Spencer (59th), Hunter (62nd), Partners in Crime (tied 64th), Berrenger’s (tied 73rd) and Hot Pursuit (74th) [52].

Still, despite the poor performance of its Saturday programming, NBC was in a solid position going into the 1985-1986 season. So solid, in fact, that when it announced its 1985-1986 schedule on May 1st the network revealed it was only adding four hours of new programming, its smallest slate of replacements in fifteen years [53]. Among the shows the network cancelled were Diff’rent Strokes, Double Trouble, Under One Roof and Hot Pursuit (off the air since December 1984).

Of the 10 shows that NBC aired on Saturday over the course of the 1984-1985 season, only two were renewed for the 1985-1986 season, Gimme a Break and Hunter. Diff’rent Strokes would also return for the 1985-1986 season but on ABC, which picked up the series after NBC cancelled it.

(Several episodes of Hot Pursuit were burned off during the summer repeat season.)

BONUS: Saturday Movies & Specials

Although it made many changes to is regular Saturday line-up during the 1984-1985 season, there weren’t that many pre-emptions for special programming on Saturday nights.

Loading the player…

Over the course of the season, NBC pre-empted its regular program on six occasions, airing two movies, four specials and an NBC News White Paper hosted by Jane Pauley.

List of NBC Saturday Movies & Specials During the 1984-1985 Season

Saturday, November 10th, 1984
MOVIE: Bustin’ Loose (9-11PM)

Saturday, November 17th, 1984
MOVIE: Caddyshack (9-11PM)

Saturday, November 24th, 1984
SPECIAL: National Off the Wall People’s Poll (9-10PM)

Saturday, December 22nd, 1984
SPECIAL: The Smurf’s Christmas Special (8-8:30PM; Repeat)

Saturday, March 16th, 1985
SPECIAL: Candid Kids (8:30-9PM)
NEWS: NBC News White Paper, “Women, Work and Babies: Can America Cope?” (10-11PM)

Saturday, April 13th, 1985
SPECIAL: A Chipmunk Reunion (8:30-9PM)

Most of these programs fared little better than the regular shows they pre-empted. Once exception was the March 16th, 1986 broadcast of “Candid Kids,” which averaged a 15.1/25 Nielsen rating and ranked 33 for the week [54]. The NBC News White Paper that aired the same night ranked 68th for the week (out of 69 shows) with an 8.8/16 rating [55]. Still, that was better than the 5.8/11 rating the last episode of Berrenger’s drew the week before [56].

A second NBC News White Paper, “Vietnam – Lessons of a Lost War,” was broadcast on April 27th, a week after the 1984-1985 season ended.

BONUS: Saturday Morning

Following the end of the 1983-1984 season, NBC cancelled three of its Saturday morning shows: The Flintstones Funnies, Shirt Tales and Thundarr the Barbarian. A fourth show, hour-long The Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, was cut in half and The Incredible Hulk was dropped.

Loading the player…

Four new half-hour shows were added to the network’s Saturday morning schedule for the 1984-1985 season. Three were cartoons: Snorks, which followed the adventures of a group of happy, underwater creatures in the vein of The Smurfs; Pink Panther and Sons, starring the Pink Panther’s sons Pinky and Panky and their friends; and Kidd Video, about four teenage band mates who find themselves trapped in another dimension (the series featured some live-action musical sequences).

The fourth new series, Going Bananas, was a live-action sitcom starring an orangutan named Roxana Banana who is given superpowers and fights crime.

NBC’s Saturday Morning Line-Up for the 1984-1985 Season
Debuted September 15th, 1984

  8:00AM – Snorks (New)
  8:30AM – Pink Panther and Sons (New)
  9:00AM – Smurfs
10:30AM – Alvin And The Chipmunks
11:00AM – Kidd Video (New)
11:30AM – Mr. T
12:00PM – Going Bananas (New)
12:30PM – Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends

Due to low ratings, NBC cancelled Going Bananas after only a few months on the air. It aired its last episode on December 1st. Beginning December 15th, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk aired from 12-1PM. Pink Panther and Sons was cancelled at the end of the 1984-1985 season, although repeats were shown the following season on ABC.

BONUS: Saturday Night Live

The tenth season of Saturday Night Live premiered on October 6th, 1984 with no host and the Thompson Twins as the musical guest. Two weeks later, on October 20th, Jesse Jackson served as host with Andrae Couch and Wintley Phipps as the musical guests. The episode averaged a 10.4/29 overnight Nielsen rating, its highest rating in several years [57].

Loading the player…

That number was eclipsed two months later when the December 15th episode, hosted by Eddie Murphy with Robert Plant as the musical guest, averaged an 11.7/31 overnight rating [58]. Other hosts/musical guests for the season included George Carlin/Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Ed Asner/The Kinks, Kathleen Turner/John Waite and Pamela Sue Martin/Power Station.

A two-week strike by the Writers Guild of America from March 5th-March 19th forced NBC to scrap the scheduled March 9th, 1985 episode, which would have featured John Candy and Eugene Levy [59]. The March 16th episode was postponed and aired on March 30th [60].

BONUS: Saturday Daytime Sports

NBC didn’t air any sports programs in prime time on Saturday evenings during the 1984-1985 season. But the network did broadcast a number of sporting events during the daytime hours. On October 6th, 1984 at 4:30PM, NBC aired the United States-Netherlands Antilles 1986 World Cup qualifying soccer match via tape delay as part of its Sportsworld series. It would be the first time NBC aired a World Cup game.

Prior to the broadcast, Jerry Trecker of The Hartford Courant noted that “any type of ratings response will be history-making for a sport with a notoriously poor TV past” [61] . But after the game was aired, Trecker criticized NBC’s coverage, arguing the network was “guilty of fundamental reporting errors” by not introducing the Netherlands Antilles team or explaining that the broadcast was heavily edited to fit into a 90-minute time slot [62].

Loading the player…

Lawrie Mifflin of The New York Times, on the other hand, felt that NBC’s commentators did a “distinguished job” and noted that while soccer fans might not be happy about seeing an edited game, they nevertheless should be happy the network aired it at all (he pointed out that the last soccer game to be seen on network television was the 1982 World Cup final) [63].

The following week, NBC aired Game 4 of the 1984 World Series (Padres vs. Tigers) at 4:30PM. Pre-game coverage began at 1PM. On November 10th, at 2PM, the network aired the 1984 Breeder’s Cup. And on February 9th, 1985 the network at 5PM the network aired coverage of the 1984 Hawaiian Open.

Works Cited:
1 Kerr, Peter. “CBS is First in Season’s Ratings.” New York Times. 18 Apr. 1984: C29.
2 “CBS Again Wins Race for Television Ratings.” Wall Street Journal. 18 Apr. 1984: 1.
3 Landro, Laura and Bill Abrams. “NBC Remains Confident of Success Despite Continuing Ratings Slump.” Wall Street Journal. 23 Feb. 1984: 1.
4 Rothenberg, Fred. “NBC’s “V” Series Key to Success Next Season.” Associated Press. 10 May 1984: AM Cycle.
5 “The three networks set their sights on fall.” Broadcasting. 4 May 1984: 38.
6 Rothenberg, Fred. “NBC’s New and Old Schedules.” Associated Press. 15 May 1984: PM Cycle.
7 Bianculli, David. “Network Position May Shift This Season.” Philadelphia Inquirer. 14 May 1984: D.1.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid.
10 “NBC affiliates told to ‘Be There’.” Broadcasting. 28 May 1984: 81.
11 Ibid.
12 Ibid.
13 Bayless, Martha. “Television: Drumming Up Network Spirit.” Wall Street Journal. 4 Jun. 1984: 1.
14 O’Connor, John J. “TV: 2 Series, ‘Partners in Crime’ and ‘Cover Up’.” New York Times. 29 Sep. 1984: 48.
15 “ABC takes lead on even of premiere week.” Broadcasting. 1 Oct. 1984: 69.
16 Ibid.
17 “CBS takes week one; NBC places second.” Broadcasting. 8 Oct. 1984: 94.
18 Bianculli, David. “NBC’s Nielsen Lead: A Significant Win.” Philadelphia Inquirer. 18 Oct. 1984: C15.
19 Shales, Tom. “NBC, Peacock Proud: After the Slump, First in Prime Time.” Washington Post. 24 Oct. 1984: D1.
20 Ibid.
21 “NBC Announces Two New Comedy Series; Shuffles Friday, Saturday Night Lineups.” Associated Press. 31 Oct. 1984: AM Cycle.
22 Ibid.
23 Ibid.
24 “CBS takes week six, NBC second.” Broadcasting. 12 Nov. 1984: 56.
25 “NBC garners another first place.” Broadcasting. 3 Dec. 1984: 109.
26 “CBS makes 10 in a row.” Broadcasting. 10 Dec. 1984: 78.
27 Ibid.
28 Ibid.
29 “‘Partners in Crime’ Gets the Ax.” Associated Press. 6 Dec. 1984: PM Cycle.
30 Carmody, John. “The TV Column.” Washington Post. 19 Dec. 1984: D18.
31 Rosenberg, Howard. “It’s Tough Being Beautiful and Rich.” Los Angeles Times. 5 Jan. 1985: 13.
32 Kaplan, Peter W. “Madison Avenue a Stern Critic of ‘Second Season’.” New York Times. 5 Jan. 1985: 42.
33 “CBS takes the week in prime time and daytime.” Broadcasting. 14 Jan. 1985: 162.
34 “CBS wins and ABC climbs into second.” Broadcasting. 21 Jan. 1985: 87.
35 “Margulies, Lee. “NBC Playing Musical Chairs with Comedies.” Los Angeles Times. 16 Jan. 1985: 10.
36 “Star’s demands lead to ‘Spencer’ cancellation.” Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA]. Knight-Ridder. 18 Jan. 1985: 23.
37“Margulies, Lee. “NBC Playing Musical Chairs with Comedies.”
38 “CBS wins a close one.” Broadcasting. 4 Feb. 1985: 64.
39 Ibid.
40 “The TV Column.” Washington Post. 13 Feb. 1985: B11.
41 “‘Gimme a Break’ / TV Sitcom Shown Live — And It Works.” San Francisco Chronicle. 25 Feb. 1985: 37.
42 Ibid.
43 “ABC, NBC tie in ratings photo finish.” Broadcasting. 4 Mar. 1985: 83.
44 “CBS back in first in weekly ratings.” Broadcasting. 25 Feb. 1985: 78.
45 “ABC, NBC tie for first in ratings.” Broadcasting. 1 Apr. 1985: 74.
46 Ibid.
47 Carmody, John. “The TV Column.” Washington Post. 29 Apr. 1985: C6.
48 Ibid.
49 Ibid.
50 “NBC is No. 2 After CBS, ABC Drops to Lost Place.” Wall Street Journal. 24 Apr. 1985: 1.
51 [No Title]. Associated Press. 23 Apr. 1985: AM Cycle.
52 Ibid.
53 Smith, Sally Bedell. “NBC Announces Its Fall Schedule.” New York Times. 2 May 1985: C26.
54 “CBS takes its 19th ratings victory.” Broadcasting. 25 Mar. 1985: 52.
55 Ibid.
56 “Basketball cuts into network numbers.” Broadcasting. 18 Mar. 1985: 65.
57 Carmody, John. “The TV Column.” Washington Post. 22 Oct. 1984: C9.
58 Carmody, John. “The TV Column.” Washington Post. 18 Dec. 1984: B8.
59 Smith, Sally Bedell. “Scant Initial Effect Seen For TV Writers’ Strike.” New York Times. 6 Mar. 1985: C22.
60 Jablon, Robert. “2-Week Strike by TV and Movie Writers is Over; Shows Will Stop Using Reruns.” Philadelphia Inquirer. 20 Mar. 1985: C8.
61 Trecker, Jerry. “NESN Pits Bruins, Colleges Against Whalers, Celtics.” Hartford Courant. 5 Oct. 1984: C5.

62 Trecker, Jerry. “Soccer Telecast Was a Kick in the Pants to Fans.” Hartford Courant. 8 Oct. 1984: C2.

63 Mifflin, Lawrie. “TV Sports; Getting Away from Cliches.” New York Times. 9 Oct. 1984: D32.

Originally April 26th, 2006
Last Updated April 26th, 2018

Support Television Obscurities


9 Replies to “NBC Saturdays, 1984-1985”

  1. “DOUBLE TROUBLE” returned in mid-season because Brandon Tartikoff, NBC’s programming “whiz”, believed the show could be “improved” after its initial episodes aired in the summer of 1984. He also had a commitment from Columbia Pictures Television (the series’ studio) to feature a pair of comedic actors known as “The Funny Boys”, Jonathan Schmock and James Vallelly, in a series; their first effort for the network was an unsold pilot called “T.L.C.” for the 1984-’85 season (first-year med students in an all-women college). When that tanked, Tartifkoff added them to the new format of “DOUBLE TROUBLE” (as Kate & Allison Foster’s upstairs neighbors in New York). Despie the changes, the series ended that season…and Jonathan Schmock went on to become a producer, most notably “SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH” in the late ’90s.

  2. Just amazing reading how much turned to gold for NBC that season (The Cosby Show; Miami Vice; Hunter)…except for Saturdays after 9:00 p.m. — where everything NBC touched there crumbled.

  3. As noted in the comment above, the 1984 Bill Cosby series was titled “The Cosby Show.” “The Bill Cosby Show” was his sitcom that aired from 1969-71 on NBC.

  4. This brings back memories! When I was a kid in the 1980s, NBC’s Saturday night sitcoms were appointment television for me. What else was a kid supposed to do on a Saturday when your parents were out and you were home with a sitter?

  5. The “heavy” in “Hot Pursuit” , Estelle Modrian, was played by one of the loveliest women ever to grace the screen…actress, philanthropist and social icon Dina Merrill, who as of this writing is alive and well at age ninety-two. She is the total opposite of the despicable character she played in this short lived crime drama!

  6. I just found this article 7+ years after you posted it. Great job w/ just a few typos. NBC’s 1983-84 campaign was called “Be There”, not “Be More”, your reference to October 3 should have been November 3 (which fell on a Saturday that year), and your reference to March 16, 1986 for the broadcast of “Candid Kids” should have been [Saturday] March 16, 1985.

    It’s funny to me that CBS had the strong Friday night lineup and ABC the strong Saturday night lineup in the 1980s, as the opposite was true (in my observation at least) in the 1970s, where ABC led off with THE BRADY BUNCH on Friday nights and CBS led off with ALL IN THE FAMILY on Saturday nights.

    The CBS Friday night lineup was weakening by this point, as CBS cancelled THE DUKES OF HAZZARD in January 1985 and DALLAS that fall embarked on its Bobby Ewing-free season then attributed his reappearance the next spring as the whole season being “just a dream” for Pam Ewing.

    NBC certainly turned things around on Saturday night for fall 1985 with THE GOLDEN GIRLS and a few other sitcoms, and ABC finally cancelled THE LOVE BOAT as a weekly series after the 1985-86 season.

    1. The one good thing about the Bobby-free season of Dallas… it provided a setup for the greatest sitcom series ending episode ever, Newhart.

      (I hate that I have to actually name the show, because I would think anyone reading about 80s NBC programming would know.)

  7. Ironically enough at the beginning of the 1984-85 season a small seed was planted that would later pay huge dividends for NBCs Saturday night lineup. As part of NBCs fall preview special there was a segment called “Miami Nice”. The title as a play on Miami Vice and featured Selma Diamond (the starring on Night Court) and Doris Roberts as two senior women cops in Miami. Brandon Tartikkoff thought the premise would be good for a sitcom and approached producers Paul Junger Witt and partner Tony Thomas about developing it. They in turn brought in Susan Harris fresh off of Soap. Harris was reluctant at first but quickly warmed to the project. She ultimately came up with a show about four senior women living together in Miami. Soon sitcom stalwarts Betty White, Rue Maclanahan and Bea Arthur were cast and the show premiered in the fall of 1985. It’s name? The Golden Girls..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.