Nick at Nite's Block Party Summer

Friday, June 26, 2020

In honor of Nick at Nite's 35th Anniversary, I wanted to be sure to include an article about my all-time favorite television event, The Nick at Nite Block Party Summer.  This programming block on Nick at Nite was arguably the network's most popular and beloved stunt in network history and hooked a lot of 90s kids on classic television.

As a kid, I had a really early bedtime.  I remember being so upset when my parents sent me to bed while it was still light outside, and my next-door neighbor, the kid who got every toy on the shelf and everything else, was still out playing.  However, during the summer, when "Lucy Tuesdays" and the rest of the Nick at Nite Block Party Summer was on, I can still remember the sheer joy of staying up late and watching the whole night's programming with Dad.  Other than times when I was sick, and my parents let me sleep on the couch in front of the tv, this was one of the few times I remember being allowed to stay up late.  And of course, it involved classic television.


Launching in 1994, the Block Party Summer ran during July and August every summer through 2000.  After 2000, it faced a few different iterations before being discarded by the network in 2006 for weekly marathons.  In what some people call the original "Netflix binge-watching," The Block Party Summer would air three-hour mini-marathons of a different sitcom every night.  Each night was given its own branding and advertising, such as "Mary Mondays" or Lucy Tuesdays."
Part of the charm to The Block Party Summer was Nick at Nite's unique advertising and imagery.  The array of musical bumpers, both animated and live-action, had retro qualities all to themselves. The satirical PSAs, running gags like "How to Be Swell" and "The Adventures of the Milkman," all added to the network we fell in love with. The spots and commercials each had their unique kind of kitschy charm that always reminded me of summer house parties of the 50s and 60s.  Not that I was alive then, but what it's I imagined them to be.
 
There was an episode of The Wonder Years, where Winnie Cooper's family had a house party just like I've always dreamed of... minus the whole my girlfriend tells me she's moving away parts like Winnie and Kevin.  Since being an adult, I've always wanted a large BBQ with coworkers, friends, and family that goes late into the night, complete with grilled burgers and hotdogs, paper lanterns, checkerboard table cloths (plastic coated, of course) and the theme song to "A Summer Place" in the background.  The Block Party Summer conjured those types of happy images for me with reminders of what I perceive was a much better time.

Looking back in 2020, I long for the 1990s, let alone the 1950s.

Typically, Nick at Nite would schedule the Block Party for about 8 weeks, give or take depending upon the year.  Often starting around the Monday after the 4th of July and running through mid-August.  Some summers were longer, such as 2000, when it ran until September 3rd.

Nothing says great lineup more than the original.  Having aired from July 11 to August 19, the 1994 Block Party Summer will always hold a special place in my heart.

In the summer of 1994, the original lineup was:  
  • Mondays - "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" on "Mary Mondays"
  • Tuesdays - "I Love Lucy" on "Lucy Tuesdays"
  • Wednesdays - "Bewitched" on "Bewitched Be-Wednesdays"
  • Thursday - "I Dream of Jeannie" on "Jeannie Thursdays"
  • Friday - "Dragnet" on "Sgt. Joe Fridays"
Not Block Party Summer related but 1994's "Nick at Nite Love's Lucy" nonetheless

Since it was never a favorite of mine, I was excited to see "Dragnet" leave the lineup in 1998.  I was even more excited to see the Munsters arrive on Mondays!   I remember my Mom and Dad were thrilled to see "Welcome Back, Kotter" join the lineup on Fridays.  They would often tell me stories about when they were dating or newly married and how they remember doing something or being somewhere when a specific episode was on. That's what nostalgia is all about and exactly why I write this blog. 1998's Block Party ran from July 12 through August 28th.

In the summer of 1995, the lineup was:  
  • Mondays - "The Munsters" on "Munster Mondays"
  • Tuesdays - "I Love Lucy" on "Lucy Tuesdays"
  • Wednesdays - "Bewitched" on "Bewitched Be-Wednesdays"
  • Thursdays - "I Dream of Jeannie" on "Jeannie Thursdays"
  • Fridays - "Welcome Back, Kotter" on "Kotter Fridays"
The 1995 Block Party Summer Lineup

The first year's lineup would have to rank up there because it was that original lineup that hooked me as a child, but 1996 takes the cake as the lineup I have the most memories of.  Nothing outlandishly special in this lineup, but I probably spent the most time watching tv this summer and had the most going on in my young life that I remember watching 1996 the most. 1996's Block Party aired between July 8th and August 23rd.

For the summer of 1996, the lineup was: 
  • Mondays - "The Munsters" on "Munster Mondays"
  • Tuesdays - "I Love Lucy" on "Lucy Tuesdays"
  • Wednesdays - "Bewitched" on "Bewitched Be-Wednesdays"
  • Thursdays - "The Odd Couple" on "Odd Couple Thursdays"
  • Fridays - "I Dream of Jeannie" on "Jeannie Fridays"
Not a Block Party Summer Video, but it's the closest I could find for 1996.  
Someone, PLEASE upload a 1996 video!!

Between '96 and '97, the lineup didn't change other than the Thursday slot switched to "Happy Days," a show I'm very fond of.  I never really liked "The Monkees," so I likely was watching wrestling on WCW Nitro on Monday nights during this year.  1997 ran from July 7th to August 27th.

For the summer of 1997, the lineup was: 
  • Mondays - "The Monkees" on "Monkee Mondays"
  • Tuesdays - "I Love Lucy" on "Lucy Tuesdays"
  • Wednesdays - "Bewitched" on "Bewitched Be-Wednesdays"
  • Thursdays - "Happy Days" on "Happy Days Thursdays"
  • Fridays - "I Dream of Jeannie" on "Jeannie Fridays"
The only available video for 1997, enjoy this "Monkee Monday" promo.

In 1998, the famous "Lucy Tuesdays" temporarily came to an end when it was moved to Sundays.  I would look at 1997 and 1998 (the addition of Sunday in response to the demand) as the height of Nick at Nite's popularity.

I was in the 8th grade in 1998, and I was in the right spot in life to truly appreciate Kevin Arnold's coming-of-age story on "The Wonder Years." This was the perfect addition to the lineup, and my Uncle and I made it our mission to watch every episode of the series.  That may sound easy to do in 2020, but in 1998, when the internet was in its infancy and box set DVDs (especially Wonder Years) weren't readily available, we were lucky to find some random website where someone typed up a list of every episode.  Without DVRs, it became a VHS nightmare, and finally, months after the Block Party Summer ended, we found the "infamous" Rolling Stones episode that allowed us to check off the final episode.

But, I digress.  Sorry about that.  You should know by now, I ramble.  The addition of Sunday in 1998 provided an opportunity for more programming and allowed for the addition of child-focused Nickelodeon cartoon "Rugrats" to join the lineup on Friday.  I remember a lot of upset people on the Prodigy BB's (early message board/forums for you kids) when "Rugrats" was announced.  This year's Party was shown between July 6th and August 28th.

In the summer of 1998, the lineup was:  
  • Sundays - "I Love Lucy" on "Lucy Sundays"
  • Mondays - "Laverne and Shirley" on "Laverne and Shirley Mondays"
  • Tuesdays - "The Brady Bunch" on "Brady Tuesdays"
  • Wednesdays - "The Wonder Years" on "Wonder Wednesdays"
  • Thursdays - "Happy Days" on "Happy Days Thursdays"
  • Fridays - "Rugrats" on "Rugrats Fridays"
A beautiful look back at the 1998 Block Party Summer

In 1999, they dropped Sundays from the programming block again, going back to the original weekday only lineup. "I Love Lucy" was once again moved back to Tuesdays, and thankfully, "The Rugrats" were gone.  1999 was aired between July 5th to August 20th.

During the summer of 1999, the lineup was:  
  • Mondays - "The Brady Bunch" on "Brady Mondays"
  • Tuesdays - "I Love Lucy" on "Lucy Tuesdays"
  • Wednesdays - "The Jeffersons" on "Jefferson Wednesdays"
  • Thursdays - "Happy Days" on "Happy Days Thursdays"
  • Fridays - "The Wonder Years" on "Wonder Fridays"
The 1999 Block Party Summer Lineup

In the final Block Party Summer, Nick at Nite came up with the "Party Crasher" gimmick.  I thought the Party Crasher was a great concept!  It allowed for a new show to join the lineup each Friday, adding a little variety to the summer and a chance to see some shows that hadn't been aired in quite some time. "I Love Lucy" was once again moved to Sundays, allowing for the shows to be shifted around to create room for the "Party Crasher" Friday.  The longest of all Block Partys (and last) this year ran from July 2nd to September 3rd.

Finally, in 2000, the lineup was:  
  • Sundays - "I Love Lucy" on "Lucy Sundays"
  • Mondays - "The Andy Griffith Show" on "Mayberry Mondays"
  • Tuesdays - "Gilligans Island" on "Gilligan Tuesdays"
  • Wednesdays - "The Beverly Hillbillies" on "Hillbilly Wednesdays"
  • Thursdays - "The Brady Bunch" on "Brady Thursdays"
  • Fridays - "The Party Crasher"
The following Fridays "Party Crashers" were revealed to be:
  • July 7th, 2000: "Head of the Class."
  • July 14th, 2000: "Perfect Strangers."
  • July 21st, 2000: "The Jeffersons."
  • July 28th, 2000: "Bewitched."
  • August 4th, 2000: "I Dream of Jeannie."
  • August 11th, 2000: "Head of the Class" (Was advertised as "My Favorite Martian")
  • August 18th, 2000: "Happy Days."
  • August 25th, 2000: "Rugrats."
  • September 1st, 2000: "The Wonder Years."
The 2000 Block Party Summer Ad

After 2000, the Block Party Summer was retired, and the promotion was changed to the "Un-Re-Al-A-Thon." At the turn of the century, "reality TV" had taken hold of America.  From "The Osbournes" on MTV to "Survivor" on CBS, America seemingly couldn't get enough "unscripted" television.  Nick at Nite decided to counterbalance this by calling itself the "UnReality" network.  The "Un-Re-Al-A-Thon" was born for the summer of 2001.  The shows consisted of "I Love Lucy," "Diff'rent Strokes," "The Brady Bunch," and "The Andy Griffith Show."

Un-Re-Al-A-Thon Promo

In 2002, the "Un-Reality" campaign had ended, and the summer programming block was renamed "Camp Nick at Nite." Running from July 7th to August 15th, it is regarded highly by many for its smart marketing, graphics, and fun commercials.  The high-quality ads rivaled the Nick at Nite of old and you can tell they put effort into the advertising again this year.

Summer Camp would air:
  • Sunday - "Cheers"
  • Monday - "The Cosby Show"
  • Tuesday - "Cheers"
  • Wednesday - "All in the Family"
  • Thursday - "The Cosby Show"
  • Friday - Regular network programming consisting of "The Cosby Show," "Cheers," "Family Ties," and "All in the Family." 
While the advertising may have been great, the programming wasn't that interesting to me.  To repeat Cheers and Cosby in the same week when they had other shows in their library at the time?  Lame.  At least from 2am to 5am on Fridays and Saturdays they would air a segment called "The TV Land Sampler," which would show classics like "I Love Lucy," "Leave it to Beaver," and "The Munsters."

Camp Nick at Nite Promo

In 2003, the "Viewer Appreciation Summer" replaced Camp Nick at Nite from July 7th through August 5th.  Nick at Nite would air two episodes of "The Cosby Show" nightly before running the programming block.  The Viewer Appreciation Summer schedule was then identical to the "Camp Nick at Nite" programming from 10pm to 2am.  After 2am, they would mix in shows like "Wings" on Wednesday and "Sanford and Son" on Friday.

In 2004, Nick at Nite was running a promotion surrounding a fictitious "Road Crew" that would ride around the country in a branded minivan and film different skits with the "unsuspecting public." While not very popular, Nick at Nite labeled 2004's summer programming block "The Road Crew Summer," utilizing this group to introduce shows and provide moments of comedic skits and one-liners.  From July 5th to August 13th, Nick at Nite aired "Full House" from 9 to 10 nightly, then:
  • Mondays - "Three's Company"
  • Tuesday - "The Cosby Show"
  • Wednesday - "Who's The Boss"
  • Thursday - "Roseanne"
  • Friday - "Full House"
From 2 to 6am, they would switch to a sampling of "Full House," "Wings," "Cheers," and "Roseanne."

Meet 2004's "Road Crew"

In 2005 the branding changed to "Easy TV Summer," asking viewers to let Nick at Nite take you back in time to summer evenings of days gone by and make your choice of what to watch easy... because it was the same show all night long.  Of course, by this time in Nick at Nite's run, "take you back in time" was also only a handful of years prior with shows like "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Roseanne," and "Full House." "The Cosby Show" must have been considered the old classic. "Full House" and "Fresh Prince" ran from 9 to 10pm nightly all week.  Followed from 10pm to 2am by:

Sundays - "Full House"
Mondays - "The Cosby Show"
Tuesday - "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
Wednesdays - "Roseanne"
Thursdays - "Fresh Prince"

After 2am, Nick at Nite would rotate in "Full House," "Murphy Brown," and "Who's the Boss?"

2005 Nick at Nite Promo
In 2006, the final summer promotion was called "The Summer of Favorites." Nightly, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" ran from 9pm-10pm, followed by:

Mondays - "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" 10pm-2am, then "News Radio" 2am-6am
Tuesdays - "Roseanne" 10pm-2am, then "The Cosby Show" 2am-6am
Wednesdays - "A Different World" 10pm-2am, then "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" 2am-6am
Thursdays - "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" 10pm-2am, then "Mad About You" 2am-6am
Fridays - "Full House" 10pm-2am, then "Roseanne" 2am-6am 

"Summer Favorites" Promo

2007 saw Nick at Nite run special programming called "Wall to Wall Summer," but didn't have much in common with the Block Party Summer other than it was also a marathon.  Block Party Summer was a new marathon each night, while Wall to Wall Summer was just weekly marathons of the same show.   The evening would open with "America's Funniest Home Videos" at 9pm, followed by:

Week of July 2: "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
Week of July 9: "Roseanne"
Week of July 16: "Full House"
Week of July 23: "The Cosby Show"
Week of July 30: "Fresh Prince"
Week of August 6: "Roseanne"
Week of August 13: "The Cosby Show"
Week of August 20: "Fresh Prince."

As you can see, the later years of the summer programming just wasn't the same.  The shows themselves were much more recent, and the library of shows grew thin.  By 2007, the summer marathon programming had devolved into just the same 4 shows being played over and over again.  Much remains the same here in 2020, only 7 shows regularly rotate through.  All are relatively recent, and one ("The Goldbergs") is still in production.


Nick at Nite was always just where I found entertaining, wholesome, fun shows to watch.  As I grew older, I appreciated these shows for more than entertainment and comedic value, I saw them as sort of a security blanket akin to comfort food.  Now, as an adult, work and just life make the summers fly by faster than the blink of an eye, I often reflect on those summers as a child and have the same warm, fuzzy feelings I had then.  Everything was "ok" when I would make a bag of popcorn, grab the remote, and turn on The Block Party Summer to spend a summer evening marathon with my old friends.

I have to thank my Dad for getting me hooked on classic television.  I also must thank Nick at Nite's Block Party Summer for creating so many memories. 

I hope this article did it justice.

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