This Month In YesterYear History - October

Monday, September 26, 2022

October is finally upon us!  

Ok, I know I'm posting this at the end of September, but I need every available Monday and Friday for our Halloween 2022 content! On Monday, you'll find an original post or article, and on Friday, I'll be highlighting some past articles you may have missed, so please, check them out!  

By the way, if you use a desktop, you'll notice on the right side of the screen, I've added links to view this Halloween's T.V. Listings for AMC FrightFest, Freeform's 31 Nights of Halloween, and a Streaming Sampler List. If you're using a phone or tablet, you'll have to scroll down to the bottom to find it.  

Let's review the Octobers of our past with another edition of "This Month in YesterYear History!"  

Please CLICK HERE to read last month's feature if you missed it!

In this series, we take a brief look back at the "best" or "top" of popular culture from the past 20 (2002), 25 (1997), and 30 (1992) years ago!   

Below, you'll find a little time capsule of what was significant in our lives during those days.  Hopefully, as you read these brief synopses of the past, you'll begin to remember the who, when, and where of your memories from that time period.  

That's why I post to this site, after all!

So, let's get into those time machines, my friends!  We're headed back Twenty, Twenty Five, and Thirty years ago!

WCW Saturday Night and Fall Brawl 1995 at Grandma's House

Monday, September 19, 2022

One Saturday evening at the end of August in 1995, my parents were watching my brother play hockey on the other side of town.  Or at least that's how I remember it.  August seems a bit early for hockey, but we pretty much played around the calendar, so... who knows.

In any event, wherever they were, I somehow managed to beg off and stayed home with Grandma and Grandpa.  They lived next door, and as a kid, I frequently wandered back and forth from our house to theirs several times a day.  

Longtime readers here will already know, but I've been a pro wrestling fan since I was 5 when I caught a glimpse of the National Wrestling Alliance on TBS in 1990.  I'm pretty sure it was a Rock and Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) match because I remember the blond hair and the brightly colored red and blue bandanas, but it may have been The Fabulous Freebirds for all I know.  Either way, it was classic Southern-style "rasslin" and set me on a lifelong fandom of NWA/WCW over the more flashy WWF presentation.

I drifted in and out of casual fandom during the next 5 years.  Mainly because it was forbidden in my house, for fear I may try a wrestling move on my brother or a friend at school.  In any event, I'd sneak some wrestling in when I thought nobody was watching.  Or, more often, I'd just walk next door and watch it at my Grandparent's house.  They didn't seem to mind and usually left me alone with a glass of Tang, a Snickers, and the TV in the kitchen.  

Eventually, my parents gave up policing the TV, and I began watching wrestling on a regular basis.

Years later, like The Simpsons, all it took was for my Dad to watch a few minutes and enjoy what he saw to get their final approval.  He just happened to sit down beside me one day during the infamous Ric Flair interview where he stripped down to his boxer shorts and handcuffed himself to the ring.  

What can I say?  Ric Flair is the best of all time, and wrestling in the 90s was amazingly fun.

Just days after this fateful August evening at my Grandparent's house, World Championship Wrestling launched a new show called Monday Nitro.  Nitro quickly became the focus of the promotion, causing WCW Saturday Night, what had long been the flag bearer for the promotion, to take a backseat to the new Monday show.  The pro wrestling Monday Night War of the 90s had begun, and the non-wrestling world was starting to take notice.  

But what I saw that night, while sitting at Grandma's kitchen table, turned my interest in pro wrestling into a lifelong love.

Retro Scans: TV Guide 1996 Fall TV Preview

Monday, September 12, 2022

Fall may not have officially started yet, but with Labor Day and the unofficial end to summer firmly in our rearview mirror, many of us are thinking of cooler weather and our favorite fall activities.

For the longest time, Fall, and specifically September, often meant a new slate of TV shows and an exciting amount of new programming.  

Growing up in the 90s, I can remember the excitement of the new crop of television programs and the immense amount of advertising these broadcasting companies put into them.  

For me, diving into a fresh Fall television lineup was akin to waiting to see who the New York Rangers would trade on Deadline Day or the excitement of the wheeling and dealing during Silly Season in NASCAR.  

As I poured over the TV listings, it was always exciting to ask myself questions like which of the new series would flop and get canceled.  Who would survive until the end of the season?  Will they get renewed?  Which new show will be the next big thing and launch the actors into megastardom?   

Today... not so much.  There is much less risk with new series and often networks will run the course with a sure thing or cancel it before production.  

That's not just for television, too.  Sports free agent markets have changed so much in recent years thanks to large contracts, corporate input, and salary caps.  Things don't just seem as much fun as they once were.

I can write paragraphs about how streaming services have diversified the viewing landscape.  I could also go on about the lack of "seasons" on television anymore, but that's an entirely different discussion for another time.

As we knew it back then, the fall schedule consisted of new television series paired with returning favorites packaged into a giant media frenzy and advertising campaign launched at the end of August.  The shows would begin their season in September and run through December, taking a hiatus during the holiday weeks when viewership declines.   A "midseason" premier would occur in January and historically run through mid to late May.

Recently, several networks have staggered the new and returning shows without necessarily following the standard fall and spring schedules.  In 2008, NBC was the first to make it official, claiming they'd follow the "52-week television season" with fewer episodes than the current standard.  

For comparison, back in the 1950s, I Love Lucy aired 35 episodes from September through May.  In the 90s, Seinfeld ran 24 episodes from September through May.  But in 2022, Better Call Saul ran only 7 episodes during April and May, followed by a two-month break, before finishing the season (and series) with only 6 more episodes. 

This reduced number of episodes leads to changes in presentation and storytelling, of course.  One would argue that the shows are much more like "mini-films" these days, and you'd be right to some extent.  Rising production costs, increased actor salaries, and reduced advertising budgets created by declining audiences have led to the need to shorten television seasons.  

The audience's desire to binge-watch a series on a streaming platform also reduces the number of episodes per season.  When I Love Lucy aired 35 episodes in a single season, they did so by producing them one week at a time.  When a series is placed on streaming platforms to be watched all at once, all episodes must be filmed all at once, requiring a more extended production schedule.  Many streaming platforms are now following Disney Plus' lead and are getting away from the Netflix style of "dropping an entire season at once" and returning to the standard weekly episodic model.  

You can also consider audience attention span and viewing fatigue as contributing factors.  Today's viewers need a constant "new-ness"; otherwise, a show will wear out quickly.  Today's audience has a more discerning palate, it seems.  

Speaking of advertising budgets, did you know the original reason that the Fall Premier season is a big deal is that it was created to help automobile manufacturers promote the new car lineup for the coming year?   

The more you know... (cue the shooting star). 

In the 90s, an old Seinfeld rerun could earn 20 million viewers.  Today, a "hit" streaming show on Netflix or Amazon may be considered a "massive success" with only a few hundred thousand views, as long as it gets social media buzz to drum up online ad sales.  

With limited time this week, and after working on my "Retro Museum" at home, I came across a copy of an old TV Guide from 1996 I had aquired many years ago that highlighted the new Fall Season.  

Some of the shows featured in the following pages I remember fondly.  Some I had long forgotten, and some I don't remember whatsoever.  I scanned some excerpts, along with a handful of fun advertisements that piqued my interest.  

Look through the scans below and enjoy your own stroll down memory lane.  Do you remember any of these shows?  Did you watch any of them faithfully, only to be disappointed when they were canceled?  

Let me know in the comments section, or drop me a line!  

You can find the "Drop Me a Line" box on the right side of your screen if you are using a laptop or desktop computer.  You can find it on a tablet or phone below the posts towards the bottom of the page.  

Or, you can always just click on the little envelope in the top right corner and send me an email!  

This Month in YesterYear History - September

Monday, September 5, 2022

Well, our YesterYear Summer of 2022 has come and gone, Labor Day has passed us by, and it's already September!  Where has the time gone?  Let's review the Septembers of our past with another new edition of "This Month in YesterYear History!"   

In this series, we take a brief look back at the "best" or "top" of popular culture from 20 (2002), 25 (1997), and 30 (1992) years ago!    

Cobbling together information from various websites, I've pieced together a little time capsule of what was significant in our lives during those days.   Hopefully, as you read these brief synopses from the past, you'll remember the who, when, and where of your memories from that time period.  

That's why I post to this site, after all!

So, let's get into those time machines, my friends!  We're headed back Twenty, Twenty Five, and Thirty years ago!