TV critic David Bianculli once stated, “It is easy, and not at all inaccurate, to divide dramatic series television into two eras: Before Hill Street Blues 1981-1987… and after.” He credits the NBC crime drama with two revolutionary innovations that would become the genre norm (although both had been staples of daytime soap operas for years). The first was to replace the single lead with an ensemble cast. The second is that it replaced the standard episodic plot line, where each episode told a single self-contained story, to a narrative arc that would go over an entire season. However, Bianculli leaves out perhaps Hill Street Blues’ greatest contribution to American television.
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Putting its meta-textual sense of humor to the side, the biggest thing that stuck with me after Community’s season six finale was how far the cast has come. That episode, “Emotional Consequences of Network Television”, ends with much of the show’s cast growing up emotionally.
Out of all the famous sitcoms from the ‘90s, The Nanny might just be the most underrated. With nostalgia for the last decade of the 20th century being exploited in fashion, music, and other art forms, it seems almost conspicuous that Fran Drescher’s CBS show doesn’t get more mentions. Perhaps its self indulgent camp, and the unique qualities of its leading lady—truly one of the boldest casting decisions made in any network television series—more often than not have reduced it to a curio. In part, this must have something to do with the fact that the show has remained largely unattainable since it went off the air in 1999. The Nanny still can be seen in syndication (it was rightfully acquired by LGBT cable channel Logo in 2011) but with the way viewers consume television, changing so drastically in the past few years, the fact that The Nanny isn’t available on any streaming service has left it into semi-obscurity.
First airing in September 2006, the first season of NBC’s Heroes found its audience in a big way. It combined an interesting cast, slick special effects (for the time), and a sprawling mythology to bring superpowers to the small screen that, in retrospect, really set the stage for today’s superhero TV line-up. However, Heroes’ success proved short-lived, as each successive season grew more convoluted and threw away a lot of the goodwill its debut garnered.
This year, the series is set to return with Heroes: Reborn, and there’s every reason to suspect it could be a real phoenix-rising moment for the show.
When David Letterman first announced his plans to retire from The Late Show a few months ago, I was somewhat surprised but not initially devastated. In the back of my mind, I knew that he was in his late 60s, that he had outlasted Jay Leno as the final member of his generation still hosting a late-night talk show, and that he’d be hanging it up sooner rather than later. But I still wasn’t ready. Now that he has officially wrapped up his show with his Wednesday, 20 May broadcast, I, like the other fans who grew up watching him every night, am bracing for life without Dave.