Fridays (TV series)

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Fridays
Format Sketch comedy
Starring Mark Blankfield
Maryedith Burrell
Melanie Chartoff
Larry David
Rich Hall
Darrow Igus
Brandis Kemp
Bruce Mahler
Michael Richards
John Roarke
Narrated by Jack Burns
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 58 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 70/90 minutes
Production company(s) Moffitt-Lee Productions
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run April 11, 1980 (1980-04-11) – April 23, 1982 (1982-04-23)

Fridays is the name of ABC's weekly late-night live comedy show, which aired on Friday nights from April 11, 1980 to April 23, 1982.

Overview[edit]

The program was ABC's attempt to duplicate the success of NBC's Saturday Night Live. Like SNL, each week Fridays featured music acts and, in the second season, celebrity guest hosts, as well as recurring character sketches, short films, and a parody news segment called Friday Edition. Veteran comedian Jack Burns served as announcer and made on screen appearances on the show. Initially, the show was compared unfavorably to Saturday Night Live and its sketches were seen as shrill, humorless, obnoxious, and tasteless. Two sketches, "Diner of the Living Dead" and "Women Who Spit," both of which aired on the show's third episode, were said to be prime examples of the show at its worst. [1] The backlash from those two sketches at the time was so massive that six ABC affiliates stopped airing Fridays while others merely edited the sketches from reruns.

When Saturday Night Live's sixth season was met with negative reviews and low ratings, critics who once panned Fridays praised it as being sharper, edgier and funnier than Saturday Night Live at the time. Some critics attributed this to its pointed political satire, such as a Road To... parody about the United States' dealings with El Salvador. Other standout sketches were a Marx Brothers parody during Iran's revolution, three Eastern European women discussing how their villages abuse women and their plans for a gender-based revolution, a live-action Popeye the Sailor Man cartoon with Popeye fighting back against a fascist regime led by Bluto, The Founding Fathers worrying that the Second Amendment "The Right to Bear Arms" will be abused in the future, and, most famously, a 17-minute parody of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Ronald Reagan as Tim Curry's Dr. Frank N. Furter creating the perfect Republican, who turns out to be a militant black man. [2]

SNL executive producer Dick Ebersol gave all Fridays cast members an offer to join Saturday Night Live in 1982, but they all turned him down. Only Larry David and Rich Hall worked on SNL for a short time after Fridays was completed.

From its inception, Fridays embraced the emerging new wave rock music scene and its associated culture to a greater extent than Saturday Night Live did, widely incorporating it into their selection of musical guests, hosts and sketches. West Coast culture was highlighted in their presentation and its origin from Los Angeles mentioned. Fridays did not have a show band on set. When cuts to commercials were made, pop art drawings were displayed and accompanied with a fuzz heavy electric guitar solo being played. Unusual for a sketch comedy series, Fridays occasionally featured serious interludes and sketches, such as a segment aired soon after the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan involving characters recalling where they were at the time of previous assassinations and attempts. [3]

Three seasons of Fridays aired on ABC. A 12-episode first season aired from April 11, 1980 to July 18, 1980. The show's second season, which contained 25 episodes, aired from September 5, 1980 to May 15, 1981. The show's third and final season, which contained 21 episodes, aired from September 18, 1981 to April 23, 1982, with the last episode airing as a primetime sketch show.

The show was originally 70 minutes in its first season, but was expanded to 90 minutes in season two.

Directors[edit]

Producers[edit]

  • Jack Burns
  • Bill Lee
  • Pat Tourk Lee
  • John Moffitt

Writers[edit]

Performers[edit]

Main cast[edit]

Guest stars (seasons 2 and 3)[edit]

Musical guests[edit]

Acts that appeared on Fridays include:

AC/DC, The Clash, and The Stray Cats made their American television debuts on Fridays. At the time of The Stray Cats' appearance, the band had yet to be signed by a record company. During the group's performance, there was a crawl at the bottom of the screen inviting offers from record companies.

Episodes[edit]

Andy Kaufman incident[edit]

On the February 20, 1981 episode, Andy Kaufman was the host. During a sketch about couples at dinner sneaking away to the bathroom to smoke marijuana, Kaufman, who was known for causing trouble on live TV, broke character and refused to read his lines (saying "I can't play stoned"). Richards got up from the table, grabbed the cue cards and threw them down on the table in front of Kaufman, who responded by throwing a glass of water on Richards. Some of the show's cast and crew members became angry and a small brawl broke out on stage. Since the show was broadcast live, home viewers were able to see most of these events transpire until the network cut the cameras off. Kaufman returned the following week in a taped apology to home viewers. The incident was planned by Kaufman, who concocted it with his sidekick Zmuda, and was meant as a prank. The only individuals aware of the plan were producer/director Moffitt, producer/announcer Burns, and the three comedians acting in the sketch along with Kaufman. They were Richards, Chartoff and Burrell.[1] [2] This incident was reenacted in the 1999 film Man on the Moon, starring Jim Carrey as Kaufman, Bob Zmuda as Burns, Norm Macdonald as Richards, Caroline Rhea as Chartoff and Mary Lynn Rajskub as Burrell.

Cancellation[edit]

The series ended in 1982 following ABC's decision to expand Nightline to five nights a week, which moved Fridays to air at midnight instead of 11:30pm.

One final attempt was made by ABC to save the show by putting it on in prime time. The episode (broadcast on April 23, 1982) was scheduled against Dallas, which did nothing to help the show's moribund ratings. The series was promptly canceled.

Syndication and DVD release[edit]

A few years after the show's cancellation, Fridays appeared in reruns on the USA Network in the late 1980s. However, the episodes were edited down to 60 minutes (similar to how Saturday Night Live is edited on cable reruns). The reruns were pulled after a year.

For some time, a home video release of Fridays was considered out of the question, as cast member Michael Richards was said to have signed a deal stating that no episode would be released on any home video format. However, clips of sketches from the show (mostly sketches that featured Richards or David) surfaced on the Seinfeld season three DVD set in the bonus features set. Shout Factory announced plans to release both seasons of the show on DVD in 2013.[3] In August 2013, after missing their original release date, Shout Factory released a five disc best of collection featuring highlights of 16 episodes from seasons one through three (not complete episodes).

References[edit]

External links[edit]