||This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2008)|
Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) and Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) during an interstitial for TGIF (1989)
|Premiered||September 22, 1989 (original run)
September 26, 2003 (second run)
|Closed||September 8, 2000 (original run)
September 16, 2005 (second run)
|Format||Friday night program block|
|Runtime||2 hours (with commercials)|
TGIF is the name of an American family-friendly prime time television programming block on the ABC network. The name comes from the initials of the popular phrase "Thank God It's Friday". However, the stars of the lineup touted the acronym as meaning "Thank Goodness It's Funny." In its first two runs, it was often compared with its Thursday night counterpart Must See TV on NBC.
ABC Friday night legacy: 1950s to 1970s 
Family-friendly comedies, which featured families with children as major characters, were a staple of ABC programming going back to the network's earlier sitcoms from the 1950s onward, such as The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (premiered 1952), Leave It to Beaver (moved to ABC in 1958 after its first season on CBS), The Donna Reed Show (premiered 1958), The Flintstones (premiered 1960, but was largely an adult-oriented comedy until the birth of Pebbles in 1963), The Brady Bunch (premiered 1969), and The Partridge Family (premiered 1970; this and The Brady Bunch became part of the Friday night lineup at that time). All of these shows are considered television classics today.
Jim Janicek 
TGIF was created and executive produced by Jim Janicek. Before TGIF’s success, Janicek was a writer and producer for ABC Entertainment in charge of promoting Tuesday and Friday night comedies. Recalling his childhood when his family would gather to watch The Wonderful World of Disney, he was inspired to create a family-oriented comedy block. In 1988, Janicek began gaining support for his concept by approaching the studios and talent of independently-produced ABC shows, promoting the synergy and potential success of the family block brand. With four ABC family comedy programs on board, and the backing of network president Bob Iger, the initial lineup for the block was created.
Before ABC experienced its 1990s fame on Friday nights, its Friday night schedule consisted of hit comedies such as Webster, Benson and, for its final season, Diff'rent Strokes. The block of predominantly family-friendly situation comedies was inaugurated in the 1988-89 season with Perfect Strangers, Full House, Mr. Belvedere, and Just the Ten of Us. Since the 1987-88 season, Perfect Strangers actors Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pinchot (in character as Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous, respectively) had been doing program block hosting interstitials on the Perfect Strangers set, originally during the two-hour Wednesday sitcom block that their series was part of as that season began. In March 1988, Perfect Strangers moved to Friday, and the interstitials went with them. On Fridays, the hosting interstitials concept gained more traction before the family-friendly concept on that night took effect. Pinchot and Linn-Baker would remain the sole hosts of the Friday lineup throughout the 1988-89 season.
Meanwhile, ABC began reformulating its Tuesday night lineup which, for the past several seasons, had consisted of an 8-9 p.m. comedy block followed by two hour-long dramas, most notably with the hit series Moonlighting airing at 9/8c. Moonlighting, then in its fifth season and starting to fall in the ratings considerably (greatly thanks to the 1988 WGA strike, which delayed the premiere of many programs for the fall of 1988), was removed from the ABC schedule temporarily in February 1989 when the network decided to expand the Tuesday comedy offerings to two hours. Janicek, in response, came up with the idea promote the restructured lineup under a unified brand name, Terrific Tuesday, to draw audiences to the changes, to reference the two additional sitcoms being offered, and especially as a nod to Who's the Boss? and the freshman smash hit Roseanne, which now served as a strong anchor for the expanded comedy lineup.
The Terrific Tuesday branding was a success, and ABC urged Janicek to continue the banner name for the following season. At the time of fall schedule upfronts in May 1989, Janicek, as well as ABC, devised the notion of further promoting their family fun-themed Fridays with a brand name. Over the summer months, ABC began promoting the Friday sitcoms under the experimental title, "The Friday Fun Club". While Terrific Tuesday and What-a-Wednesday were both on tap for the 1989-90 fall season, the Friday branding concept was to undergo a revision in time for September.
TGIF brand debuts 
As a result of ABC and Janicek's plan for Friday brand familiarity, definitive changes occurred to the lineup on Friday, September 22, 1989. An opening sequence for the two-hour block was introduced, featuring animated mice against a gray background. The theme music, featuring a male vocalist and a falsetto-tuned backup chorus, sang the lyrics, "Time for fun (thank goodness!)/Time for a good laugh (it's funny!)/Time, time, time, time for fun! (T-T-T-Time!)". The mice held up title cards containing the selected theme lyrics "Thank goodness" and "It's funny!". The sequence concludes with a tall mouse breaking a grandfather clock with a mallet.
Following this was a cut into the hosting interstitial. For the first time, another show's cast assumed hosting duties in place of Perfect Strangers. Dave Coulier, John Stamos and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (alternating as Michelle Tanner) all appeared on the set of Full House introducing the season and series premieres that night. As they began their first segment, the TGIF name was officially introduced, in which its meaning, "Thank Goodness It's Funny", was re-emphasized from the theme lyrics. Coulier and Stamos also announced that a new policy, in which stars from the other three TGIF programs would rotate in hosting along with them, would begin. Rotating with Full House that season was new arrival Family Matters, Perfect Strangers (whose first night hosting under the TGIF banner was October 13, 1989) and Just the Ten of Us. On the premiere night of TGIF, the new (and ultimately short-lived) comedy Free Spirit was previewed at 9:30/8:30, with Just the Ten of Us reclaiming its time slot the following week.
During this inaugural season for the format, the TGIF logo was only featured at the start of every hosting segment, appearing in a design where each letter was encased in a tall gray box (as pictured above); the boxes would flip in at the bottom of the screen, stand still for a few seconds, and then turn out. One of the animated mice from the TGIF title sequences was featured on some weeks within the live-action hosting segments, and was introduced by the actors as the lineup's mascot, known as "Friday the Mouse". Custom bumpers would appear after the final scene of each program, where normally a short cut of the show's title display and theme would play, denoting the final commercial break. In the first season of TGIF, the bumpers featured more animations of the mice. A few variants were run: two included the tall mouse popping out of the grandfather clock, and a small mouse being dragged around by a running chainsaw around the clock. The programs' in-show logos (as opposed to the shows' logo designs used in network promos) were seen on either side of the clock. The closing animation, which ran after the credits of the 9:30 program (usually Just the Ten of Us), consisted of the same theme song notes, but had the lyrics, "See you next week..here for a good laugh", with the last few notes instrumental.
1990s explosion 
With the TGIF moniker permanently in place, more changes in presentation were ahead as the lineup grew even more popular. On Friday, September 21, 1990, the animated mice opening and accompanying theme music was dropped, in favor of new graphics which used the new TGIF name in them officially for the first time. With these new visuals came the "classic" TGIF theme ("It's Friday night/And the mood is right/Gonna have some fun/Show you how it's done, TGIF..").
For most of TGIF's run until the 1999-2000 season, at least one series on the lineup was produced by the team of Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett; the first two were Perfect Strangers and Full House, both of which aired on Friday nights prior to the launch of TGIF. In subsequent years two more Miller/Boyett series, Perfect Strangers spin-off, Family Matters and the Brady Bunch-inspired Step by Step joined the line-up. During the 1990-91 season, all four TGIF shows were produced by Miller/Boyett; Perfect Strangers, Family Matters and Full House were joined by the short-lived Going Places.
During the most successful years of TGIF, the main characters of one of the Friday prime-time sitcoms would "host" the two-hour block of episodes for that week. Always in character, they would introduce each show and comment on the proceedings afterward. Sometimes, characters from a sitcom that did not air on a Friday night would appear; one time, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Betsy Brantley and other stars of the drama Second Noah hosted TGIF for a week in January 1996, mainly as a cross promotion for their new series. Occasionally, the hosts for the evening would find a common thread between each show. In the late 1980s-early 1990s Fall Seasons, various casts would host Saturday Morning Preview Specials, which previewed much of new Saturday morning programming which would air the following day prior to the Disney acquisition of ABC Saturdays.
Veteran TV personality and announcer Gary Owens, who had been with ABC since 1985 as a primetime promo voiceover, became the sole announcer for weekly TGIF promotions as the 1990-91 season began. Owens would remain the "voice of TGIF" until the end of the 1994-95 season. Also during the 1990-91 season, TGIF was promoted with a series of trading cards featuring publicity shots from Perfect Strangers, Full House, and Family Matters.
Summer months 
Within the first few years of TGIF, the hosting interstitials went through variations in on-air activity during the summer months. The regular hosting rotation continued with new segments during the summer of 1990, the final months of the "mice" motif. For the late spring and summer of 1991, ABC decided to relieve the TGIF stars of filming/taping segments from their respective sets. Instead, they had stars do voiceovers for TGIF Trivia, game-like segments made up of episode scenes and multiple choice questions. The trivia quiz provided "A", "B" and "C" choices of events that the home viewer was supposed to choose from for a supposed "single" correct answer; in reality, all choices were correct in each round, as every scene featured was from an actual episode inclusion. Stars that narrated TGIF Trivia included Heather Locklear (Going Places), Telma Hopkins (Family Matters), Jodie Sweetin (Full House) and Melanie Wilson (Perfect Strangers).
For the late spring and summer of 1992, ABC ran a promotional contest that chose winners from around the country to host TGIF for a week from their own homes. The chosen ones were instructed to videotape their own segments from home, giving commentary on the shows that would air on the week they were scheduled to have themselves featured on. Families, individuals, groups of friends, couples, and most prominently teenagers were among the winners.
The voiceover narration format from TGIF stars returned for the late spring and summer of 1993. This time, however, rotating stars would simply voice previews over upcoming episode scenes. As in the 1991 TGIF Trivia, a single star would hold the duties per week. Brandon Call (Step By Step) and Jo Marie Payton (Family Matters) were among those who took turns; Payton had the distinction of doing one of her segment narration weeks on August 6, 1993, the series finale night of Perfect Strangers. From 1994 onward, original on-screen hosting segments returned to TGIF for the summer months.
Spin-off Concepts 
In the spring of 1991, with TGIF’s meteoric success, Bob Iger, then President of the ABC network, and Mark Zakaran, then Senior Vice President of Marketing of ABC Entertainment, appointed Jim Janicek to expand his branding work to other nights and dayparts at ABC.
The Hump 
Janicek's first attempt to replicate the success of TGIF came in August 1991, when ABC rolled out a three-hour Wednesday night comedy block for the 1991-92 fall schedule. Loosely known as The Hump, via the advertising tagline "Over the hump!" ("Three hours of non-stop laughs are guaranteed to get you over the hump!", "That'll get you over the hump!") and the use of a '70s funk-flavored background jingle which chanted, "I've got to get over the hump", the format came complete with promos that had a special graphics scheme, differing from TGIF and ABC's nights of regular, non-concept based lineups. The concept title was another play on a popular catchphrase, in which Wednesday is typically referred to as "hump day" (being the middle of the work week, thus making it "over the hump" toward the weekend).
From August to September 1991, the formation of The Hump consisted of The Wonder Years, Growing Pains (in the month leading to its move to Saturday nights), Doogie Howser, M.D., Davis Rules (cancelled in May 1991), Anything but Love and Married People (cancelled in March 1991), which were all in summer reruns. For the new fall season, the lineup changed to Dinosaurs replacing Growing Pains at 8:30/7:30c, new sitcom Sibs at 9:30/8:30, and the new sitcom Good & Evil at 10:30/9:30c. The sitcoms that aired between 9:30 and 11:00 (Sibs, Anything but Love, Good & Evil) were separately marketed from the first three programs on The Hump as "comedies made specifically for adults". The "adult" promos for The Hump exclusively featured the funk-flavored song, whereas promos for the 8:00-9:30 shows, and the entire lineup in general, used the instrumental version of ABC's 1991 America's Watching jingle. Unlike TGIF and its future one-off concept I Love Saturday Night, The Hump did not use hosting interstitials or customized bumpers for the last commercial break of each show.
With the cancellation of Good & Evil in late October, which the network claimed was entirely due to its low ratings in a 10:30/9:30c slot (although many advocacy groups claimed it was due to the controversy surrounding the defamatory portrayal of a blind character), along with the lackluster first-month ratings for Sibs, ABC was convinced that the three-hour comedy block was a failure. The network opted to give the 10/9c slot on Wednesdays back to an hour-long drama, the upcoming legal series Civil Wars, during November sweeps. The Hump concept aired for the last time on October 30, 1991, and ABC resumed promoting the Wednesday lineup in standard fashion. Sibs went on hiatus, and Anything but Love was moved back to into its former 9:30/8:30c slot on Wednesdays. For the weeks of November 6 and 13, 1991, specials aired in the 10/9c slot; Civil Wars premiered on November 20, 1991.
MCTV: More Cool TV 
At the start of the 1991-92 season, Janicek also brought the hosted programming block format to Saturday mornings, under the title MCTV (More Cool TV). This title indicated that after TGIF on Friday nights, there was "more cool TV" just hours away on Saturday morning. Live action stars of the Saturday morning lineup, most notably including the cast of ABC's Land of the Lost revival, hosted interstitials every half hour. The MCTV segments at times were several seconds shorter than those shot for TGIF. While an opening sequence and custom last-segment show bumpers were included, the theme music used was the instrumental version of ABC's 1991 America's Watching campaign. MCTV was soon abandoned, although not as quickly as I Love Saturday Night, the Saturday primetime concept block which premiered on February 1, 1992.
Also notably airing on MCTV was the cartoon Hammerman, whose star, MC Hammer, gave even more meaning to the Saturday morning lineup's moniker. Hammer did show up himself to host MCTV on a few occasions. By the end of the season, Hammerman, as well as the MCTV branding, was cancelled.
I Love Saturday Night 
Seeing how TGIF dominated primetime on Fridays in the face of typical decreased TV viewership on that night, Janicek and company felt that the same marketing power could translate into success for Saturday night. Saturday, as an even heavier social night not spent at home by viewers in the 18-49 demographics, resulted in most networks airing shows with older demographics, those with family appeal, or programs falling in the ratings on other nights (or in the most political cases, shows that a network no longer has confidence in). NBC had claimed dominant victory on Saturday nights throughout the 1980s and into the '90s, with an eclectic mix of family-themed shows and sophisticated comedies aimed at older-age-group viewers (The Golden Girls, 227, Amen, Empty Nest, et al.). ABC, however, had continued to struggle on Saturday nights. Through the end of the 1990-91 TV season, recent programs such as The ABC Mystery Movie and China Beach had experienced quick death after moving to Saturdays, leading to such bold decisions as moving the nationwide phenomenon Twin Peaks to Saturday in order to shore up the lineup. After reformatting the Saturday night lineup for the 1991 fall schedule to include an hour of comedy followed by another established drama and a freshman drama, ABC announced plans for a Saturday TGIF offshoot to premiere at mid-season.
Titled I Love Saturday Night, it launched to provide a new night and time for three of ABC's aging sitcoms, Who's the Boss?, Growing Pains (both of which had been comprising the Saturday 8-9 p.m. block since September 1991) and Perfect Strangers (which was still highly rated, but moved to Saturday to help the declining ratings of Boss and Pains). The newcomer that rounded out the lineup was the Steven Bochco cartoon Capitol Critters. Premiering on February 1, 1992, the two-hour comedy block of I Love Saturday Night coincided with The Young Riders, which had been airing Saturdays at 9/8c, going on a three-month hiatus. Freshman drama The Commish, meanwhile, remained at 10/9c.
I Love Saturday Night was structured exactly like TGIF, with hosts from each show rotating every week, down to its own set of branding graphics and a theme song. The intro to the evening began with a red ABC logo encased inside an animated heart, which bounced around, and then off, the screen. Set against various-colored backgrounds (but most commonly blue), the lineup's title was then spelled out in the opening alongside views of animated suns, moons and palm trees. The theme song itself even had a calypso sound to it, with Jamaican-style male vocals. The lyrics consisted of: S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y../ Saturday Night! / I Love Saturday / Saturday Night. The last two lines were often sung over the show bumpers that led into the last commercial break of each show.
There was heavy promotion for I Love Saturday Night, as ABC was valiantly trying to achieve any remaining life out Who's the Boss? and Growing Pains especially. Those in the industry suspected that Perfect Strangers was moved to this night not necessarily since it could have bolstered the lineup's performance, but because it was part of an ABC agenda to kill the series (ABC's explanation in its move from Fridays was that it didn't fit the new TGIF demographic, ages 10–18). Saturday night on ABC, especially up against NBC's powerhouse lineup of the evening, seemed a surefire place to send even a popular show into considerable ratings decline. This is exactly what happened, as ratings during the entire February sweeps period were the lowest of the season for ABC that night (save for The Commish, which had become successful in its first season), with Perfect Strangers' experiencing the largest ratings fall for a series in a single season. After five dismal weeks in the Nielsens, ABC had a rapid loss of faith in I Love Saturday Night; on Saturday, February 29th, the branding concept was used for the last time.
Cast members from all three of the live-action shows hosted I Love Saturday Night in rotation during the five-week run. The schedule was as follows:
- February 1, 1992: Mark-Linn Baker & Bronson Pinchot, Perfect Strangers
- February 8, 1992: Kirk Cameron, Jeremy Miller & Leonardo DiCaprio, Growing Pains
- February 15, 1992: Tony Danza & Judith Light, Who's the Boss?
- February 22, 1992✝: Mark-Linn Baker & Bronson Pinchot, Perfect Strangers
- February 29, 1992: Kirk Cameron, Jeremy Miller, Ashley Johnson & Leonardo DiCaprio, Growing Pains
Capital Critters and Perfect Strangers did not air on this night, although Pinchot and Linn-Baker did host. The Jaleel White Special aired from 8-9:00pm, followed by Who's the Boss? from 9:00-9:30 and Growing Pains in its regular 9:30 slot.
Beyond the quick demise of I Love Saturday Night, the same lineup, more or less, continued on ABC for the remainder of the 1991-92 season. Capital Critters was canceled in March; this caused the remaining three shows to switch slots in order to provide a choice time period for the Head of the Class spinoff Billy, which moved to the lineup (Billy had previously been a part of TGIF from its January 31, 1992 premiere until March). Boss and Pains, meanwhile, had announced the end of their runs in the spring of 1992, but both would remain on Saturdays until summer reruns. These shows aired their one-hour finales on Saturday, April 25, 1992, along with the series-ending episode of MacGyver, which aired on this night just once. Both Perfect Strangers and Billy would stay with the lineup after Boss and Pains relocated.
Two new sitcoms premiered on Saturdays that spring and summer: Julie, starring Julie Andrews (with a future TGIF star, Rider Strong, as Andrews' stepson), and the David Lynch-produced comedy On the Air. The failure of these programs, along with ABC's decision to not renew Billy for a second season and the announcement that Perfect Strangers was going on a long hiatus, marked the end of any attempt by ABC to program comedies or family fare on that night. Once every few years, ABC would again try to program such shows on Saturday nights with no success. The lone exception in this case was The Wonderful World of Disney, which ABC revived after its was bought by Disney and eventually moved to Saturday nights in 2003.
Special events 
In 1995, ABC scheduled a music special for The Beatles Anthology. To promote the special on the previous Friday, all of the TGIF sitcoms' opening theme songs were each replaced with Beatles songs, regardless of the individual shows' plot with the exception of Boy Meets World, where the theme was a song by The Monkees.
The Walt Disney Company purchased ABC parent company Capital Cities Communications in 1996 and began reshaping the channel to its preferences in 1997. As a result of the overhaul, longtime TGIF staples Family Matters and Step by Step were canceled; the two shows would be revived by CBS, where they would air the same night and serve as the linchpins for a new, competing block, the CBS Block Party. That block failed with both the lineup and shows only lasting one season. As their Friday evening programming evolved, ABC retired the traditional TGIF logo and phased out the theme song.
ABC began to see sagging ratings in the TGIF lineup in part due to the audience fracture from the Block Party, which was enough to hurt TGIF even though the Block Party itself was a failure. Popular programs such as Boy Meets World and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch started experiencing declining ratings. New shows joined the lineup, including the likes of Teen Angel and You Wish, which lasted only a season (or less) before they were dropped.
On November 7, 1997, Salem from Sabrina, the Teenage Witch appeared on all four shows in the TGIF lineup and caused the characters in each show to travel back to a different point in time. On a later episode of Boy Meets World, Melissa Joan Hart made a second cameo, as an aside, due to the episode in question involving a coven of witches being thwarted from taking the soul of one of the characters. The cameo features Boy Meets World character Eric describing the event and swearing off witches, not realizing that Sabrina is one.
Musical group Hanson hosted TGIF leading up to their special Meet Hanson. Between the shows it showed them in the studio, "commanding" the shows to come on, and at one point even incorporating TGIF into their mega-hit song "MMMBop".
By 2000, ABC had discontinued the Friday prime time programming block entirely, with the exception of a Working Comedy comedy block during the fall 2000-2001 season of fading comedies: Two Guys and a Girl and Norm, and freshman sitcoms The Trouble With Normal and Madigan Men, which underperformed. This lineup only lasted one year; ABC then reverted to dramas and reality shows like The Mole (which only lasted three weeks). By then Friday nights were the weakest rating night of the week, with only a few shows receiving attention, such as CBS' CSI, which premiered on Friday.
TGIF returned to the air in Fall 2003 with heavy promotion. This included a promo spot employing the pop tune "YMCA" (sung as T-G-I-F), featuring all four family comedies’ casts seated on a living-room couch. Alex Trebek briefly served as host and spokesman for the block, but for the majority of the TGIF revival the block aired without a host. That season’s lineup met with only moderate success, seeing a consistent second- or third-place showing against a popular CBS lineup that included Joan of Arcadia and JAG. By early 2005, ABC had stopped actively promoting the TGIF name, and once again dropped the TGIF block in the fall of 2005.
In Fall of 2005, Hope & Faith continued to air on Friday nights, Less Than Perfect was renewed for midseason 2005-2006 airing (April 2006), and George Lopez was moved to a Tuesday comedy block, then back to its original night of Wednesday. CBS canceled both Joan and JAG in May 2005.
Today, Friday nights on ABC are primarily used to air reality programs like Shark Tank, occasional encores of the network's dramas and comedies, and ABC News human interest programming such as Primetime: What Would You Do?. 20/20 remains a stalwart of the Friday night schedule to end the evening.
After finishing syndication periods, remnants of TGIF now occupy the daytime and afternoon lineup on ABC Family. The only former TGIF comedies from either iteration airing on the cable network are Boy Meets World, which aired on ABC Family from 2004–2007 and again since April 2010, and 8 Simple Rules, which has aired intermittently since June 2007 and regularly since February 2010 (the channel previously ran Step by Step from 2001 to 2010, Family Matters from 2003 to 2009, Full House from 2003 to 2012 and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch from 2007 to 2011). Full House (which ran from 2003 to 2009 and again from 2010 to 2011) and Family Matters (which ran from 2009 to 2012) will each return to Nick at Nite starting in September 2012. Ion Television formerly ran Perfect Strangers (only during the month of October 2007) and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (from 2007 to 2008), neither show is currently syndicated on television as of October 2009.
Second return 
On May 15, 2012, ABC announced the return of family-oriented comedies to Friday nights in November, when revealing their 2012-13 schedule, by placing Last Man Standing and the new sitcom Malibu Country together from 8 to 9 p.m. EST, along with returning shows Shark Tank and 20/20. The TGIF name has not been revived, however, as the block is advertised as ABC Comedy Friday. On February 13, 2013, ABC announced that, starting March 29th, Happy Endings will move to Fridays at 8:00-9:00 p.m ET/PT with back-to-back original episodes. The Friday night comedy block of Last Man Standing and Malibu Country will have aired their season finales prior to Happy Endings taking over their timeslots.
TGIF lineup history 
- Seidman, Robert (February 14, 2013). "ABC Midseason Scheduling Moves Ship 'Happy Endings' to Fridays". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 13, 2013.