doogie CULTURE

Television twenty years ago

20 years is a long time for most things. In fact, 20 years in television is even longer. TV is a ruthless industry with studio heads quick to the guillotine, chopping the careers of its stars and axing people’s favorite shows. Let us take a step back before high definition, before blu-ray, before heavily scripted so-called ‘reality TV’ and well before anybody who thought they were a somebody had their own TV show (man, this makes me realize how pathetic TV is in general these days) and revisit the landscape that was television twenty years ago (1993). 

There is no doubt that the depth chart of TV shows got thinner by the end of 1993 as numerous shows which are still glorified with cult status today were put to bed that year.

Neil Patrick Harris hung up his stethoscope and wrote the world’s first offline version of a blog for the last time in Doogie Howser, M.D. Kevin Arnold had moved on with his life in The Wonder Years. Balki Bartokomous and Cousin Larry traded work for babies in Perfect Strangers. Zack, Slater, Screech and company graduated high school in Saved by the Bell. And last drinks were called in Cheers.

Other notable shows that wound up were Count Duckula, Quantum Leap, Late Night with David Letterman and Double Dare. That was a physical challenge indeed.


It wasn’t all bad news for television twenty years ago though.

Letterman moved from Late Night to Late Show with David Letterman. Other notable 1993 debuts in television included Beavis and Butthead serving us such tasty insights to then modern pop culture, particularly within the music industry. Chuck Norris kicked ass as Walker, Texas Ranger. Agent Fox and Mulder showed us the truth is out there in The X-Files. Conan O’Brien debuted as the new Late Night host. Ricki Lake kicked off her talk show. Corey (what a cliché 90s name) kicked it up with Shawn & Topanga in Boy Meets World much to the anger of Mr. Feeny. And Louis & Clarke: The New Adventures of Superman turned the average looking Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain into sex symbols.

On top of that, Mr Bean, Rocko’s Modern Life, Marsulipami, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Homicide: Life on the Street, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,  NYPD Blue and The Nanny all found their way to television in 1993.


Other television twenty years ago events saw:

  • Dr. John Hewson obliterate his chances of winning the Australian Federal Election after not being able to explain his tax policies in what became known as the ‘Birthday Cake Interview’;
  • Michael Jackson conduct his first interview since 1979 with Oprah at Neverland Ranch. This was only a few weeks after Jackson had performed a medley of his songs at the Superbowl;
  •  Barry White appear in The Simpsons saving the snakes with Bart & Lisa;
  •  Saved By the Bell saw a spin off, Saved By The Bell: The College Years; and
  • Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera became cast members on The New Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

So there we have it. Television twenty years ago wasn’t so bad. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it was probably better than some of the smut circling today. Spare me the scantily clad drones vying for their 15 minutes of fame whilst apparent judges are more interested in staying relevant than they are in the talent before them. Give me the classics.