Picture this: It’s April 29, 1996, and if you are on the East Coast, you are waiting for the clock to hit 1 a.m. (If you’re on the West Coast, you’re waiting for the clock to hit 10 p.m.) Why? Because Nick at Nite’s TV Land was about to premiere on cable television.
Now, since I was only two years old at the time and probably was not waiting for 1 a.m. on the East Coast, I can only imagine the excitement felt when TV Land finally launched! Some sources have said that The Best of the Ed Sullivan Show was the first show to air, and others say it was actually Love, American Style with the episode titled “Love and the Happy Days” (this was Happy Days before it was called Happy Days). To be fair, the channel seems to have been simulcast on different stations, so that might be why two shows are listed as first.
TV Land was revolutionary when it first aired! They played classic television shows and Retromercials! What is a Retromercial? A TV Land commercial that looks like it was made in a time that had gone by, that’s what!
TV Land’s programming was exclusive to shows from the 1950s to the 1980s. If the show was new, it was not airing on this channel. But if it was considered a classic television show, it was absolutely welcome.
Along with The Ed Sullivan Show and Love, American Style, TV Land aired a variety of shows that brought viewers back to bygone eras.
Viewers could become part of the audience of the 1950s The Phil Silvers Show, then head to Green Acres and Petticoat Junction, get some laughs with The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, visit Marlo Thomas as That Girl, and watch the cops of Hill Street Blues fight crime.
‘Hot in Cleveland’ Ushers in New Era
Over the years the classics kept coming, and then one day, so did Hot in Cleveland.
Hot in Cleveland was TV Land’s first original scripted comedy. This show (which stars Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, and Wendie Malik) was the start of TV Land’s evolution if you will. Once the show became successful, more original scripted series started showing up on the channel.
I can’t complain about the new format of the channel because they still play The Golden Girls (why yes, thank you for being a friend). But I can understand why those who watched the channel when it first started were a bit upset by the change. Daytime programming on TV Land is still all about the classic television shows, but the primetime format focuses more on their original programming and newer shows.
Regardless of how you feel about the change in TV Land, the channel will always be the first of its kind. It was made specifically for classic television shows.
Thanks for starting something special, TV Land!