Antenna TV -- 10 Old Sitcoms to Binge on in January 2018

Written in Nostalgic Library Wear by Bridger Cunningham

Can't afford Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime?  Load up your DVR's as Antenna TV offers up a plethora of older shows for your entertainment.  See what they're adding come January 18.  Not sure where to find Antenna TV in your area?  Their primary website can help locate the nearest affiliate:  Most Antenna TV affiliates piggyback on your local affiliates on additional channels (Example: Digital Channel 8.3).  For those with access to local cable providers, the majority of providers showcase the channels in the upper ranges of your lineup from 75-99.  Enjoy hunting for a plethora of old shows.

Starting Tuesday, January 2, 2018

1:00PM: Alice (1976-85).  Do you enjoy the dry, sarcastic delivery Linda Lavin gives to the ever-dull 9JKL on CBS this season?  Come see the sitcom that put her on the map as Alice Hyatt, a single mother struggling to support her son and starts over at a roadside diner in Phoenix, Arizona.  Supporting cast members include Polly Holiday as coworker Flo, whose catchphrase was "You can kiss my grits!"  The series was a ratings winner for CBS in the same era which they joined the likenesses of One Day at a Time and The Jeffersons, all of which dominated the Nielsens for much of their durable runs of 9-11 years.

2:30PM: Head of the Class (1986-91).  Fresh off his last two seasons of One Day at a Time as Sam, Howard Hessman hit the books and delivered a modest run as Charlie Moore, a high school teacher delivering a reality check.  The series anchored ABC's then-middling Wednesday night comedy block.  Then, ABC managed to move another successful sitcom, Growing Pains, and Head of the Class became a ratings sensation.  Fans of the latter can catch up at 7PM as well!  The series had a strong run until Hessman departed in 1990 and was replaced by comedian Billy Connelly before it ended in 1991.

4:00PM: Gimme a Break! (1981-87).  In the era which Diff'rent Strokes diversified NBC's lineup, Nell Carter followed the trail as sassy housekeeper Nell Harper for a widowed police chief Carl Kanisky (Dolph Sweet) and his three well-meaning daughters.  Always a modest hit, the series experienced a personal loss when Sweet passed from cancer in May 1985.  The following season had Nell caring for his three daughters, following a directional change in its 6th and final season.  That season saw the three daughters exit, and Rosie O'Donnell and future Blossom star Joey Lawrence rounding out the cast.

5:30PM: Hogan Family (1986-91).  Initially a revival vehicle Valerie Harper titled "Valerie" in early 1986, the successful Monday sitcom experienced a professional setback when Harper was fired amidst a salary dispute.  After her self-titled character Valerie Hogan died on screen (similar to Kevin Can Wait's firing of Erinn hayes), the series was retooled "Valerie's Family" starring Sandy Duncan.  It made another title change to "The Hogan Family" in 1988, as it still delivered in the ratings following ALF.  It was cancelled in 1990 by NBC and revived by CBS for one more poorly-rated season with most of the cast intact.

6:00PM: Silver Spoons (1982-87).  Few can remember much about the series except it starred Ricky Schroder, who would achieve fame as an adult on NYPD Blue.  The premise was simple, as a single father discovering he has an over-responsible son.  Also rounding out the cast is Erin Grey as personal assistant and future stepmother, Kate.  Never a stellar ratings juggernaut, NBC cancelled the series in 1986 after soft Sunday deliveries.  However, the series found one more season of syndication success.  Bright spots also include appearances from Alfonso Ribiero, and Whitney Houston cameo too!

7:00PM: Growing Pains (1985-92).  One of the original three-kid sitcoms, Growing Pains enjoyed blockbuster ratings for its first six seasons.  Along the way, Kirk Cameron became a teen sensation as Mike Seaver, along with casting Leonardo Dicaprio late in the run.  Set against a psychologist father, Jason (Alan Thicke, whose son Robin blurs lines), moves his practice into his home so his newscaster wife, Maggie (Joanna Kearns) can pursue a career.  Behind the-scenes interference with Cameron's faith and an anorexia struggle for Gold challenged production of the 5th-7th seasons, but the show still fired on all cylinders to the end.

8:30PM: Soap (1977-81).  What was so racy about a sitcom lampooning daytime soaps?  Several affiliates refused to air the controversial pilot due to speculation of being too sexually suggestive.  In fairness, those standards 40 years ago were far stricter than the crassness of most CBS and FOX sitcoms in today's era.  Robert Guillaume passed this year aged 89, and what a better way to view his work in this show and at 9:00's Benson?  The series also paved the way for future sitcom success of Katherine Helmond (Who's the Boss?) and Richard Mulligan (Empty Nest).

9:00PM: Benson (1979-86).  Spun off from Soap as it was aging, Benson colonized the talents of Robert Guillaume as the self-titled butler on ABC Fridays.  The series focused on Benson DuBois' voice of reason for the well-to-do white political family who employed him.  Initially scheduled on ABC's then-plum Thursday schedule, the series was saddled with Friday scheduling for the remainder of its run.  However, it supported ABC to modest success through some ever-lean years, enduring 11 moves before ABC saddled it with the Saturday death slot for the remains of the early 1986 years.

10:00PM: Murphy Brown (1988-98).  Do you think politics is a nauseating presence in 2017?  Murphy Brown covered the political wranglings from the fictitious WFYI news station in New York.  A recovering alcoholic, Murphy Brown's (Candace Bergen) salty delivery carried the series through 3 political elections of Bush and Clinton variety.  The series also played off Vice President Dan Qualye's potshots for showcasing a single, unwed mother.  The controversy pushed the CBS Monday sitcom to the front of the Nielsens during the controversial 1992 election year, with her son Avery's birth anchoring the 4th season finale.

 11:00: Coach (1989-97).  Comfort food was a luxury many yearned for in the late 80's, and Poltergeist star Craig T. Nelson delivered it as a college football coach, Hayden Fox.  Adding to the delight was love interest Christine (Shelley Fabares, of One Day at a Time and The Donna Reed Show).  A modestly-rated series, ABC bounced it throughout its schedule, leading to glorious seasons as high as 5th place and a leaner delivery when scheduled on Mondays.  The popularity was so great, NBC considered reviving the series in 2015 and scrapped the plans.


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