TGIF: 8 Strange Series You Forgot Aired On ABC’s Friday Night Block
Sitcom fans look back fondly on ABC's TGIF, the network's premiere Friday night programming block. TGIF's original incarnation spanned from 1989 to 2000 and showcased popular series, like Full House, Boy Meets World, and Family Matters. Don't forget Step by Step or Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
While TGIF's sitcom frontrunners stole the show, Friday nights were also home to some unique and unusual series. From alien adoptees to talking babies to genies, TGIF featured an array of interesting sitcom stars -- with mixed results. TGIF diehards may recall some of these weird shows, but most of these series have fallen by the wayside with the passage of time. Do you remember any of these strange TGIF sitcoms?
8 Baby Talk (1991 - 1992)
Capitalizing on the success of the Look Who's Talking movies, Baby Talk was developed by the original movies' director, Amy Heckerling, and Ed Weinberger. Both the movies and the sitcom revolve around a toddler whose inner thoughts are articulated via voiceover. Tony Danza voices little Mickey in Baby Talk.
Leading up to Baby Talk's premiere in 1991, a great deal of media hype built up around the series. Actor Julia Duffy was cast as Maggie Campbell, Mickey's single mother. However, Baby Talk didn't live up to the expectations, and it was canceled after two seasons. One reason to revisit it, though, is to see a young George Clooney in a recurring role as Joe, a construction worker.
7 Camp Wilder (1992 - 1993)
Although lacking a fantastical premise, Camp Wilder's atypical plot made it a TGIF outlier. Camp Wilder lasted one season, and it starred Mary Page Keller as Ricky Wilder, a young single mom who moves into her family home to care for her teenage siblings after their parents die. The Wilder home becomes a refuge for the friends of Ricky's brother and sister due to her laissez-faire approach to guardianship.
Camp Wilder boasts performances from quite a few well-known actors. The credits include Hilary Swank, Jared Leto, Jerry O'Connell, and Jay Mohr. Camp Wilder also covered heady topics for a 90s sitcom, including losing one's parents, one's chosen family, and gender identity. While ahead of its time in the U.S., Camp Wilder became a hit in Germany and the U.K.
6 Hi Honey, I'm Home! (1991 - 1992)
Hi Honey, I'm Home is a suburban satire harking back to 50s sitcoms, like Leave it to Beaver. A teenage sitcom junkie in the present, named Mike Duff, discovers his favorite television show -- aptly titled Hi Honey, I'm Home -- is canceled. In a bizarre turn, the Nielsen family from the series become Mike's new next-door neighbors in real life.
Filmed before a live studio audience at Nickelodeon Studios in Florida, Hi Honey, I'm Home contrasts the Nielsens, a conservative white-bread American family who typify traditional values, with Mike's family, consisting of his single mother and younger brother. The series only lasted two seasons before being canceled.
5 Teen Angel (1997 - 1998)
Arriving late in TGIF's original programming block, Teen Angel is a cross between Touched by an Angel and Boy Meets World. When high schooler Marty DePolo dies, he returns to Earth as his best friend Steve Beauchamp's guardian angel. How did Marty die? He ate an old hamburger found under Steve's bed as a joke.
Teen Angel features another heavenly character: a disembodied head named Rod that guides Marty through the afterlife. Marty likes to break the fourth wall, often engaging with the audience directly. Teen Angel never approached the success of other TGIF supernatural series and it was cut after one season.
4 Billy (1992)
After the successful sitcom Head of the Class ended, ABC greenlit this spin-off series. Billy Connolly returns as Billy MacGregor, a Scottish teacher. In Billy, he moves to Berkeley, California, and arranges a green card marriage with a single mother of three. Billy lives in the family's basement and tries to avoid immigration officers who believe his marriage is a sham.
Billy becomes closer to the family as the series progresses, but ABC canned the show before any of its subplots could be adequately developed. The most notable actor to come out of Billy is sitcom superstar Johnny Galecki, known for his roles in Roseanne and The Big Bang Theory.
3 Mr. Belvedere (1985 - 1990)
A peculiar series, the title character in Mr. Belvedere was a high-end British butler hired by an American family. Christopher Hewett played Lynn Aloysius Belvedere, a man who struggled to adapt to the needs of his new family over the course of the series. A class of culture ensues, of course -- one that involves the upper echelons of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania society.
Mr. Belvedere predates TGIF, but ABC retained the series' Friday night slot when it launched TGIF. The sixth and final season, however, was moved to Saturday night.
2 You Wish (1997 - 1998)
Another attempt to recreate the success of its supernatural series Sabrina the Teenage Witch, You Wish turned out to be a massive failure. You Wish reimagines I Dream of Jeanne for the 90s, casting John in the genie role. Simply known as Genie, Ales's character is accidentally released by the Apple family when they buy a rug from a mysterious shop.
After 2,000 years of imprisonment, Genie is thrust into a foreign world where he is indebted to the Apples. You Wish was canceled after only seven episodes. Not even Jerry Van Dyck starring as Genie's grandfather saved You Wish from the boot.
1 Aliens In The Family (1996)
TGIF's sitcom experimentation reaches its apex with Aliens in the Family. Only eight episodes of this singular series aired, which focuses on a single human father who falls in love with a single alien mother after being abducted. Whether it's Stockholm syndrome or genuine feeling, the pair bring their cross-species families together and create a new life on Earth.
Jim Henson's son, Brian, served as producer for Aliens in the Family, which employs puppetry and costuming similar to that used for the older Henson's TGIF sitcom, Dinosaurs. Aliens in the Family pales in comparison, though.