TV events of 1985

Dec. 18: Here is a look at the Late Show's opening monologue for this date. Among the highlights are the debut of "Band-Cam" and "New Gift Items," which includes some close calls with fire and the semi-disturbing self-propelled cat car.

Dec. 16: NBC announced it's dropping the low-rated "Hell Town" series, which stars Robert Blake as a street-wise priest, from its lineup. It's replaced by "Blacke's Magic," a crime drama series that stars Hal Linden and Harry Morgan.

Dec. 14: Actor Tom Hanks hosts Saturday Night Live for the first time. The musical guest is Sade. Hanks has since hosted SNL eight more times for the fifth most hosting gigs in the program's history.

Dec. 13: The return of Mary Tyler Moore to TV in the new CBS sitcom "Mary" is unable to overcome the NBC juggernaut "Highway To Heaven" in its first week on the air. But it attracts more than 5 million more viewers than the show in the time slot previously, "Stir Crazy".

Dec. 11: Actor Fred Grandy, who played Gopher on "The Love Boat" for nine years, confirms he is leaving the show to run for Congress in his native Iowa.

Dec. 9: The first part of a two-part, made-for-TV production of "Alice In Wonderland" airs on CBS. It stars Natalie Gregory as Alice and includes Red Buttons, Jayne Meadows, Anthony Newley, Caroll Channing, Roddy McDowall, Ann Jillian and Pat Morita. The second part, which covers "Through the Looking Glass," airs on Dec. 10.

Dec. 7: Comedian Sam Kinison makes his first appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Dec 1: President Reagan is honored by Hollywood celebrities in a taping of an NBC special called "An All-Star Party for 'Dutch' Reagan' that is later televised on Dec. 8th. Frank Sinatra hosts the event and those making appearances include Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin, Charlton Heston, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Ben Vereen and Emmanuel Lewis. Dodgers announcer Vin Scully also shows up. 

Nov. 25: Actor Raymond Burr appears on Late Night With David Letterman to promote the TV movie "Perry Mason Returns". The movie marks the revival of the Perry Mason character for the first time since 1966.

Nov. 18: For the first time in an episode of Sesame Street, everyone can see Snuffleupagus. During every previous episode, Snuffleupagus could be seen only by Big Bird and the running gag on the show was that Snuffy was a figment of Big Bird's imagination. But show creators, in light of some high-profile child abuse cases, decided that by making Snuffleupagus believable it would help encourage children to tell grown-ups about their problems without being scared that adults would think they were making up stories. 

Nov. 12: Struggling ABC demotes Lewis H. Erlict as president of television entertainment and names Brandon Stoddard. Stoddard would hold the position until 1989, and the shows "Roseanne," "The Wonder Years" and "thirtysomething" would be created during his tenure.

Nov. 11: "An Early Frost," a made-for-TV movie and the first film to address the topic of AIDS, airs on NBC. It stars Aidan Quinn, Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara. It's number one in the ratings for the week.

Nov. 9: Madonna hosts Saturday Night Live. The musical guest is Simple Minds. It's also the first time that Dennis Miller plays the anchor for "Weekend Update".

Nov. 8: Cheers actors George Wendt (Norm) and John Ratzenberger (Cliff) host Friday Night Videos on NBC. I remember this episode.

Nov. 2: The Miami Vice soundtrack hits No. 1 on the Billboard album charts, making Miami Vice the first television show to generate a No. 1 song and a No. 1 album.

Oct. 31: MLB commissioner Peter Ueberroth appears on the Phil Donahue Show and admits that first base umpire Don Denkinger "missed the call" in ruling the Royals' Jorge Orta safe in Game 6 of the World Series against the Cardinals. But, he added, "It's part of the game. Umpires are not perfect. They make mistakes."

Oct. 30: The third induction class for the Television Hall of Fame is announced. The class is former entertainers Steve Allen, Jackie Gleason, Mary Tyler Moore and Burr Tillstrom, producers Walt Disney and Fred Coe, and former CBS president Frank Stanton.

Oct. 29: Game 7 of the World Series is the top-viewed program for the week ending Oct. 27 according to Nielsen TV ratings. The Cosby Show is second, followed by Family Ties and then Games 3, 5, 4 and 6 of the World Series. 

Oct. 28: ABC announces it's getting out of the movie-making business, as far as theater movies go. The six-year production company that made noted movies like "The Flamingo Kid," "Prizzi's Honor," and "Silkwood" will be phased out.

Oct. 27: Disney announces it will put 20 films into syndication to air on television, including "Mary Poppins," "Dumbo," "Babes in Toyland" and "Splash".

Oct. 23: CBS and NBC agree to air public-service announcements aiming to reduce teenage pregnancies. The networks initially rejected the spot because contraceptives were mentioned, but the mention was removed from the updated PSAs.

Oct. 22: Geraldo Rivera announces that he is resigning from ABC News after eight years to pursue other opportunities. It's later revealed that ABC fired Rivera.

Oct. 19: Howard Cosell's SportsBeat interview show is canceled by ABC. The precursor to programming like ESPN's Outside The Lines, the show endured abysmal ratings over a three-year period.

Oct. 16: The major TV networks announce their first changes of the 1985-86 prime time season. Mary Tyler Moore is returning to a TV series as a helpline newspaper columnist in "Mary" on CBS. Also, the sitcom "Foley Square" is announced as following "Mary" in the 8:30 Wednesday slot. The shows replace the sitcom "Stir Crazy." 

Oct. 15: The much-hailed black-and-white episode of Moonlighting airs on ABC. The tribute to film noir, called "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice," was ranked as one of the 100 greatest TV show episodes 

Oct. 10: It's announced that comedienne Lucille Ball will play a bag lady in a dramatic TV movie called "Stone Pillow". The movie, which aired on Nov. 5, was Ball's attempt to break away from her comedy reputation.

Oct. 3: The "Cheers" episode "Wally Goes Belly Up" airs on NBC. This is the episode where Woody's girlfriend in Indiana visits him in Boston and they end up binge-eating to repress sexual thoughts. This leads Sam and Diane to do the exact same thing.

Oct. 2:  Actor Sidney Clute dies at age 69. Clute was appearing in "Cagney and Lacey" as Detective Paul LaGuardia, but his illness from cancer kept him off new episodes of the show and his character had to be written out of the show.

Sept. 29: Action-adventure TV series "MacGyver" makes its debut on ABC.


Sept. 24: The first full season of "Moonlighting" begins with a "cold opening" in which Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis address the audience in character. "Cold openings" would become regular occurrences on the show and get more elaborate.

Sept. 23:  Andre The Giant battles King Kong Bundy (and Big John Studd) at Madison Square Garden.

Sept. 22: The Cosby Show unseats two-time defending winner Cheers as the Outstanding Comedy Series at the 37th Emmy Awards. Cagney & Lacey surprised favored Miami Vice as the Outstanding Drama Series. Noted imposter Barry Bremen accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress, taking the award for Hill Street Blues' Betty Thomas, who was late arriving on stage.

Sept. 18: The Late Night With David Letterman Show introduces the Top 10 List as a segment on the show. The first Top 10 list is "Top 10 Words That Almost Rhyme With Peas".

Sept. 17:  The hour-long crime drama "The Equalizer" makes its debut on CBS. Starring Edward Woodward, it lasted until 1989. The show was made into a movie, which made its debut in September 2014.

Sept. 17:  NBC's new sitcom "The Golden Girls" is the most watched program of the week, giving NBC its highest premier ratings for a sitcom since "Chico and the Man" in 1974.

Sept. 16: ABC is the first broadcast station to supply subtitles for its entire prime-time schedule.

Sept. 14: The sitcom "The Golden Girls," starring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, makes its debut on NBC.

Sept. 13: Ted Koppel and Nightline cover the controversy over placing warning labels on record albums, interviewing Frank Zappa and Donny Osmond, and the representative of the PMRC, Kandy Stroud.

Sept. 9: I discovered Late Night With David Letterman in 1985. Here is the episode of Letterman that aired on Sept. 9, 1985, featuring favorite '80s guest, Teri Garr.

 Sept. 8: Two new hour-long TV shows prepare to make their debuts for ABC. "Spenser: For Hire" is scheduled to debut on Sept. 20 and "MacGyver" on Sept. 29.

Aug. 30: Phyllis George quits CBS Morning News and is replaced by Maria Shriver as co-anchor of the show. Forrest Sawyer is also announced as a co-anchor.

Aug. 29: 
A car being used for a stunt during filming of TV's "The Fall Guy" crashes into two cameramen and bursts into flames, seriously injuring three people in Encino, Calif.

Aug. 13: 
Frank Zappa appeared on Larry King Live on CNN amid the controversy going on at the time about warning labels on record albums. Here is part 1 and part 2.

Aug. 5: First-year cop show "Miami Vice" receives the most Emmy Award nominations with 15. Other shows with the most nominations are sitcom "Cheers" with 12, veteran police show "Hill Street Blues" with 11 and music special "Motown Returns To Apollo" with 11.

Aug. 1: The 12th annual Daytime Emmy Awards name "The Young And The Restless" as the best soap opera. "The $25,000 Pyramid" is named the best game show for the third straight year. "Jim Henson's Muppet Babies" is named the best animated show, and "Donahue" is selected the best talk show. 

July 29: Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Terry Forster appears on Late Night With David Letterman after Letterman called him "a fat tub of goo" during a show about a month prior. Here is the show. In it, Letterman shows baseball cards of Forster from 1972 and 1985 and notes that Forster's weight on the back of each card is 210 pounds.

July 28: We're in the middle of summer reruns, so how about some MTV from this date in 1985? Check out a video from Dokken, VJ Alan Hunter, Courteney Cox hawking Tampax, a California Cooler commercial I had forgotten all about, and an ad for the upcoming movie "Pee Wee's Big Adventure."

July 25: NBC announces that it will begin phasing out its "N" trademark and introduce an updated peacock logo that features the NBC call letters. The new logo that debuts in 1986 is the logo that NBC essentially has today. (Above is the "Proud N" logo from 1979-86).

Associated Press

July 9: ABC announces that Joe Namath will replace Don Meredith in the broadcast booth for Monday Night Football for the upcoming season.

June 28: Here's an episode of the game show Super Password that aired on this date in 1985. Remember Bert Convy?

June 23: Actress Mary Tyler Moore is announced as returning to television in a series tentatively titled "Mary," which is scheduled to air in December.

June 17: Actress Donna Reed fails in her bid to regain her role as Miss Ellie in "Dallas" when a judge refused to halt production on the television show. Reed was requesting a preliminary injunction in her breach-of-contract lawsuit.

June 14:
The last daytime episode of the game show Family Feud, hosted by Richard Dawson, airs on ABC.

June 6: 
Actor Stacy Keach returns to the United States after being released from a six-month prison sentence in England for cocaine smuggling. Keach's television show, "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer," was not renewed after production stopped when Keach was sent to prison.

June 6: ABC announces substitute changes in its fall lineup, adding "Spenser: For Hire," an action-adventure show starring Robert Urich.

June 4: Three companies announce to National Cable Television executives their plans to launch national pay-per-view networks in the coming months. They tell them it might be their best chance to compete with the growing home video craze.

May 21:
CBS acquires the police series "T.J. Hooker" after ABC canceled it two weeks prior. CBS announces it will run new episodes of the series not in prime time, but at 11:30 p.m. to go up against "The Tonight Show" and "Nightline."

May 13: 
Actress Selma Diamond, who played baliff Selma Hacker on the sitcom "Night Court," dies from lung cancer at age 64. Actress Florence Halop replaces Diamond on the show.

May 8: 
TV and film actor Dolph Sweet, who played police chief and father Carl Kanisky on the sitcom "Gimme a Break" dies at age 64. The sitcom's final episode of the season airs three days after his death.

May 7: TV's longest running prime time entertainment show, "The Jeffersons," is canceled by CBS after an 11-year run.

May 1: ABC announces an overhaul to its TV lineup for the upcoming 1985-86 season, replacing nearly one-third of its lineup and canceling several shows, including "T.J. Hooker." It announces that sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes," canceled by NBC, will air on ABC. It also announces the start of a new sitcom called "Growing Pains."

May 1: 
NBC axes nine-year-old sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" while announcing its fall lineup for the 1985-86 season. Among the new shows planned are "The Golden Girls" and "227."

May 1: Johnny Carson signs a two-year contract to continue hosting the Tonight Show.

April 30: The two-year-old Playboy Channel, reeling from subscriber cancellations, announces programming changes that will place less emphasis on nudity and sex. 

April 22: 
 "Dynasty" edges "Dallas" as the top-rated television show of the 1984-85 season. Dynasty finished with a 25.0 rating and Dallas, the winner of three of the last four seasons, with a 24.7. "The Cosby Show" was third at 24.2.

Commercials of '85: There was no beverage that screamed mid-1980s more than a wine cooler. And there was no wine cooler advertised more often than Bartles & James. This is one of their many commercials, which ran from 1984-91.

April 19:  The prime time soap opera was still going strong in 1985. Here's a Dallas-Falcon Crest TV promo that aired on this date.

April 6: 
Christopher Reeve is the guest host on Saturday Night Live. Santana is the musical guest. As you would expect, there were two sketches about Superman.  

April 2: 
The sitcom "The Jeffersons" airs one of its final episodes in its 11 years on the air. In "That Blasted Cunningham," George dreams up a sales promotion that he hopes will bury archrival Cunningham in another dry-cleaning war. 

March 19: 
Hollywood film and television writers vote to end their two-week-old strike. Six NBC shows stopped production because of the strike, including The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, Late Night With David Letterman, The Cosby Show and Saturday Night Live. 

March 14: 
Bill Cosby wins four awards at the 11th People's Choice Awards. Tom Selleck and Barbara Mandrell each win two.

March 10: 
 "Night of 100 Stars II" airs on ABC. It was a variety show that counted each star as they appeared on the show. Here is the first 15 minutes if you want to suffer through it.

March 3:  "Moonlighting," starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis, debuts on ABC.

February 26:
The 27th Grammy Awards are broadcast on CBS. "What's Love Got To Do With It," by Tina Turner wins Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Lionel Richie's "Can't Slow Down" wins Album of the Year. Cyndi Lauper is named Best New Artist.

February 23: 
NBC sitcom "Gimme a Break" airs its episode live.

February 22: 
In a "Miami Vice" episode called "The Maze," Tubbs is taken hostage in an abandoned hotel after a cop tries to avenge his partner's murder.

February 19:
For the third straight week, NBC's "The Cosby Show" is the top-rated show on television.

February 14: ABC announces that a new show starring Cybill Shepherd, called "Moonlighting," will debut with a two-hour episode March 5. She will be joined by co-star Bruce Willis.

February 12: Nicholas Colasanto, known as "Coach" Ernie Pantusso on the sitcom Cheers, dies at age 61 from a heart attack. Secretly battling heart disease, he lasted three seasons on Cheers before his death. He would be replaced in the cast by Woody Harrelson.

February 8: 
Turner Broadcasting Systems announces that CNN -- still known as the "Cable News Network" at the time -- will begin broadcasting in Europe in September.

February 5: Here's an ABC promo of upcoming shows that aired on this date.

February 3:
 In the Knight Rider episode "Junk Yard Dog," KITT suffers a crisis of confidence after he is reconstructed as a result of being dropped in a toxic-waste pit.

January 22: Twisted Sister's Dee Snider is a guest on Late Night With David Letterman. Snider chats about his trip to Japan, his interest in Godzilla memorabilia, getting arrested at concert for profane language, and how an alcoholic came up with the name for his band.

January 20: A new TV crime drama, produced by Aaron Spelling, called "MacGruder and Loud" is heavily promoted during ABC's airing of Super Bowl XIX. The first episode airs after the Super Bowl, but the show is canceled after three months on the air.

January 12:
 Episode 10 of the 10th season of Saturday Night Live airs, starring actress Kathleen Turner as host and John Waite as musical guest. Among the recurring characters to make appearances on this episode are Fernando (Billy Crystal), Willie and Frankie (Christopher Guest and Crystal), Joe Franklin (Crystal), Doug Henning (Martin Short AND Rich Hall) and Mr. Blackwell (Harry Shearer).

 January 4: "Street Hawk," a television series featuring Rex Smith, debuts on ABC. In an apparent bid to capitalize on the Knight Rider/Blue Thunder/Airwolf phenomenon, the plot concerns a top-secret project involving a police officer and former dirt bike racer. Smith, a.k.a. Jesse Mach -- yes, Jesse Mach -- is equipped with an all-terrain attack motorcycle that can travel at speeds of 300 miles an hour. Mach is a police officer by day and fights crime on his motorcycle by night. He is considered a fugitive from justice by the police. The show lasts 13 episodes. Joe Regalbuto, who would later go on to fame as Frank Fontana on Murphy Brown, also stars in the series.

January 3: Episode 57 of Cheers airs. Called "Whodunit?" the show introduces viewers to Dr. Bennett Ludlow, Frasier's mentor. Both Frasier and Diane, who worship the man, are stunned to find out Ludlow is dating Carla.

January 1: "The Baseball Bunch," a syndicated half-hour television show hosted by Reds catcher Johnny Bench, airs its final episode after three years on TV.

January 1:
 VH-1, a cable music video network targeted for an older audience than the popular MTV network, debuts with a video of Marvin Gaye singing the "Star-Spangled Banner."