Welcome, one and all to our new regular feature, Throwback Thursday, where we unearth TV promos of yore for your appreciation. Up this week: Fox Weekend!
After launching its first two nights of primetime programming in 1987, Fox was ready to party. So that fall, the network aired a campaign featuring a gala attended by all of the actors from its Saturday and Sunday series—including future stars like Johnny Depp, Matthew Perry, Ed O’Neill, Katey Sagal and Christina Applegate—who urged viewers, “Don’t let Fox weekend pass you by!” And whatever you do, don’t let this TV Throwback Thursday promo pass you by.
Because as Bill Hader’s SNL character Stefon would say, this promo has everything: Sagal and O’Neill strangling each other, a skinny tie-clad Perry hitting on an underage Applegate (then just 16), a man’s bare chest being inexplicably massaged, Tracey Ullman mugging for the camera, a mulleted Peter DeLuise channeling The Love Boat’s two-finger-pointing Isaac, no-longer-famous Fox stars flirting with each other, a teenage boy possibly plummeting to his death, CCH Pounder flexing her biceps, some of the highest ’80s hair you’ve ever seen and Depp literally staying above the fray.
The campaign was the biggest promotional splash yet for the then-fledgling network, which had debuted a year earlier, on Oct. 9, 1986, with its late-night debacle, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Fox launched its Sunday night lineup of originals the following April, and rolled out its Saturday shows in July—remember when broadcast networks actually programmed on that night?—and wanted to celebrate its first fall season competing with the Big Three. (The network didn’t expand to a third night of programming, Mondays, until fall 1989.)
So the network assembled the stars of its returning shows—like Married…with Children (including O’Neill, Sagal and Applegate), 21 Jump Street (Depp), The Tracey Ullman Show (Ullman), Duet, Werewolf and The New Adventures of Beans Baxter—and its fall newbies—Second Chance (Perry) and Women in Prison (Pounder)—to shoot this promo of them mingling, flirting and clowning around at an event which abruptly shifts between a cocktail and dance party every few moments.
Meanwhile, singers croon the campaign’s theme song off-camera, with lyrics like “Don’t let Fox weekend pass you by/Just check us out and you’ll know why!”, “We’ve got the shows you want to see/The best of the 20th century” (uh—define “best”?) and “You’re going to love every minute!” Of this riveting promo? Definitely! So for this week’s TV Throwback Thursday, check out the network’s fascinating fall 1987 campaign—you’ll spot some fantastic new detail every time you watch—and remember: don’t let Fox weekend pass you by!