Seemingly hundreds of TV channels come and go every year, most of which you’d never care to flip to. FXX, which launched last week with much fanfare (and flatulence), is the rare exception — purchasing the rights to Parks and Rec certainly helps draws interest, as does new episodes of It’s Always Sunny and The League.
With FXX’s origin story so fresh in our minds, I thought now would be an interesting time to look back at 10 other popular channels, to see what the first show or movie they aired was. It’s somehow reassuring to know that Fox has always been the weird black sheep of the Big Four and that HBO was HBO right from the start.
The only reason Cartoon Network, and therefore Adult Swim, exists is because in 1986, Ted Turner acquired Kirk Kerkorian’s Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists. After less than three months of ownership, however, Turner sold it back to Kerkorian, though he kept much of MGM’s archived content, including a boatload of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts. On October 3, 1988, TNT launched, and three years later, Turner purchased Hanna-Barbera Productions. With so much animated programming in stock, and with only so many hours on TNT to fill, the idea for a network that exclusively showed cartoons was hatched. What Teddy wants, Teddy gets: Cartoon Network came to be on October 1, 1992, with a screening of Rhapsody Rabbit. Franz Liszt? Never heard of him.
The Disney Channel
No surprise here: the first show on Disney’s Disney-tastic Disney Channel was Good Morning, Mickey!, about the great Mickey Mantle’s day-to-day struggles with alcoholism. Also, a talking mouse and his other anthropomorphic friends. It ran from 1983-1992. Soon after, the Mickster died. As always, kids, today’s lesson is: never love anything.
“If you’re a fan, what you will see in the next minutes, hours, and days to follow may convince you that you’ve gone to sports heaven.” With those words, spoken on September 7, 1979 at 7:00 p.m., SportsCenter anchor Lee Leonard made it possible for the slimy likes of Chris Berman, Michael Wilbon, and Michael Bay’s evil clone Skip Bayless to get paid millions of dollars to troll as hard as Tim Tebow gets while reading the Bible. F*ck you, Lee Leonard.
Fox is the only one of the Big Four networks to not currently air a talk show (one of the many reasons why Fox is also the best of the Big Four), but the network’s history is littered with failed attempts at getting celebrities to hawk their new movie at 12:30 a.m. In fact, Fox’s first program, on October 9, 1986, was The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Less than a year later, she was fired, paving the way for Arsenio Hall, Buck Henry, Ross Shafer, Frank Zappa (almost — he was canned before his episode aired), and a revolving group of nobodies to host. No one lasted very long (though Hall’s 13-week stint led to The ROO ROO ROO Show, which led to THIS), and The Late Show was cancelled in 1988 to eventually make room for The Chevy Chase Show. Yeah.