Can’t Believe It’s Been 20 Years Since These TV Show Pilots
“3rd Rock From the Sun”
Back when Joseph Gordon-Levitt had long hair and John Lithgow was father to an alien family, we got six seasons of the Solomons. It was like “Alf,” except a whole family of weirdos hiding out on Earth. Apparently being this close to the sun back then made it hard for French Stewart to open his eyes completely. The show wrapped in 2001, and all of its stars went on to do bigger roles.
The Mayor of New York’s office was something of a media disaster control, trying to keep their chief away from public scrutiny. With Michael J. Fox, Charlie Sheen, Richard Kind and Heather Locklear running the show, there was no limit to the absurdity, or in Locklear’s case, the sexiness. After six seasons, most of these lead actors went on to very different lives. Fox retired in 2001 after going public with his disease in 1998, but the show picked up Sheen in his place.
“Everybody Loves Raymond”
Ray Romano’s quirky family hit the small screen as “Seinfeld” started to wrap up, leaving room for Romano and other dysfunctional family shows like “King of Queens” to take up the ratings. Romano announced in 2016 he suspects a “Raymond” reunion, despite the death of Peter Boyle in 2006 and the suicide of his fictional child, played by Sawyer Sweeten, in 2015.
“Kenan and Kel”
Kenan Thompson may have peaked in 1994’s “D2: The Mighty Ducks” with his knuckle-puck shot, but he would see work again in 1996 with his own show, “Kenan and Kel,” a teenager’s diary played out loud where his antics, along with Kel Mitchell’s, were worth four seasons of laughs. Kenan would go on to “SNL” where he would become the longest-tenured cast member ever, and go on to host “What’s Up With That,” one of the most terribly infectious songs in history.
The pastor family drama wasn’t all church hymns and holy water. But the Camden family of seven — yes, we’re counting Happy, the dog — also had their low points. Does nobody remember the marijuana cigarette episodes? The show would miraculously, likely by the hand of God, continue on for 11 long seasons as we watched little Ruthie Camden grow into a wild and sexy Mackenzie Rosman.
NBC’s classic chameleon, played by Michael T. Weiss, “The Pretender” follows a master lab rat who realizes the reality of his existence, then attempts to rewrite his destiny. The sci-fi show had a four-season run until NBC pulled the plug in 2000, just before two TV movies, “The Pretender: 2001” and “The Pretender: Island of the Haunted” picked up where it left off.
The 1995 classic rich girl film immediately got its smaller counterpart green lit in 1996. Albeit there are a number of differences between the two, the show did manage to run until 1999 with most of the original characters outside of Alicia Silverstone. There was also the “Party Girl” pilot in 1996, which was classified as “definitely…not clueless.”
“Sabrina the Teenage Witch”
Melissa Joan Hart is the classic teen pop family show actress, and her role as Sabrina Spellman was the start of it all. Based on the 1960s Archie comic book series, Hart portrayed a young witch-in-training who struggled to fit in with the other kids. But with the help of her 600-year-old aunts (Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick), she managed to squeeze out seven seasons, which were split between ABC and The WB until 2003.
The great Don Johnson plays charismatic San Francisco investigator Nash Bridges, but he has to buddy up with “fresh out of retirement” partner Joe Dominguez (Cheech Marin). The two butt heads, without a doubt, but offer up some serious laughs through six seasons of their CBS run until 2001. Shortly after her “Baywatch” run, Yasmine Bleeth picked up a couple seasons as the hottie of “Nash Bridges,” just before things went downhill for her.
“Superman: The Animated Series”
It wouldn’t be ’90s TV without some classic cartoons. It was also the year of “The Incredible Hulk,” a short-lived cartoon for the green Marvel monster. The DC character Superman was produced by Warner Bros. and aired on The WB from 1996 to 2000, giving us some classic Superman quips, just a few years before Bryan Singer made his abomination, “Superman Returns.” The animated series was the first of several failed spin-offs based on the success of “Batman: The Animated Series.”