As with most people TV shows, and even certain TV stations played a huge role in my childhood. Perhaps no two TV stations, aside from Nickelodeon, captured my attention more than TBS and TNT. Although Nickelodeon in the 90s will always be the epitome of 90s TV for me, TBS and TNT delivered a magical blend of shows that seemed to always capture my attention at any point during my TV cruising. So what was it about these two Turner channels that captivated my attention you might ask? The answer is simple; both stations had an uncanny ability to take old movies, and package them in a way that made them seem fresh. Not only that, they had some great sports programs as well. Lets start with TNT.
First, I'll point out the obvious reason that TNT a must see channel in the 90s...WCW NITRO!
I don't care what anyone says, the Monday Night War era was the best era in wrestling, PERIOD! Sure the 70s were great, and the 80s produced some of the greatest wrestlers of all time, but the Monday Night War era had this aura about it that kept you wanting more. I can remember watching WCW in the early 90's when Eric Bischoff was just a TV personality. Honestly, I was more drawn to WWF at that point in time (It's still is, forever will be the WWF to me). Let's face it, I had grown up watching the likes of the Macho Man, Hulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect, Legion of Doom....and yes, even the Red Rooster. I grew up on the Ultimate Warrior, Honkytonk Man, Brett Hart, but something happened in 1995. That something was Nitro. The first one was broadcast in the Mall of America, and featured a worked shoot appearance/return of Lex Luger who had left the WCW for the WWF years earlier. However, it wasn't until the NWO invasion that things began to pick up. I could write on and on about this subject but I'll save that for another time. Fond memories of Nitro include, but are not limited to: NWO run ins and random stable expansion, Sting dropping down from the rafters and demolishing everyone with a baseball bat, Goldberg, laughing at Disco Inferno and Flash Funk, Glacier, the cruiser weight division. Also, who could forget the Nitro series that was produced outside at the MGM studio, or the Panama city Nitro episodes. It was a good time to be a wrestling fan.
Second, TNT used to play this all night New Years eve block of sword and sandal type movies called New Years Toga Party.
I doubt anyone would remember it cause it wasn't popular, but I can remember watching movies like Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, and other similar movies all New years eve. Even though I loved this block of movies dearly, apparently my viewing devotion wasn't enough to keep the Toga Party afloat. TNT decided to scrap the Toga Party idea, forcing me to get my New Years TV fix on SciFi with the Twilight Zone marathon, which is thankfully still running.
Yet another TNT creation was a little show called MonsterVision.
It was a horror show which ran from 1993 to 2000, and was hosted by the hilarious Joe Bob Briggs. Although Briggs wasn't the first full time host, he was by far the most memorable to me. MonsterVision showcased classic 60s, 70s, and 80s horror flicks, while interspersing bits with Joe Bob Briggs in or around his trailer. The show operated as a double feature, usually showing a popular horror movie first, then showing the Last Call movie, which was less known, afterward. Perhaps the best part about the show was Joe Bobs Drive-In Totals, which tallied points of interest in the movies. These would include number of decapitations, the use of certain weapons, and other odd, yet hilarious details. The most memorable gag was during a Halloween Friday the 13th marathon, in which allegedly Ted Turner was trying to bump off Joe Bob Briggs. Ahhhh the memories of watching MonsterVision.....
TNT was also the home of NBA on TNT which is still going strong. I can remember watching the kings (yeah I know) and their squad battle it out with the pacers, as well as the Bulls and Knicks classic games.
More memorable Shows from TNT included, Lois and Clark: The Adventures of Superman, Babylon 5 (Which I wasn't a huge fan of), Kung-Fu: the Legend Continues.
Although I didn't religiously watch these shows, I remember them being good alternatives when nothing else was on. A side not worth mentioning was TNTs airing of Above The Rim, which was one of my favorite sports movies as a kid as well as a documentary on streetball called On Hallowed Ground. Also TNT was the original 24 hour A Christmas Story Marathon station, until it was moved to TBS in later years. Nonetheless, TNT was dependable.
Now on to TNTs sister station, TBS The Super Station.
To keep in suit, I'll start off WCW Thunder.
While Thunder wasn't quite as refined as Nitro, it still brought yet another night of wrestling into my home. Time Warner Kept pushing WCW in areas it wasn't ready to go, which led to the inception of Thunder on Thursday nights, and ultimately the collapse of WCW itself.
All the corporate politics aside, Thunder was used to accommodate the ever expanding roster of wrestlers on WCW. Thunder contrasted Nitro in every way possible including a the construction of a completely different set, and even color scheme. While Nitro used a red color scheme, Thunder opted for blue, which gave it a new and exciting feel. Thunder wasn't the only wrestling show on TBS that I remember though.
TBS had been a haven for wrestling shows for decades. But the most prominent in the early 90s was WCW Saturday Night. Talk about memories. I can remember WCW Saturday Night being so exciting as a kid, but little did a realize that it was actually an under-card show for new or aging talent. Don't get me wrong, there were some pretty big stars on WCW Saturday Night, but it was an extremely low budget production. It had Cheesy sets, and corny gimmicks to match. Remember the tag team The Public Enemy, or High Voltage? Still, it was awesome having yet another wrestling show on TV. I'd actually take the WCW Saturday Night show in place of the wrestling on TV today, but thats just me.
TBS was also home of some highly memorable movie shows. My all time favorite movie show was Movies For Guys Who Like Movies. This show was blocked out for straight testosterone driven movies, cheesy dialogue intact. I'm not quite sure what day this aired, possibly Thursday or Friday, but it delivered such classics as Over The Top, Top Gun, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, and Roadhouse (remember the razor blade on that guys boot?). Why this show didn't stay around longer, I'll never know as it appealed to every thing I wanted in a TV at that time.
If that show didn't catch your eye there were plenty other to choose from that were similar in format. Dinner and a Movie provided a movie as well as instructions on a meal based on the movie theme.
In fact, I remember Paul Gilmartin, one of the hosts, was on WCW and ended up being part of the NWO. This led to him getting a diamond cutter from Diamond Dallas Page onto a table of pies. Hows that for Network Continuity.
There were many other reasons to watch TBS back in the 90s such as Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and 2 Stupid Dogs. Even the syndicated shows were fantastic: Saved By The Bell, Old 3 Stooges shorts, Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies, Most of the Miller/Boyett shows like Perfect Strangers, Full House, and Family matters, and even the Cosby Show was on TBS.
TV hasn't been the same since I was kid. TBS is now the funny one, and apparently TNT knows drama, but nothing will ever match the TNT and TBS of the 90s. I hope this was a nice little jog down memory lane for you all as it most definitely was for me.