1980: Television’s Year

1980 background

We at KALEIDOSCOPE thought that it would be a very good idea to take all of you bloggers and blog followers out there on a journey back in time, back to the year 1980…and why, you might ask? Well, there just happens to be a reason for that-1980 was not only the very first year of a new decade(the 1980s), but it was also a year that a certain little medium called television has its beginnings and endings…

The year began with the launch of Black Entertainment Television on January 25th, but only as a block of programming; It would not become a full-fledged cable network until three years later…Do any of you remember a soap opera called Love of Life ? Well, for those of you who do not know, it was a soap that had aired on CBS for almost 30 years on the air, and on February 1st of 1980, the final episode had been aired.

13 days later in that year, on February 14th to be exact, the iconic newsman by the name of Walter Cronkite had announced his retirement from the CBS Evening News, which would take effect in March of the next year; Over on ABC on the 16th of March, the very first regularly scheduled use of closed captioning on American network television occurs, with captions of spoken dialogue added to programming received through a decoding unit attached to a standard TV set. Now, long before I came along to live with my uncle and aunt in 2011, 31 years earlier the Delmarva Peninsula market had been given its very first full-time ABC affiliate in the form of WMDT-TV, located in Salisbury, MD; This then-new station also took the secondary affiliation of NBC from WBOC-TV, leaving the station to become a full-time CBS affiliate to this very day.

Alas, the television year of 1980 had very well indeed been filled with endings-Donny Most & Ron Howard had left the cast of Happy Days as regulars(their characters have joined the Army), thus when the show returned in the fall, the only one who would receive top billing would thereby be given to Henry Winkler as the Fonz; Meanwhile, Hollywood Squares would end its 14-year daytime run on NBC, while The Not Ready For Prime Time Players final episode on Saturday Night Live aired on that same network.

On July 4th of 1980, there was an event that had shaken the entertainment world to the core-AFTRA and the Screen Actor’s Guild began to launch a strike that would last three months, affecting US networks’ fall television season, thereby causing some shows to not see their fall debuts until late October or November; Not only that, the strike would then prompt a union boycott of the 1980 Emmy Awards in September.

Ironically, just 4 months earlier, CBS aired the season finale of Dallas, one which featured the most iconic scene of all television history, and one that would give birth to the most famous catchphrase of all time-J.R. Ewing had been shot by an unseen assailant, and that had led to this very famous phrase: “Who Shot J.R.?” And unfortunately, because of that certain strike, many viewers had to wait not-too-long a time(four months) to find out who really shot J.R.; In the end, it was Sue Ellen’s sister, Kristin(played by Mary Crosby, who just happens to be the only daughter of the iconic actor and singer, Bing Crosby). That episode drew a record number of viewers.

The year of 1980 in American television came to a close on December 30th with yet another ending: The long-running Walt Disney anthology series, by then through its current title Disney’s Wonderful World and after having been on the air for 26 years(20 of which were on NBC at the time), would not be back on the Peacock Network for its 1981-82 season; However, the show would move to a certain Eye Network known as CBS in the fall of 1981.



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