The jump from 2001 to 1996 marks a significant change in the television landscape. It was basically pre-internet, at least for the vast majority of us. You basically watched TV when it aired and then you could talk about it with people in your life. I was a child in 1996, so that mostly meant my family and kids at school. However, I was old enough that I distinctly remember the television of the year. The NHL on FOX introduced the glow puck! I remember that! It sucked! What else happened in TV in 1996? Let’s find out!
The was apparently the first year of Fox Sports Net, which I certainly remember, and also ESPNNEWS. Animal Planet too. Evidently this was also when they did an angle in WWF where Brian Pillman – The Loose Cannon – had a gun and was maybe going to shoot “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. It was before the Attitude Era really took off, so it felt pretty crazy at the time.
When I wrote about 2001, I touched on the end of 3rd Rock from the Sun. Well 1996 was when that show began. I’ve written about it a few times on this site, though, so I don’t need to delve into that show again. I will say that early in the first season Joseph Gordon-Levitt wore a stupid hat. Glad his character didn’t keep that up.
Dexter’s Laboratory debuted, but I never really watched it. And yet I watched The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Why? Because I was a Nickelodeon kid. I barely ever watched Cartoon Network. Nickelodeon all the way, baby! This year also brought us Kenan & Kel, a better Nick show.
A couple of notable sitcoms I need to mention debuted in 1996: Everybody Loves Raymond and Spin City. It actually feels surprising that Raymond debuted that early. Then again, I never watched it. In terms of debuts, two shows with a significant cultural impact – and long runs – debuted as well. One was Judge Judy, which is only just ending. Also, The Daily Show. Of course, back then it was hosted by Craig Kilborn and wasn’t political. It was a completely different show.
Apparently 1996 was a huge year for Nickelodeon. I didn’t even mention all the shows that debuted, but 1996 was also the last year for shows like Roundhouse, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Rocko’s Modern Life, and The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Rocko and Pete & Pete were my two favorite shows on Nick. I don’t think I even knew they were ending, though. After all, it was 1996 and I was a kid. TV has changed since then, and so have I.