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Posted at 3:30 PM ET, 02/ 3/2011

The post-Super Bowl slot: The most and least memorable TV it's given us

By Jen Chaney

Snagging the post-Super Bowl time slot is supposed to be a feat, the equivalent of earning a pop-cultural trophy. From a television ratings perspective, it usually is and probably will be for this year's post-Super Bowl scheduling winner, "Glee."

But how many of the much-hyped, just-after-the-big-game TV moments have really made an impact -- either delivered quality entertainment or kick-started a series with genuine staying power?

Honestly, only a handful. Let's highlight a few that stick out in our minds and a few of the many that decidedly do not. Oh, and let's also take note of the common denominator among many of the best post-Super Bowl TV episodes; they tend to coincide with a certain team winning the game that preceded them.

Most memorable post-Super Bowl TV

The first episode of "The A-Team," post-Super Bowl XVII: The first regular episode of this '80s classic -- following on the heels of its two-part pilot -- aired after the game in 1983. And although its quality may be debatable, there's no question that this marked the beginning an immensely popular show (it aired for five seasons) and, years later, the release of a mediocre movie based on said show.

Hey, know who won the Super Bowl the year of "The A-Team" debut? The Washington Redskins, who beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-17.


The first episode of "The Wonder Years," post-Super Bowl XXII:
Another entry from the era when the time slot after the big game was a launching pad for buzzy new series, the terrific pilot for "The Wonder Years" brought a breath of '60s nostalgia to the 1988 airwaves. Once we met Kevin Arnold and his family, we liked them enough to keep them around for for six seasons. In my humble opinion, this may be the post-Super Bowl television episode that ever aired. But then, I've always loved a healthy dose of Paul Pfeiffer.

Hey, know who won the Super Bowl the year of "The Wonder Years" debut? The Washington Redskins, who destroyed the Denver Broncos by a score of 42-10. I am sensing a pattern here.

The "60 Minutes" interview in which Bill and Hillary Clinton discussed Gennifer Flowers: A last-minute addition to the CBS post-Super Bow XXVIl lineup, the Clintons used the prime time opportunity to rebut Flowers's allegations that she engaged in a lengthy affair with the then-presidential candidate. It wasn't entertaining, exactly, but it was certainly memorable.

Hey, know who won the Super Bowl the year that interview aired? Why yes, it was indeed the Washington Redskins, who triumphed over the Buffalo Bills, 37-24. Based on the rule of threes, it's now fair to make the following statement: The Daniel Snyder era has not only robbed the Redskins of Super Bowl wins; it has also, by association, robbed us of excellent post-Super Bowl pop culture moments.

The "Friends" post-Super Bowl XXX episode: The first, most notable attempt to take an existing show, stuff it with high-profile cameo appearances (Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields, Jean-Claude Van Damme), then hype it to the point of absurdity yielded an episode that drew in 53 million viewers. It may not have been the funniest "Friends" episode ever, but it provided plenty of water cooler fodder the next day and set a precedent for using the post-Super Bowl berth to pump up the profiles of existing hit shows.

For the record, the Redskins did not win the Super Bowl in 1995. The Dallas Cowboys did. But I still stand by my previous statement.

Least memorable post-Super Bowl TV

"MacGruder and Loud," post-Super Bowl XIX: Remember this ABC cop show that debuted after the 1985 game? No? Neither do we.


"Davis Rules," post-Super Bowl XXV:
Randy Quaid plays a widower raising his kids with the help of his nutty father. That pitch honestly sounds more enticing now than it did back in 1991. (Patricia Clarkson was in it, too, but even that didn't seem to help.)


"The Good Life" and "The John Larroquette Show," post-Super Bowl XXVIII:
Larroquette's show lasted longer than the other sitcom (starring Drew Carey) that premiered the year the Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills. But neither of them really made much of a pop-cultural mark.


"Criminal Minds," post-Super Bowl XLI:
I almost fell asleep just writing that. Do fans of "Criminal Minds" even remember the specifics of that 2007 episode?

By Jen Chaney  | February 3, 2011; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  TV  
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Comments

Sez Wikipedia:

MacGruder and Loud "starred John Getz and Kathryn Harrold as married police officers Malcolm MacGruder and Jenny Loud in a Los Angeles Police Department-styled police agency (where strict anti-fraternization policies were in effect). They fought a battle every day to keep it a closely-guarded secret from their boss, Sgt. Hanson (played by veteran actor Lee de Broux)."

"Malcolm and Jenny lived in a duplex-type apartment complex where there was a secret door behind the grandfather clock in her apartment, where Malcolm could sneak in and enjoy her company."

One hopes Jenny wasn't *too* Loud.

Posted by: byoolin1 | February 3, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

"Hey, know who won the Super Bowl the year of "The A-Team" debut? The Washington Redskins, who beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-17"

Obviously before Dan Snyder bought the 'Skins.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | February 3, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"The John Larroquette Show" had a remarkable cast, and won a number of awards. It got rather happified after a couple seasons, unfortunately, which took the bite out of it.

"Davis Rules" won a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor Emmy for the inimitable Jonathan Winters, and also introduced us to Bonnie Hunt.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | February 3, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Homicide: Life On The Street, after Super Bowl XXVII - clearly the *best* show ever to premiere after a Super Bowl. (And I was ready to skip it at the time, thanks to things like "MacGruder & Loud")

Posted by: gliptyx | February 3, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

How could you ignore "Homicide: Life on the Street"?!? One of the best shows ever on TV, period, much less the best to ever debut after the Superbowl!
(Full disclosure - I do not know "gliptyx", but clearly we both have good tv taste!)

Posted by: lydandy | February 4, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

You forgot Heidi.

Posted by: libwy | February 4, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I thought the 'Heidi' incident was after a play off game.

Posted by: JLRGG | February 4, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

For the record, on three items:

"Homicide: Life on the Street" was indeed the best show ever to debut after the Super Bowl. I agree completely with lydandy.

"Heidi" was not even a playoff game, just a late-season matchup between the Raiders and Jets. Long live Preston Ridlehuber!

In 1995, the San Francisco 49ers, not the Dallas Cowboys, won the Super Bowl.

Posted by: ansleydavid | February 4, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I third lydandy and ansleydavid re "Homicide: Life on the Street."

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | February 4, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

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