Tele-Tuesday – Down Memory Lane: 1996

The 1990s – A Decade known for the massive growth and popularity of the Internet, gaming, and cell phones, also saw tumultuous times including The Gulf War and the Oklahoma City bombing, which created two of the most hated men in U.S. history – Saddam Hussein and Timothy McVeigh.

In the ’90s, the world also experienced perhaps one of the most popular scandals involving United States President Bill Clinton and White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.

The ‘90s generation watched as music and television took over the fashion world with women flocking to the salons for the “Rachel” cut, while the men raced to the barber asking for the sideburns of Jason Priestly and Luke Perry.  One of our favorite must-have items of the decade were the plaid and flannel shirts we all purchased by the dozen.

Top entertainers in the ‘90s included: the television ensemble casts of Friends, Seinfeld, Beverly Hills, 90210, ER; the popular grunge bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam; the pop-rock acts such as the Spice Girls; and other musicians like The Offspring, Green Day, and No Doubt.

Movie theaters saw great blockbuster success with the films Titanic, Dances with Wolves, The Silence of the Lambs (an upcoming Boo Factor installment), Home Alone, Pulp Fiction, The Matrix, Independence Day, The Lion King, and Pretty Woman.

Now, let’s shift specifically to 1996. What do I remember about that year?

The city of Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics, and amidst all of the swimming, gymnastics, and track and field, Eric Robert Rudolph killed two people and injured over a hundred more when he attacked Centennial Olympic Park with homemade pipe bombs filled with shrapnel.

Despite the tragedy in Atlanta, the United States won 44 gold medals, with a grand total of 101 medals – more than any other country.

What else?  Television programs, of course!

Today, let’s take a look back at some of the great crime dramas of 1996.

Nash Bridges (1996-2001)

Nash Bridges follows two of San Francisco’s elite investigators:  Nash Bridges (Don Johnson) and Joe Dominguez (Cheech Marin).   Bridges has a photographic memory, and battles the difficulties of living with his aging father (James Gammon) and daughter (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe).   As far as the police work, Nash and Dominguez team with Harvey Leek, a Grateful Dead fan (known as a “Dead-Head), and  Evan Cortez, Nash’s daughter’s eventual fiancé.

A Don Johnson television show wouldn’t be complete without his character driving a super-charged sports car, and of course, Nash drove a 1971 Barracuda convertible.

Fun Fact: Johnson’s Miami Vice co-star, Philip Michael Thomas, and Marin’s cinematic co-star, Tommy Chong, guest-starred in a 1997 episode, “Wild Card.”

NYPD Blue (1993-2005)

NYPD Blue aired over a decade on television, a feat that’s rarely accomplished anymore.  Perhaps the series lasted because of the story-telling, or perhaps it was because of the fabulous characters.  I’m going with characters.

Who will ever forget New York City Detective Andy Sipowicz, played by the great Dennis Franz?  Sipowicz may have been plagued by the interchanging partners throughout the seasons (John Kelly played by David Caruso, Bobby Simone played by Jimmy Smits, Danny Sorenson played by Rick Schroder, and John Clark, Jr. played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar), but audiences still tuned in on a weekly basis because they loved Andy and his relationships, something that was very difficult for him.

Sipowicz managed to be one of the most intense detectives on the squad, maybe even in television history, while also raising his young son alone following his wife’s death.

Over the years, the precinct consisted of other fine detectives and district attorneys played by Gordon Clapp, Amy Brenneman, Nicholas Turturro, Garcelle Beauvais, Henry Simmons, Charlotte Ross, James McDaniel, Currie Graham, Esai Morales, and Dana Delaney to name a few.  Undoubtedly, after more than ten years on the tele, NYPD Blue survived because of its spectacular ensemble cast with Dennis Franz taking the lead.

Law & Order (1990-2010)

“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

Sound familiar? Television viewers heard this narration by Steven Zirnkilton for twenty years on NBC during the opening credits of Law & Order.

Reigning as television royalty for two decades, Law & Order ranks as one of the best police procedural and legal dramas in television history.  The series, now turned into a franchise, has spawned four spinoffs: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, and Law & Order: LA.

The format of Law & Order focused the first thirty minutes of the hour-long program on the detectives solving the crime, and the final thirty minutes on the district attorneys taking their case to court.  Many television and big screen greats have called Law & Order their home at one time or another, including Chris Noth, Richard Brooks, Jerry Orbach, S. Epatha Merkerson, Benjamin Bratt, Jill Hennessy, Sam Waterston, Jesse L. Martin, Angie Harmon, Dianne Wiest, Fred Thompson, Jeremy Sisto, Dennis Farina, and Anthony Anderson.

Abruptly cancelled in 2010, the Law & Order fans can only hope that some network out there in the television universe will one day grant the closure the dedicated fans deserve, with maybe a two-hour made for television movie?

Profiler (1996-2000)

Perhaps the success of Profiler was due to the fact that Dr. Samantha Waters (Ally Walker) was one of the first forensic psychologists on network television.  Up to this point, viewers met a ton of cops, detectives, and private investigators on their favorite TV shows, but Profiler introduced a team of FBI agents that focused on criminal behaviors to find their suspects.

Samantha is haunted throughout the series by “Jack of all Trades”, the serial killer who took the life of her husband.  Her team consists of a detective (Julian McMahon), a computer hacker (Peter Frechette), and a forensic pathologist (Roma Maffia), and is led by Sam’s longtime friend and mentor (played by the great, Robert Davi).

Ally Walker’s character eventually retired, and Jamie Luner joined the cast as a new forensic psychologist in the fourth and final season of the show.

Fun Fact Trivia – What television hit did Julian McMahon and Roma Maffia star in, together again, from 2003-2010?

What do you remember from the 1990s – the politics, the entertainment, or the technology?  What are some of your favorite crime shows from the ‘90s? Did you enjoy any of these 1996 television series? I’d love to hear from you!

Stop by #teletuesday in Twitter so we can chat about these shows and many more!

53 Replies to “Tele-Tuesday – Down Memory Lane: 1996”

  1. The 90’s had a ton of great shows that opened doors to what is on TV now..I wish that they would stop killing off the good stuff and leaving the crappy ones on…I loved The Pretender…That was such a good show…

    1. Hey, Savannah – I could be mixing up all of the television that I’ve watched over the years, but I think Profiler and Pretender were connected somehow….do you remember that?

      I also completely agree about wishing the networks would leave the good stuff alone – it almost seems like they make too many promises to new pilots that they are making huge mistakes with the established shows. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I’m afraid I missed a lot of television between 1995-1999. That’s when I was in college (Gig’em Ags!) and instead of being the couch potato I am now, I partied my little heart out 🙂 I did manage to catch up…don’t you just love syndication??

    1. Claudia, you were okay in my book until you wrote Gig’em Ags. Hahaha – Just kidding. I have many good Aggie friends, but I do think you need to know that the proper slogan around here is, “Guns’ Up!”. 🙂

      I do love syndication. I especially love the channels like TNT, SyFy, USA, Logo, Ion, and Chiller that run the marathons….I love a good marathon. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Liz, I LOVE Nip/Tuck! You gussed correctly. I own all of the seasons except the very last one. Actually, I let someone borrow them long ago that i’m meeting for lunch soon. I wonder if she’s going to bring them back….

      Anyway, would you believe that I never watched the X-Files? I wasn’t a fan of David Duchovny until Californication. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Oooo, oooo…I actually watched several seasons of the X-Files! *Jenny, excited to dip her I-Gave-Up-TV-For-Writing Toes in the entertainment pond here on The Ooo Factor.*

  3. That was a fun flashback! I didn’t really think 1996 was very long ago, but those made me realize it is! I just went to a Howard Jones concert – goes a even further back. It was a blast! BTW, the cell phone pic cracked e up. My brother was seriously one of the first to own one, and i remember him walking around with it shoved into his back pocket (that was splitting at the seams in protest!). Hilarious!

    1. Hey, Kim! I shiver to think how long ago 1996 was, but it really was…over 15 years ago. NUTS!

      My dad had that silly, gigantic phone too. I called it “the brick.” We’d go out to dinner and he’d slam that thing down on the table. I’m so glad technology has come a long way since then…thanks for stopping by!

  4. Loved the ‘Cuda! Loved Nash! No flies on you, sister! 🙂

    I was also a fan of The Profiler and the Pretender. They were on back-to-back on Saturday nights.

    Then there was JAG.

    1. Wow – was JAG on that long ago? I didn’t even realize… I love how you threw in one of Nash’s phrases too, sister! 🙂 I was just thinking that Profiler and Pretender were connected, more than just being on the same nights. Weren’t they? Thanks for stopping by, Erica!

      1. I believe they had at least one cross-over episode where Jarrod met and worked with Samantha. Hard to remember…I’m getting old…sigh.

  5. I’d forgotten about The Profiler. That was a good show. My parents loved NYPD Blue, but I never watched it.

    I was an ER junkie, from beginning until the very end. It started the same year as friends did. ALthough no one lived up to the original cast, the show did a good job of hanging in there for so long.

    1. If you like cop drama, I highly recommend Netflixing or whatever you do to get NYPD Blue. I think that’s one reason why Detroit 187 failed after only one season this year – NYPD Blue is a tough act to follow…

      ER was a great show, but I stopped watching after there were only a few remaining cast members left. I did tune back in at the end to watch how they wrapped the show. I wish Clooney would have made an appearance.

      Thanksf or stopping by, Stacy!

      1. Clooney did make an appearance! On the show where Carter had his kidney transplant. Clooney and Margulies were the docs on the other side of the country trying to get the kidney without even knowing it was Carter they were saving.

        I do like Cop Dramas. I love SVU altho not sure about this next season. I’ll check Netflix for NYPD.

        And you’re welcome!

    2. Ooo, what are you not sure about on SVU this upcoming year? You have me on pins and needles…

      I guess I tuned in too late for the Clooney appearance on the ending of ER. Oh, well. They still did the show proud, IMO.

      1. They did the show very proud. The end was wonderful.

        Chris Meloni is leaving! He didn’t resign, and I don’t know how they’re going to end his character. I don’t know if he’ll even have a sendoff. And Benson is going to be taking on a supervisory role, which means less screen time for Mariska and more time for her kids.

      2. WOW – I hadn’t heard this, Stacy…and now I’m not so sure either…I may actually stop watching something before it’s taken off the air. Interesting….

  6. Loved ER, loved Friends, l-o-o-oved Seinfeld. Love Tiff’s blog cause it gives me a heady whiff of TV, which I miss! (Gotta go work and write now…)

    Great post, Tiffany!

    1. Brett, I totally have Freaks and Geeks on my must-see list. I love James Franco and Jason Segal. I know there were others in F&G – like Sweets from Bones – and I can’t wait to watch it. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Great post. Brought back lots of memories. My son was 15 and won tickets to Pearl Jam in San Diego. He was a minor, so I had to go with him. We went on the KCAL bus from San Bernardino to the concert in San Diego. They searched people as they let us in, but the guy took one look at me, the out of place mom, and told me to go ahead, didn’t even check my purse! Ah, the pot fumes brought back memories of those teen years! Haha!

    I loved NYPD Blues, Law & Order, and ER. They were great shows.

    1. What a great Pearl Jam memory….did you son pretend he didn’t know what the odd smell in the air was?

      ER was another great show….set the bar high for medical dramas. The original cast was the best. Thanks for stopping by, Lynn!

  8. Loved Nash Bridges. I was also a Walker, Texas Ranger fan. No such thing as police brutality in that one. 😀 I actually only first saw a Profiler episode last year, and I didn’t like it all that much. Maybe because I was already spoiled by the other forensic shows like Criminal Minds.

    1. Yes, if you watch today’s Criminal Minds (love it BTW), and then try the older Profiler, I can see why you wouldn’t like it….but back then? It was a nice change from the regular police drama, plus it had the ongoing storyline/conflict with Jack of All Trades haunting Samantha. Thanks for stopping by, Angela!

  9. I just realized something. I didn’t watch TV in the 90s. Huh.

    As usual, great post. I loved the trip down memory lane. The news items you added made it seem more real. Dude, I loved Pearl Jam. Still listen to them all the time.

  10. I was an X-phile until around Series four when it just fell off my radar. We were both Friends addicts though, sneaking the latest video tape into the weekly food shopping so it didn’t count on the entertainment budget (If it’s on the food shopping bill, it’s food….) We eventually had all ten series on VHS, and used to play random jukebox, where Mrs Dim would call out a number for the series and then a number for the episode and we’d see what we got to watch. The whole lot got given to a consignment store when we gave up on video in the early 2000’s.

    1. I love your way of thinking, D! I still have my Twin Peaks series on VHS – I can’t seem to part with it, even though I don’t have a way to play the videos anymore. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. I have to echo Catie’s comment, I didn’t watch TV in the 90’s, however, I do remember the controversy over whether the local affiliate would be allowed to play NYPD Blue. Yes, they had petitions, door to door signings, PR on the radio stations all just so this show could be played locally. Why? Because it had a higher degree of violence than was considered healthy and shockers, it had NUDITY! Or at least that was the rumor. Prudes.

    Anyway, I was a huge fan of Nirvana, grunge forever. Dude 🙂

    Of course, in 1996 I also had hair down to the small of back. No joke. Which is why my hair is short now, pony tails are not the friend of males and balding patterns, that’s all I’m saying on that.

    Great post, Tiffany! Thanks for the wonderful flashback.

    1. Gene, you must share a picture with us… down to the small of your back? Must share!

      Kurt’s death was such a sad day….I still love hearing Nirvana today. But, I guess we wouldn’t have the Foo Fighters, now would we?

      And, why weren’t you watching TV in the ’90s? Seeing Jimmy Smits’ butt was one reason I tuned into NYPD Blue. Then it was Zach Morris’ butt….I loved the shock-factor and that the show continued to strive even amidst the controversy.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  12. 1990s. Law school. Marriage. Two babies. All that translates into very little tv time, except for Arthur, Barney, and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Buster on Arthur solved a few mysteries though. Other than that, I can say I discovered Law and Order about a year after I finished law school and still watch some flavor or another of it around once a week.

    Great post. Love your Tele-Tuesdays.

  13. 1996 was my last pre-child year, but I don’t think I was watching TV dramas. My husband and I did keep up with all the TV renditions of Star Trek, though: Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager. I think those were all in the 1990’s! (Go ahead and make the nerd wisecrack, people.)

    Thanks for the flashback, Tiffany!

    1. I won’t make a wisecrack…but I didn’t watch any of that. Not until I started dating my guy – he loves that stuff, and I still can’t pay attention to it. I don’t know why? I did like one of the Battle Star shows, maybe Galactica? Thanks for stopping by, Julie!

  14. Drew Carey, Twin Peaks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Cosby, Cybill, Farscape, Northern Exposure, Star Trek Voyager, Home Improvement, Highlander, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Sliders, Spin City, X-Files, Milleneum, Star Trek The Next Generation, Whose Line Is It Anyway?

    I’ve probably left something out but as it is when I look at this list? I watched way too much tv. As you can see I was all about comedy, weird and sci-fi. Still am for that matter.

    Great post.

      1. I have seen the movie a few times and YES, I own the Diary….but where is it? I bet it’s at my parents…. I must agree that we’re in the minority, which is why we have to stick together!!

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