The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) announced late last year, its intention to cut back on prime-time network programming, due in large part to the economic downturn, but also a reflection of viewing trends away from the "Big Three" of network television toward cable-based network and other "narrowcast" programming. At about the same time, there was word that Jay Leno, host of The Tonight Show, might be moving to a similar type of program, from his current 11:30pm time, to the 10:00pm slot. This would follow the trend of his older audience towards an earlier bedtime. While this writer is no great fan of conventional network television (and prefers the more specialized programming offered with high-end cable), NBC deserves some credit for some great shows over the years. In the two clips featured here for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy, we are showing favorite scenes from two of them.
The Cosby Show (1984-92) was a sitcom starring comedian Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad, as the parents of an upper-middle-class Afro-American family living in Brooklyn. It was one of the most critically acclaimed situation comedies ever, and put NBC back on the map with the sitcom genre. In the first clip featured above, the Huxtable Family does an anniversary tribute for their grandparents, by dramatizing Ray Charles' 1958 hit recording of "Night Time is the Right Time," originally recorded by Roosevelt "The Honeydripper" Sykes in 1937. The West Wing (1999-2006) was a serial drama depicting the fictional presidency of Democrat Josiah Bartlet, admirably played by Martin Sheen. Considered an outstanding work by critics and political science professors alike, it was often dubbed "the Clinton White House without Clinton." Consultants to the show included former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, as well as former White House speechwriter Peggy Noonan. In our second clip, from the show's second season, White House Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) meets his match on a political talk show, in the form of conservative political consultant Ainsley Hayes (Emily Procter).