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TV Flashback Tuesdays: WB’s “Oh What a Night”

August 23, 2010

Welcome to my new weekly feature, in which I look back at some of TV’s most memorable promos. I think promos are interesting for telling us how a network defined itself at a certain point in its history. Plus, a lot of them are just really cheesy and hilarious to watch.

First up is the “Oh What a Night” promo from The WB. (Or should I say, the “Dubba Dubba Dubba WB.”) I start off with this ad because this is the first promo spot I remember watching and thinking that, “okay, I get what this channel is all about.” It really defined the network’s aesthetic and demographic by acting as if its spot on the TV dial was one big party featuring fabulous twenty-somethings–and we were all invited.

The WB cranked out promos every year of its existence, but the 2000-era ad is the best representative of the network, since it features the casts of Dawson’s Creek, Felicity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Charmed, The Jamie Foxx Show and 7th Heaven. (It was still early enough in network history that all of the stars showed up, not yet embarrassed by the fake smiling and bad dancing required of them.)

Remember when ABC’s TGIF lineup had a crossover night, in which Steve Urkel would show up on Full House and Step By Step, and as a kid you had a strange thrill in seeing Steve Urkel hang out with the Tanner kids and Suzanne Somers? This promo is like that times one hundred, compressed in a three-minute clip. Zander and Jack McPhee check out the ladies! Noel introduces Pacey to the Pink Power Ranger! Phoebe and Jen hang out a table with Dawson and Jamie Foxx!

The oddest thing is that the promo features a mini-storyline with David Boreanaz and Shannen Doherty having a 30-second flirtation while Sarah Michelle Gellar shakes her booty one room away. (Prue was a witch and all, but Buffy would have shut that down in a heartbeat.)

The ad is fun to revisit, not just to remember the late 90s fascination with pairing sequined halter tops with leather pants, but to play the “where are they now” game. There’s an Oscar winner, an Oscar nominee and some full-fledged movie stars shimmying together, including Foxx, Michelle Williams, Katie Holmes, Katherine Heigl and Jessica Biel.

To watch the clip is to remember the WB’s proud stance as a youth network, and the (mostly) quality programming that spoke to its passionate teen fanbase. It made me think about its successor, the CW, which hasn’t come close to having the influence the WB had in its heyday. Perhaps its time for the CW to create a promo with Chuck Bass high-fiving the Winchester brothers and Tyra Banks smizing with Clark Kent while “I Gotta Feeling” plays in the background.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2010 11:44 pm

    Whoa. I kinda want to go to there, if only for my unhealthy love of Nicholas Brendan (Xander) and Shannon Doherty. And Jessica Biel.

    I didn’t watch the WB at that point in time (or ever, really, I don’t think) so I missed this promo the first time ’round. But holy schmoly, I’ve never felt so old in my life realising that it aired 10 years ago. I didn’t watch any of those shows on their first run, so I kinda forget that they’re that old and subsequently forget how old I am.

    Damn kids and their hooligan ways..get offa mah propertah!

  2. August 23, 2010 11:55 pm

    Wow! What an incredible clip! And as it was unreeling I was wondering what it would cost to put the same clip together TODAY? I mean, ok, they could afford Shannen and Van Der Beek, but pretty much everybody else is off the charts!

    This is a genius topic to explore, because it IS within the network promos that we can see how these broadcast giants saw themselves, how they defined their niche and who they were trying to attract to watch, so kudos for tackling it!

    You’re absolutely right about “The CW” not having any concept of promotion. UPN did a better job! Maybe they should have gone ahead and called it “The WC” since that’s pretty much truth in advertising.

    But this was so much fun to watch… and you’re right, those “crossover” episodes of shows are cheesetastic but it’s so fun to see characters you like from different shows interacting with each other… which is why I adored Conan O’Brien’s Emmy Awards opening from way, way back when he was a late night host on NBC:

    It’s no secret that I wanted to produce an Emmy awards that was like this FOR THE ENTIRE SHOW.

  3. August 24, 2010 6:32 am

    Fancy! Wow, I forgot that The Dubya Bee wasn’t completely whitewashed and had Jamie Foxx at some point. I am cringing for all of those people. Especially Felicity’s hair, which I personal like, but everyone else acted like was the worst thing ever. I’m also cringing at the bad dancing.

    Omg, I can’t wait for the HBO one! I have a great 2003/4ish spot seared into my brain because I own so many HBO shows on DVD. I just know it ends with Tony!

  4. August 24, 2010 9:38 am

    I love crossovers… they’re much easier to do in comics (aside from DC/Marvel crossovers… I do have a copy of the Spiderman/Superman comic somewhere in my basement) but so much more fun on TV. One of my favorites is the Jessica Fletcher/Thomas Magnum appearances on Magnum, P.I. and Murder She Wrote.

  5. August 24, 2010 11:08 am

    oh! i distinctly remember this promo and LOVED it! i was the perfect target – Dawson’s Creek premiered my freshman year of college and my whole floor was SILENT on the nights it aired. i loved seeing all those stars together and it really is fun to see how many of them have gone onto bigger and better things.

    anyone else catch a wee-tiny katherine moennig there at the end? she was in a summer filler show with kate bosworth that i ALWAYS think of first, even before the L-word, when i see her. 🙂

  6. evmaroon permalink
    August 24, 2010 11:02 pm

    “Perhaps its time for the CW to create a promo with Chuck Bass high-fiving the Winchester brothers and Tyra Banks smizing with Clark Kent while “I Gotta Feeling” plays in the background.”
    I might lose it if that actually happened, Snarky.

    What I find most shocking about this promo is how long it ran for, well more than two minutes, and yet I’m certain it held the attention span of many a WB viewer back in the day.

  7. August 25, 2010 8:53 am

    @redlami @NYCPenpusher I have to admit I really love crossovers too. I’m not sure what the appeal is for me, but that clip you posted of Conan’s opening at the Emmys pretty much sums it up. It’s just fun, in a kind of geeky TV fan sort of way.

    @snarkysmachine I completely forgot about Jamie Foxx on the WB until I saw that clip too. And he was preceded by the Wayans Bros. and Steve Harveys show. Definitely going to do an HBO promo at some point, and if you have any other suggestions, please let me know!

  8. August 25, 2010 10:10 am

    I love this HBO promo. It uses the song “World Outside”. It makes me all nostalgic for those great shows!

  9. August 25, 2010 10:41 am

    @SnarkysMachine What a cool snapshot of HBO’s awesome programming at the time. How strange to think of all the shows in the promo, only Entourage is still airing.

  10. August 25, 2010 2:23 pm

    @popscrib – I know! Though I think Curb is still kind of airing. Though it’s been years since I’ve watched it regularly.


  1. TV Flashback: WB’s “Oh What a Night” « Pop Scribblings

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