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