Wednesday, September 09, 2015

A Very Special Flashback Episode

I grew up in the 80s. Our prime-time TV consisted of 30-minute comedies and sappy dramas like Dynasty. Many of these shows were staples of my childhood:



Fortunately, sites like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and YouTube have given us the ability to re-watch these shows. I watched the entire series of this show again. It was the first time since the 80s that I'd seen it.



I also re-watched this show on YouTube. Some of the episodes had been removed, but I was able to find most of them.



As cheesy as these shows seem today, there is something charming about them. It's probably just the nostalgia factor. But while watching them, I've realized they did something that I haven't seen in a while. Every season or so, the characters would get together and reminisce and, for no reason whatsoever, you'd get a recap of things that had happened up to that point.



Called a "clip show," the concept actually began during a time when shows weren't as likely to be shown over and over again. Once reruns came into play, the concept became redundant, but that didn't stop any of the 80s or 90s shows. In recent years, though, the practice seems to have stalled. If it happens today, it's usually as a parody of clip episodes, such as The Family Guy's 100th episode.



Today's habit of streaming entire seasons of shows in rapid succession makes those flashback episodes annoying. While watching 90210, for instance, I was being shown clips from episodes I'd watched a couple of weeks earlier. I had to remind myself that when they originally aired, those episodes were spread out over years. You were seeing flashbacks to things that happened when you were a junior...and you were now in college.



But, seriously, they had another flashback episode six months later, during a Christmas episode. That one couldn't have just been too soon to me. It had to have annoyed viewers back in the 90s, right?



Of course, I should point out that the Kardashians do a stupid Christmas party at the end of each season where they watch childhood videos and bore the audience. Maybe that's the modern version of the flashback episode.



And my favorite show, Big Brother, does an episode at the end of each season where they recap the season and show unaired footage. But they've been doing that since 2002 or so and I always skip that episode because...snore.



Do you think today's TV shows should have flashback episodes?

59 comments:

  1. Since many stream and binge watch, I don't think they are necessary. It depends on the circumstances though. I remember when actor Jack Soo died, the cast of Barney Miller did a tribute show to him which had a lot of flashbacks. (Yeah, child of the 70's here...)

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    1. I haven't seen too many tribute shows, now that you mention it. Did they do one for Phil Hartman on NewsRadio? I remember them standing around being sad his character died, but I don't remember flashbacks.

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  2. I don't tend to enjoy them as much because I like new content, but I still watch them.

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    1. I'm the same way--I rarely watch movies I've seen before. If I rewatch a TV show, it's after 20 years or so...or it's because I missed the later seasons the first time around. I almost always find that I missed those later seasons for a reason!

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  3. I remember the flashback episodes.. I rarely watch any TV these days other than Charmed and Criminal Minds... neither of these did or do flashbacks. I liked the cheesy 80's/90's tv shows ♡

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    1. Criminal Minds flashbacks...now THAT would be a bad idea! "Hey, remember that time we chased that brutal murderer?"

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  4. I was going to mention the BB flashback! I hate those too! I think Survivor and other reality shows do the same thing. Boring! I wish more shows had done a funny out takes episode instead

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    1. They try to get you to watch that BB episode, saying there are "unseen moments from the year." This year will probably be more James pranks. I never saw those as interesting...I skipped them on the feeds, yet they'd air them on the show. Maybe they'll show them playing pot ball (like bowling but with pots and pans) or some of their chocolate fights, which they were doing every night until James left.

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    2. I follow BB Leaks on Twitter to stay current and get the background info of what's going on.

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    3. I don't watch the feeds this late in the season usually...they get really boring. But it's even worse when it's a house full of annoying people. Watching Austin strut around shirtless, talking about how great he is, is about as much fun as a dental visit.

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  5. Stargate had a neat way of doing flashbacks, but yeah, I hate all clip shows because they are pointless nowadays. They are just a way for shows to save on their budget if they are done now, then they can spend more on the finale or whatever. Whose the boss and Family Ties i watched all of years ago. No Happy Days though? lol

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    1. I watched a little Happy Days...but not as much as Family Ties. For some reason I watched the entire series of that one.

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  6. I think we usually hates them.... I much prefer seeing new material than the old one.... I remember watching DYNASTY even though I was under ten. Can't believe my parents let me watch it..... Boo and hiss on Craptrashians.... the one who invents a programme for filtering them away from our feeds will be a millionaire

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    1. PS is the freaking lame dude talking about his hair? :)

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    2. I watched Dynasty a little but I watched TONS of Dallas...that seems inappropriate for elementary school, as well, now that I think about it!

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  7. Good stuff, thanks for the nice reminders.

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  8. Aww, the flashbacks you're giving me this morning! Family Ties was one of my favorite shows. As for the recap shows, I don't think they're necessary anymore when people can easily go back and watch episodes themselves.

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  9. I've been watching those 90210s on Hulu! It really is a trip down memory lane, although they do skip some episodes - it'll go from episode 12 to 15. Kind of annoying but since I'm only watching to veg out, not a huge deal. :)

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  10. Now you have me thinking of the shows that I grew up watching. See there's a flashback right there.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  11. I love re-runs...but only of shows that actually good. I love Family Guy for sure, but most of TV shows today are worth watching once let alone twice. And recaps? Probably not, unless it's a thriller series. That's my two sense. Wonderful post!

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  12. Since I seldom watch TV except for shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, I really can't say. I've never watched Netflix, am not on cable, just have the local channels. I know. I'm weird. One thing I remember about TV in the past, the shows mostly were clean, no bad words or hopping into bed with everyone. Yes, I go back to "I Love Lucy" times. :) Great post, Stephanie.

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  13. The 80s was a decade that I spent mostly without a TV and didn't really miss it! Of course, the last four years of the decade, I was back in grad school and working my butt off.

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  14. I loved the 80s TV shows!! Miss them all!!

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  15. Nope, I don't think I would enjoy the flashbacks. Geesh, there were some great shows from the 1980s! I had forgotten some of them!

    betty

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  16. Definitely not. That's what the clips at the beginning are for, you know the: "Last time on NAME OF SHOW..." As much as I loved 80's shows, I don't think I could stomach watching them again.

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  17. I guess at this point I don't care because I can always skip those episodes! Great post and brought back memories and questions of "where are they now?"

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  18. Absolutely not! I’ve not seen all the shows you mention but k just what you mean about annoying flashbacks.

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  19. Oh MASH did a couple of flashback episodes but done as if they were being interviewed(by an actual reporter actually) about what it is like in Korea. I don't think recap shows are needed now because we can find them right away if we wish. I loved Greatest American Hero. My biggest time was the 70's with Barney Miller, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, Sonny & Cher...I can see the only time they would do a flashback show is a tribute to someone who had died like Phil Hartmen or Jack Soo(Barney Miller)

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  20. Friends did this a lot, and I always found that lame even before the advent of NetFlix! But I can see the logic behind it. Kids today just can't grasp that we used to have to wait an entire week before seeing another episode of a show!

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  21. wel..if it's the serials I like such as friends I don't mind at all...but as you said if it is too much then it will loose its touch :)

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  22. That makes me think of the movie, The Truman Show, and the flashbacks sequences used to fill in later viewers. I agree with Alex. Most people binge watch now, so it doesn't really seem like flashbacks are necessary.

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  23. Although I seldom watch a flashback if warned ahead of time, I realize they do serve to attract new viewers and sometimes remind long-time viewers how to have a past. Much of what constitutes character is informed by memory and the flashback illustrates this principle in an entertaining way.

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  24. I'm not a fan of flashbacks because it's just never done very well. Great post today:) I love the reminiscing of old shows, this reminds me of all the old stuff I use to watch with my parents. :)

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  25. Family Ties, Diff'rent Strokes, Who's the Boss? Wow, I love these shows! When I see the Family Ties episodes now, I think of how sad it is that Michael J. Fox is battling Parkinson's disease. He has changed so much since then.

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  26. Family Ties, Diff'rent Strokes, Who's the Boss? Wow, I love these shows! When I see the Family Ties episodes now, I think of how sad it is that Michael J. Fox is battling Parkinson's disease. He has changed so much since then.

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  27. Clip shows... Ugh! As a kid I didn't know the difference, but as I got older, I learned to just turn those off. I think the reason for them was to fill an episode. They had to do more episodes to fill a season, and I think the writers ran out of ideas. And/or the actors needed a lull week. That's my theory.

    90210... My 14-year-old niece has been watching that on Netflix this summer. She's obsessed.

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  28. I had forgotten about those clip shows. Yes, back then they were okay since they were spread apart. I actually liked them, but if you're binge watching a show today they'd seem annoying.

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  29. I'm not against the flashback episode provided it also had some new content to lead you into next season. Just a clip episode to me was definitely not must see tv. (P.S. Watched all four seasons of Doogie Howzer MD on Hulu once upon a time. ^-^)

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  30. Flashback episodes are great but I think they all have to up their game a bit to have some staying power! Prime time shows are gone before you can get into them (but then again...maybe you'd never get into them if they aren't top notch).

    The Netflix original series are changing the way we watch television for the BETTER.

    Thanks, Stephanie - always a great post!

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  31. This is a fun post! While I grew up many years earlier than you, I did watch a few of these.

    There were tons of cheesy sitcoms to choose from in my day, but my favorites were probably The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island. In fact, I loved Gilligan's Island so much that I bought the entire series on DVD. :D

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  32. it does seem like it doesn't matter for shows to do them anymore. I think if they are going to do it, they should just show brief second something clips right before the intro

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  33. I dont watch a lot of tv but I do remember these old shows. I loved The Partridge Family.

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  34. I just got Netflix and have fallen in love. That binging on series is a perfect habit for me when I'm blitzed from writing.

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  35. TV shows are never happy saying something just once. Not if they can say it a few more times.

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  36. The Greatest American Hero! Wow, where'd you find that in your memory bank! I couldn't get over the fact that he played Tommy Ross in Carrie.

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  37. I would love it if there were more flashback episodes on TV now as there are several different series I still haven't seen and being able to sit down and watch them and catch up would be great, although I know that now most everyone just uses Netflix, which I suppose means you can watch the entire thing in one go - gone are the days of chilling out and re-watching Friends! Thank you for the lovely comments on my latest post too! - Tasha

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  38. I always enjoyed Family Ties!

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  39. I'm trying to think of the last time I saw a clips show and it's been ages. Granted, I don't watch much regular TV (only netflix some shows) but I guess most of them don't have many. I can't see any reason for shows today to have them though, and with most people streaming things today, I imagine they'll go away. Or, sometime down the line, be some weird novelty episode :)

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  40. I have always hated flashbacks but I do love the convenience of Netflix and being able to binge watch old series!

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  41. Even in the 80's, I skipped the recaps. I always figured it was a cheap way to make a show and give the actors a week off.

    I loved Family Ties. And thanks to the montage of shows, I have the Greatest American soundtrack running in my head.

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  42. Ugh . . . It's a sacrifice thing. If you love binge watching shows, like I do, you have to suck it up and accept the flashbacks lol

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  43. I don't watch many TV shows, but the occasional little flashback would be helpful when I can't remember what someone did on Orange Is the New Black. I'm not familiar with many shows from the eighties. I was raising my kids and moving from one place to the next. Let me think. How many times did we move during the eighties? I get nine.

    Love,
    Janie

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  44. Perhaps not over-do it. A flashback episode is welcome once every one or two seasons, or when the series is coming to an end. I miss 90210! It was the show my sisters and I watched faithfully, and yes, I remember their graduation!

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  45. Hi Stephanie, I have watched and enjoyed Family Ties.

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  46. Hi Stephanie, I have watched and enjoyed Family Ties.

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  47. I loved watching Charles in Charge, Gilligan's Island, Family Ties, Growing Pains, Happy Days, The Facts of Life, etc. And thanks to TV Land, YT, Hulu and Netflix, I can re-watch some of my favorite shows growing up in the 80s and 90s. Though I barely remember the recaps but more than likely I just zoned out on them until the story line goes back to current. Or changed the channel.

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  48. You highlighted some TV shows that I loved watching but I have not gone back via Netflix to rematch them as you have. I think that one flashback episode if the series is ending is appropriate but not throughout. Hope you have a good weekend.

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  49. I used to watch just about every TV shows way back when I was younger and raising kids. It was my only escape from reality.

    I have viewed some on YouTube and they seem so corny now but I still love Carol Burnett. My daughter bought me the whole series of DVDs and when I need a good chuckle I slide one in my laptop and laugh away. She was great.
    Hugs,
    JB

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  50. I always hated those, even back in the '80s and '90s. Why do the people who weren't paying attention get to bore the rest of us?

    Personally, I think 90210 has withstood the test of time. But I still hate their clip shows and weird "alternate universe" or fantasy shows, like the ones about Dylan's past lives. Ugh. Talk about scraping the bottom of the plot barrel!

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