TVLand isn’t a real place, but more like a state of mind. At least, that’s what the programmers of the Viacom-owned Satellite TV network would like you to think. Its schedule consists almost entirely of situation comedies, from television’s earliest broadcast days to more recent successes. Currently, their roster even includes original content produced especially for the network.
From Niche to National
TVLand actually began in the mid-1980s as part of the lineup on sister network Nickelodeon’s “Nick at Nite” (Nick@Nite) overnight schedule. The name for this programming block was reportedly taken from the old “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” cartoon, during a segment of which Bullwinkle the Moose would announce to viewers “Hello out there in TV Land!” Ten years later, TVLand became its own network, but retained its programming niche of airing reruns of “classic” television shows from the 1950s and ’60s.
Situation comedies like “I Love Lucy” and “Bewitched,” family shows like “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Andy Griffith Show,” and westerns like “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza” provided viewers with the same nostalgia offered from its Nick@Nite time slot, but now 24 hours a day.
In its early years as a new network, TV Land somewhat famously incorporated what it called “TV Land Retro-mercials” into its advertising blocks. These were television commercials that might have aired during the original programming slot of the particular show viewers were now watching as a classic rerun.
Many of these commercials were considered “classics” in their own right, and those who grew up with their favorite shows getting interrupted by some random characters. We’re talking about characters like the animated Tootsie Roll Owl, “Speedy” the Alka-Seltzer stop-motion pitchman, or Mikey, the kid who hates everything, diving into a bowl of Life cereal. People found these advertisements only added to the nostalgic flavor they already enjoyed. Even more entertaining for audiences was the chance to catch many now familiar faces doing some of their earliest acting work.
TV Land in the New Millennium
In recent years, TV Land has all but ceased referring to its programming as “classic” and instead has adopted the slogan “Laugh more.” The network’s schedule now includes a relatively more contemporary slate of once-popular prime time television shows that are now in syndication. “The Cosby Show,” “The Nanny,” “Home Improvement,” “Rosanne,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” are just some of the “modern classics” in the network’s current prime-time rotation.
However, every year since 2003, the network has honored its roots with The TV Land Awards. Unlike other, more mainstream awards, the TV Land Awards are voted on by the public via the network’s website and are presented to both actors and the characters they portray. The somewhat unconventional categories (designated by the show’s editors) such as “Future Classic,” “Hero,” and “Legacy of Laughter,” are also specifically created to pay homage to television programming, writing and performances that have had a lasting impact on American culture.
TV Land has also begun producing original content that is specifically targeted toward a more mature, adult audience. These programs have had varying success, particularly when the concept of original programming on the “Classic TV” network was introduced in the mid-2000s.
The network began this foray into contemporary prime-time broadcasting by first dabbling in the Reality and Talk Show formats with such short-lived offerings as “Chasing Farrah” (where viewers were given small insights into the actress’s day-to-day life); “ALF’s Hit Talk Show” (more or less a parody of the format hosted by the 1980s puppet character), and “I Pity the Fool,” which followed famed motivational roughneck Mr T, as he traveled around offering stern advice and solutions to common problems. Most of these shows only lasted a handful of episodes.
However, since the late 2000s, TV Land has enjoyed far greater success with its original scripted programming, now airing weekly in prime time and even earning mainstream awards. The flagship “Hot in Cleveland,” about three transplanted 40-something Los Angeles women, who find their romantic success rate skyrocketing outside the superficial capital of the world, has marked the network a legitimate contender in the prime-time ratings race.
A spin-off of the series, “The Soul Man,” starring Cedric the Entertainer as a former R&B singer turned minister, has been successful in its own right. Other series produced by the Satellite TV network include:
- “Retired at 35” — A show about the eponymous urbanite who chooses to leave his hectic New York life and move to Florida to be closer to his parents.
- “The Exes” — A sitcom about a group of divorced men sharing an apartment and their attorney/landlady who lives across the hall.
- “Happily Divorced” — A comedy about a long-married couple, whose relationship status dramatically changes when the husband comes out as gay.
TV Land can currently be found on the following stations:
- DirecTV Channels 304 (SD) and 1304 (HD)
- Dish Network Channel 106
- AT&T U-verse Channels 138 (SD) and 1138 (HD)
- Verizon FiOS Channel 244
For other listings check with your local provider, and if you’re thinking about lowering your Cable TV or Satellite TV bills, enter your address in the top-right corner of this page to see what offers are available in your area.