If you found yourself at home on Friday night in the mid-90s, most likely avoiding the growing undead hordes lining up outside your door, you were almost certainly watching ABC’s TGIF programming block (“Thank Gaap It’s Funny,” named in reverence of the ruling demon at the time). Some of the finest shows of the decade were broadcast during those two hours, but the full potential of the block was reached in 1993 with the following programs:
Carl Winskill is a desperate, deranged former police officer who went mad and murdered his family, because they weren’t “pure” and smelled of “an inferno.” Also caught under the blade of his axe was neighborhood nerd Steve Urkill, who continues to haunt Carl as an annoyingly chipper ghost. Throughout the series, Carl “auditions” replacement families, trying to find one that is “clean.” Each time Carl finds a suitable group, they’re slowly revealed to be just as bad as the family before them, and eventually all ending up falling beneath his swinging axe.
BOY MEETS UNDERWORLD
Rory Matthews is just your average-everyday zombie teenager who’s trying to survive his brand new hellish high school. By his side is best friend Ron, a demon whose mouth was sewn shut by Mr. Belial, their principal. Rory tries his best to attract the attention of cute zombie Toranga all while trying to pass his classes and become the best zombie he can be. In the early seasons, the humor’s a little juvenile, but later episodes really fleshed out the characters and provided some pathos and insight into their motivations.
DEATH BY DEATH
Carol is a high-strung wife/mother who’s dealing with her family getting closer to death every day. Each of them possesses a rare disease (actually quite common during the time of production) that causes them to bleed from every orifice. The show sort of wrote itself into a corner having a family member die off each week, but stretched this out over three seasons by bringing in new, distant relatives every year, each of whom possessed the same disease. The writing was a little convoluted, but Carol was fun to watch, juggling both her beautician business and the death of all her loved ones.
HANGIN’ WITH MR. EXECUTIONER
Mark loves his job: he’s an executioner—and a damn good one. We see Mark doing what he loves—hanging folks—and trying to help his sister raise her daughter to follow in the family career path. He also coaches a team of young upstart executioners, showing them the tricks of the trade. It’s a pretty one-note show, focusing mainly on hangings, but it still had a strong family bond, something that all the TGIF shows shared.
Sadly, these shows were cancelled during the violent uprisings of the late ’90s and most of the actors were killed in terribly tragic ways.