When ABC-TV’s Fridays premiered on April 11, 1980, its agenda was not a hidden one: to grab a piece of the lucrative late-night comedy pie from NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Less than a year later, on March 10, 1981, The New York Times was trumpeting in a headline, “How ‘Fridays’ Beat ‘Saturday Night.’” Of course, Fridays’ domination didn’t last, and the program was off the air after just three seasons. The series has mainly lived on due to the infamous incident in which Andy Kaufman and Michael Richards got into a mock brawl on the air…that soon turned into a real brawl with other cast and crew members unaware of Kaufman’s planned hijinks. Shout! Factory hasn’t forgotten Fridays, however, and has just released sixteen full episodes of the series as The Best of Fridays, a new 5-DVD set. It should be of special interest to readers of The Second Disc for its eclectic musical performances. The new collection includes appearances by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Kenny Loggins, The Cars, KISS, and many other famed classic-rock artists.
Of Fridays’ core cast of comedians, two names stand out: Michael Richards and Larry David. The future Kramer and co-creator of Seinfeld both made a splash as part of the Fridays ensemble. Richards and Davis were joined by Melanie Chartoff (Rugrats), Mark Blankfield (Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Dracula: Dead and Loving It), Maryedith Burrell (Parenthood), Bruce Mahler (Police Academy, Seinfeld), Darrow Igus, Brandis Kemp and John Roarke. Though musical guests were a part of the show since the very first episode, with Kenny Loggins, guest stars weren’t a part of the series until its second season. The Best of Fridays includes appearances by the aforementioned Kaufman as well as Valerie Harper, Billy Crystal, William Shatner, Karen Allen, Valerie Bertinelli, Shelley Duvall, Peter Fonda, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tab Hunter and Anthony Geary.
Each musical guest usually contributed a couple of songs per episode. On the new DVD set, you’ll find highlights from Loggins (“Keep the Fire”), Petty and the Heartbreakers (“American Girl”), The Clash (“London Calling”) Graham Parker and the Rumour (“Empty Lives”), The Cars (“Shake It Up”), Dire Straits (“Romeo and Juliet”), Devo (“Whip It”), Pat Benatar (“Hit Me with Your Best Shot”), former Eagle Randy Meisner (“Hearts on Fire”), Kim Carnes (“Miss You Tonight”), Stray Cats (“Rock This Town”) and KISS (“A World Without Heroes”). The Stray Cats and The Clash both made their American television debuts on Fridays. AC/DC, The Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffett, Bonnie Raitt, Def Leppard, Heart, Ian Hunter, Jefferson Starship, Warren Zevon, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney all made appearances on Fridays before the show’s demise in 1982.
Besides the off-the-wall (and frequently topical) sketch comedy performed by the main ensemble, Fridays also premiered a number of films directed by the once and future Monkee Mike Nesmith. His “Police Gynecologist” and “Bite the Bullet” can be found on The Best of Fridays.
After the jump, we have more details – including a list of episodes and guests – plus an order link!
Shout! Factory’s impressive set includes a copiously-illustrated 22-page booklet with a full guide to each episode, along with an introduction by co-creator/director John Moffitt. Room has also been made for some special features such as a Cast and Writers Reunion, behind-the-scenes photo gallery, and a look at The Andy Kaufman Incident: What Really Happened?
The Best of Fridays, totaling roughly 13.5 hours of television comedy and music on 5 DVDs, is available for order now at the links below!
The Best of Fridays (Shout! Factory SF 14141, 2013)
- Episode 1 – Kenny Loggins
- Episode 3 – The Clash
- Episode 8 – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- Episode 10 – Graham Parker and the Rumour
- Episode 15 – The Cars
- Episode 19 – Dire Straits
- Episode 20 – Devo
- Episode 21 – ensemble only, includes a Star Wars-themed parody of Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories
- Episode 23 – Pat Benatar
- Episode 24 – ensemble only, includes a tribute to John Lennon following his assassination
- Episode 31 – Andy Kaufman
- Episode 32 – Billy Crystal, Randy Meisner and the Silverados, Andy Kaufman “apology”
- Episode 39 – William Shatner, Kim Carnes
- Episode 41 – Karen Allen, Stray Cats
- Episode 49 – Valerie Harper, The Cars, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Valerie Bertinelli, Shelley Duvall, Peter Fonda, Anthony Geary and Andy Kaufman
- Episode 50 –Tab Hunter, KISS