Host Ryan Seacrest strolled to and fro across the 20th Century FOX backlot to guide us through FOX's 25 years of groundbreaking animated series, adolescent dramas and brain-melting reality shows. But instead of getting an insider's look at the fourth network's unique history, stars of past and present simply talked about the good ol' days -- in between seemingly endless montages.
While there was an occasionally fun "where are they now?" quality to seeing the stars of yesteryear revisiting memorable moments, I think Stewie Griffin said it best during the animated introduction segment: Who could possibly want to watch this?
FOX's Shock Troops
To kick off the evening, the cast of Married with Children sat in a row and reminisced about good times on the set of the long-running controversial sitcom. Ed O'Neill and company reminded us that Married laid the groundwork for FOX's envelope-pushing programming. What did I take away from this segment? Christina Applegate looks exactly the same as she did back in her Kelly days!
Our Favorite Cartoon Family
Ahh, The Simpsons, you're always a delight. Amongst Kelsey Grammer sharing fond memories of his days as Sideshow Bob, a potentially never-ending collection of Simpsons celebrity guest clips brought a silly grin to my face. I don't think I'll find much opposition in saying that they could have dedicated half of this entire special to the Simpson family and no one would have complained.
FOX's colorful history of animated classics (King of the Hill, Family Guy) and modern duds (American Dad!, The Cleveland Show) was glazed over in a quick montage. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane dropped some fun facts about his own Emmy-nominated series; I had no idea that Stewie is based on the characters of Rex Harrison! And of course MacFarlane's personal favorite episode is "PTV," in which Peter founds his own TV station to stick it to the FCC, a.k.a. FOX's arch nemesis.
Attracting a New Audience
Shannen Doherty (currently amping up the crazy on her own reality series Shannen Says) and the rest of the 90210 cast walked us through a montage of cheesy lines and bad haircuts, otherwise known as the first series to accurately reflect its adolescent audience. While I won't quite count the series as a classic, it certainly earns credit for not pretending that teens don't have sex, don't do drugs and don't act like melodramatic psychopaths.
Viewer Discretion is Advised
A deer slapping a man, a snake latching onto a man's genitals and a goat mauling a poor fellow in a field: these were among the best clips of the evening courtesy of one of FOX's greatest misfires, When Animals Attack. According to Seacrest, one particular critic labeled the network's reality programming as "the end of civilization as we know it." I wouldn't go so far as to -- oh right, this special had to remind us of Married by America and Temptation Island. Nevermind, I'll allow the harsh words.
A New Era of Competition
We were "treated" to an entire segment dedicated to American Idol. Maybe it's the fact that I auditioned for this silly show back in its early days (not a WORD) and saw its true face, but I can't help but cringe when the inspirational music plays and we're expected to cheer for this dreck. Yes, Simon Cowell, please make that young girl cry by telling her she sounds like a cat falling from a building when she sings...
So how does FOX's 25-year run look now that it's been collected in a neat package? Did any of these montages bring back fond memories of classics like The X-Files and That '70s Show, or did the emphasis on reality TV leave a sour taste in your mouth?