SUPPORTING GREAT TELEVISION

Sunday Best: NBC’s Clips of the Weak

In Flashbacks on February 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

Carl Reiner, pictured in 1986, hosted NBC’s “Sunday Best,” a precursor to Hulu. (Photo by Neal Preston/Corbis)

On February 3, 1991, NBC introduced Sunday Best, a weekly exercise in instant nostalgia that served as a kind of precursor to Hulu.

Carl Reiner hosted the show, which featured clips from popular NBC and Fox shows that aired the previous week (ABC and CBS refused to participate), highlights from the previous evening’s Saturday Night Live and comedy shorts from the likes of Harry Shearer.

In other words: Sunday Best trafficked in what we now call “viral videos.”

Each edition reportedly cost about $650,000 to produce – at the time, roughly half the amount it took to make an hour-long drama.

NBC executives denied they put Sunday Best on the air simply because it was cheap, but critics weren’t convinced – and neither, apparently, were viewers.

The show – which aired opposite CBS’s powerhouse 60 Minutes – consistently finished near the bottom of the Nielsen ratings and was cancelled after just three weeks.

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