When NBC launched Must See TV in 1993, it started a decade-long dominance of Thursday night programming. Through the 1990s and into the early 2000s, NBC aired favorite sitcoms like Friends, Seinfeld, and Will & Grace, with some lesser-known (or underappreciated) shows peppered into coveted Thursday night time slots. The lineup of comedies was followed by NBC's hit drama ER, a serious way to round out what was considered one of the best nights on TV.
Must See TV began to decline during the 2000s, in large part due to the end of shows like Friends, but memories - and reruns - of the sitcoms that people gathered around to watch remain strong. A revival in the 2010s saw reboots of fan favorites like Will & Grace, while cast reunions brought the stars of shows such as Friends together, too. Even some shows on the cusp of Must See TV or those that only lasted a season or two have a special place in the hearts of viewers, who might just have their fingers crossed for more reboots and reunions to come.
In the meantime, we dove into our favorite sitcoms and learned a lot while soaking up some of that sweet, sweet nostalgic Must See TV. From shows we haven't thought about for years to ones we never missed, vote up the must-know facts that make you want to tune right back in.
There was an entire episode of Scrubs dedicated to Chris Turk, played by Donald Faison, getting a phone number. Everything about it had to be "perfect" and, when the digits came to light, the number was 916-CALL-TURK.
Once the number was out in the world, fans started calling it. The show, likely anticipating those calls, actually set up a cellphone with that number. Some fans heard Faison saying, "I couldn't get to the phone right now, but you've called Turk... and that's a great thing. I'll tell you that much."
On another occasion, callers were greeted by a real person. When one lucky fan heard "You've called Turk; Dr. Kelso speaking," he quickly ended the call.Must-know fact?
During a first-season episode of Mad About You, Steve Buscemi played a former classmate of Paul Buchman who blamed Buchman for his professional failures and was ultimately relegated to working at a subway toll booth.
While the character laments Buchman's role in having to drop out of school, Buscemi was drawing upon a real-life experience he'd had with Reiser. The thing is, Reiser didn't even know it.
On the last day of filming his role on Mad About You, Buscemi explained to Reiser how the whole storyline was "kinda what happened with you and me." As Reiser recalled:
He told me that one time he was about to go on stage at a club in New York and I walked in and I sorta bumped him [took his time slot], which I didn't know - obviously - and he was, I guess, flirting with the idea of giving it up and that night thought, "Ah, it's over." So I thought, "Geez, that's wild."
Reiser didn't feel too bad when he talked about it in 2013, noting Buscemi has "done pretty good since then."Must-know fact?
Lisa Kudrow appears in Must See TV programming in numerous ways. This includes two very different appearances on Mad About You. Developed by Paul Reiser and Danny Jacobson, Mad About You started as a show about the car ride home after a couple leaves a party or a dinner and the real conversations happen. During the first season, Kudrow played Karen: "I was a blind date for Paul. It was a flashback to the night he met [Helen Hunt's character] Jamie."
Later, when Kudrow's agent called her to be on the show again, it was as "the waitress." The agent explained she had to be there in an hour and asked if she wanted to just pass. Kudrow, who needed the work, took it and was asked back for five more episodes.
From there, Ursula Buffay was born. Kudrow went onto appear as Ursula in 23 episodes of Must See TV programming - often pulling double-duty as Ursula's twin Phoebe on Friends.Must-know fact?
Jason Lee's acting career started during the early 1990s. With appearances in several Kevin Smith movies, he found success in comedies and dramas alike through the early 2000s. In 2005, Lee took the part of Earl Hickey on My Name Is Earl. Before any time on screen, however, Lee was, in his own words, "[J]ust a skateboarder from Orange County who fell into acting because I like watching movies."
The avid skateboarder founded Stereo Sound Agency with friend Chris Pastras in 1992; the brand is designed to foster creativity in the skateboarding world. They also put out two movies on skateboarding during the 1990s. On the professional skateboard circuit, Lee is known for popularizing the 360 kickflip and pole jams, among other tricks. In 2019, he was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame.Must-know fact?