The Fox network turns 20 today. Yep, on April 5, 1987, "the fourth network" shot out of the womb of Lady Free TV with its first lineup of prime-time Sunday-night shows, which included 21 Jump Street, Married ... With Children, The Tracey Ullman Show (which featured animated shorts starring a family called the Simpsons), Duet, and Mr. President. I don't think I ever saw Mr. President, but thanks to my grandparents having Fox on their cable system in Douglas, Ga., by 1988, I got to see all of the others. In Macon we didn't get to see Fox until January 1991. I seem to recall some sort of war that started in a Middle Eastern country that month, but the biggest thing on my mind at the time was that I was finally going to get to see The Simpsons.
Fox has taken lots of criticism over the years for horrible sitcoms and horrible "event programming" like When Animals Attack and Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? But Fox has also aired some of my all-time favorite shows, like the aforementioned Simpsons, King of the Hill, Chris Elliott's meta-sitcom Get a Life, The Ben Stiller Show, The Critic (second season only), Arrested Development, and 24. I know several people who bitched and moaned and bitched some more when Arrested Development was canceled: "Man, Fox sucks for canceling a show like that!" Oh, so you watched it regularly? "No. I've only seen it on DVD." Well, that's why it was canceled, smart guy. You had two and a half years to catch an episode while it was actually on the air; it's not like Fox moved it around the schedule so many times that you could never find it. They did give the show a fair shot.
But that's another gripe for another day. Happy 20th, Fox. I hope American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken gives you the bestest serenade and lap dance you could ever hope for.