During the month of April 1987, the Fox Television Network launched in prime time with three Sunday series: "Married . . . With Children," "21 Jump Street" and "The Tracey Ullman Show." From that humble if memorable beginning 25 years ago to this: An anniversary special Sunday night celebrating a quarter-century of taste-busting, rule-squashing TV rabble-rousing that upended an industry and gave the world some pretty darned good shows (and yes, some pretty awful ones, too).
Fox's second show was cheeky and original, but "The Tracey Ullman Show" will be forever remembered for this contribution -- "The Simpsons" was spun off from it.
Stand-up Bernie Mac's eponymous series, "The Bernie Mac Show," broke the "fourth wall" -- talking directly to viewers, making them part of the show (and joke).
Seth MacFarlane's animated series "Family Guy" was canceled then resuscitated a year later. This raunchy show can also be darned funny — but don't tell that to its many critics.
The Provocative sci-fi series "Dollhouse" captured small passionate audiences and gave Fox a rep for daring to do something the others wouldn't consider.
"That 70's Show" was a massive success that seeded the careers of (Mila Kunis, Laura Prepon, Topher Grace, and of course some dude named Ashton Kutcher) and further established others (Debra Jo Rupp, Tommy Chong and Kurtwood Smith).
Fox's "quality" drama, "House" featuring Hugh Laurie as the world's crankiest doctor became the world's most-viewed show for a while in the late '00s — more than 88 million viewers, according to one count. After "The Simpsons," "House" was Fox's single biggest export.
A mid-'00s classic comedy from Mitchell Hurwitz, "Arrested Development" was as funny, original and odd as anything most viewers had ever seen on a major TV network. Its influence remains wide and deep, and, in fact, the series has been born again on Netflix.
The names are now mostly just a bad lingering odor, but Fox once led the way with some of the crummiest unscripted shows to ever assault an entire culture — including "The Swan," "Joe Millionaire," "Temptation Island," and, worst of all, the short-lived "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire" -- short-lived because the first multimillionaire turned out to have an order of protection against him.
A provocative sci-fi series that captured a small passionate audience, "Firefly" helped give Fox a rep for daring to do things that others wouldn't consider.
A show that actually caught criminals? "America's Most Wanted" with host John Walsh — canceled after 23 years last May — did, and by the show's own count, 1,178 of them. "AMW," and Saturday-night companion, "Cops," were audacious ideas in their early days — reality shows partnered with law enforcement.
"Malcolm in the Middle" dominated Fox's non-animation comic sensibility through much of the '00s — single camera, sardonic, sly.
Most said it could never be done -- pointedly, not by News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch nor Barry Diller, the wily former chief of Paramount he hired to launch Fox. Diller told reporters at the time: "We think there's a market for it and the opportunity is in the declining three-network share. The fragmented audience is not an audience that went out to play gin rummy." Murdoch bought the Metromedia station group on May 6, 1985, and on April 5, 1987, launched the new network's Sunday prime-time programming block.
Joan Rivers interviews Pee-wee Herman, one of her firsts guests on "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers," during its premiere episode on Oct. 9, 1986.
The show that launched Johnny Depp's career, Stephen J. Cannell teen cop drama "21 Jump Street" was no one's idea of great TV or even original TV (remember "The Mod Squad?"), but it did get the job done — the job being to get Fox established, and to attract those young viewers who spurned the old fogey networks.
Part of a mid-90s black-oriented program block on Thursdays, "Martin" perfectly illustrated Fox's "when they zig, we'll zag" philosophy. These were the most viewed shows in black households at the time.
"Beverly Hills 90210" established a new genre -- the teen soap -- then an almost equally successful spinoff, "Melrose Place," for the viewers who had aged out of the original.
"New York Undercover” was part of Fox's mid-1990s black-oriented program block on Thursdays.
Fox was the place to be for oddball show ideas, such as the genre-busting "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr." -- was it a comedy? A Western? Who knew?
After "Saturday Night Live," "The Simpsons" is the most influential pop-culture show in TV history. This 1989 midseason replacement has the longevity (504 episodes-and-counting, prime time's longest-running scripted series) to prove it.
Fox stripped CBS of its NFC package in 1994, giving "The NFL on Fox" a bigger audience and almost instant parity with ABC, CBS and NBC.
"Living Single” was part of Fox's mid-1990s black-oriented program block on Thursdays,
This fusion of musical theater with TV comedy and prime-time soap makes "Glee" wholly original.
"Fringe” is one of Fox's provocative sci-fi series.
"24,” starring Kiefer Sutherland as federal agent Jack Bauer, reflected a nation's mood in the months, and years, following 9/11. A revenge fantasy with traces of paranoia alongside all the elements of a high-octane thriller, "24" was pure entertainment for some, and a release for others.
No single show in Fox's history symbolized its difference with The Other Guys than this one. Raw and raucous, "Married ... With Children" star family, the Bundys, wore their dysfunction as a badge of dubious honor.
Besides launching the careers of Jamie Foxx, "Fly Girl" Jennifer Lopez and Jim Carrey, "In Living Color" was a rarity: a sketch show produced by and largely starring African-Americans that also appealed to white viewers.
Pushing Fox to the front of the pack, "American Idol" gave the network prime-time win after win over much of the past decade, while salting the national dialogue with words like "pitchy" and "dawg."