Welcome to The Midnight Special guide at TV.com. The Midnight Special was a late-night rock music series airing Friday nights (or, to be more exact, early Saturday mornings). In most areas, it followed "The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson."
In its first seasons, The Midnight Special's time slot was from 1:00am to 2:30am. But when Johnny Carson cut his own show from 90 to 60 minutes, The Midnight Special was moved up to 12:30am-2:00am.
The pilot for the series aired on August 19, 1972. It was presented as a 90-minute special encouraging young people to vote in the upcomming Presidential election. Several months later, on February 2, 1973, it premiered as a weekly series. For most of its run, the Midnight Special was hosted by a different guest each week. (The exception to this was from July 1975 through March 1976 when Helen Reddy was the regular host.) Wolfman Jack, fresh from his role in "American Graffiti," was the series' announcer. He also served as a frequent guest host. Around 1978, at the height of the Disco craze, the set was changed to resemble a Disco nightclub complete with a platform dance floor. Wolfman Jack stood behind an elevated DJ booth. But by Fall 1979, as the genre's popularity waned, the disco set was gone.
The Midnight Special was often criticized for not giving enough attention to the punk & new wave music of the late-1970s to early 1980s. While a few punk/new wave acts were presented, the majority of the guests continued to be MOR and disco acts.
Beginning April 11, 1980, The Midnight Special faced competition from ABC's "Fridays," a "Saturday Night Live" style comedy series. Fridays' musical guests were often more cutting edge than those seen on The Midnight Special.
In May 1981, NBC replaced The Midnight Special with "SCTV Network 90," an expanded version of the previously syndicated series "Second City TV."moreless