Summer Programming Takes Nostalgic Turn

TV networks are giving classic music fans a chance to bust out their platform shoes, parachute pants, leg warmers and bandanas.

AXS TV tonight (Aug. 11) will debut AXS TV Concerts Hosted by Mark Cuban, a new weekly concert series featuring live performances from such popular 60s, 70s and 80s bands as The Village People, The Monkees, Bret Michaels and KC and the Sunshine Band.

Tomorrow (Aug. 12), Netflix will premiere its drama The Get Down, its ode to the late 1970s hip hop, punk and disco scene in the Bronx. Hopefully the Baz Luhmann-produced series will dance to a more successful beat than HBO’s series Vinyl, an homage to 70s pop/rock music that missed a note with viewers earlier this year. HBO canceled it after initially renewing the series for a second season following the premiere.

Related:Trailer for Netfix's 'The Get Down'

Even MTV has returned to its classic music roots, having relauched the VH1 Classic network into MTV circa 1980-2000. The new MTV Classic channel debuted Aug. 1 by offering the same programming MTV aired during its first hour on air -- 35 years ago.

Among reruns from classic MTV scripted and reality shows like Beavis and Butthead, MTV Classic will also feature vintage MTV Unplugged performances featuring such performers as Bob Dylan, Alice in Chains, Erykah Badu, Oasis, Neil Young and Nirvana.

Viewers have already boogied this summer to ABC’s limited series Greatest Hits, which brought back artists like Boyz II Men, The Backstreet Boy, Wilson Phillips, New Edition, En Vogue, Nelly and Rick Springfield to perform their biggest hits from the 1980s-early 2000s. The series drew a respectable average of nearly 4 million viewers during its six-week run that began in June.

With the country still struggling through a turbulent summer, and an uncertain and potentially unstable few months ahead, a dose of nostalgic, comfort music on TV may serve as a welcome respite for viewers.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.