Dateline (TV series)
Dateline, also known as Dateline NBC, is a Prime Time News show and one of the largest, most popular, and most infamous news programs ever. It started airing in 1992 and has never entirely gone away.
The series was conceived in 1992 mainly as a cheap schedule filler and about the 73rd attempt to unseat 60 Minutes. It was hosted by Jane Pauley and Stone Phillips. Stone Phillips would become the face of the main Dateline. The series existed mainly to fill holes in the programming schedule; during the bulk of the 1990s, Dateline was on more nights than not. Archived (rerun) Dateline crime stories are used for this same purpose on MSNBC, Investigation Discovery, and TLC during dead periods.
The series drew infamy with its constant stream of fluff stories, You Can Panic Now stories, and screw-ups -- most notably, an early 1992 episode of the show got into hot water when it falsely claimed that 1973-1987 GM pickup trucks have leaky and explosive gas tanks (when in reality, the only reason they exploded for the cameras is the remote controlled explosives the NBC crew put there).
Recurring segments include The Dirty Dozen (in which it takes a critical eye to health inspection scores of various fast-food restaurants), Could This Happen to You? stories, as well as full length episodes dealing with True Crime mysteries. Many of the episodes are narrated by Keith Morrison, whose voice can be described as "Mr. Rogers-soundalike Creepy Old Man".
The series began to fade by the late 1990s when NBC began shoring up its late night line-up, which meant fewer nights of Dateline. Stone Phillips left the series (Jane Pauly left several years earlier) and Anne Curry and Chris Hansen took over as main anchors for the series.
The series would return to the spotlight in 2004, when a segment Chris Hansen did with the group Perverted Justice catching men attempting to arrange sexual encounters with underage teenagers, "To Catch a Predator," garnered a huge amount of publicity. This led to a whole series of Dateline "To Catch a Predator" specials and a spin-off, "To Catch a Predator: The Raw Tapes", which shows longer versions of the confrontations between Chris Hansen and the predators. Controversy was sparked, mostly by accusations of entrapment by lawyers for the accused predators and a high profile suicide of one man caught in the sting (but who did not appear on the show, having discovered prior to his death that he had been nailed in a sting operation). The show and Chris Hansen ultimately achieved Memetic Mutation, with parodies appearing on different shows like South Park, Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Boondocks, Squidbillies, etc. Whether because of the legal controversy, the increased popularity making it harder to lure men to the houses, or because the "demographics" of the alleged predators had declined, no new TCAP segments were produced after 2007. According to a Facebook comment in 2009, it might return someday. If so, it will likely be without Chris Hansen, who recently had his own embarrassing scandal.
Dateline is still on the air in a Friday Night Death Slot (right before the local news), and also airs on Sundays opposite 60 Minutes between season of NFL football. It has some internal infamy, as CNBC airs 60 Minutes on CNBC rather than Dateline: Business Edition because of the show's lack of any non-tabloid coverage... Though there being a Dateline: Business Edition says something.
Not to be confused with Dateline, where it took the name from.
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- Affectionate Parody: The program is very subject to this.
- Awesome McCoolname: STONE.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: They claimed that GM's trucks were playing this trope straight, but in reality, they averted it.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: It is hard to fathom that a person who looks and sounds like Stone Phillips -- and is named Stone Phillips -- actually exists outside of a comic book.
- Missing White Woman Syndrome: Unfortunately, in a lot of their missing person cases, this is true.
- Syndication Title: Many of the hourlong true-crime documentaries are rebroadcast on MSNBC under individual titles without the Dateline branding.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: To Catch A Predator.
- (the last sting only caught 7 men, where earlier ones had ensnared dozens)
- (earlier stings caught doctors, teachers, programmers, a rabbi, etc., but later ones nabbed unemployed or menial laborers)