Graphic: Nick Wanserski

It’s August, time for The A.V. Club’s annual 20-year trip through the wayback machine. This year, we examine the perma-angst that was 1996. Why so sullen, 1996? Was it the fact that alternative music just couldn’t get a toehold, as discussed by Sean O’Neal in today’s excellent FOC? Was it that Claire Danes and Leo DiCaprio weren’t going to make it out of Romeo + Juliet alive? At least the movie left an excellent soundtrack behind, as Katie Rife will explore later on the week. Was it that so many TV shows were adaptations of previous movies (as Danette Chavez notes today), and so many movies takeoffs of previous TV series (which Jesse Hassenger will examine)?

C’mon, there were some bright spots. Erik Adams was super-psyched about the new trajectory of the kids channel Nickelodeon. Sure, 1996 gave us Fox News, but it also gave us The Daily Show, and Sean O’Neal will compare the birth years of both. The year also brought us innovations like the N64 Mario camera (which A.A. Dowd et al. will explore in a Crosstalk), the Federal Communications Act (explained by Marah Eakin), and live-action Disney adaptations (which Esther Zuckerman kicks off with a look at 101 Dalmatians). And Hear This will celebrate our favorite ’96 songs all week (yes, you’ll get your chance to go off on Pinkerton).

There’s all of the above and even more in store for The A.V. Club’s 1996 week. For all the year’s highlights, check out today’s excellent superfeature, using cool technology that couldn’t even be imagined 20 years ago! Man, no matter what, we just can’t get this surly 1996 to cheer up. [1996 rolls eyes, storms off to room, slams door.] Hey 1996! Wait! Titanic is just around the corner!