Great Job, Internet!: 40 years ago, CBS gave the Jackson family its very own variety show

Four decades ago, the television landscape was drastically different. Apart from a little competition from PBS and a few independent stations, the three major networks had a stranglehold on the national viewing audience. So it was a pretty big deal when CBS signed the world-famous Jackson family, including Michael, La Toya and even 10-year-old Janet, to headline their own prime-time showcase. Only Jermaine, the lone Jackson still signed to Motown, had to opt out for contractual reasons.

Titled simply The Jacksons, the series debuted on June 16, 1976, ran for four weeks and then returned for three more months in 1977. Largely forgotten today, The Jacksons is a real treasure trove of vintage footage of Michael and his brothers in action. It’s also very much a product of its time. For example, the premiere included a segment in which the Jacksons croon a medley of standards with Sonny Bono …

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