Under Downs as host, 20/20 changed into a more standard yet unique newsmagazine and received kinder reviews from critics.The program was originally launched as a summer replacement series; it was then presented on a once-a-month basis during the 1978–79 television season, before being given a regular weekly timeslot on Thursdays at p.m. Ratings were generally very good during the summer months during its eight years on Thursday nights despite competition from Knots Landing on CBS and Hill Street Blues on NBC.The show's debut received largely harsh reviews; The New York Times described it as "dizzyingly absurd" and The Washington Post denounced it as "the trashiest stab at candycane journalism yet." In his autobiography Roone: A Memoir, Roone Arledge recalled that probably the most embarrassing part of that initial program was the Claymation segments featuring caricatures representing then-President Jimmy Carter (singing "Georgia on My Mind") and Walter Cronkite (closing the show intoning, "That's the way it was").As a result of the scathing reviews, serious and drastic changes were immediately made: Hayes and Hughes were fired (as was original executive producer Bob Shanks), and a then semi-retired Hugh Downs was recruited to take on the role of sole host on the following week's program.Also featured in the premiere telecast of 20/20, the opening sequence consisted of a pair of eyeglasses, whose lenses showed colored bars, which are often seen in the SMPTE test pattern (used when television stations were off the air between sign-off and sign-on).The eyeglasses were keyed over a yellow background, and rotated to its rear position to reveal the 20/20 studio.In 2000, ABC reinstated Primetime under the title Primetime Thursday, and spun off 20/20 Downtown as a separate newsmagazine simply titled Downtown.By early 2002, 20/20 once again was airing only in its original Friday timeslot.
Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer also contribute reports.
Eastern Time, though sometimes extended one hour earlier, particularly during the summer months) for much of the time since it moved to that timeslot from Thursdays in September 1987, though special editions of the program occasionally air on other nights.
The anchors on the premiere telecast of 20/20 were renowned Esquire magazine editor Harold Hayes, who also served as the program's senior producer, and famed Time art critic Robert Hughes.
The program's name derives from the "20/20" measurement of visual acuity.
The hour-long program has been a staple on Friday evenings (currently airing at p.m.
“Diane joins our brilliant number one overnight team,” Goldston said in his memo.