Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Top ten TV shows of the 1980's

I watched way too much TV in the 1980's. I lived out in the country and didn't have a car for some time so it was one of the few things there was to do to do. I didn't have cable in the 80's, still don't actually. I also didn't buy a VCR until 1990 believe it or not. So I had to take what the networks dished out in the 1980's. Or did I? The 80's saw a few changes in TV as the big three networks didn't control everything. In looking at my top ten you may notice that I included two syndicated shows and one show off the fledging Fox network that popped up in early 1987. I think the 60's, 70's and 80's all had great shows, but all were different to some extent. A lot of comedies in the 80's began to have more jokes about sex and include topics that were not discussed on TV in the 70's. Also action shows in the 80's seem to have more humor in them which appealed to me. To me it made the characters seem less stiff although they could go too far with the comedy in action shows. I am not a drama fan so maybe you loved Dallas, Dynasty or St. Elsewhere, but that wasn't my thing. Also the return of anthology series starting in the mid-1980's saw more horror and science fiction on TV. When Twilight Zone the movie hit theaters in 1983 it started TV people thinking. Shortly thereafter Tales from the darkside, Amazing stories, Freddy's Nightmares and new versions of the Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock presents emerged on TV. Other horror series on TV included Friday the 13th the TV series and the shortlived Fox show Werewolf. I think there was a wider variety of styles of show in the 1980's overall and that was fine by me. I spent way too much time in front of the tube, but that happens and I was glad it was as good as it was then. Being able to get the old shows on DVD now is great, but having to wait for a show back then made it more of an event. School may have been boring but you could look forward to seeing Cheers on Thursday or the Dukes of Hazzard on Friday night. It was a big deal back then and I still get escited about watching most of these shows. So here are my top ten shows of the decade.

10) Tales from the darkside-A little uneven as all anthology shows tend to be. Yet enough good stories and I was glad to see a horror based TV show.

9)Magnum PI-I almost took this one off of the list due to the "Magnum death dream" that occurred at the end of the second to last season. However it was good for most of it's run. Selleck played a more down to earth hero and that helped.

8)WKRP in Cincinnati-This show ended too early. It stayed strong all the way through it's run. The fact that it was sort of music related helped as well.

7)Star Trek-The next generation-Finally an intelligent science fiction show that wasn't afraid to have strong plots. They had big shoes to fill and they lived up to it.

6)Married with children-Spent more time in the 90's, but I think the show's real prime was 87-91 which puts most of it's best moments in the 80's. Comedies were getting a bit stale by the late 80's and this show was certainly needed.

5)Night Court-They went through some early cast changes before finding the right fit, but they made it work. Oftentimes walked the line between typical comedy and an odd comedy yet it somehow worked.

4)A-team-Okay, the plots are poor and the acting is what it is, but boy was this fun. This show established itself right from the start. If you liked action shows then you were watching this in the mid-80's. I pity the fool that's going to try and argue this choice!

3)Newhart-Every decade needs an off the wall oddball comedy and this was probably the best one of the decade. Like Night Court they had some early cast changes and had to figure out the direction, but once they did it just took off. Needs to be released on DVD.

2)Dukes of Hazzard-Cars, fights and Daisy. What more could you ask for? The plots were not always the best, but it was big time fun. If you were a boy during the early 80's then you looked forward to Friday nights so you could see this show.

1)Cheers-Strong writing and good stars means a lot, but a strong supporting cast is really important and this show had it. Easily the best show of the decade and it still holds up well. They even managed to survive losing Shelley Long after the 86-87 season and I wasn't sure they could make it past that, but they did.

So there are my picks. Maybe you thought that "Charles in charge" ruled the decade or that "Small Wonder" was criminally underrated. So what shows did you like from the decade?

***On Thursday "Eight days of the 80's" continues with something about hard rock and metal in the year 1984.

15 Comments:

Blogger Strutter71 said...

Good list. I'd add...

Knight Rider
21 Jump Street
Miami Vice
Moonlighting
The Wonder Years

8:44 PM  
Blogger Bar Bar A said...

Some of my faves were:

all the ones listed above me by Strutter plus

MacGyver
Three's Company
The Cosby Show
Hill Street Blues

10:23 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

I'd do a list Mark but you wouldn't have heard of any of the shows.

Although most of the shows I've never heard of, I loved Married With Children and Cheers. Two superb American comedies.I also loved Taxi, but I'm not sure if it counted as 70's.

11:31 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Great list Mark. How can you not love Night Court, Cheers, Dukes of Hazzard and Married with Children? Don't forget, the Simpsons started in the 80's also when the spun off from the Tracy Ullman Show. Then there was Family Ties and Growing Pains.

I like you watched too much TV.

5:27 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I would have added: The Wonder Years and Diff'rent Strokes to that list.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Curare_Z said...

I LIVED in front of the TV in the 80s. During part of the decade, my dad was stationed in Japan, so I didn't even get any English TV. My grandmother would record all my favorite shows (commercials included, of course...I needed SO MUCH Americanism).

I was such a "girl" in the 80s. I loved Silver Spoons, Charles in Charge, Knight Rider, and 21 Jump Street!

6:56 AM  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

everyone's favs were mine too, but I'd add Quantum Leap, Golden Girls, BJ & the Bear, and Remington Steele. let's not forget Highway to Heaven. HA.

I didn't have anything better to do either - gotta love country living.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Strutter-I liked Miami Vice and the Wonder Years.

bar bar a-I like Three's company, but more of it's prime was in the late 70's.

Ben-Taxi was 78-83 and it was a good show.

Mike-I liked Growing Pains. The Simpsons were on Tracy Ullman in the 80's, but the Christmas special was the only actual episode shown in the 80's. The show then started up regularly in January of 1990.

Jeff-The Wonder Years I like, but I can't take Different Strokes.

Curare-Guys watched Silver Spoons, but they watched it for Erin Gray.

Onmywatch-Remingston Steele was in the running for my top ten. The Golden Girls was surprisingly decent for a while.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Rhodeislandrock said...

My Top 4:

Cheers
WKRP
Night Court
Miami Vice

8:21 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I liked Small Wonder. But I am with you on Cheers!

10:54 AM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Cheers wins for me, too. Good list!

-- david

4:18 PM  
Blogger The Mule said...

Bob Newhart is like a god to me, so yay #3!

Taxi was brilliant, and I have a big soft spot for Family Ties as well.

My favourite show of the '80s (for all time, really) is SCTV.

7:06 PM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

Thundar the Barbarian ruled!!!

9:20 PM  
Blogger Will said...

I still think Cheers is funny ... when I catch it in reruns.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

what, no Alf? sheesh

I guess I was into Alf, and I remember Thursday nights were Cosby Show and Family Ties since it was grocery night and I had to help my mom shop and we'd have either roast beef sandwiches or shrimp salad sandwiches and we ate in front of the tube, the only night of the week we did so

I seem to recall miniseries a lot like North and South and The Blue and The Gray

An old obscure tv with with Mickey Rooney playing a mentally challenged man keeps tickling my mind too.


I do admit to watching Silver Spoons regularly, also for Erin Gray, cha cha cha... the horror anthology shows Mark mentioned were a given for me, definitely....but I was also so hooked on MTV and cartoons and pro wrestling back in the day, plus I watched a zillion horror films on VHS too

8:29 PM  

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