A Walk Down Amnesia Lane
It was a time of spandex, big hair and Reaganomics. A time when three big TV networks ruled because, well, there were no other options. Before the present-day content avalanche began, families gathered around the television to watch their favorite shows together.
If you grew up in the '80s, you probably stayed in on Thursday nights to catch The Cosby Show and Cheers. You anxiously awaited the next episode of The Wonder Years.
That’s because you actually HAD to wait a whole week.
And who could forget Dallas and Dynasty? Those glitzy nighttime soaps.
But for every big '80s hit, there was a score of TV shows that faded from memory along with the decade. Did we simply forget them? Or repress the memory due to their colossal '80s badness.
Let’s dredge up some '80s TV memories of the shows that left us with little to remember. And some things we’d rather forget.
Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (Jeff Goldbloom Before the Jurassic Age) Jan - June 1980
This detective show featured Broadway star Ben Vereen and Jeff Goldbloom in his first and only major television role. Detective novel obsessed Lionel Whitney (Goldbloom) dreams of solving crime. Fast-talking con-man E.L. Turner (Vereen) needs a job to stay out of jail.
Together they start a detective agency, and the hijinks begin. Through a combination of schemes, detective novel cliches and a little karate, they solve crimes and put the baddies in jail for 14 episodes.
After that, the show was reported missing and never seen again.
Bosom Buddies (Tom Hanks Gets a Boob Job)1980-1982
Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari begin a new life of cross-dressing in order to score an apartment disguised as two (hideous) women. A screwball comedy with an unconvincing premise, it only lasted two seasons.
The good news?
Ron Howard spotted Hanks and launched him into major stardom with the movie Splash.
The other good news? We’ve never had to see Hanks dressed as a woman again.
Remington Steele (Double 0 History) 1982-1987
Did you know that before his stint as James Bond, the debonaire Pierce Brosnan actually debuted on the small screen in America?
He and co-star Stephanie Zimbalist heat up the screen in this detective show meets romantic comedy.
When straight-laced Laura Holt can’t drum up enough business in the boys’ club detective world, she hires con man Remington Steele to be the face of her agency. Soon business is booming, sparks fly and this pair of opposites eventually end up together.
Hmmm. This sounds a lot like Moonlighting. And yet people remember Moonlighting. Guess there was only room for one detective show/romantic comedy in our brains.
She’s The Sheriff (Now Let’s Run Her Out of Town) 1987-1989
Suzanne Somers of Three’s Company fame stars in this sitcom about a widow who takes over her husband’s job as sheriff. All while trying to raise her kids and fight off macho jerks who want her job.
This show had the dubious honor of being named one of the 50 worst shows of all times by TV Guide.
Somers may have looked good in uniform, but after two seasons, the sheriff was asked to retire her badge.
Perfect Strangers (Um, Who?) 1986-1993
This buddy comedy focuses on two cousins, uptight Larry from Chicago and his distant cousin Balki from the Mediterranean island of Mypos. When his fresh off the boat cousin arrives, Larry has to teach him all about American life.
The duo muddled their way through life with a laugh track and lots of physical comedy. And when things ended well, Balki did his signature Dance of Joy. “Now we are so happy! We do the dance of joy!”
This show anchored ABC’s TGIF lineup for a time and was actually popular.
And yet it never springs to mind when you think about the best TV shows of the '80s. Guess we were strangers that passed in the night.
Webster (Different Strokes. The Second Coming.) 1983-1987
Hey, if Different Strokes could get so much mileage out of a white family adopting an African American orphan, why not do it again?
When his parents are killed in a car accident, an ex-football star and his wife adopt the adorable Webster Long — played by the adorable Emmanuel Lewis. Who ended up driving the plot of the whole show.
Just like Gary Colemen, Lewis also maintained his diminutive stature.
Was that on purpose? It sounds like the same old strokes to me.
Watch Webster on Just Watch
Joanie Loves Chachi (But Love is Not Enough) 1982-1983
This spin-off of the popular sitcom Happy Days, featured Richie Cunnigham’s little sis and her boyfriend Chachi as they move to Chicago and try to make it in the music business.
Despite having a song in every show, audiences weren’t exactly singing their praises.
And after just one season, Joanie and Chachi went spinning off into obscurity.
The Greatest (Disappointment of an) American Hero 1981-1983
Substitute teacher Ralph Hinkley is given a suit with superpowers by a group of aliens and told to fight crime. Gee, aliens were so much nicer back then.
Unfortunately, Ralph loses the instruction manual immediately and has to bumble his way through learning about his newly given superpowers. And let the comedy begin! Not.
The height of the '80s cheese, the most memorable thing about this superhero comedy, was its theme song, “Believe It Or Not.” It actually climbed to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Despite the catchy title song, everyone COULD believe it when the show was canceled.
It’s Your Move (Hey, Where’d Ya Go?) 1984-1985
A young Jason Bateman starred in this short-lived sitcom about a teenage scam artist whose plots are foiled continuously by his mom’s new boyfriend.
Apparently, parent’s objected to the lead character being a manipulative mini-con artist. Well, it was the 80s, and the anti-hero wasn’t in vogue just yet. Now we like our heroes morally ambiguous.
Strike two for It’s Your Move was that it ran the opposite Dallas and Dynasty. It looks like the little gangster couldn’t go up against the night time soaps. Soon the sitcom was moved off the air and out of mind.
Fortunately, Bateman has done a lot of memorable projects since. Most recently acting and directing in the drama Ozarks.
Guess It’s Your Move was a gateway show to more crime.