I recently got sent this insanely cool infographic about the history of MTV. Check it out!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, I love Christmas, but I’m aware a lot of people aren’t too fond of it, so let’s make it more 80s! All this week I’ll be revisiting the things that made Christmas in the 80s so much fun. Joy to the world!
One thing I loved back in the day was the Christmas specials on TV. There was always something fun to watch – the following are a couple of my favorites:
‘Tis the Season to be Smurfy
The Smurfs! Loved them! They had a couple of Christmas specials, but this was my favorite. Grandpa Smurf and Sassette visit a human village and bring some smurfy cheer to an old human couple. Very sweet!
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special
Alright, so Pee-Wee creeped me out a little when I was young. But there’s no denying how iconic he was and I kind of dig this now!
Alf Christmas Special
Alf, on the other hand, did not creep me out! So cute and ugly and cuddly, I wanted one for myself. In his Christmas special he finds out about the sickeningly-sweet meaning of the holiday…
This week I’ll be featuring posts about the wonderful world of 80s TV and Movies! I have two great guest posters lined up, including this excellent look at 80s sitcoms by Stephanie Caldwell!
4 Classic 80s Sitcoms That Should Make a Comeback
After seeing Bob Dylan aka Jimmy Fallon’s hilarious rendition of “Charles in Charge” this summer, I found myself feeling a bit nostalgic. We had some pretty amazing sitcoms in the 1980s. From “Charles in Charge” and “Who’s the Boss” to “Alf” and “Perfect Strangers,” the family sitcom ruled the airwaves in the ’80s. The shows taught lessons, encouraged family bonding, and made you want to be a better person. Now, our popular TV families revolve around the delusional realities of the Kardashians and “Real Housewives.”
Instead of looking forward to the the new fall television season, I escaped into my nostalgia and came up with four ’80s sitcoms that should save us all by making a comeback:
Who doesn’t want to go where everybody knows your name? The kooky cast of “Cheers” made Americans feel as if the bar was their local watering hole, too. The ensemble had someone that everyone could relate to; a womanizer (Ted Danson) a quirky academic (Kelsey Grammer) a “regular” with spousal problems (George Wendt), an aging friend (Nicholas Colasanto), young blood (Woody Harrelson), a studious yet attractive female (Shelley Long) and a fiery brunette with great curves and relationship woes (Kirstie Alley). Unlike many sitcoms today, the show didn’t try to be something it wasn’t and that is what made it so great. It was just a bunch of friends at a bar dealing with life’s many issues and giving you a friendly greeting when you showed up.
2012 comeback show: “HOWE’S” a show about a run-down local watering hole beloved by its regular clientele and run by Rebecca Howe’s younger daughter who has to deal with over-the-top Woody Junior; who’s come to town to purchase the bar and turn it into a hot spot.
“Family Ties” (1982-1989)
“Family Ties” successfully turned the tables on the typical parent vs. child relationship. No longer were we watching Cleaveresque parents trying to control their rebellious children. In the Keaton household, it was the children who were the conservatives. Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) showed adolescents everywhere that it was actually hip to be a square despite your parents’ appealing hippie attitudes. While Alex was clearly the star of the show, all the characters were so well developed that you felt like you were a part of the family whether you sided with conservative Alex, airheaded Mallory (Justine Bateman), politically neutral tomboy Jennifer (Tina Yothers) or the free spirited heads of the household (Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter-Birney.) Somehow the show managed to be political without preaching; an art now seemingly lost on American television.
2012 comeback show: “Vote for Alex.” With Michael J. Fox’s son now making headlines with his uncanny resemblance to his father the two, (along with Michael’s real-life wife and “Family Ties” on screen girlfriend Tracy Pollan), would be perfect stars for the new comeback show where Alex Sr. runs as the republican candidate for president as his libertarian son struggles to get on board with the campaign.
“Growing Pains” (1985-1992)
Sometimes watching the opening credits to see which family member hung back was just as fun as watching the show! The combination of relevant, cutting edge plot lines and fun, relatable characters made it one of the most popular sitcoms of the late ’80s. Like most ’80s sitcoms, the title rang very true to the show’s core as the audience literally watched not only the children grow but alsowatched Mr. and Mrs. Seaver struggle with growing older. Because of that, teens and adults learned valuable lessons from the show and it created a platform to discuss tough issues—like when Carol’s (Tracey Gold) well-liked boyfriend Sandy (Matthew Perry) died as a result of a drunk driving accident. Televisions turned off and serious family conversations started.
In an effort to create buzz, controversy or an overabundance of humor, the majority of American prime time television went from encouraging a strong family unit to mocking it.
2012 comeback show: Did I mention I also miss “The Golden Girls?” The “Growing Pains” comeback spin-off “Growing Solo” features Mr. Seaver, a geriatric widower, in his retirement condo in Florida living the dream much like his son Mike Seaver did back in the ’80s.But, unbeknownst to the kids, the behavior is just an act to bring his family closer to him as he is still mourning the loss of Mrs. Seaver. With Kirk Cameron’s new real-life conservative attitude, the cameo role reversal would make for some classic TV.
“The Cosby Show” (1984-1992)
Who didn’t love the Huxtables? “The Cosby Show” not only kicked-off a great night of ’80s TV but it was also one of the first shows to showcase an affluent African American family dealing with the everyday issues of a family unit—covering everything from teen pregnancy to learning disabilities. Because of Bill Cosby’s dedication to education in his personal life, the show was always teaching life lessons while still remaining light, fun, and uncontroversial. When Rudy (Keshia Knight Pulliam), the “baby” of the Huxtable clan, reached her awkward and turbulent adolescent years, the show introduced a very young Raven-Symone` as Olivia—Cosby’s quick-witted granddaughter who single-handedly brought new life and a new set of lessons to the show. If Cosby’s sweaters didn’t hook you, she was impossible to resist!
A good ’80s sitcom comeback is just what American television needs right now. I know I’d love to escape into Alex P. Keaton’s political campaign when the pending 2013 campaign mudslinging takes over.
What ’80s comebacks would you like to see?
Stephanie Caldwell is from Salt Lake City and writes for CableTV.com. She enjoys watching current TV shows, but loves the occasional jump back in time to the 80s.
When you think about the ’80s, you’re probably envisioning punk rock, lots of acid wash, and a mullet or two. But whatever you know about the culture, it’s completely amplified when it comes to ’80s TV shows. In the ’80s, producers were obsessed with what was hot and current, which means all shows have ended up as total caricatures of the decade. While I can forgive denim vests and sideways ball caps, I don’t know if I can forgive the epic ’80s hair that stole the show for most casts. In fact, it’s the bad hair that puts some of these shows into the hall of fame.
“Dynasty” was a show that set out to prove that the bigger the hair, the bigger the drama. That explains why the night soap stayed on the air for an epic nine years. Some of the best ‘dos were those sported by the pompadour-loving Alexis, who was played by Joan Collins, and the feathered bangs that were worn by Krystle Jennings, played by Linda Evans. The Big Hair was in full effect, prompting us all to wonder if the show was really canceled because of a massive AquaNet budget.
Show me a person who wasn’t a little bit in love with Alex P. Keaton and I’ll show you a liar. “Family Ties” was one of those feel-good shows that your mom would let you watch, even if she did make you turn off “Dallas.” And when it comes to style, “Family Ties” had it. Of course, today, Steven and Elyse would probably be mistaken for a couple of pot-smoking hippies in a traveling circus; their hair was spot on back in the ’80s. Severe center parts, lots of facial hair, and really bad headbands made them the perfect ’80s parents.
Confession time: I totally used to race home at lunch time to catch syndicated episodes of “Perfect Strangers.” When it comes to Larry and Balki, I don’t have anything bad to say. That is, of course, as long as you don’t mention their choice in hairstyles. With Larry rocking the white man Jeri curl and Balki with the stereotypical “I just arrived to the mainland” floppy style, the show was a hotbed for hair train wrecks. And when the show’s spinoff “Family Matters” went on-air, it was a whole other batch of bad hair days – only for the modern ’90s set instead.
Everyone knows that the “Three” in “Three’s Company” didn’t have anything to do with the number of roommates, but it really stood for the number of bad hairstyles you could see every week. Chrissy had a weird side ponytail thing. Janet had a weirdly ambiguous Joan Jett hairstyle. And even Jack, had the ’80s trifecta of feathering, center part, and bangs. How can you concentrate on their antics when all you can wonder is whether or not Suzanne Somers has a growth coming out of her head?
MacGyver could make a single-engine airplane with three paper clips, a strip of Scotch tape, and a Bic lighter, so why couldn’t he manage to give himself a good haircut? Besides the face he had man-bangs, just about every other female guest on the program showed up wearing a nuclear war-amount of hairspray. Not only did we believe that a guy like MacGyver could ignore stuff like science and physics to defy the odds, but most women actually found him attractive. Oh, how the times have changed.
I wish I would fast-forward 20 years to see what people will say about TV and style in the 2000s. I’m kind of hoping that they’ll rag on the trucker hat trend.
Greg Buckskin is a child of the 80s who knows more about Knight Rider, Air Wolf and the A-Team than he’d like to admit. He makes a living as a writer for CableTV.com and loves to cover the intersection of pop culture and TV.
As I posted earlier in the week, the awesome USA Network show Psych has a bunch of 80s guest stars this season. But, it’s not just this season – the show seems to be 80s obsessed and today’s Top 5 is counting down the very best of those stars! (Don’t forget you still have time to win a Psych DVD set, so you can check out all of the following stars for yourself!)
5. Gina Gershon
The ultra-stunning Gina played Coral in Cocktail alongside Tom Cruise. She appeared in season 2 of Psych in the episode American Duos.
4. Justine Bateman
Justine became mega famous after playing Mallory Keaton in Family Ties, on-screen sister to Michael J. Fox. She guest starred in season 3 of Psych in the episode Tuesday the 17th.
3. Judd Nelson
Brat Pack member Judd starred in some of the most memorable films of the 80s, including the Breakfast Club and St. Elmos Fire. He made an appearance in season 4 of Psych in the episode Death is in the Air.
2. Lou Diamond Phillips
Highly-respected actor Lou got his break in the 1987 film La Bamba, and went on to be nominated for both a Tony award and a Golden Globe. He was in season 2 of Psych in the episode Psy vs. Psy.
1. Molly Ringwald
My childhood idol Molly was the darling of 80s film, starring in Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles and the Breakfast Club, amongst others. She starred in the latest episode of the current season of Psych, season 6, in the episode Shawn, Interrupted.
In case you needed even more proof that the 80s are back with a vengeance, there are a bunch of 80s celebs guest starring on this season of Psych! If you haven’t caught the show yet (it’s in its 6th season – you have some catching up to do!), it is about the very smart, charming and directionless Shawn Spencer, whose remarkable powers of observation lead him to a job as a (fake) psychic for the Santa Barbara Police Department. It is a genuinely funny show, always worth checking out.
This season, there are so many 80s and early 90s stars making appearances – New Kids on the Block cutie, Joey McIntyre; Buffy movie actress Kristy Swanston; Jason Priestly from 90210; THE Corey Feldman; and the 80s princess herself, Molly Ringwald. Regular readers will know my undying love for Miss Ringwald – she is starring in this week’s episode, airing Wednesday 16th November at 10pm ET on USA Network, so this is the one you don’t want to miss! (Fellow Brat Packers Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson have appeared in previous seasons of Psych – there is some serious 80s love going on with this show!)
Want to see why Psych has achieved cult status, catch up with the episodes you’ve missed, or relive all the hilarity? I have a DVD set of the series to give away, thanks to USA Network*! To enter, just sign up to the 80s Time Machine, Pop Eighties’ new online magazine launching next month, through this link. All new and existing subscribers will be entered automatically. Good luck!
*The prize was provided by USA Network, but USA Network is not a sponsor, administrator, or involved in any other way with this giveaway. Contest open to US residents only.