80s TV Shows

The awesome 80's were all about doing things big: big action, big drama and of course big laughs. Fancy cars, luxurious houses and wealthy, good looking people were the hallmark of any good 80's show. The 80's were also chock full of great memorable TV families like the Seavers, The Huxtables, The Keatons and more. Sitcoms were tops with The Facts of Life, Cheers and Golden Girls earning high ratings. Dramas also made their mark as some of the best on TV with series like Dallas, St. Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues. But who could forget some of the most popular shows that made 80's TV so cool, like Miami Vice, The A-Team and MacGyver.



                                                                                                                                                                 



The A-Team 1983-1987 |  NBC


The A-Team is an action adventure series about a fictional group of ex-United States Army Special Forces personnel who work as soldiers of fortune, while on the run from the Army after being branded as war criminals for a "crime they didn't commit". The show featured Mr. T and aired on NBC from 1983 to 1987.


Guilty pleasures don't come more guilty than The A-Team, television's only tongue-in-cheek drama about the exploits of renegade Vietnam vets. The primetime series' 1983 debut season was intentionally ludicrous, encouraging viewers to enjoy sundry talents of a colorful cast and laugh off storylines perhaps sillier than those on Charlie's Angels. Co-created by Stephen J. Cannell (Wiseguy) and Frank Lupo (Hunter), The A-Team introduced Lt. Col. John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard), the cocksure leader of a band of fugitive American soldiers framed for a crime in Vietnam and now thriving in Los Angeles. Hiring themselves out as soldiers of fortune, Hannibal's crew--including Lt. Templeton "Face" Peck (baby-faced Tim Dunigan in the pilot, Dirk Benedict thereafter), Sgt. Bosco Albert "B.A. (for 'Bad Attitude')" Baracus (Mr. T, outfitted with his trademark gold), and, most comically, Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (Dwight Schultz)--assist (mostly) ordinary people having a problem with bad guys. The A-Team ostensibly charges large fees, but much of the time the guys seem to be doing pro bono work for the helpless.

Diff'rent Strokes 1978-1985 |  ABC


Diff'rent Strokes is an sitcom that aired on NBC from 1978 to 1985, and on ABC from September 1985 to March 1986. The series stars Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges as Arnold and Willis Jackson, two African American boys from Harlem who are taken in by a rich white Park Avenue businessman named Phillip Drummond (Conrad Bain) and his daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato), for whom their deceased mother previously worked.

More than just a ratings hit for NBC, the Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin-produced Diff'rent Strokes was a pop-culture phenomenon, thanks largely to the wise-beyond-his-years performance of star Gary Coleman. Launched in November 1978 as a mid-season replacement for the failed Joe Namath series The Waverly Wonders, Diff'rent Strokes vaulted to no. 27 in the Nielsen ratings; audiences responded to the warmth and humorous culture clash between wealthy Philip Drummond (Lear vet Conrad Bain) and Arnold and Willis (Coleman and Todd Bridges), the sons of his late housekeeper whom he adopted. Though Bain, Bridges, Dana Plato (as Bain's daughter), and Charlotte Rae (as housekeeper Mrs. Garrett) all delivered solid performances, it was Coleman's charm, his timing, and most of all, his catch phrase "Whatchoo talkin' bout?" that drew in viewers.

Charlie's Angels 1976-1981 |  ABC


Charlie's Angels is a crime drama series about three women who work for a private investigation agency, and is one of the first shows to showcase women in roles traditionally reserved for men.


The show aired on ABC from 1976 to 1981.


TheOnce upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the police academy. And they were each assigned very hazardous duties but I took them all away from all that and now they work for me. My name is Charlie. Those famous words were heard every week from 1976 to 1981 during Charlie's Angels 5 year run. This ABC crime series began in September of 1976 introducing three stunning, sexy and young former policewoman, private detectives working for the Charles Townsend Detective Agency. The wealthy Charlie Townsend, voiced by John Forsythe, was their never-seen boss, who relayed assignments via a speaker telephone. The trio of Angels featured Sabrina Duncan; (Kate Jackson) the "cool, smart, multilingual leader," Jill Munroe; (Farrah Fawcett-Majors) the "athletic angel" and finally Kelly Garrett; (Jaclyn Smith) the "street wise angel." The Angels worked with their trusty male counter-part, John Bosley played by (David Doyle).

Family Ties 1982-1989 |  NBC


Family Ties is an sitcom that aired on NBC for seven seasons from 1982 to 1989. The sitcom reflected the move in the United States from the cultural liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s to the conservatism of the 1980s. This was particularly expressed through the relationship between young Republican Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) and his ex-hippie parents, Elyse and Steven Keaton (Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross).


Though it emerged during the Reagan era, Family Ties remains as relevant as ever. Most children find their parents a little embarrassing, but what sets this sitcom apart is that former hippies Steven and Elyse Keaton, (Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter-Birney), now find themselves in 1980's America trying to raise a traditional suburban family. Son Alex P. Keaton (three-time Emmy winner Michael J. Fox) is an ambitious young Republican, and his sister Mallory (Justine Bateman) is a shallow victim of the corporate culture, obsessed with music, clothes and boys. Their only normal kid is young Jennifer (Tina Yothers), a bit of a tomboy. In later seasons, the Keatons add a fourth child, Andrew. Most of the comedy arose from the conflict between the liberal parents and the conservative children. It works because the Keatons obviously love each other--foibles and all.

Cheers 1982-1993 |  NBC


Cheers is a sitom that ran for 11 seasons on NBC from 1982 to 1993. The show is set in the Cheers bar (named for the toast "Cheers") in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax, chat and have fun. The show's theme song, written and performed by Gary Portnoy, and co-written with Judy Hart Angelo, lent its famous refrain, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name", as the show's tagline.

Sam Malone, a former relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, owns and runs Cheers, a cozy bar in Boston. Somewhat snobby, beautiful and intelligent Diane Chambers - forced to become a waitress when her fiance jilts her - constantly bickers with Sam. Eventually, they fall in love. Several wacky characters make the bar their home-away-from-home, including sarcastic waitress Carla, beer-loving accountant Norm and know-it-all letter carrier Cliff. A few seasons later, Sam sells the bar to buy a boat and sail around the world. But his boat sinks and he returns to bartending. Rebecca Howe, the new (more ambitious) manager, hires him back. They love to hate each other and eventually get together as well.

MacGyver 1985-1992 |  ABC


MacGyver is an action-adventure series that ran for seven seasons on ABC and follows secret agent Angus MacGyver, played by Richard Dean Anderson. MacGyver prefers non-violent resolutions where possible, and refuses to handle a gun. He works as a troubleshooter for the fictional Phoenix Foundation in Los Angeles. He is a resourceful agent with an encyclopedic knowledge of science, able to solve complex problems with everyday materials he finds at hand, along with his ever-present duct tape and Swiss Army knife.

Like James Bond--but without the high-tech gadgets--Angus MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson) is one of those rare beings who can avert any crisis without mussing a hair. (The rest of us should be so lucky.) In the pilot alone, the secret agent dismantles a missile using a paper clip and fashions a rocket thruster out of a pistol. Is there anything MacGyver can't do? As the first season of ABC's long-running adventure series proves, the answer is a resounding no. MacGyver's secret: the everyday items he "finds along the way," like matches or gum wrappers, and the ingenuity to put them to a myriad of uses (a background in physics and chemistry doesn't hurt). Unlike Alias' Sidney Bristow, he isn't a multi-linguist, a martial artist, or a master of disguises. Wits are MacGyver's weapon of choice.

Full House 1987 - 1995 | ABC


Full House centers around the lives of the Tanner family. Danny Tanner, played by Bob Saget, is the father of three girls who has lost his wife. To help him in raising the girls his wife's brother, Jesse Katsopolis, played by John Stamos, and his best friend Joey Gladstone, played by Dave Coulier, move in with him. The girls prove to be more than a handful for three young men who have no experience in raising children. The show is a comedy which occasionally touches on more meaningful


The girls D.J., Stephanie and Michelle all have different personalities which adds to the interest of the show. D.J. Is the oldest and is constantly trying to assert her independence. Stephanie is the middle child who is exceptionally bright for her age. Stephanie often provides the comic end to the banter between the various adults with her one-liners. Michelle is the youngest and often uses her cuteness to get what she wants. The girls often fight between themselves as most siblings do, which often results in a punishment being handed down by their father.

 

The men in the household also have their own personalities which enhance the interactions in the show. Danny is the responsible one who always tries to do the best thing for his girls. Jesse is a free spirit with a bit of a wild side. He has a rock band and drives a motorcycle. He is also very handsome and enjoys dating various women without forming any real attachments to any of them. Joey is an actual comedian on the show who works for a children's television show. Joey has his room in the basement which later becomes a recording studio for Jesse. The show takes a lighthearted look at raising children as single parents. The plot of having three men raising three girls in one household adds to the mischief and humor, while also showing the nurturing side men can have.

Cagney & Lacey 1981-1988 |  CBS


Cagney & Lacey is a sitcom that aired on the CBS for seven seasons from 1981 to 1988. A police procedural, the show stars Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless as New York City police detectives who led very different lives: Christine Cagney (Gless) was a single, career-minded woman, while Mary Beth Lacey (Daly) was a married working mother. The series was set in a fictionalized version of Manhattan's 14th Precinct.

Directed by Karen Arthur, written by a female team, and starring two filmic heroes of the feminist movement--Sharon Gless as Christine Cagney and Tyne Daly as Mary-Beth Lacey--the show pioneered on-screen presentation of independent, working women. With Cagney as the career-minded single woman, and Lacey as the mother/wife juggling job with home time, the two detectives serve as foil characters, the way other cop shows such as ChiPs, Moonlighting, or Charlie's Angels starred police with opposing opinions. But where other shows cast the foxiest people possible, Cagney & Lacey relied on character development instead of sex.

Taxi 1978-1982 |  ABC, NBC


Taxi is a sitcom that aired from 1978 to 1982 on ABC and from 1982 to 1983 on NBC that chronicled the everyday lives of a handful of New York City taxi drivers and their abusive dispatcher. Taxi won won 18 Emmy Awards, including three for "Outstanding Comedy Series".

This character-driven humane comedy from the creators of The Mary Tyler Moore Show rolled out of the garage with a full tank of gas: a lightning-in-a-bottle ensemble, smart, witty, and compassionate writing, and extraordinary characters. The Sunshine Cab Company was a much grittier workplace than the sunny WJM newsroom. Its down, but never out employees--single mother Elaine (Marilu Henner), aspiring actor Bobby (Jeff Conaway), hapless boxer Tony (Tony Danza), reptilian dispatcher Louis (Danny DeVito), naive rube John (Randall Carver), and indeterminately foreign mechanic Latka (comic iconoclast Andy Kaufman)--struggled to keep rolling along. Judd Hirsch's salt-of-the-earth cabbie Alex Rieger solved everyone's problems but his own. Christopher Lloyd was the burn-out Reverend Jim joined the cast in season two.


Taxi's success was due to its excellent writing, Burrows's award-winning directing using his innovative four-camera technique, and its largely unknown but talented cast. Danny DeVito's Louie DePalma soon became one of the most despised men on television--possibly the most unredeemable and worthless louse of a character ever to reside on the small screen. Andy Kaufman's foreign mechanic Latka Gravas provided over-the-top comedy within an ensemble emphasizing subtle character humor.

Dallas 1978-1991 |  CBS


Dallas is a drama that revolves around the Ewings, a wealthy Texas family in the oil and cattle-ranching industries. The series won four Emmy Awards, including a 1980 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series win for Barbara Bel Geddes. Throughout the series, Larry Hagman stars as greedy, scheming oil baron J. R. Ewing. The show also starred stage/screen actress Barbara Bel Geddes as family matriarch Miss Ellie, and movie Western actor Jim Davis in his last role as Ewing patriarch Jock Ewing before his death in 1981.


Dallas is an American equivalent to those British miniseries about historical chapters in that country's royal monarchy. Full of family in-fighting, political intrigue crossed with personal triumph or disappointment, and plenty of sensational infidelities and betrayals, Dallas is a captivating story of a wealthy oil family's power and travails. It is also uniquely fun and daringly absurd, albeit with a straight face; this hugely successful, primetime soap opera began in the late 1970s and ran 14 seasons in all, built on a handful of primary relationships that stretch credulity but never descend into self-parody.

Happy Days 1974-1984 |  ABC


Happy Days is a sitcom that aired from 1974 to 1984 on ABC. Created by Garry Marshall, the series showcased an idealized vision of life in mid-1950s to mid-1960s America.

Less than a year after Ron Howard played a college-bound adolescent enjoying a final, summer-of-1962 romp with old friends in American Graffiti, he turned up as high school innocent Richie Cunningham in the memorable, ABC television network debut of Happy Days, set a few years earlier in Milwaukee. The show would last a decade and go through many changes in tone, cast, and character development, but that first season got a boost from the natural perception that it had some things in common with Graffiti: Howard, of course, but also fumbling teenage sex, drag races, drive-in food, pesky little sisters, and laconic greasers.

Happy Days is a sweet trip back to the Garry Marshall-produced sitcom's 1974 entry in primetime television, before political correctness would make stories about clean-cut boys fixated on seducing girls unthinkable, and long before older kids were defined by angst on the WB and Fox TV. At least in its first year, before Happy Days developed more of a comic-book feel and energy, the show was about Richie's all-too-human inclination to grow up too fast, to bite off more than he could chew and learn poignant lessons in the process. He was a sympathetic naif, not the charming braggart he later became, and major characters appear to have been created to provide both ballast and motivation. Among them is best friend Potsie (Anson Williams), a superficial hustler who typically incites Richie's enthusiasm for booze, reputed nymphomaniacs, and sophisticated, older girls, and fast-talking Ralph Malph (Donny Most), owner of a fantastic, yellow hot rod. More important are counterparts Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler), a vaguely dangerous drop-out, and Richie's exasperated father, Howard Cunningham (Tom Bosley), each of whom provides Richie the validation of an experienced male: Fonzie's raw worldliness versus Mr. C's seasoned view of a man's responsibilities.

Hill Street Blues 1981-1987 |  NBC


Hill Street Blues is a police drama that aired on NBC from 1981 to 1987. Chronicling the lives of the staff of a single police precinct in an unnamed American city, the show received critical acclaim and its production innovations influenced many subsequent dramatic television series that were made.

A gritty, realistic look at the life of cops in a large (and unnamed) metropolitan city. Led by Capt. Frank Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti), the cops of the Hill Street Station kept the peace -- though there were plenty of casulties along the way. Focusing more on the characters within in the precinct than on the cases they were trying to solve, Hill Street Blues also featured Veronica Hamel as public defender Joyce Davenport (who later married Capt. Furillo), Michael Conrad (who passed away during the 1983 season) as gruff Sergeant Phil Esterhaus, James B. Sikking (Doogie Howser, M.D.) as Lt. Howard Hunter, Betty Thomas as Officer Lucy Bates and Bruce Weitz as Det. Mick Belker (who sometimes resorted to injuring the felons he apprehended).

Miami Vice 1984-1989 |  NBC


Miami Vice was a crime drama series that ran on NBC for five seasons from 1984 to 1989. The series starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as James "Sonny" Crockett and Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs respectively, two Metro-Dade Police Department detectives working undercover in Miami.

This series is largely remembered for the stylish clothes Detectives Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs wore, the soundtrack, and its distinct visuals. But beneath the veneer is a surprisingly dark cop show. The cocaine boom of the 1980s framed many stories about drugs and murder, with Crockett and Tubbs often resorting to violence in the course of their work.

CHiPs 1977-1983 |  NBC

CHiPs is a drama series that aired on NBC from 1977 to 1983 that followed the lives of two motorcycle police officers of the California Highway Patrol, Baker and Ponch.


CHiPs followed the adventures of two hunky California Highway patrolmen, Francis "Ponch" Poncherello (Erik Estrada) and Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox). Ponch was the wisecracking ladies' man, while more reserved Jon played Ponch's straight man. But when it came to busting criminals and protecting the good drivers of California, Ponch and Jon were all business. Estrada and Wilcox were supported by a strong cast, including the long-suffering, no-nonsense Sergeant Joseph Getraer (Robert Pine) and luckless Officer Grossman (Paul Linke).