Each week Mike will look back to the decade of decadence and provide a list of eight things – from movies to music to memorable moments and everything in-between. Keep in mind, this isn’t a TOP 8 list and any numerical notations are included to merely designate one item from another. Because, frankly, how can you rate one thing over another when it comes from a decade as totally tubular as the 80s?
This week: Forgotten Dramas
“Drama” might not be the most appropriate way to describe most of the shows on this week’s list – fantasy or sci-fi might be a more apt category – but we’re going to keep things simple and just lump all of the non-sitcom shows into this category. Mostly because it’s the easiest way to do it, but also because this is my column.
Anyway, on with the show!
8. T. and T. (syndicated, 1987-1990)
When The A-Team was canceled, Mr. T needed some work. So off to Canada he went where he starred in this first run syndicated crime show from 1987-1990. All but forgotten beyond hardcore Mr. T fans, T. and T. told the story of T.S. Turner, a boxer who was framed for a crime he didn’t commit, but instead of hanging out with George Peppard, T was “rescued” by lawyer Amy Taler and the two of them solved crime together.
7. Max Headroom (ABC, 1987-88)
This American remake of a British original TV pilot (that itself spawned a talk-show styled program), told the story of Edison Carter (Matt Frewer), a TV journalist in dystopian future in which TV companies rule the day as the de facto government. After being injured, his mind is uploaded into a computer and there, along with his friends Bryce, Theora and Reg, he sticks it to the man. Or, more properly, “stu-stu-stu-sticks it to the man”. Max Headroom was, in hindsight, somewhat prophetic and was most certainly ahead of its time.
6. Manimal (NBC, 1983)
Dr. Jonathan Chase (Simon MacCorkindale) could change into any animal he wanted to. Why he then kept returning to the guise of a hawk or panther is anyone’s guess. Naturally, Chase used his abilities to help the cops solve and fight crime. Perhaps had he realized that there are more than two animals, Manimal might have lasted longer than eight episodes.
5. Automan (ABC, 1983-84)
Walter Nebicher (Desi Arnaz, Jr.) was a police department computer guy who created an A.I. that in turn created a hologram, that Nebicher named ‘Automan’. Automan fought crime and used the alias “Otto Mann” while posing as a federal agent. Along with Cursor, a nifty little device that could generate a high tech helicopter or car, Nebicher could merge with Automan and become a super, awesome crime fighter. The show itself lasted 12 episodes and was only slightly better than this synopsis makes it sound.
4. Beyond Westworld (CBS, 1980)
HBO wasn’t the first network to adapt the successful 1973 movie for TV audiences. No sir, CBS delved into the world of the Delos Corporation with this five-and-done* flop that detailed Delos Security Officer John Moore’s (Jim McMullan), quest to locate and stop renegade scientist Simon Quaid’s plans to use the Westworld robots to take over the world. Unlike Automan, this show was worse than this synopsis makes it sound.
(*Of the five, only three aired)
3. Blacke’s Magic (NBC, 1986)
After almost dying during an illusion, Alexander Blacke (Al Linden), decides to retire, but when an old friend turns up dead, it’s up to Blacke and his grifter dad to do what all retired magicians do: investigate the murder themselves! Each episode featured Blacke trying to deduce how something went down. Kind of like CSI but with flash paper and rabbits instead of black lights and ballistic gel.
2. Misfits of Science (NBC, 1985-86)
Long before Heroes and well before the popularity of superhero-centric movies and TV shows, this fifteen episode treasure featured a young Courtney Cox as one of the super-powered members of a team put together by scientist Dr. Billy Hayes who works at the Humanidyne Institute. Each character was likable and had a weakness that, if exploited, could render their powers useless. Misfits of Science was a fun show that ended too soon with only fifteen, of the sixteen filmed, episodes airing.
1. The Renegades (ABC, 1983)
Before he danced dirty with Jennifer Gray, Patrick Swayze starred as Bandit, the leader of a gang that agreed to serve as a special law enforcement unit instead of going to jail. One part The Warriors and one part 21 Jump Street (long before anyone would know what 21 Jump Street even was), only six episodes aired following a 2-hour TV movie that served as the pilot for the program.
Next Week: Sports!