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 Sitcoms
While it could be argued that the seventies had a better class of sitcoms, the eighties were no slouch in the “filmed before a live studio audience” department either. From The Cosby Show, to Cheers, Diff’rent Strokes and Family Ties, there were numerous sitcoms that ran for a number of years and had millions of viewers. But for every Growing Pains, there was a Charles in Charge. But not every “bad” sitcom was bad, some just never caught on. Here are eight of them.
8. Head of the Class (ABC, 1986-1991)
This Howard Hesseman vehicle is one of the two more well-known of these eight. In it, Hesseman played Charlie Moore, a substitute teacher who oversaw the kids in the school’s Individualized Honors Program (IHP). The kids covered a wide spectrum of high school archetypes and a lot of what was “learned” was that people aren’t all that different from one another.
7. Square Pegs (CBS, 1982-83)
The other well-known show on this list. Probably best remembered for featuring a young Sarah Jessica Parker and Jamie Gertz. Square Pegs set the table for the John Hughes high school comedy movies that followed a couple of years later. It was critically acclaimed for it’s realistic depiction of high school cliques, but it never found its footing and was canceled after 20 episodes.
6. The Last Precinct (NBC, 1986)
You would think that a show about cops starring Adam West and produced by Stephen J. Cannell (who had a Midas Touch with hour long dramas) would be a hit, but no – it lasted for eight episodes. Also featuring Ernie Hudson, it featured an eclectic mix of characters and was funnier than its shirt life span might suggest.
5. The Nutt House (NBC, 1989)
Created and executive produced by Mel Brooks, this starred Harvey Korman and Cloris Leachman and was about a failing New York city hotel. While eleven episodes were filmed, only six aired before it was quietly removed from the fall schedule (all 11 episodes aired in the UK when the program aired on BBC2). A non-traditional sitcom by every definition, it appealed to small demographic which was the cause of its demise.
4. Duet (FOX, 1987-89)
While it wasn’t remarkable in any way, Duet was a solid romantic comedy that helped launch the fledgling FOX network. It told the story of Ben and Laura, Laura’s sister Jane, and their friends Richard and Linda. When it was canceled, it was relaunched as Open House, but it didn’t last more than a season.
3. Double Trouble (NBC, 1984-85)
Starring the twin sisters, Liz and Jean, of Katey (Married With Children) Sagal, Double Trouble told the story of identical twins and their widowed father. When that concept failed to catch on and deliver Patty Duke Show level success, it was changed up to have the girls living with their aunt in New York. This also failed and the show was not renewed after its second season.
2. E/R (CBS, 1984-85)
Set in a Chicago hospital and featuring George Clooney, E/R told the story of a group of doctors and other personnel in and around the emergency room. While this concept seems familiar, it’s not the show you might be thinking of. There’s no Anthony Edwards or Noah Wyle to be seen – that was ER. This E/R starred Elliot Gould and, while not a direct spin-off, was at least a cousin to The Jeffersons as one its characters was the niece of George Jefferson (who actually appeared in the first two episodes.
1. It’s Your Move (NBC, 1984-85)
This gem, starring a young Jason Bateman, was about a teenage scam artist whose trade was mainly stolen exam keys, term papers, etc. When his single mom falls in love with a neighbor, Bateman’s character, Matt, takes it upon himself to try and break them up. If Bateman hadn’t been so charismatic, his character would have come across as a grade A jackass. As it was, Matt was one of those characters you hate to love. Apparently more people loved Dynasty, however, which ran opposite It’s Your Move and pretty much killed the show on its own.
Next Week: Let’s get serious