Dallas is the distilled essence of all things 80s, from its “greed is good” ethos to the bombastic theme tune that was the recurring soundtrack of our prepubescent years. JR Ewing is right up there with Mikhail Gorbachev, Roland Rat, and the Spitting Image puppet of Margaret Thatcher as one of the faces of the decade.
Legend has it that Miami Vice was inspired by a two word pitch: “MTV cops”, and that about sums it up. As if the pastel suits, neon aesthetics and designer stubble don’t all scream “80s” enough, bear in mind that Phil Collins himself turned up on the show. That’s peak 80s right there.
Dynasty is chiefly remembered for Joan Collins playing shoulder-padded hell-witch Alexis, although everything else about the show is also shamelessly OTT in that quintessentially 80s way, from the shrieking catfights to the time an actual frickin’ ALIEN SPACESHIP turned up to whisk a character away. (OK, the UFO was technically in the spin-off series The Colbys, but that was pretty much the exact same show, except starring a visibly embarrassed Charlton Heston.)
The 80s were a boon time for TV bromances between human beings and modes of transport. There was man and helicopter (Airwolf), man and motorbike (Street Hawk), and man and day-glo holographic vehicles (Automan). But the king of all such shows is obviously Knight Rider, due to the genius of Hasselhoff and the single greatest telly theme tune of ALL time. You know it to be true.
The show that gave us Bruce Willis, Moonlighting also set the template for every mismatched man-and-woman will-they-won’t-they crime fighting duo to hit our screens ever since. With its quippy wit, it has the rare distinction among 80s shows of actually still being legitimately good, all these years later.
Anyone who was a kid in the 80s will remember crashing out on Saturday afternoons in front of The A-Team, marvelling at the ability of every single character – both goodies and baddies – to avoid being so much as scratched by all the bullets and bombs. The show also gave us a bona fide icon of the era in the form of Mr T, whose forthright opinions on so-called “fools” are well remembered by us all.
Back before John Nettles became some kind of cuddly granddad figure, he was a swaggering heartthrob in the role of Jim Bergerac, walking the mean streets of Jersey. And by “mean” we mean “really quite pleasant seeming”. With its washed out tones, grey-green coastal landscapes and dated hairstyles, watching Bergerac today is like flicking through blurry photos of childhood holidays, and will basically make you weep for your lost youth.
Leg warmers. That is all.
Remember ALF? Back in the 80s, he was everywhere, because in those days there was apparently nothing shameful about actively enjoying a sitcom about a wise-cracking puppet alien. Bonus points if you remember the ALF computer game on the Commodore 64. (Apologies if you successfully blanked out that memory till now.)
Before he was in Casualty, Simon MacCorkindale was “the master of secrets that divide man from animal, animal from man… Manimal!” Yes, this was the TV show that expected to be taken seriously, even when the hero transformed himself into a dolphin. Ah, good old innocent 80s… how we miss you.
Stranger Things is available to watch on Netflix now
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