The 1980s was pretty much the best decade ever, aside from its lack of the internet. If you lived it as a kid like I did, you know there was no greater time to be alive, especially when it came to the TV shows we had to choose from. Here’s five that I enjoyed and still occasionally remember the theme songs for:
“Small Wonder” (1985-89): A guy created a robot, Vicky, that looked real enough to pass as a human girl, and she lived with his family, posing as the inventor’s daughter. Vicky had a hatch on her back that the dad could access to program her or shut her off—I bet a lot of parents wish that was possible for all children—and Vicky spoke in a monotone voice and never changed her outfit, a red dress. It seems like an odd plot to me now as an adult, but back in the 1980s it seemed perfectly logical to me that a robot could live among us undetected. Vicky had super strength, I think, along with other robotic abilities, too. With all the rebooted shows that are coming out now, I would like to see a modern version of “Small Wonder” that incorporates today’s technology.
Make it happen, Netflix.
“Out of This World” (1987-91): Speaking of shows with odd plots, this one, to me, seems weirder than “A.L.F.” and “Small Wonder” combined. “Out of This World” featured a teen girl, Evie, who could freeze time by touching the tips of her index fingers together—and unfreeze time by clapping her hands, if I remember correctly. How could she do this? Her father is a space alien voiced by Burt Reynolds!
I used to try to freeze time by touching my fingers together, but it never worked. I bet some of you are trying it now.
Anyway, Evie would use her powers to get out of trouble she got herself into, and that was basically the plot. This was one of those shows that was on at 6 a.m. on Sundays while my parents were still asleep and the networks would play infomercials or canceled programs. We didn’t have cable, so “Out of This World” was how I would entertain myself sometimes.
“Silver Spoons” (1982-87): This show was centered around 12-year-old Rick Stratton, the son of a super rich dude. Rick came to live with his dad in dad’s mansion, and Rick was always impressing girls with his expensive stuff, blond quasi-mullet and wit. I loved this show because the mansion had a small train barely large enough for people to ride on that traveled on a track throughout the house, and characters would ride in and exit on the train to canned ovations during some of the scenes. Rick also reminded me of my friends, brothers Randy and Robby (a lot of R’s, I know).
I think there was an episode in which Rick paid Menudo (with a young Ricky Martin) to perform at his house, and the girls he invited to impress were more interested in Ricky Martin than him! Ha! There was another episode in which some girls talked Rick into a “dine-and-dash,” meaning they would leave a restaurant after eating without paying the bill. Rick came back and paid the bill. And then there was the time Rick discovered top-secret plans for a government fighter jet using a computer (maybe the ’80s had the internet after all?), and the feds showed up at the mansion. Boys will be boys.
“Mr. Belvedere” (1985-90): A British housekeeper comes to live with a Pittsburgh (I think?) family and teaches them life lessons while doing their laundry and name-dropping famous British people he knew. I remember one episode in which the three children in the family each had to write, in 50 words, why they wanted to travel to England with Mr. Belvedere as he visited his home country—he could only take one of them. Fifty words seemed like a lot of writing at the time to me. I think he got deported in another episode but came back.
One time the teen daughter of the family, complaining of her “mousey” brown hair, dyed her hair blonde and noted that people were paying extra attention to her as a blonde. I think one episode involved a tornado hitting Pittsburgh, which seems pretty unlikely in reality, assuming I’m right about it being set in Pittsburgh.
“Supercarrier” (1988): I never realized it at the time, but golly, this was a major ripoff of “Top Gun.” Website IMDb.com, which has been a major resource for this post, says “Supercarrier” lasted only eight episodes. I remember as an 8-year-old wondering when the show was going to have new episodes. I guess I can stop waiting.
TVGuide.com says the show was about “the personal and professional lives of the officers and crew of the aircraft carrier Georgetown. The series, clearly trying to capitalize on the success of the film ‘Top Gun,’ was initially approved of by the Navy, but storylines that were more melodrama than military led to withdrawal of that support.”
For the two months this show was on I thought it was great, but that’s probably because I was obsessed with “Top Gun” and anything related to F-14s and aircraft carriers. I remember later that I saw one of the “Supercarrier” actors in a video shown to us at school about the dangers of drinking and driving.
What was a show you enjoyed in the ’80s? Was it one of these?