But in this post I’m going to talk about telly shows of the 1980s and early 1990s that mainly we watched as a family, with a few things I watched that were not puppet shows or cartoons.
Unsolved Mysteries: This is a show that mainly I watched by myself, though on occasion the family would watch it with me. It was awesome and creepy scary all at the same time. I had to watch it, but also I didn’t want to go to bed after having just watched it, so would watch whatever sitcom came on after it, even though that sitcom was on after my bedtime. The only one I remember was Seinfeld. This is the only reason I even got into Seinfeld, because I probably wouldn’t have voluntarily watched it on my own at that age.
I did know other kids who would watch it as well, but never anyone with as much enthusiasm as me. Also, only the original hosted by Robert Stack will suffice. I’ve tried watching the others, and even when he came back on it, but they’re just not the same.
The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: This is one that we did all watch as a family. We just really enjoyed it. It was fascinating seeing how the other half lives. It’s probably why I enjoyed MTV’s Cribs when it first came on. But this one was fun and Robin Leach was rather kooky.
Moonlighting: I adored this show. I don’t even know if it was really all that good, but to a kid it was fantastic. No one I knew was watching this; my parents certainly didn’t watch it. Later I found out that The Sister also watched it and loved it too. We wanted to see it again but the people getting the discs from Netflix I suppose never returned them. We are sad.
Perfect Strangers: No one I knew was really watching this, except me. It was sorta like an updated Odd Couple with a twist. Instead of one being messy, he was just foreign, which equals zany. It sounds terrible, but to a kid it was hilarious. I probably liked it because I did like the Odd Couple, film and telly show. My parent’s liked those as well, but this I suppose seemed too weird for them to give it a try.
Quantum Leap: Another one that we all watched as a family. I’m sure everyone’s well aware of the premise, but in case you aren’t. Basically Scott Bakula’s character, Sam, can’t stay in his body from a time travel experiment gone awry. And Dean Stockwell’s character is in the present time trying to help Sam get back into the here and now. Great concept for a show. It was also fun to see which time and body he’d leap into next. It could be any time period and any race or sex. So fun!
Night Court: This is one that only my dad and I watched. In a previous post I mentioned that he would stay late at work a lot of the time. While he was working on jobs, he’d watch TV and this was one of the shows he watched. When we found out we were both watching it separately, we’d watch it together on nights that he was home, or randomly discuss it when we’d watched it alone. It was fun, it was funny, and I liked all of the characters.
227: This one I watched alone. In fact, I haven’t found a single person in my every day life who’s even heard of this show, much less watched it. Marla Gibbs and Jackée Harry were awesome. Of course I already liked Gibbs from The Jefferson’s. I can’t even tell you what this show was about except they lived in an apartment and I really enjoyed it.
Roseanne: Mom detested this show when it was on, yet we all watched it as a family. I think she detested it because she looks sort of like Roseanne in this picture and mom’s worth is wrapped up in her looks, and *rolls eyes*. This show is still good. The writing was excellent, it was funny and original and real.
Good Morning, Miss Bliss: The precursor to Saved by the Bell was this show which was a Disney Channel original show that was produced by NBC. My parents watched it because of Haley Mills. The Sister and I watched it because it was good. But we did all watch it as a family. Later, I’d watch it in reruns with Saved by the Bell.
Saved by the Bell: Which leads me to this show. I was the only one in my family who would watch this. But when they went off to college, I stopped watching. Those shows are never as good as the high school versions. Though I really, really liked this one, it was a little too unreal for me. I mean I’m sure it was spot on with issues for high schoolers, but I liked the slower pace of Good Morning, Miss Bliss better.
Newhart: It was weird, and I liked The Bob Newhart show better, but this really wasn’t that bad. It was funny and pretty good. I don’t know, Bob Newhart owned an Inn or Bed and Breakfast somewhere in Vermont or New Hampshire and there were three inbred brothers who were always stopping by. See? It’s weird. But somehow it kinda worked.
Father Dowling Mysteries: My mom is super heavy into murder mysteries, so she was forever having us watch Murder, She Wrote, Columbo, The Rockford Files, Perry Mason (which the new one was rubbish), Matlock (seriously Andy Griffith you’re a po-dunk sheriff, you can’t be a lawyer), Miss Marple, etc.
The original Perry Mason and Murder, She Wrote aren’t all that bad. But the only one she could ever get me into was Agatha Christie’s Poirot (and that was later), except for this one, Father Dowling Mysteries. We all watched it as a family, but it was mom and I who enjoyed it the most.
Family Ties: This one we watched as a family, but I don’t know why considering my parents didn’t like it at all. I think because the Keaton parents were ex-hippies, while my parents were not. I don’t know. The Sister and I loved this show though. Who wouldn’t? It has Michael J. Fox in it! Although I hated when these shows added a new baby sibling. ‘Why are you doing that?’ was always my thought. I suppose they wanted the ratings to go up. Perhaps they did, but to me, the shows weren’t nearly as good after the addition.
Double Dare: This was all me. No one else in my family watched this, though I did know kids who did. It was AWESOME! The best kids game show ever! Family Double Dare was pretty good too, but the original was the best. This was a game show on Nickelodeon, if you aren’t familiar with it. It had different games you had to best in order to win. You’d get slimed, you had to dig in a big fake nose, rampage your way through a giant sundae with mounds of chocolate sauce and whipped cream; do all sorts of gross, gooey stuff just to obtain a flag so that your team won.
The Cosby Show: Everyone I knew watched this show. Everyone. It was also a show we always watched together as a family. I thought Phylicia Rashad was the most beautiful, classiest, most awesome mother ever. Though I thought that the Jello Pudding Pop man was funny, I never understood how she’d married him. They seemed like a weird couple. I liked Rudy as she was my age and wanted to be friends with her. I wanted to be Denise and wanted to date Theo. Umm… but we wouldn’t be siblings of course!
Married with Children: This is one that we all watched together as a family because my parents LOVED it! I thought it was funny, though didn’t get half of what was going on. I’m honestly not sure they did either. They’re not the type to think that a slutty teenage daughter is funny. Anyways. I thought Peg Bundy was awesome and wanted to dress like her when I grew up, though I don’t.
Mama’s Family: Another one we all watched together as a family. I know why my parents chose to watch it. Because they adored The Carol Burnett Show and this was a fleshed out show of the Mama skit from that show. Vicki Lawrence was awesome in it, as she was one The Carol Burnett Show. It was weird, but it was funny. I like the Mama skit better, but this was pretty enjoyable.
Anne of Green Gables / Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel: Though they are made for TV mini series’, they did come out in the 80s and we did watch them as a family. As many times as they were willing to show them. There are different Anne of Green Gables out there, but it’s only the one with Meagan Follows as Anne Shirley and Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla Cuthbert. The Sister owns these on DVD and we’re all wanting to watch them again.
Road to Avonlea: We all watched this as well. It’s based off of Lucy Maude Montgomery’s books (just like Anne of Green Gables) and was produced by the same people, and has some of the same actors, though most playing different roles, except for Marilla, Rachel, and Gilbert Blythe. Anyways, while it’s still set on Avonlea on P.E. Island, it centers around the King Family. This one I adored! So much! I liked it more than anyone else in my family as they were die-hard Anne fans. I don’t own all of this on DVD, though to be honest it did get rather weird there. But I own the first five seasons and do re-watch it from time to time.
America’s Funniest Home Videos: I know they still have these shows, and I’m aware that they were always hokey, but it seems like that late 80’s and early 90’s were the perfect time for these. They didn’t seem as hokey. We all watched this one, with the dad from Full House, as well as the other funniest home videos type show that was hosted by Uncle Joey from Full House. I’m aware of their real names, but eh… they’re just the dad and Uncle Joey. Anyways. After this craze ended however, in oh 1993-ish, my family won’t watch these types of shows anymore.
Magnum, P.I.: This is another one that mom had us all watching together. I liked that it was set in Hawaii and I liked Magnum’s friends and Higgins, but I couldn’t really get on board with out cool Tom Selleck was supposed to be. It was fun to watch though, so it’s on this list.
Mr. Wizard’s World: This was part of Nickelodeon’s early line-up or non-original programming, most of it from Canada. The Sister and I both watched this, but I think I might have liked it more than her. Of course as a kid I didn’t know any history to Mr. Wizard, so was as surprised to find out that he’d been a telly science teacher since the early 60’s, as my dad was at finding out that I even knew who Mr. Wizard was, because dad loved him in his own childhood.
Designing Women: This is a show that we all loved, though were watching independently. It was in syndication while it was still on, so I’d watch syndicated epi’s in the day time and my parents were watching the new epi’s at night. This is one that I found out dad watched when he worked late nights at the shop. Somehow The Sister was also watching it during the 80s, but I’m not sure how.
Amazing Stories: We’d watch anything that had Steven Spielberg’s hand in it, so of course we were all watching Amazing Stories together as a family. It was sort of like The Twilight Zone, but way better than the newer version of The Twilight Zone. It was always really odd, fantastical tales or horror stories.
The Edison Twins: This was a Canadian show that the Disney Channel picked up. I thought it was super cool, especially the intro with the stop motion and the neon lines everywhere. It was very sciency and learning oriented; the twins would use their large sciency brians to tackle the problems that came their way.
Danger Bay: Another Canadian show which was picked up by the Disney Channel, which centered around the Roberts family. Of course we loved that, since we are also the Roberts family! The dad worked at that Vancouver Aquarium and basically him and his kids would either be at the aquarium or helping with nature problems out in the wild, whether it was an injured animal or pollution or something. We all loved watching this together and The Sister and I have very fond memories of it. In fact when we see the dad in something else we exclaim, “It’s Doctor Roberts!”.
The Golden Girls: This was a show that we were all watching, but sort of separately. We all really enjoyed it, though I didn’t fully come to understand and appreciate it until I could watch reruns in the mid-late 90s. We even got to meet Rue McClanahan. The Sister was working out in LA in the mid 90s. This is how her and I had a California Mom, because that’s who she lived with while out there. She was working for Beth Grant, but she’d organized their lives so efficiently they recommended her to someone else. Rue McClanahan. For the last few months The Sister lived out there, she lived and worked for Rue. Then in the late 90s or early 2000s, Rue was going to be talking at some women’s expo in Laurel, Miss. I have no idea why she’d choose to go to Laurel, but she did. So, the rest of us got to meet her.
Growing Pains: We didn’t like this show as much as other family sitcoms of the 80s, but I did rather like this one a lot. Thought the dad was geeky-awesome and I liked the sister.
Coach: This is one that dad and I both enjoyed, though he would watch it at the shop. Neither of us are even into sports, so you wouldn’t think we’d like this. However, even though Craig T. Nelson’s character was a high school football coach, the show didn’t focus on games or anything. It was actually enjoyable to watch.
You Can’t Do That On Television: Another Canadian show, this time for Nickelodeon. Hell, Nickelodeon was originally Canadian, but I digress. The Sister and I both loved this show, though she was more the age that this was appropriate for. Our mom hated that we watched it, she didn’t like it at all. Got to watch a bit of it again recently, and it’s still pretty cool. It’s about Canadian teens working on a TV show; the sketches were gross, but really funny. This is how green slime started, but someone saying “I don’t know.” Also, you got water poured on you if you said, “Water.” And those lockers, the kids would just be in them for a certain skit and one would open a door, call another kids name, they’d open their door and there’d be a joke.
Major Dad: Dad really liked this one, though we all watched it together. I think dad chose it because dad was in the military, liked military things, and that Gerald McRaney is a Mississippian. In fact, he was born and raised thirty minutes north of us in Collins, and they absolutely adore him, though I’m not even sure he comes back to visit or gives them permission to keep naming things after him or using his face all over their advertising. It makes me laugh.
Highway to Heaven: This one was mom’s choice as she adored Michael Landon and would watching anything having to do with angels. Also, I suppose she had a bit of the Little House on the Prairie nostalgia, as both leads in Highway to Heaven had been primary characters on Little House on the Prairie. We did all watch it together and it was pretty enjoyable. It’s about an angel sent down to Earth and paired up with a human. They get tasks from God and have to go about helping people in need.
Fifteen: This was a Canadian teen soap opera and I was obsessed with it when I was eight. So, entirely too young to even be liking teen things. A few of my friends were obsessed with it as well and we’d talk about it all the time; how so and so shouldn’t have done that, or so and so shouldn’t have paired up with so and so. The Sister didn’t even watch this and it was age appropriate for her. She found it stupid.
MacGyver: Another one that we all watched together as a family. The only other person who I knew that watched it was The Sisters’ tom-boy friend down the street. You couldn’t call her when MacGyver was on. It was always interesting to see what random pieces of junk he’d cobble together to get himself out of various scrapes.
My Two Dads: Before Mad About You, Paul Reiser was one of the stars of My Two Dads. If you aren’t familiar, no it wasn’t advanced for its time, as the two dads were not a gay couple, though that probably would have been far more interesting. Though I suppose it was sort of progressive for the time considering no one knew which of the men was really the girl’s dad. Somehow, because of TV magic, two ex suitors who dislike each other gain joint custody over this kid when her mom dies. I couldn’t even tell you if this show was actually all that good or not, as I barely remember any actual content from it, though I did really enjoy it as a kid. I had to look up the synopsis. Mine would have read, “Just two guys end up with a girl… I don’t know, and all the girls my age liked the bearded, artsy one and there was a sofa that looked like a truck.”
Alf: The 80s were a really strange time. I look back on this show and wonder how it was ever so popular. But it was. We all watched and enjoyed it as a family and I thought Alf was super cool, as did other kids my age. I know he kept wanting to eat cats, but because he was so cool, I just re-imagined it as that he was simply kidding around and would never, ever actually eat a cat.
Who’s The Boss?: I really liked this show. Mainly for Angela and her mother, Mona. Of course I liked that Tony was their house keeper. No one else in my family watched this show, except for dad. He’d watch it while working at the shop.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!: Another one that we’d watch together as a family. We were just into weird stuff. I remember being excited while on holiday one time, because there was a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! “museum” tour thing. We all went through it, but it wasn’t nearly as cool as the show had been.