memories of the ’80s – Cagney & Lacey

Opposites made the difference when these two New Yorkers paired up and took to the streets to protect and serve in Cagney & Lacey. 

Created by Barbara Avedon and Barbara Corday, the duo initially wanted to make a buddy film with two women, but when no studio wanted to support it, they made it into a tv movie, hoping for a series.

Actress Loretta Swit appeared in the movie, but wasn’t allowed out of her contract with MASH, paired with Tyne Daley as Mary Beth Lacey.

Debuting on CBS TV in March 1982, the show’s main sidekick was Lt. Bert Samuels played by Al Waxman. Meg Foster replaced Swit as Christine Cagney for the first six episodes, but was perceived as too masculine and the network cancelled the show.

In 1983, after Sharon Gless finally escaped her long-running TV contract for the show House Calls, the producers once again got another chance at the series but once again the now second season of the series was plagued with so-so ratings and the studio perception the characters were too aggressive.

But a determined group of viewers staged a letter writing campaign to bring back the series and with an Emmy win for Tyne Daley, the series was resurrected again and went back into production in January 1984.

The show finished in the top 10 at the end of that season was awarded 36 Emmy nominations for that season.

The duo were quite opposites – Lacey was a brash working class married Mom of two young sons while Cagney was a single uptown girl who had been raised in Westchester, but had become a cop like her Dad.

Despite its unique storylines and female perceptions of the changing world, being cops and dealing with daily life, the show was always seemingly under threat of cancellation by CBS.

The continued Emmy wins kept this show on air – to date, no other show has ever won a Best Actor Emmy every year of its existence – four times for Tyne Daley and twice for Sharon Gless.

When the show was cancelled in 1988, the network had moved its last season to the summer and focused on new series like Wiseguy. But internationally the show continued to do well and was shown on BBC1 among other international networks.

The duo’s lasting effect of the female buddy left a lasting impression on television and changed not just the way women were depicted but also how viewers were perceived in supporting their shows.

memories of the ’70s – Starsky & Hutch

An ex-New Yorker and a quiet guy from Minnesota became a police duo in sunny California in the series Starsky & Hutch. 

Created by William Frederick Blinn and produced by Spelling Goldberg Productions, the show was based on Blinn’s observations of the relationships that developed between cops.

The production company did a 70 minute tv movie that was well-received and got the green light from ABC to start a series.

Paul Michael Glaser was Michael Starsky, the brash loudmouth who loved his red Ford Gran Torino, while the thoughtful Ken Hutchinson was played by David Soul, whose battered tan Ford Galaxie 500 occasionally made an appearance.

The cop duo wandered the streets of fictional Bay City, California, chasing after the bad guys, finding information from their guy Huggy Bear, played by Antonio Fargas, and reporting in to their Captain Harold Dobey, played by Bernie Hamilton.

The show covered many storylines from poverty and drugs to prostitution and murder – each one reflecting the changing society of the 1970s and a masculine view of the world.

Debuting on ABC TV in April 1975, the show was a hit with viewers for its unique writing and for revealing the friendship that developed between Starsky & Hutch. Even their informant Huggy Bear became so popular, a spin-off series was considered, a pilot created, but the response was lukewarm from viewers.

By the beginning of season three, Paul Michael Glaser wanted out of his contract to try to for the big screen. The producers offered him more money and creative control, which lasted for a season before he asked again for more, knowing the series was a hit and his star was rising in Hollywood.

But at the end of season four, the complaints by Glaser and his desire to leave as well as declining ratings resulted in ABC cancelling the series. But its lasting effect was on showing the close relationships that develop under the circumstances of being a police officer.

memories of the ’80s – MC Hammer

Hanging around the baseball stadium and with a strong resemblance to Hank Aaron, little Stanley Kirk Burrell would be motivated to follow his dream and become one of the pioneers of rap and hip hop.

The young Burrell would re-sell stray baseballs in the parking lot of the Oakland A’s, putting on a show with dance and music.

His flair was noticed by the club, who soon hired him as a batboy, which he would do all through highschool years, soon becoming an announcer too.

Burrell was soon be compared to Aaron and nicknamed Hammer, as that was Aaron’s nickname. He tried to become a pro baseball player but after not making the cut, he entered the US Navy for three years.

After leaving the Navy, and doing shows around Oakland, CA and surviving a failed record deal, Burrell borrowed $20,000 from two former As players to start his own label Bust It Productions, to produce, record and distribute Oakland-grown rap artists.

Burrell had already started using the moniker MC Hammer, after going on the road with the Oakland As as a master of ceremonies. In 1986, he released his first album Feel My Power, and thanks to his and his wife’s efforts in doing all the marketing themselves, the album became a club hit in California.

Capitol Records pestered the performer until he signed with them. adding $1.75 million to the Bust It Productions budget and led to his first major album release, a revised edition of Feel My Power with additional tracks, selling two million copies.

Friends with Arsenio Hall, MC Hammer used his friend’s show as the platform to debut You Can’t Touch This, the first single from his third album in 1989. The album, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, was a reference to his put-downs about other rappers in his songs.

The song was recorded on a modified tour bus, while promoting his first big label release with production and recording by producers Felton Pilate and James Early. With the strength of the single You Can’t Touch This, the album roared up the Billboard charts and became the first rap song to crossover to the pop charts.

To date, this song has been used, covered, included in compilatons and soundtracks and is the best-selling rap song of all time.

As the decade turned to the 1990s, MC Hammer’s initial status was overshadowed by his pop culture popularity and the long line of detractors said he was a sell-out for his less than apparent hardcore songs. But its his dedication to his music that should be noted, for a kid who stood in a parking lot throwing out beats and selling baseballs.