memories of the ’70s – Slap Shot

Slap shot movie poster.jpgA small movie about an aging hockey team trying to get its last stab at glory became a cult film forever: Slap Shot.

Written by Nancy Dowd, and directed by George Roy Hill, the film was based on the experiences of Dowd’s brother when he played in the minor leagues.

In the 1970s, fans were attracted to the minor leagues because of its rougher style on ice.

Dowd initially had thought about making a documentary, focusing on how these players survived the grind of the minor leagues, focused on a rare possibility to get to the NHL, but was convinced to turn the real life stories into a comedy drama.

Led by player/coach Reggie Dunlop, played by Paul Newman, the Charlestown Chiefs has become a side show, with the manager Joe McGrath paying the players as little as possible and encouraging bad behaviour.

McGrath hires the Hanson brothers, feisty goons who are easily led to drop their gloves at any moment, which discourages Dunlop, who decides he may not play the season.

But the local town mill closes, with most fans now unemployed Dunlop worries the team may close and decides to make the team more aggressive and kickstarts the team’s winning ways and fan support. Michael Ontkean plays Ned Braden, a skilled young player who has to be convinced to be more aggressive on ice.

Dunlop investigates to find out who owns the team as the Chiefs progress through the schedule, winning and eventually landing in the championship finals versus their nemesis, Syracuse Bulldogs.

Filmed in Pennsylvania and New York, the film crew used Dowd’s brother and fellow players in the filming and used the ice rinks and other players of the North American Hockey League for authenticity.

The comedy came from so many directions – pointing fun at the rituals of players, the Canadian domination of the game, the French Canadian culture as well as the endless stream of cursing from all characters.

Released in February 1977, this little hockey film was made for $250,000 but due to its popularity, made US$28 million at the box office. In an interview with TIME Magazine, Newman stated this was one of his favourite movies, and that he had endless fun and kept us his cursing ways after making the film.

memories of the ’80s – Moonlighting

Moonlighting.jpgFor mystery lovers of the ’80s, the private detective duo of Maddie and David was one of our faves: Moonlighting.

Created by well-known tv producer Glenn Gordon Caron, Moonlighting starred Cybill Shepherd as Madeleine “Maddie” Hayes, a former model who was swindled by her former accountant and now uses her notoreity to attract clients to the agency she owned.

Her co-star is Bruce Willis as David Addison Jr., who owns the City of Angels Detective Agency, and convinces Maddie to become partners in the newly launched Blue Moon Detective Agency.

Caron was inspired by watching Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, wanting to create characters who were comedic and had sexual tension between the two of them. He had to lobby for Willis, as the network wasn’t convinced that there would be tension between him and Shepherd.

ABC TV wanted a detective show, and liked Caron’s work on Remington Steele and Taxi.

Their sidekick was Agnes diPesto played by Alyce Beasley, the office secretary who answers the phone in rhymes and keeps the two informed on what’s going on with their clients and cases.

Debuting in March 1985, the ABC TV series was unique in its combination of drama and comedy, using snappy dialogue exchanges that were reminiscent of screwball comedy films of past and at times had the characters break the fourth wall by asking the audience direct questions.

In the second season, the producers introduced parallel storylines, unravelling a mystery from the ’40s in black and white along with the detectives trying to figure out what happened 40 years later. The episode was introduced by Orson Welles.

The show also did a parody/fantasy episode dedicated to the Taming of the Shrew, and had several guests stars, including Pierce Brosnan as Remington Steele and well-known actors such as C. Thomas Howell, Demi Moore, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Cheryl Tiegs, Peter Bogdonavich and Whoopi Goldberg.

The series was nominated for a Best Drama and Best Comedy Emmy after its first season, and nominated again after its second season, with 16 nominations in 1986. Moonlighting became the talk of entertainment world, and the duo graced the cover of Newsweek Magazine.

As the audience grew, so did the fascination with the sexual tension between the two characters. In season 3, the episode I am Curious was when the characters consumated their love.

But problems affected the production – Cybill Shepherd became pregnant and Bruce Willis broke his clavicle while skiing, which delayed production and even caused the network to show tv commercials of ABC executives impatiently waiting for new episodes.

Season four had very little screen time with both lead characters, and tensions on set contributed to problems as the series tried to move forward. The series went into hiatus due to the writers strike, but when it returned after six episodes, it was cancelled at the end of season five due to poor ratings.

But in its heyday, this show was must-watch television and refreshed the typical detective show with its humour, silliness and snappy dialogue of Maddie and David.

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 – MASH series finale

The beloved drama about the Korean War ended its successful run on February 28, 1983 with a two and a half hour series finale to wrap up what happens to all the characters of MASH.

After 11 seasons, the last episode, a two and a half hour extended episode was written and directed by lead star Alan Alda.

Titled “Goodbye, Farewell, Amen”, the MASH 4077 unit hears that a ceasefire has occurred in the war, and that they’re to close the camp and head back to the United States.

In the backdrop, lead character Hawkeye Pierce (Alda) has had a nervous breakdown and is trying to deal with his repressed memories with the help of camp psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman.

As the characters struggle with their lives changing with the end of the war, viewers wanted to desperately know what happened to Margaret, Charles, Potter, Radar, Klinger, BJ and Hawkeye. Would they get to go home? Get the job they want? See their families?

To date, the most watched season finale ever in television history, with over 105 million viewers and over 60 per cent of American households tuned in to see the last hours of MASH.

In 2011, TV Guide ranked this episode as the best season finale ever. And for fans of the show, which still runs in syndication on television channels, its a series that ended on the right note.


memories of the ’70s – All in the Family series finale

A television series that dominated the decade and spawned many spinoffs, All in the Family ended its successful run on April 8, 1979.

After nine seasons on CBS TV, the lives of Archie, Edith, (Carroll O’Connor & Jean Stapleton) their kids and friends was coming to an end. Gloria and Mike (Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner) had left  and friends had gone off to their own lives (and shows such as Maude and The Jeffersons).

All in the Family changed television with its content as well as being the first television series that was videotaped in front of a live audience.

The first television series to achieve number one status in the Nielson ratings for five years, All in the Family had won numerous Emmy Awards for its unique combination of humour to address many issues: prejudice, bigotry, politics, feminism, war, poverty, drugs and the changing American society.

Its last episode, titled “Too Good Edith” shows Archie demanding Edith cook for a St. Patrick’s Day party. Edith’s health should prevent her from doing so, but she does, getting herself in worse health and getting Archie in trouble from her doctor.

Their last scene shows their relationship as well as foreshadows her demise, as seen here.

Watched by over 40 million viewers, everyone needed to see the final moments of this influential television series and say goodbye to Archie and Edith. And a lucky studio audience got to witness it live.

memories of the ’80s – Paradise

In the late 1980s, the western genre came back onto TV in the series Paradise.

Starring Lee Horsley, Paradise was created by David Jacobs and Robert Porter, about a gunslinger named Ethan Allan Cord, who is given the responsbility of taking care of four children after his sister’s death.

Living in the fictional town of Paradise, Cord rents a farm and focuses on the kids, but his previous life as an outlaw follows him to Paradise, where he often has to deal with people popping up into his life.

Debuting on CBS TV in October 1988, the series featured four kids (Claire, Joseph, Benjamin, George) as well as ranch owner Sigrid Thornton and Indian medicine man John Taylor.

Episodes dealt with the strains of the new family unit as well as Cord’s past, and how he reconciles his present with the way he dealt with past conflicts.

The series got early praise from many family groups, for showing a family drama on primetime TV and received editing and cinematography awards in its first season, as well as many critics praise and a Western Heritage Award after its first season.

The series was renamed in its third season, Guns of Paradise, to more closely link the past and present of the main character, as well as reignite viewers interest in a series set in the wild west.

But ratings didn’t keep viewers tuning back in and CBS cancelled the series, despite a small loyal group of fans and lots of critical praise for the storylines of Paradise.