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.


memories of the’ 70s – Nichols

In the early 1970s, tv star James Garner tried to reinvent the TV western with the series Nichols.

Created by Frank Pierson, the series decided to take a different view of a typical western.

Starring James Garner as the lead character, Garner portrayed an Army man who comes home to his small town in Arizona and gets shoved into the job of sherriff by the family now running the town.

But he’s not interested in being a lawman, doesn’t want to use a gun and rides a motorcycle or drives a car instead of riding a horse. He’s more interested in spending time with a barmaid named Ruth (played by Margot Kidder) and making money.

Receiving low ratings in its first episodes that debuted in September 1971 on NBC, the writers decided to reinvent the series, by killing off the lead character and introducing his identical twin brother to avenge his death.

Renaming the series James Garner as Nichols, the series refocused on a more typical western, administering frontier justice. But NBC cancelled the series, and re-ran the episodes in early 1972 to fill the gap in programming.

Garner felt the series was never given the proper chance since it was unconventional and its sponsor, Chevrolet, didn’t like the story lines that went against the grain of a traditional western.

Garner’s brief return to Warner Bros. (where he had made the successful Maverick TV series) allowed him to meet two key people – one who would become his co-star on his next series and one that would become his producer on the same series – The Rockford Files.


memories of the ’80s – The A Team

Action, adventure and ex-soldiers trying to help people, on the run from the US military and work as soldiers of fortune – that was the premise of The A Team.

Created by popular TV producer Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo for NBC TV, the series was Cannell’s first after being fired by ABC TV for Brandon Tartikoff.

The series was inspired by previous shows and films like Mission: Impossible, The Magnificent Seven, Mad Max and The Dirty Dozen, and based on a reference to special teams during the Vietnam War.

Airing its first episode after the Superbowl in January 1983, the series starred George Peppard as Lt. Col Hannibal Smith, Dirk Benedict as Lt. Templeton “Face” Peck, Dwight Schultz as the pilot, Capt Howling Mad Murdock and the strongman/mechanic member of the team Sgt. First Class BA Baracus, played by Mr. T.

There was a token woman – Amy Allen, a reporter, played by Melinda Culea in the first season and Marla Heasley as Tawnia Baker in the second season.

The team would have to routinely avoid the military police and each episode showcased their talents, as they fought, flew and conned their way out of situations, usually with a lot of gunfire and explosions, but with rarely any severe injuries or showing any deaths on-screen.

Peck would routinely use his charm on women to acquire things and people, especially Murdock, who was a resident of a mental hospital, while Baracus was unusually strong and a crack mechanic but refused to fly and would have to be knocked out before being transported, usually tricked by Hannibal, who was a master of disguise.

The first three seasons were successful with the series, especially scoring high with male viewers. The cult devotion to Mr. T also helped the show, which had spun off plenty of merchandise, and used the infamous lines “I love it when a plan comes together” and “pity the fool!” from the characters to become integral to current pop culture.

After four seasons the series lost viewers and 1987 was cancelled by NBC TV. The series was  heavily syndicated in North America and around the world, making it a successful series of the 1980s and a memorable contributor to pop culture for its comic style and unique characters.