Connect
To Top
Here are 5 shows from the 80s that we can still watch today!

Every decade has a charm, be it 2020, 2010s, 2000s or even the 1990s. However, the 1980s remain one of the most advanced decades when it comes to Television. It was this decade where the medium crossed all technological boundaries and created Action, Adventure, Fantasy and even Sci-Fi series that are superior even in this day and age. Some of these series had to be cancelled because of their going over budget, while some were later resurrected on multiple occasions, because of their superiority. Let’s go through five such 1980s TV shows that would have made it big in the current era, and should never have ended.

Knight Rider (1982 – 1986)

Starring: David Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare, William Daniels (voice of KITT)

Inspired by: James Bond series, The Hunter, The Dukes of Hazzard

Total Seasons: 4

Created by: Glen A Larson

A Car that Jumps in the air, drive itself, can spill oil to distract pursuers, can go at unimaginable speed, has an impenetrable body and above all, talks back and you had a perfect TV show. Sadly, Knight Rider was cancelled after just four seasons, a mystery that required a Michael Knight to solve it. It may have been inspired heavily from James Bond series where Q designed cars to suit 007, and The Dukes of Hazzard from where the ‘Turbo Boost’ was borrowed, but it was something the world had never seen. A 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was selected as David Hasselhoff’s co-star and cost $100,000 to build, mainly due to the customizations KITT deserved. It didn’t disappoint the viewers who first fell in love with the Knight Rider theme, then the front-mouthed scanner bar and finally the Michael Knight – KITT chemistry that never disappointed.

In every episode of Knight Rider, Michael Knight (and KITT, of course!) helped a damsel in distress (mostly) and went against those who considered themselves above the law. The series was so popular in the 1980s that even after cancellation, it was sort of resurrected as Knight Rider 2000 (1991), Knight Rider 2010 (1994), Team Knight Rider (1997) and Knight Rider (2008), the first featuring David Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare and (voice of) William Daniels, and the last being a continuation of the original series, featuring Justin Bruening as Michael Knight’s son. The reboot was not up to the mark and was cancelled after 17 episodes; fans are still hopeful that without David Hasselhoff, there can be no Knight Rider, and if the producers want it to be successful again, they might have to take the ‘Batman Beyond’ route and come up with something that appeals to the audience, as well as pays tribute to the original series.

Manimal (1983)

Starring: Simon MacCorkindale, Melody Anderson, Michael D. Roberts

Total Seasons: Less than 1

Created by: Glen A Larson

It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that Glen A Larson was as successful as he was unsuccessful; the American TV genius had many hit series to his names but also featured in the failed series list. Manimal was an Adventure series that mixed the Adventure and Fantasy genre beautifully, revolving around a wealthy Englishman could shapeshift to any animal and use his ‘powers’ for the good, helping the police in their cases. Only eight episodes were produced because of the transformation sequences that went over budget; Dr. Jonathan Chase was shown to transform into a Black Panther and a Hawk primarily whereas he shifted (off-screen) into a horse, dolphin, snake and a bear whatever was the requirement at that time.

The series was aired in Pakistan during the 1990s and people growing in that era still wonder if they could transform into an animal if they copy Dr. Jonathan Chase’s movements. Another good thing this series did was to introduce Stan Winston to the world who designed the amazing transformation sequences. He went onto win multiple awards during his career; in fact, he won both the Best Makeup and the Best Visual Effects Academy Award in 1992 for Terminator 2: Judgement Day. However, even after more than three decades, the audience are unable to figure out how Dr. Chase got back fully clothed after his clothes were destroyed during transformation.

Automan (1983 – 1984)

Starring: Desi Arnaz, Jr., Chuck Wagner, Heather McNair, Robert Lansing, Gerald S. O'Loughlin

Inspired by: Tron

Total Seasons: Less than 1

Created by: Glen A Larson

Another Glen A Larson show, another short-lived wonder; Automan became immensely popular in Pakistan during the 1990s but that had more to do with the lack of English shows on TV than the brilliance of this show. The idea was taken from Tron, the Auto Car was imagined as better than Knight Rider and ‘Cursor’ was introduced as the digital cousin of KITT. With the handsome Chuck Wagner as the world’s first truly Automatic Man and Desi Arnaz Jr. as the person who used his computer knowledge to create him, everything seemed perfect on paper until the show was aired and couldn’t manage more than 13 episodes. Not even the ‘physics-defying’ Auto Chopper, Auto Plane and the memorable theme music could save the series from going down, although people now consider it a classic. Maybe it was produced for the wrong audience, at the wrong time!

Airwolf (1984 – 1987)

Starring: Jan-Michael Vincent, Ernest Borgnine, Alex Cord, Jean Bruce Scott

Inspired by: Blue Thunder

Total Seasons: 4

Created by: Donald P Bellisario

Remember the Supersonic High Tech Military Helicopter that we dreamed of flying in, the theme music that is still loved and the aerial sequences that haven’t been matched since on TV? That’s Airwolf for you, the surprise 1980s hit that featured a worn-out film actor Jan-Michael Vincent in the lead, an over-the-hill Ernest Borgnine and others but with the help of Donald P Bellisario’s genius, the show became a huge success. It revolved around one Stringfellow Hawke (Jan-Michael Vincent) who flew Airwolf for ‘The Firm’ in exchange for information on his brother St. John’s whereabouts; with Dominic Santini (Ernest Borgnine) and Caitlin O'Shannessy (Jean Brue Scott) as his co-pilots, and Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III (Alex Cord) as his contact, they saved lives wherever and whenever they could manage.

After the third season, the series shifted to USA Network for one season and was doomed from the moment it changed networks. The problematic Jan-Michael Vincent was removed from the lead and was replaced by his brother St. John Hawke (Barry Van Dyke) who carried on his good work, this time with ‘The Company’. For those who loved the aerial combat sequences of the first three seasons, Jan-Michael Vincent’s performance as a Vietnam War Veteran turned recluse, Ernest Borgnine’s powerful take as the father-figure and Alex Cord’s suspicious dealing as Archangel, the fourth season was a disappointment. It is better to remember the first two seasons of the series and treat the third one as a bonus, disregarding the fourth one altogether, for the love of Airwolf.

Misfits of Science (1985 – 1986)

Starring: Dean Paul Martin, Kevin Peter Hall, Mark Thomas Miller, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Holmes, Max Wright

Inspired by: Justice League, The Avengers, The A-Team

Total Seasons: Less than 1

Created by: James D Parriott

And then there were the Misfits of Science that was a cross between Justice League, The Avengers and The A-Team! The team of Superheroes (like The Avengers) were led by a non-Superhero (like Justice League), and helped those who couldn’t help themselves (like The A-Team). However, the show proved to be a ‘Misfit’ for network television and was cancelled after just 16 episodes. Long before Heroes became a phenomenon, this show revolved around a group of young adults with “human anomalies” – Dr. Elvin "El" Lincoln (Kevin Peter Hall) who could shrink his tall frame from seven-foot-four to eleven inches, Johnny "Johnny B" Bukowski (Mark Thomas Miller), who could hurl lightning bolts, run at superhuman speed and loved rock and roll; and Gloria Dinallo (Courteney Cox) a troubled teen with telekinetic powers that she can use on things that she can see. They are led by Dr. Billy Hayes (Dean Paul Martin), who specializes in "human anomalies" and has the ability to fall in love with an attractive woman. This show is responsible for introducing TV audience to Courteney Cox who later became an icon as Monica Geller from Friends; the team leader Dean Paul Martin didn’t have the same kind of luck despite being the son of the legendary Dean Martin; he died in a plane crash in 1987, less than one year after Misfits Of Science was cancelled by the network.

Related Items80savengersEntertainmentTelevisionTV showsIconic1980sDavid Hasselhoff

Comments (0) Closed

More in Entertainment