Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Top 10 TV Shows That Ran Before I Was Born

In my list for favorite finished live-action TV series, I limited the pool to those that had their run during my lifetime (1989-onwards), and mentioned that I would be making a separate list on live-action shows that ran – or started and had the majority of its run – prior my birth (1989) which I get to watch through reruns or digital binge-watching.  This is that list.

10.) MORK & MINDY (1978-1982)

“Na-nu Na-nu.”

This sitcom series, which surprisingly spun off from Happy Days, stars a young Robin Williams, before being the comedy superstar that he had become, as the titular Mork, an eccentric alien from the planet Ork.  Co-starring is Pam Damber as the titular Mindy, Mork’s human friend (and eventual wife) and in whose attic he is staying in.  The series focuses on Mork’s attempts to understand human behavior and culture with hilarious results.  I mostly found the show’s commentaries about human nature and the society of the time clever.

9.) TARZAN (1966-1968)

This series is a different and refreshing take on the Edgar Rice Burrough’s classic.  It portrays Tarzan (Ron Ely) as a character that has both brawns and brains.  The series follows the events after Tarzan had already returned to civilization, obtained education, got tired of civilized life, and returned once again to the jungle he grew up in.  Throughout the series, he fights poachers and other evil men that threaten the jungle or the local tribes with the use of not only his jungle strengths, but with his acquired intelligence as well.  For a long time, Ely’s take on the character was the definitive Tarzan in my consciousness (until I finally get to read the original Burrough stories).

8.) SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN (1982-1983)

Space Sheriff Gavan is the first of the Metal Hero Series, a tokusatsu franchise featuring cyborgs, android, or humans-in-metal-suits as protagonists.  Just like other tokusatsu franchises, Gavan is simply cheesy, predictable, and exists to sell toys.  But I’ve always been fond of tokusatsu shows (which includes Super Sentai shows) as a 90’s kid and they have a soft spot in my heart.  As far as I can remember, Gavan is the only such series I watched which had its original run prior my birth.

7.) HAPPY DAYS (1974-1984)

This sitcom is in this list because it had the legendary Fonzie.  It’s as simple as that.

Several TV series had spun-off from it (including the aforementioned Mork & Mindy).  It also invented the infamous “jumping the shark” trope – not really a good point for it, but it’s a piece of important TV history nonetheless.

6.) REMINGTON STEELE (1982-1987)

Remington Steele is the show that made Pierce Brosnan, who would get the role of James Bond later on, popular.  It has one of the most original premises in a TV series ever.  Laura Holt (played by Stephanie Zimbalist) is a licensed private detective.  However, because of clients’ prejudice against female PI’s, no one wants to hire her.   Holt then takes a radical solution by inventing a fictitious male superior named “Remington Steele” in order to get cases.  “Remington Steele” is supposed to be a mere figment, with no actual physical embodiment, but events in the pilot episode would lead a con man and thief (played by Brosnan) to assume the role (his real name was never revealed).

The show blends romantic comedy, detective procedural, and drama; and is intelligent, stylish, and funny.  If I will compare Remington Steele to a modern show – considering its wit and charm, and the entertaining bantering, clashing, romantic tension, and chemistry of its lead characters – that would be CastleRemington Steel was Castle before Castle happened.

5.) MACGYVER (1985-1992)

This action-adventure series features one of the most iconic TV protagonists ever, Angus MacGyver.  The show focuses on the adventures of the secret agent/scientist MacGyver as he saves the day with only his Swiss Army knife, duct tape, and intelligence to help him.  Its theme song is one of the most famous, endearing TV themes in history.

4.) BATMAN (1966-1968)

Even at the present time, this Adam West-starred Batman TV series is beloved by many despite its simplicity and ridiculousness.  It’s the epitome of campy but fun.  And it’s a nostalgic, refreshing reminder that Batman isn’t exclusively gritty and tortured, but was and can also be interpreted as delightfully cartoonish and cheery.

3.) THE GREEN HORNET (1966-1967)

The show follows crime-fighting crusade of masked vigilante Green Hornet (Van Williams) and his martial arts master sidekick, Kato (Bruce Lee).   It only lasted a single season, but its 26 episodes are gems.   I’ve always found The Green Hornet TV series more interesting than the Batman TV series, probably because it’s more down-to-earth and more mature in its premise and storytelling.  And because Bruce Lee’s Kato enthralled me much.

2.) BLACKADDER (1983-1989)

Many say that Monty Python productions are the greatest of British comedy, but I beg to differ.  I acknowledge that they’re hilarious, but I believe Blackadder is superior.

The Blackadder franchise is made up of four series (and some specials) – The Black Adder, Blackadder II, Blackadder the Third, and Blackadder Goes Forth – that ran from 1983 to 1989 with each series set in a different period in British history.  The recurring cast members, headlined by Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson (also starring British comedy icons Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie), portrayed characters in each series who are implied to be descendants of the characters they were portraying in the previous series.  And with each subsequent series, I found Blackadder getting more thoughtful, cleverer, and funnier (making Blackadder Goes Forth the best of the lot).

1.) THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959-1964, 1985-1989)

My love for this show is very apparent in the title of this blog, which is heavily inspired by the name of the show. This is one of my most favorite, if not my favorite, TV productions ever.

The Twilight Zone is an excellent science fiction/fantasy/horror/psychological thriller/drama/suspense anthology series that originally ran in the 50’s and 60’s, and then had a revival in the 80’s (another revival series was also done in the 2000’s).  There’s a different story in each episode, and it usually has a mindblowing, macabre plot twist in the end.  It’s consistently and simultaneously eerie, gripping, thought-provoking, and stimulating, with every episode offering a unique, distinctive experience.

No comments: