Last week a wicked sinus infection put the smack down on me and rendered me useless to my family. Relegated to my bedroom, I thought, hey, Me + DVR = Good Times, right? Not exactly. Here’s the thing. Aside from Scandal, there’s practically nothing to watch anymore. I laid in bed and thought about the TV junkie I once was as I child. I mean, I was kinda raised by Florence Henderson and Meredith Baxter-Birney if you want to know the truth. You see I’m not the outdoorsy type, so every free moment I had was spent in front of what my Dad lovingly referred to as the “idiot box.” Anyway, I put together a list that day of the ten shows I wish were on my DVR today.
Fraggle Rock (1983-1987) Ok, so maybe if I didn’t have kids I wouldn’t want to watch Gobo, Mokey, Red, Wembley, and Boober Fraggle seek the advice of Marjory, the Trash Heap, but I do so Fraggle me up, please! The Fraggles were kind of like the Muppets on acid. They were way cooler with a hipster vibe, but with the same life lessons you can depend on at the end of each Jim Henson episode.
Murphy Brown (1988-1998) Described by the series creator as Mike Wallace in a skirt, Candice Bergen proved that a woman could be an outspoken and witty female lead character. Murphy wasn’t a girly girl or particularly romantic, and she wasn’t particularly family oriented. She provided an example of a successful career oriented woman who didn’t need a man’s support. Add to that a fabulous cast and great writers and you’ve got one show I could watch over and over again.
Who’s the Boss (1984-1992) For eight years we watched Tony clean while Angela worked, yet we never learned who the boss was? I suspect that it was Angela’s mother Mona, played by Katherine Helmand, whose romantic escapades were often the highlight of the show. My all time favorite episode is Sam’s Car when Tony gives Sam the bright yellow vehicle covered in red hazard lights because his focus is on safety. SAFE-TY. Hilarious!
The Golden Girls (1985-1992) Call it the Sex and the City for Senior Citizens because long before there was Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte, there was Sophia, Blanche, Dorothy, and Rose. Sophia was blunt (due to a stroke), Blanche was always on a date, Dorothy was witty, and Rose was always “back in St. Olaf.” It seems like the best scenes occurred over cheesecake in the kitchen or on the lanai. My favorite episode? “Dorothy’s New Friend”. I remember watching it with my grandmother, we watched every episode together, and she explained what discrimination was to me. Who would have thought such a life lesson would come from a show about four old ladies in Miami?
Facts of Life (1979-1988) You take the good, You take the bad, You take them both, and there you have…This song in your head for the rest of the day! But seriously, this was a real classic. Who didn’t love Jo’s sarcasm, Blair’s vanity, Natalie’s humor and Tootie on those skates? My generation grew up watching them grow up at Eastland School under the guidance of Mrs. Edna Garrett.
Family Ties (1982-1989) I’ve got one name. Alex P. Keaton. Well, two names, because APK is Michael J. Fox. I was in love with him. I never missed an episode. Maybe I related to his hippie parents, or his ambition, or just the fact that this was such a smart show even though Mallory and Skippy’s elevators didn’t quite make it to the top floor? For whatever reason, I wasn’t alone, and the series won multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards and was highly popular during its seven-year run. My favorite episode? “Speed Trap” from 1983 when Alex tries amphetamines to get through a stress-filled time at school. I’ll never forget the scene where he is rapidly sliding around in his chair at his desk.
Dallas (1978-1991) Everything is bigger in Texas and this show is proof as there has never been another show in history to create as much hype as the cliffhanger “A House Divided, Who Shot JR?” episode. We won’t talk about the fact that I was five years old and had no business watching this show. That doesn’t matter because this series was epic. With storylines like Sue Ellen’s alcoholism, JR’s ruthlessness, and Bobby and Pam’s struggles with family, there was always something major going down at Southfork. They tried to remake the series a few years ago, but there is no substitute for the magic of the OG Ewing’s Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, Victoria Principal, Charlene Tilton, Ken Kercheval, and Barbara Bel Geddes.
The Cosby Show (1984-1992) Let’s try to get past what Mr.Cosby did in his personal life and let this series stand on it’s own merit. The Cosby Show rocked. It provided an example of a successful black household, with both professional parents working and raising a family as a team. Dr. Huxtable was just as involved in the child rearing as his wife, Claire, who was an attorney. But the show did not ever point out “Hey-we are black”. They were just an ordinary family. Remember the episode when Dr. Huxtable and Claire took all of Theo’s stuff and made him work to earn it back? Or the many musical moments, like when Lena Horne sings to Cliff for his birthday? My personal favorite is when the family lip-synchs to Ray Charles’s “Night Time Is the Right Time,”. Just when you think it cannot get any better, here comes little Rudy belting out “baybay”…if that doesn’t make you fall out laughing, then you need to be checked by a physician or therapist.
The Brady Bunch (1969-1974) Here’s the story, of a lovely lady, who tried to get producers to give her character a job but they wouldn’t…Oops, sorry! It didn’t go exactly like that, but that is a fact. Anywho, the Brady’s were in syndication when I was a kid, so I got to watch them every day when I got home from school. They were the perfect family. Favorite moments? Marsha getting pegged in the nose with the football in the “The Subject was Noses” , and “Her Sister’s Shadow,” when Jan gets tired of being compared to Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!
Designing Women (1986-1993) I miss Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker, Charlene Frazier and Mary Jo Shively! And I mean that like I knew them personally because I felt like I did. Julia, played by Dixie Carter, was polite, yet opinionated owner of Sugarbaker’s Design Firm, and Suzanne’s older sister. Thrice divorced, ex-beauty queen Suzanne was played by Delta Burke, slightly ditzy and totally country. Charlene was played by Jean Smart, and the single mom with the sharp wit, Mary Jo, was Annie Potts. Every episode is my favorite episode of this series, ok? But if for whatever reason you have never seen it, watch “The Beauty Contest” and “Killing All the Right People.” Go ahead. Right now. Watch!