THE TOP 200 BEST CULT TV SHOWS THAT REFUSE TO DIE: Ross Hughes dips into the past with this insightful look at TV shows you can not forget. PART 1
Everyone knows now that my idea of fun is watching humans get slaughtered by all means possible, but there is an inner part of me that can not forget the TV shows that made me what I am today. Series that have forever etched into my memory, many long gone and forgotten, but still played a part in my childhood, to the more modern ones that have thrilled me and have actually got me thinking “damn TV is better than cinema” at the moment.
So with that thought in mind, here at HorrorCultFilms I bring you the 200 TV SHOWS that have left a mark in my memory. TV shows that I simply can not forget or do I wish too.
Please though do not judge me too harshly at some of the choices. There are going to be some really WTF moments from your guys but please I am from an age where when I was a kid SKY was the thing that we looked up to outside. When I was growing up I had the only pleasure of having three TV channels, yes THREE!!!!! Unlike now where my kids have so much choices from I Player to freeview, my moments of pleasure was sitting around a small little box, waiting for the moment when we found out who actually shot JR!
The list is going to be varied from cartoons that I have never forgotten, to TV shows that frightened me, to the ones that to this day I can never forget and proudly own, and before anyone asks, sorry I have still not seen it, so there will no mention of The Wire in sight!!!
First up is the TV show that made me want to do this thread, I am talking about of course a Scientist, a computer called Ziggy, and his La Mancha friend………..
1: QUANTUM LEAP
“Theorizing that one could time travel within his own life time, Dr Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. He woke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on the journey is AL, an observer from his own time, that only Sam can see and hear. And so, Dr Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap, will be the leap home….”
I don’t think I will ever see another TV show in my lifetime that I will find myself deeply in love with like I do with Quantum Leap. Growing up in the early 90’s watching Dr Sam Beckett leaping through time on BBC 2 played such a part in my childhood that certain things to this day brings back memories of episodes long forgotten in the back of my mind.
There was just something so simple but brilliant about the concept created by Donald Bellisario, which looking back now, it was just a Sci-Fi version of The Little Hobo, with a man replacing the dog, who would enter peoples lives and change them for the better. Its never easy to sell a Time Travel show, especially on the American Network but somehow Quantum Leap instantly created a massive following which repeated when it crossed over to these shores. Sam would leap into a certain someone at the start of each episode (followed by the shows catchphrase “Oh Boy!”) and needed to find out what bad incident was going to happen and how he could stop it. This information was given by Al and the help of Ziggy a futuristic computer with a huge databank. The concept changed each week from stopping a divorce, to making a Japanese wife expected by an American Family, Racism in the 50’s, to more darker vibes like murder and conspiracies.
Helped by the fact that the show had two stars that were born for the roles. Sam was played with fantastic acting range by the quite brilliant Scott Bakula who in five memorable seasons portrayed everything and everyone from sexually harassed women, to chimpanzees, on to Lee Harvey Oswald and would you believe Elvis himself. His partner or as Sam refers to him in the Season One opener as his Tonto to his Lone Ranger, US Navy Rear Admiral Albert Calavicci played with relish by Dean Stockwell. His Al, a hologram that only Sam could see and hear, and who would appear from a door that would shoot up and down, was a sex mad loner, who failed and failed many times with marriage and relationships. Al had never quite got over the loss of his first wife Beth who remarried after wrongly being told that Al had died when in fact he was a POW in a Vietnam Base camp!. It was this story arc that would play two major parts in the shows run that resulted in a sad ending that stunned and shocked the fans after the showing!
Memorable episodes included “Jimmy” a Down Syndrome child that would be put into a Mental home if Sam could not get him a job. This episode helped me personally as just before this was aired, my brother was born with Down Syndrome and being a young lad, it helped me understand the condition more than any words or books could have. Jimmy was such a popular episode that Sam leaped in to him twice, the second time though led to the stunning revelation of an Evil Leaper that puts wrong what Sam puts right. Other episodes included the three-part stunner Trinity about the disappearance of a young girl that spanned across two decades, Sam losing it in a Mental home, Al and Sam swapping roles after a lightening strike, to the jaw dropping JFK two parter which had Sam become Lee himself.
We also saw Sam create famous landmarks of this earth. His telling of horror stories to a young lad Steve who at the end had the surname King. His singing of “Peggy Sue!” to a young Buddy Holly. His moonwalk dance to a young Mikey, Telling the story of Rocky to a boy called Sly, advising a young Donald Trump to invest in the New York real estate, and many more including Watergate and Woody Allen.
My favourite though was the episode when Sam who had leaped into a Cop and was told by Al that he was there to stop a woman from remarrying. Each and every time Sam saw Al in this episode he became and looked stressed and nervous, the clean cut image replaced with stubble and a look that lacked of sleep. Its only when it was coming to the end of the episode Sam worked out that he was actually there to stop his partner from being gunned down in duty and the woman that Al had told him to stop from dating was in fact his wife Beth. Sam who only played by the rules refused to let Beth know that Al was alive and in the end we saw Beth dancing alone to Ray Charles Georgia with Al looking at her and then dancing slowly with her. He whispers he loves her then vanishes but as soon as he has gone, Beth somehow hears his words, and is left heartbroken when she realises she could not have and breaks down and cries. To this day, I still can not hear Georgia without thinking of that scene…..its also that scene that gets replayed in the final ever episode of the show, that unlike LOST manages to create a finale so out of this world that you can not help but get a tear in your eye.
The finale had Sam telling Beth that Al had never died and this resulted in Al and Beth never divorcing which gave AL the life he had always wanted. But this came to a cost for poor Sam, who meant he and his best friend had never met, and Sam was now somehow alone, leaping through time forever, which the caption at the end of the show tells us…….”Dr Sam Beckett never returned home”…..
The original ending actually had a wonderful cliff-hanger with somehow Al remembering Sam even though he was still with Beth, and they had lost contact with the brilliant Scientist. The only way Sam could be found was if Al himself went into the Quantum Leap Accelerator, and has he did, he too leaped! The final image of Season 5 would have been Al looking at himself in a mirror and seeing this blonde stunner looking back with Al then muttering the words “Oh boy!” and Season 6 would have been quite a wonderful ride!!!!
Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell are throughout totally outstanding. Scott singing and dancing, being required to do roles that you would not beilieve, its to his credit that you always believe in him no matter who he is, and I have never seen another actor tested in such a demanding role. Its them two just on their own that should have given the studio some patience by awarding another season but sadly we never got to that, dipped ratings meant that the writers went with the rewritten draft and Quantum Leap was officially cancelled, leaving behind a horde of despairing fans. There is talk these days of this show being remade, but I very much doubt that they could capture the feel and mood of this. Everything seems right, a chemistry that can not be matched and despite finishing 17 years ago, it is still popular and creating new fans has we speak. For me, I am safe in the knowledge that Sam is still out there, putting right from wrong, and hoping one day soon, he will finally get his wish and return home……..
Next, a talking dog with three new best friends and some dodgy animation
2. DOGTANIAN AND THE THREE MUSKERHOUNDS
“One for all and all for one, Muskerhounds are always ready, One for all and for one, helping everybody!”……
I did warn you and the first WTF moment comes in the shape of this Spanish retelling of the Alexandre Dumas story. This was probably the first TV show that I invested my time in. Each week I be glued to the Telly in awe at the adventures of Dogtanian and the three Muskerteers (they are only called Muskerhounds in the title for some strange reason).
There are going to be a few reviews that are going to be as long as Quantum Leap but as short has this, as I am playing by memory here, and the fact this was first shown on the BBC in 1985, so you can imagine how I am struggling with this one!
Its a show that I have never forgotten about and one that carries one of my biggest regret. On the airing of the final episode in which I remember I was deeply excited, there was a knock on my door and a friend who I have not seen for many of years (not then but now) told me the local tip was on fire and everyone was down there. I did not give Dogtanian a second thought and too this day I have never seen the final episode!
Only last week I was banging on to my eldest son about how they don’t make Children’s shows like they used too, and I tried to show him a clip of this on You Tube. He saw the crappy animation on show, took one look at my face and said “Yes Dad!”, while grabbing his copy of Wall E,
Hey Dads can be wrong sometimes…..
Next a flat, a bunch of Lawyers and 90’s most talked about cult hit
3: THIS LIFE
“Out there is chaos”………..
For a start and its nice to say this, but Rawlinson is wrong, Milly was not a bitch. Ok, I admit Rawls has some truth there but even to this day when I rewatch the show, my anger is totally directed to that cow Rachel who spilled the beans. The reason why I believe me and Rawls will debate this is because if we were Gay then we would both like to have a boyfriend like Egg, a man whose care free attitude stood out from the four bedroom house in Southwark London in which he shared with twenty something trainee solicitors whose problems made this memorable TV show so riveting.
This Life exploded into my life in the summer of 1996 like a blast that shook my senses. From the very first episode when we met the characters of Egg, Miles, Warren, Milly and Anna, I knew that I was watching something that I would instantly love. Bold is not a description I could call This Life. What we take for granted now on our TV screens was a total shock way back 14 years ago. This Life filled its episodes with Sex, swear words and sometimes drugs but also with a sense of fun, that was never seen before in my eyes. The show had a raw edge and an energy that to this day still shines out on my DVD collection, but most importantly it had characters that despite their higher IQ and obvious higher standard of life, somehow I could relate to. I watched This Life not because I wanted to, but I needed too, when Milly cheated on Egg, I felt for the boy, and my hatred for that dick Mr O’Donnell, oooohhh how much I wanted to kill him back in my teens.
This Life was an actual study of how life was like in late 90’s London. It was never afraid to hide around topics that most TV shows back then would shy away from. The then, groundbreaking Gay scenes were never played out to cause a stir and headlines, but to show what was happening in the real world, even though at the time it made many shake their head in stunned silence.
The first season centred around Warren whose gay stance needed him to seek out help with a therapist (a vice that Milly took over in season 2), a build up of a love/hate relationship between Miles and Anna, which the arrival of drug addict Delilah who becomes Miles lover leads to the series AIDS topic. Its this first season that really builds up the tension that carries onto the second. While the first was a sleeper hit, word of mouth became so severe that the second series became more bigger and louder and new characters like Ferdy, Jo, Kira and Rachel were introduced.
The relationship between Miles and Anna built to a tension soaked atmosphere that led to an unexpected unhappy ending, while Milly who grew frustrated with the lack of direction that Egg was taking in his life, started THAT affair with her boss, and it was her actions resulted in howls of anger for fans, who saw Egg has one of them, especially when he discovered that apart from his beloved football, he also had a passion for cooking, hence him becoming a chef!
Despite Milly being in the wrong, somehow it was office suck up Rachel that become the shows most hatred character. Actress Natasha Litlle actually became a public hate figure for a while especially has it was her that told Egg what was going on behind his back. This resulted in one of TV’s most golden moments, a punch that had many screaming in delight, and bringing the show to a premature end.
With its NYPD Blue multiple style camera shots that zipped around at a breathtaking pace, giving out a kind of jerky feel, characters that were fleshed out and played out with such a great casting. Jack Davenport, Andew Lincoln, Amita Dhiri, Jason Hughes, and Ramon Tikaram are all are forever etched into the public memories with the characters they played, despite many going on to bigger things. Most notably Daniela Nardini as never been able to shake off her quite wonderful Anna, the shows most strongest role. A woman who got what she wanted at whatever the cost, a quite staggering performance that hopefully will find a way into Rawlinson’s list.
Such was the impact of this show, that any attempts to repeat it or revisit it was doomed from the off. Just look at the misjudged This Life 10, a one off show in 2007 that showed what the characters were doing now. It was critically mauled with even the diehard fans admitting that it felt wrong and flat. It seemed This Life had that lightening in the bottle effect. It was born at the exact time between 1996 and 1997, just when the world was changing, a series that a teen audience was crying out for, and in the final word spoken by Warren in the last episode of series two, it was nothing but……“Outstanding!”……….
Next A Cliff Richard inspired Anarchic comedy classic
4: THE YOUNG ONES
Vyvyan holds a hammer and is all set to put a nail in the head of Neil “Now, you may feel a bit of a prick!”
Neil replies “So….what’s new!”
The Young Ones played like a loop in my bedroom. Over and over, I often feel for that old VHS tape. Made for recording, it probably only expected to be used a few times before being chucked in the corner and forgotten. But not with me. Having taped every single episode, that poor tape had the agony of being played constantly, forever rewinding and fast forwarding. It must have dreaded the sound of the front door opening and the sound of little Hughes running up the stairs. That tape must have begged for a day off, thoughts running through its mind “please let him play his Spectrum ZX or He-man figures.” But no, as it took virtually all day for a computer game to load up on that blinking Spectrum (remember the noise, oh the noise!”) it was a lot easier for little old me to just chuck in a tape and watch four teens do more than men behave badly.
The Young Ones ran from 1982 to 1985 and gave the world 12 episodes of surreal entertainment that virtually invented or for better put sealed the phase alternative comedy. Along with Not The Nine O’Clock News, it showcased a stream of up and coming comedy cast and shot Ben Elton into a serious writing talent.
Lunacy was not far off the agenda. Each episode was totally bonkers, the fourth wall often broken, but for all the highly charged set, and off the wall situations, The Young Ones was also damn funny, with four characters that have gone down in comedy folklore.
Rik (played by a very thin Rik Mayall) was the self proclaimed “People’s Poet”, a voice as he called himself for a generation. He was misguided by the fact that he thought of himself as the most popular of the group when in fact the others hated him, and his love for all things Cliff Richard (hence the title of the show).
Vyvyan Basterd (played by Ade Edmondson) was a punk with a thirst of violence who often hit Rik and Neil with cricket bats or anything else he could get his hands on. He ate and drunk everything from dead rats to toilet liquid and in one memorable scene, actually had his head decapitate by an oncoming train, and then instead of dropping down dead, kicked his head around the railway track like a football.
Neil Wheendon Watkins Pye (played by Nigel Planner) was the hippie of the group. More or less the housewife who catered for the boys cooking and cleaning. Abused and bullied by them all, he knows that he is hated by his so called friends but then he thinks all the world is against him. He does not sleep either as he believes that sleep gives you cancer!
Finally we come to Mike (played by Christopher Ryan) the only member who was respected. He seems the leader but he is not. Its just his cool manner and need not to get involved in the chaos makes him seem like an odd fit in the group, but his level head makes him a perfect foil to the rest of the gangs problems and needs to destroy everything in sight!
There was also a fifth member but mostly in cameos, and that was of the BALOWSKI family all played by Alexi Sayle. Often popping in to demand rent or threaten the guys, he became the forgotten man in the show when fans look back, the odd man who unfairly got in the way of the dynamics of the other four’s adventures.
It was the style of the show that blew people away. Never had a BBC flagship comedy offered violence, drugs and sex but also managed to somehow grab an audience and massive critical acclaim. Add to the mix a musical interlude that featured up and coming bands like Dexys Midnight Runners, Madness to even Motorhead, to cameos from the likes of Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, and you can see why the this is now classified as comedy gold.
Memorable moments included the guys appearing on University Challenge to trying to watch a video nasty, but there are too many to go into, all finishing will the guys robbing a bank and fleeing in a double decker bus only to crash into a huge Cliff Richard poster and plunge to their deaths. Taking with them, a TV show that I will never ever want to forget!
Next a one off show that Most Haunted could only wish to be
Every time Yvette Fielding screams that she can see an orb and a table starts moving, my mind races back to Halloween Night in 1992.
Back then TV shows could be shown with no spoilers, no TV magazines being released for programmes two weeks in advance, no Forums where MOD’s can be upset when someone posts something about a programme that spoils it for everyone else. You could actually sit down and watch something not knowing what to expect.
That night the BBC put on a “live” TV show in an house in Northolt Greater London that a family claims to have Poltergeist activity. Involved in this presentation were the likes of Sarah Greene and even Michael Parkinson seen here in a still from the show.
Everything was set up to be a live broadcast, well so the viewers thought, unlike the BBC who just assumed that the audience are not that daft, and they knew what they were going to watch was just a joke, a Halloween scare to give to the nation.
For the 90 minutes running time, a storm had developed, you could actually compare this to some extent to the live radio broadcast of HG Well’s War Of The Worlds, that had people running down the streets of American convinced that Aliens were set to take over the world.
I personally sat down on my own, I remember my parents were in the kitchen when I just started shouting for them to look at this. Twenty minutes in we saw the first apparition, a shadowy figure is seen in the bedroom, picked up by the surrounding cameras and the image repeated constantly in the studio link with Parkinson and his guests. This followed by more sightings, cameramen being knocked over by a strong force, objects being moved on their own, lights exploding and then soon Spiritual possession. All this happening while the viewers believing what they were seeing was true, so you can imagine by the time this evil force had killed Going Live’s Sarah Greene and then took over the body of Parkinson himself, the BBC switchboard was in meltdown. In the space of 60 minutes even before the show reached its climax, 30,000 had phoned deeply worried at what they were seeing. A massive 11 million had turned in, word had spread, and soon the BBC were offering apologise for all the offence it created.
It was too late!
The fall out was massive, stories had emerged of actual suicides after watching, two 10 year olds were diagnosed with PTSD (with Ghostwatch partly to blame). The negative press piled the pressure on the BBC who acted by banning any repeat of the show for a 10 year period. A ban that has been and gone, but such was the impact of this, I doubt it will ever be shown again but it is currently available on R2 DVD for those who are curious.
Ghostwatch was maybe too bold for its time. Looking back, the pre-credits sequence showed that what we were about to see was written by Stephen Volk, a clear sign that this was all fake. Somehow that slight clue was missed by so many, and the wisdom of having well known Children TV presenters within the show, giving many of the audience a sign that this was maybe kid friendly when clearly it wasn’t was probably not the best idea! In fact, only minutes before the original airing the BBC nearly pulled the plug, some were nervous at what they were about to show.
In an age where we criticise the BBC for just endless repeats and reality shows, its too their credit that they went with the show, something they would never do now. No one expected the fall out to be so severe, but for one Halloween night, we had something to frighten us and talk about….and like they say in my all time Favourite horror movie, “Its Halloween, we all deserve at least one scare!”……
Next, no matter what, his wings are made of steel
“My super sonic sonar radar will help me…….BEEP ) ) ) ) ) ) BEEP”
Batfink, they sure don’t make them like they used too!. A bat that was born in a plutonium cave and who lost his wings after saving his beloved mother from criminals who blew up the mountaintop they were staying. Now fixed with metallic wings that save him from fired bullets, he is the local crime fighter, saving the town from local bad guys like Queenie Bee and her army of bees. Judy Jitsu, Goldynlocks, and Brother Goose. But mainly the focus was on mad scientist Hugo-A-Go-Go whose quite bizarre inventions usually put our hero in perils of trouble.
Helping our winged hero was his partner Karate a gi-clad Martial Art expert whose father, a blacksmith helped make the wings of steel for Batfink! Together in the Batallic–a pink Volkswagen beetle that had fins at its side and was armed with (deep breath) a thermo nuclear plutonium insulated blast shield!.
Each episode had a brief cliff-hanger in which Batfink seemed to be in danger and the cartoon would freeze with a voice over asking us the viewer do we think our hero would survive. Of course we would find out a few seconds later and yes, he did, but for a show that had over 100 episodes and lasted for only 5 minutes each, it has stuck with me forever. Why? I do not know, but I am sure that this is one Bat franchise that wont be redone in the near future!
Next, a poor two wheel Kitt version
7: STREET HAWK
“This is Jessie Mach, an ex motorcycle cop, injured in the line of duty. Now a police troubleshooter, he’s been recruited for a top secret Government mission to ride Street hawk-an all terrain attack motorcycle designed to fight urban crime, capable of incredible speed of up to 300 mph and immense firepower. Only one man Federal Agent Norman Tuttle, knows Jesse Mach’s true identity, The man…the machine….. Street Hawk!”
With Knight Rider doing the business and to this day still as popular and fondly remembered, its cousin Street Hawk has slipped away, forgotten in the Graveyard of TV flops. Only 13 episodes aired in the year 1985 but somehow while not well known, for my generation it became a cult classic. Maybe it was the cool bike that made the show stick in the memory for so long, I mean if you actually had a choice to ride Kitt or Street Hawk what would you pick?
The concept of the show was that by day Jesse (Rex Smith) would keep his normal job, but by night he would dress up as the crime fighter Street Hawk and cruise the streets of LA with Norman (Joe Regalbuto) his silent partner on the command switch board giving him information when needed.
It was typical 80’s fare that somehow got lost between Knight Rider and Air Wolf, and for anyone looking for a bit of trivial, a very young George Clooney appeared in episode 2, don’t ask has who, because I have no idea……..
Next, Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is that Billy Connolly singing?
8: SUPER GRAN
I tell you something! When I started this thread, I had twenty titles but since I have started, those I remembered are still yet to be mentioned. It seems that I have opened a door in my mind and everything that played such an important part of my life is coming back. At the moment I have now 50 titles, this though was one of my original choices. For anyone who needs a memory rejig maybe this will help!
“Stand back Superman, Iceman Spider-man, Batman and Robin too!
Don’t wanna cause a fracas but BA Baracus
Have I got a match for you!
She makes them look like a bunch of fairies
She has got more bottle than United Dairies
Hang about – Look out-For Super Gran!
If there is one good thing you can take from watching this now, and that is that infectious theme tune by Billy Connolly that will stay long in your head and removes all the bad negatives you get from re-watching this show. Why did I sit down and watch this and also enjoy it way back in 1985 is beyond me. Super Gran is soooooo bad that at times I needed to watch through the gaps of my fingers as the cringe worthy acting was hard to stomach.
A Scottish old woman with Super powers who could not quite jump tall buildings with a single bounce, was so popular in its day that even a Christmas Special was broadcast. Gudrun Ure played the crimefigher who kept the criminals at bay in the small village of Chisleton where her arch enemy, the not so Lex Luther like Scunner Campbell forever threatened the peace.
This was gentle fare, which for some reason was a TV programme I would not dare miss, I even had the Computer game and often names like Spike Milligan, George Best and Geoff Capes popped up in cameos, and also its gone down in history has being the 2nd Doctor Who Patrick Troughton’s last ever TV performance.
Next, a scary version of Morph
9: THE TRAP DOOR
“FEED ME!!!!!!” “GLOBBITS!”
There is this fat blob of blue clay called Berk that for five minutes a day I used to spend time with even though one of his favourite sayings was “bonking!” but in a meaning term that we are not accustomed too. He was a man servant for The Thing upstairs whose voice used to boom down to his quarters but we never got to see or get a glimpse of the he who Berk had to obey.
To help Berk with his duties were friends like Boni the forever moaning skull, Drutt a little spider who always seemed to get under the feet of Berk and finally Rog one of the creatures who lives down in the infamous Trap Door, a place that hordes the most vile of creatures when the Trap Door was left open, which seemed like every episode, it was up to Berk and his friends to get the monsters back where they belong! Rog though was a nice monster!!!!
With its so catchy and all 80’s theme music, to surreal plots that ended up nowhere, The Trap Door was the decades answer to Wallace and Gromitt, five minutes entertainment that became an essential part of children television.
Next, An American TV show that I dared tell my parents about!
10: DREAM ON
If anyone would appreciate this thread then it would be Martin Tupper, who would often think of old TV shows when presented with certain situations.
Dream On was one of my late night big secrets. Not ashamed to admit, I turned on for the nudity, it was only when I got older that I realised that this was a quirky and original TV show, that, while at the time went over my head, had a wonderful sense of dark humour.
Martin played wonderfully by Brian Brendan who looking back was a male version of those Sex and The City girls but with more charm, and his hectic life in which he had to deal with his teenage son, an ex wife, who he may still be in love, a job as an editor for a local publisher and also trying to get some kind of love life. Not helped by anyway with advice from best friend Eddie (Jeff Joseph in season One, Dorien Wilson for the remaining five seasons) and forever being put down by his rather saucy secretary Toby (Denny Dillon)
The selling point of Dream On was the moments when Martin would think back to old TV shows which expressed his feelings to us the audience. Faces like Bette Davies, Joan Crawford all made appearances in this way, and sort of raised Dream On into a surreal world laced with moments of genius. Its a device that Ally McBeal sort of borrowed but then had much better acclaim for it!
In fact you can safely say that everything good about Dream On has been taken by other shows.
Running for six seasons, and to critical acclaim, it is no longer saucy as I remember, but its also one of America’s most lost gems. Totally forgotten about in the mist of such greats. Fleshed out characters, a real sense of fun, and some jokes that are still funny to this day, there was I only turning in for some sex and nudity, but discovering a show that may have been too far ahead of its time.
The lastig legacy of Dream On is the opening credits when we see a TV being switched on. Its that Logo that HBO have used ever since!….
Next, a really badly dubbed animal
“He was born from an egg!
The funkiest Monkey that was ever popped!”
Friday night straight after school, the weekend fix! A show where the mouth would move but the words did not match, and for a young mind, a concept that I had no idea what the heck was going on! My memory of this to this day, is our hero, riding on a cloud through the skies, yes for you young pups, you read that right, riding on a cloud, oh those were the days.
The story if I can remember was our hero was born from an egg on top of a mountain, but not just a normal egg, a stone egg, this making our hero a stone monkey, a fighter of many skills who became a brash king of a monkey tribe and dubbed himself “The great sage!” who then demanded a gift of a magical staff from a dragon king which enabled him to have the title, “Keeper of the Peach Garden of Immortality, but events occurred and Hero was banished for over 500 years to learn patience under a mountain.
He was then freed by a priest named Tripitaka who needed him to save the world but as he was first reluctant, Tripitaka made him wear a Magical headband that tightened around his head whenever Tripitaka recites the Headache sulta….
Are you lot keeping up with this!
With two sprits named Pigsy and Sandy by his side, the trio fight off evil with the help of terrible effects and noises of swish and whoosh, booming from the telly!
Yes people, this was actually on the telly, car crash telly at its best, but yet it was so damn popular. It was must see TV, such scenes like when our hero is fighting what is supposed to be underwater when is clearly a large Fish Tank, to of course the now infamous dubbing, oh even now I laugh when I see some scenes on You Tube.
It is safe to say looking back at Monkey Magic that they really do not make them like they used too!
Next, a Mr Cool and a girl called Cup Cake
12: FONZ AND THE HAPPY DAYS GANG
Happy Days and The Fonz in cartoon form. Which is a bit of a stupid thing to point out considering the picture above. Shown on the BBC in the mid Eighties, and was basically a kind of early Back to the Future, with Fonzie and co coming across a time travel machine and a girl called Cupcake who for people looking for Trivia was voiced by Didi Cohn who played Frenchie in Grease! Jumping on board and visiting places like ancient Egypt, Rome and meeting BlackBeard and Witches. This was basically a chance of young viewers to know about the world and somehow Fonzie a guy from the 50’s was a guy to do it.
Joining him on this merry trip of awfulness were the duo of Richie and Ralph (both voiced by Ron Howard and Donny Most with Henry Winkler himself on voicing duties to the character that made him such a world star. For some reason he had a dog with him this time, a Mr Cool (voiced by Frank Weller) who mimicked the style of his master with a thumbs up signature.
Not so much as jump the shark but basically fly over it, this ran for a stunning period of 24 episodes until the characters of Richie and Ralph and Cupcake were dropped, and Fonz and his Mutt teamed up with Mork and Mindy for more dire cartoon fun……
Next, one of my most hatred BBC shows set at sea
13: HOWARD’S WAY
“The sailing soap with friggin Jan Harvey!”……..
Even writing this I can feel the anger coming from the pits of my stomach. I hated this soooo much. For all the young pups out there, unlike now, there was no multi-room, just three channels, and whatever was on I had to watch, and every Sunday on the BBC, was this, mind numbing snooze fest, their answer to America’s glamour soaps like Dynasty and Dallas!
Of course, over here, digging for oil or owning huge buildings that reached for the sky was off the agenda, and the shoulder pads and glitz was aimed for the most glamour of topics- Sailing!
Set around the family of Tom Holland (Maurice Colburne) and his wife Jan (Jan Harvey) who sinks his redundancy money into the Mermaid Boatyard which is run by Jack Rolfe (JR?!) a heavy drinking smoker played back then by Glyn Owen.
With Jan getting quite bored with the Sailing aspect (so am I?) she enters the fashion business with a man called Ken Masters, and soon their own normal lives are filled with the usual American Soap trash, Affairs, blah blah blah, but all done in a very English way of course.
With the Urquhart family entering the mix, tycoon Charles frere (Tony Anholt) and his father Sir Edward (Nigel Davenport) and the heartthrobs of the show, the Howard children Leo (Edward Highmore) and Lynne (Tracey Childs), Howard’s Way became s TV smash, thee thing to watch on a Sunday Night.
For me, my memory was having a bath before, hearing that damn title music, getting out, chucking on my PJ’s and suffering the punishment of watching the show while having my supper. It was also the music that spelled the end of the weekend, and the knowing inside, that I be back in School tomorrow….
I am shaking my head in fear even writing this……
Next, if only Gail Platt knew what her Mother used to get up to
“If you mansion house needs a haunting just call…….
My love for Rentaghost may have worried my mother because it was sooooo camp that she may have thought I would never have given her Grandchildren.
There was a genuine feeling of happiness when viewing this delightful show. It was such harmless gentle fun, an afternoon pantomime, with its corny jokes and slapstick comedy. It showed the age in which we lived in. No need for half dressed young presenters, no need for kiddies violence, just a joyful ride with a couple of ghosts who were neither scary or very good at the haunting lark.
Rentaghost itself was a business run by Fred Mumford (Anthony Jackson) who having recently passed away, decides to run a ghosts for hire business. His first two employees were the comedy jester and my favourite Timothy Claypole (Michael Staniforth) and a Victorian gentleman by the name of Hurbet Davenport (Michael Darbyshire– whose sad death in 1979 led to the departure of Jackson himself who declined to continue).
Of course the more popular the show went, more additions was added, with the likes of a Scottish witch, Hazel the McWitch, Catastrophe Kate, a wild west gunslinger, the forever sneezing Nadia Popov, who when she blows she also teleports, and of course, how could I leave him to last, but DOBBINS, the pantomime Horse.
Adding also the next door neighbours of the Perkins who could not understand the crazy antics next door and the only negative that of the show is if you can bare the fact that also Christopher Biggins also appears at times has a local entrepreneur Adam Painting.
If you can then you probably fall in love with one of the 80’s most cherished of shows. Running through 1976 to 1984 and with also plans by the BBC to actually bring this back into the modern world with a new cast but same style and wit. Rentaghost has never really left the world. A very successful musical written by Joe Pasquale toured Britain only four years ago, and DVD sales of the original series have successfully sold, and there is a growing vast of fans who totally adore the show.
It seems that there is something quite nice about purple waistcoats and of course yellow flares which of course went with the Prisoner Cell Block style walls that wobbled every time a stunt was done.
Thinking about all that now, damn….I really do miss this show!!!
Next, a Mitchell by married name who once was 80’s most sexy of cops…….
14: DEMPSEY AND MAKEPEACE
“You can feel the sexual chemistry between them!”……
Yes, Glynis Barber is now a Mitchell in EastEnders but what scares me the most, is looking at the picture above, how much she as not changed. Dempsey and Makepeace is now 24 years old. A TV show that regularly attached viewers between 15 and 20 million, a figure that would now make TV Executives pull out their head in delights and also give them another excuse to help themselves to another raise!
Its safe to say that one of the strongest elements that seems to work in all popular shows (Moonlighting, early X-Files) is the sexual tension between the two stars and of course the will they or won’t they angle. You can not deny the sexual tension between the two leads, that shines through each episode and the fact they got married in real life is a clear sign that they probably did fancy the pants of each other.
New York Lt James Dempsey played by Michael Brandon, is set to London after his partner is shot and killed in a gone wrong drug heist that leads to revelations of Police corruption which sees Dempsey’s life under threat from friends he once knew. Joining the London task force SI 10, he finds a new partner in the shape of the lush Harriet Harry Makepeace (Barber). While Dempsey is a straight talking, fast shooting rough diamond, Makepeace whose blood line links her to royalty, is the more reserved, using science (like an early Scully) and friends in high places to get the results she needs.
Off course before you can shout Lethal Weapon, the duo make the perfect team, and soon each episode saw car chases, terrorists getting killed, and the usual Professionals style adrenalin rush that most popular 80’s shows thrived on.
For me, it was probably my first crush of a TV character, while I loved the action and shoot outs, my eyes were only fixed on a certain blonde, oh how I dreamed of having her in my arms…..when I was 9!…..
Next, He’s the strongest, he is the quickest, he is the best!
END OF PART ONE