We all know the classic sitcoms of the 80s. Cosby Show, Family Ties, Who's The Boss, Alf, Cheers, and even Full House are a part of television history and in some cases our very culture. But what about those other shows that were popular when they were on, but have kind of been forgotten in the passage of time? No one ever seems to mention them, re-runs and in some cases dvd’s are unheard of, and these shows exist the memories of the fans who did once enjoy them. Here are five examples of what I mean.
#5.Head of the Class-I have already talked about this show a bit in another article so I will keep this short and sweet. I loved this show, its one show I truly miss. I am so glad I have some on tape because it is never re-run and I think I will be stunned if it gets a DVD release. I don't know what it is, but this show just worked for me. Howard Hesseman is not the most likable guy, but his portrayal of Charlie Moore was really good here. The students were all well cast, especially the first incarnation of the cast. I started watching this show in re-runs and became a fan of it when it was paired with Growing Pains for a couple years. For some reason those two shows really worked well together. Not going to suggest every episode was perfect but this definitely a show I would love to see on DVD someday. Oh, and what about that last season with Billy Connolly? Awful.
#4.Wings-Why wasn't this show a bigger hit? It was created by the same people who created Cheers and Frasier, it had a real solid cast including Tim Daly and Crystal Bernard, and it had a time slot after Cheers (the same time slot that Seinfeld started in). Despite all of these things, this show is not considered a huge hit. True, they had the time slow behind Cheers only a part of the time. In fact I think this show had has many as eight different time slots during its run. This is the same thing that killed Dear John which also wasn't that bad. To be honest I was one of the many who never really gave this show a chance, only watching it when the time slot was convenient. I guess as funny as the show could be it just didn't have that special something that forces people to tune in day in and day out, no matter where the show is scheduled.
#3. Webster. I have heard horror stories about the production of this show. Maybe that is why it has kind of quietly gone away. Emmanuel Lewis’s character is left in the care of Alex Karas and Susan Clark (who were married in real life). The background of the behind the scenes of this could fill a whole article. In the original version it was just supposed to be Alex Karas and Susan Clark, but someone decided to add a cute kid ala Diff’rent Strokes so Webster was born (and that’s the short version). The cast did finally come together and created a really clever little show. Webster was nothing fancy, just a story about a kid being raised by a foster family after his parents are killed in a horrible accident. One thing this show is remembered for is that Webster always called Susan Clark’s character ma’am. Why did he do that? Because it sounded like “mom”. Awww, you gotta love that. One episode I always remember was when “ma’am”’s mother died, I don’t think I have ever seen a sitcom deal with grief and loss of a parent so bluntly. This show was one of the first to be cancelled by a network and survive in first run syndication. Anyway, before this becomes a ramble, this was a decent show which does not get the proper attention it deserves.
#2. Gimmee A Break! Nell Carter was a very popular singer when she came along with this silly NBC sitcom. The premise was she moved into a household to take care of a family after her friend passed away. Like Webster, Nell was a very opinionated black woman running a white suburban household. The first season was actually kind of lousy, with way to many serious stories. As the show developed it got lighter. Also like Webster, there were lots of turmoil behind the scenes. This is one time when adding a child actually helped the show, when Joey Lawrence came in around the 3rd season. I always remember this show kind of disappearing from the schedule, and was too young to realize that the show sucked and was cancelled. With Dolph Sweet (who had played The Chief) passed away and the daughters old and moving on, the show struggled to find an identity those last couple years. However the earlier years were really funny with good episodes, including a rare live episode, and the show was a staple of NBC’s line-up with good reason.
#1. One Day at a Time-The forgotten sitcom that Norman Lear developed. This one is so underappreciated even I never appreciated it. This show came on in the late 70's so it almost doesn't qualify for this list, but it was on until 1984 so I will let it go. This show ran for nine years and had some great people in the cast including Bonnie Franklin (playing a divorced single mother, almost unheard of), a catchy theme song, and some very strong episodes. It also featured a real great recurring character; Scheider was Kramer years before Seinfeld ever came around. So, why is this show not remembered as fondly as the other shows of the time? Maybe it was the problems off set, especially with Mackenzie Phillips (who is a true Hollywood success story by the way considering her troubled past). Maybe it was the time slots; I know I was never really exposed to this show. Maybe the subject matter was a little to dramatic, I know I generally do not enjoy Norman Lear sitcoms for this reason. This show did finally get some attention this last April on the TV Land Awards, and if you wonder how a silly show like The TV Land Awards could be one every year, that is a perfect example why right there.
Lots of honorable mentions. I didn’t talk about The Hogan Family because I already have in other articles, and I don’t think that show was ever a real hit when it was on. It had a comfortable time slot behind Alf which brings back some fond memories. There was My Two Dads (which had a premise which still does not work for me), Coach, 227, and Just The Ten of Us which was the Growing Pain spin-off which everyone forgets.