Monday, January 29, 2018

Eighties TV Musings

I've been topping up on seventies and eighties TV series of late, mainly courtesy of Forces TV, (now available on Freeview), so, with my continued enforced absence from work due to ill health, I'll have time to write about some of them here.  In general, it is surprising that a lot of the stuff I've seen is actually better than I remembered it being.  I've already mentioned how less cheesy were the early episodes of Knight Rider than I recalled, but I've recently found that early Starsky and Hutch is actually still watchable.  Sure, these episodes - the first series ones with the slightly menacing Lalo Schifrin theme playing over the titles - are never going to win any awards for originality, but they do still provide solid, undemanding entertainment.  I certainly find them infinitely preferable to their nearest equivalent on contemporary TV: the buddy cop series derived from the Lethal Weapon films. The chemistry between the leads on Starsky and Hutch seems far more natural and the action isn't as over blown.  Moreover, the older series feels far less self conscious and 'knowing' in its execution.  Plus, that Torino driven by Starsky is something to behold - a typical seventies US automotive product, in that it is a full size coupe masquerading as a muscle car. 

Even the A-Team, in its early episodes, at least, is still reasonably watchable.  Although, it as to be said that, for a crack team of commandos, they are incredibly bad shots: every episode, thousands of rounds of ammunition are loosed off, yet nobody ever gets hit by a bullet.  To be absolutely fair, the various gangsters, thugs and terrorists they go up against are equally bad shots, it seems, leaving you wondering why their victims ever felt sufficiently threatened by them to call in the A-Team in the first place.  But hey, it was the eighties, when US TV violence had to be shown to be harmless and logic went out of the window when it came to plotting.  There is a curious innocence to these shows, especially those from the eighties.  I suppose that they reflected a need for escapism into a world where nobody ever really got hurt and existential threats to the protagonists could be resolved in fifty minutes - a welcome contrast to the threat of nuclear annihilation which underpinned the newly intensified Cold War of the early eighties. Some shows of the era did try to be more 'realistic', in their plots and political concerns - Airwolf comes to mind in this respect, with its Cold War themed plots and CIA backed super 'copter 'Black Ops'.  Consequently, it still comes over as po=faced and dull - nowhere near as much fun as Knight Rider or the A-Team.

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