In paying tribute to television of the 1980's, it's too easy to look at the obviously nostalgic: MacGyver, The A-Team, The Dukes of Hazard. No, in order to examine the 1980's, we must look at what passed for comedy. Today, the situation comedy, or sitcom, is all but dead, but in the 80's, it thrived. Shows with the most bizarre of premises popped up out of nowhere, or better, were spun off of existing shows. Who remembers that both Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy were spin offs of Happy Days? Or that that Nurses was a spin off of Empty Nest which was a spin off of Golden Girls? The best is when studios utilized the one-off spin off, which is where a character is introduced into a popular sitcom for a single episode in hopes of generating a loyal fan base when that character is given his own show. The best example of that is Just the Ten of Us about a football coach (originally introduced on Growing Pains) that moved his family cross country.
Another driving force behind the 80's sitcom was something we call syndication which is where a show's old episodes are sold to local markets for daily airings. Sometimes shows only existed in syndication, as was the case of Charles in Charge.
As history remembers the 1980's, silly dramas like Simon & Simon or The Great American Hero will fade away, but "classic" sitcoms like Punky Brewster, Small Wonder and Alf will standout as the shows that defined a decade.
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