If you’re a child of the 70s and 80s, like me, then television was probably a huge part of your life. New Zealand wasn’t known for its drama, comedy or sci-fi back then, so we were forced to watch whatever was popular in the US and UK at the time. We only had two channels in 1975 when I was very young – TV3 only came along in 1989.
Everyone’s TV experience as a child was unique, and we all had our favourite shows. There were also shows for adults that, while we didn’t understand or necessarily enjoy them, we had no other viewing choices.
So, here are some shows that hit the nostalgia button for me. I’ve tried to dig up clips that represent the show’s heyday, or particular episodes that were favorites. Where possible I’ve linked to a whole episode, but often it’s just the intro you need 😉
Note that some of the links (novamov, gorillavid or vodlocker etc) might have popups so you should make sure you have a good popup blocker extension installed like uBlock Origin for Chrome
Don’t sign up for anything on these pages, or install any players or plugins they try and force on you. The videos should play fine in the latest version of Chrome.
If a link goes down, let me know and I’ll try and find another one for you. Or, if you find a better source for a show, I’d love to know about it.
I’ve also linked to the Wikipedia page for each show (and occasionally shamelessly stolen descriptions from there)
Often the themes and intros are the most memorable parts of these shows – iconic tunes that stay with you over the years. In those days, people didn’t have VHS recorders or DVRs. So each episode had to start with a minute or so of highlights from the episode (or a recap of lat week’s) to convince people to stay for the whole show, because once it had been aired, it was gone! So you may have to watch 30 seconds or a minute or so of each episode before the theme songs kicks off.
If you have any suggestions for shows that you enjoyed around the same time, or that I might have missed, let me know!
They’re in alphabetical order because I couldn’t find another decent way to categorise them…
A Dog’s Show
Sunday afternoon was that part of the weekend where school was looming the next day and every minute was like a countdown to torture. Part of that torture was having to watch dogs herd sheep.
A Dog’s Show was a New Zealand television series featuring sheepdog trials, presented by John Gordon. For many years it screened on TV ONE on Sundays at 6pm (before the evening news). It was broadcast between 1977 and 1992.
Automan follows the adventures of a police officer and computer programmer named Walter Nebicher who had created an artificially intelligent crime fighting program that generated a hologram able to leave the computer world at night and fight crime.
Cursor was his sidekick, a floating, shifting polyhedron which could “draw” and generate physical objects as needed. The most common forms taken were a car (the Auto Car), an airplane, and a helicopter, all of which could defy the laws of physics.
The Autocar and Autochopper were the most common vehicles created for transport. The Autocar was a Lamborghini Countach LP400, which was capable of making 90-degree turns without losing control and overtaking merely by strafing, rather than turning. However, human passengers not properly secured in their seats would often be thrown around inside with the momentum from the sudden position change. This was an ongoing gag.
“There are those who believe…that life here began out there, far across the Universe…with tribes of humans…who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians…or the Toltecs…or the Mayans…”
Battlestar Galactica is an American science fiction television series, created by Glen A. Larson, that began the Battlestar Galactica franchise. Starring Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict, it ran for one season in 1978–79. After cancellation, its story was briefly continued in 1980 as Galactica 1980 with Adama, Lieutenant Boomer (now a colonel) and Boxey (now called Troy) being the only continuing characters.
I remember Dirk Benedict being cool because he was also in The A-Team, and the Cylons were both terrifying and exciting at the same time.
There was a special 2-part episode of Galactica 1980 where a Cylon made it to Earth. It featured Wolfman Jack, a famous radio personality at the time.
Watch: (season 1, Episode 4: The Lost Warrior. Apollo crashes on the Wild West like planet Equellus after being pursued by four Cylon fighters) http://www.novamov.com/video/0f500916ff939
Blake’s 7 is a British science fiction television series produced by the BBC for broadcast on BBC1. Four 13-episode series of Blake’s 7 were broadcast between 1978 and 1981. It was created by Terry Nation, who also created the Daleks for Doctor Who.
Who didn’t want to fly in the Liberator as a kid? I had the Corgi model and it was one of my most treasured possessions. I also managed to make my own blaster out of a spiral phone cord and a fishing reel…
Zen, Orac, Servalan… so much to love.
The final episode where (spoiler alert!) all the cast members die still haunts me to this day!
io9 Overview of the series: http://io9.com/379249/how-to-get-into-rebel-space-opera-blakes-7
Watch: “Orac” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rt06UPT5-s
Final Episode “Blake”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2j3e9Xc3QM
Playlist of all episodes except “Blake”: https://www.youtube.com/user/Blakes7Movies/videos
Cheers is an American sitcom that ran for eleven seasons between 1982 and 1993. The show is set in a bar named Cheers (named after the popular toast) in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax, and socialize. The show’s main theme song, written and performed by Gary Portnoy, and co-written with Judy Hart Angelo, lent its famous refrain, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”, as the show’s tagline.
I wasn’t a huge fan of this show but it was big when I was a kid, and characters like Frasier Crane went on to bigger things. Plus the theme tune was quite catchy…
Crown Court is a television courtroom drama produced by Granada Television for the ITV network that ran from 1972 to 1984.
It was (to my childhood mind) dull, slow and incomprehensible, but it was always on when I was home from school. I don’t want to inflict an episode on you, so I just found the opening sequence in case the music rings any bells 🙂
Dallas is a long-running American prime time television soap opera that aired from April 2, 1978, to May 3, 1991, on CBS. The series revolves around a wealthy and feuding Texan family, the Ewings, who own the independent oil company Ewing Oil and the cattle-ranching land of Southfork. The series originally focused on the marriage of Bobby Ewing and Pamela Barnes, whose families were sworn enemies with each other. As the series progressed, oil tycoon J.R. Ewing grew to be the show’s main character, whose schemes and dirty business became the show’s trademark. When the show ended in May 1991, J.R. was the only character to have appeared in every episode.
The show was famous for its cliffhangers, including the Who shot J.R.? mystery.
I rarely watched it, but it played so often that the theme burned into my mind…
Watch: “A House Divided” (JR gets shot) http://gorillavid.in/hfpbk6lnb5xq
Danger Mouse is a British children’s animated television series produced by Cosgrove Hall Films for Thames Television. It featured the eponymous Danger Mouse who worked as a secret agent. The show was a parody of British spy fiction, particularly James Bond and the Danger Man series. The show originally ran in the United Kingdom from 28 September 1981 to 19 March 1992. In the English-language version, Danger Mouse was voiced by David Jason.
I loved this show because it was full of risque (well, to me as a kid) adult humour.
Watch: (Random Episode) http://www.toonova.com/danger-mouse-season-6-episode-8
I don’t need to tell you anything about this show, unless there’s something very wrong with you. My “Doctor” was Tom Baker, although Peter Davison was a big part of my childhood as well. I loved the theme tune for the Davison years, because it was very intense and electronic. The Tom Baker episode that had me “hiding behind the sofa” was “The Seeds of Doom”
The most intense episode for me, as a kid, was the Peter Davison episode “Earthshock” where one of his companions, Adric dies. Adric’s last words before an explosion kills him are “Now I’ll never know if I was right.” Adric dies not knowing that the freighter he was trying to stop crashing into the Earth would become the “meteor” that would wipe out the dinosaurs and begin the rise of mammals and eventually humans.
Watch: The Seeds of Doom (Tom Baker) http://www.dailymotion.com/playlist/xtu77_Mr_Fibuli_the-seeds-of-doom/1#video=x875t9
Watch: Earthshock (Peter Davison)
Gotta love that theme tune!
OK, so Entertainment Tonight is still running, and I didn’t watch it often, but it was always on and the 80s version of the theme burned into my brain, so here’s the intro from the period:
Another one of those adult US soaps. I had no idea what was going on, but the theme has stayed with me.
Falcon Crest is an American primetime television soap opera which aired on the CBS network for nine seasons, from December 4, 1981 to May 17, 1990. A total of 227 episodes were produced.
The series revolves around the feuding factions of the wealthy Gioberti/Channing family in the Californian wine industry.
Family was an American television drama series that aired on ABC from 1976 to 1980. Another of the shows that was on during the day and I saw when I was home from school, I did have a bit of a crush on Kristy McNichol who played Buddy…
Watch: All Episodes: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJI_hrqCFqfx58gHDkeWh14RJtFoQC5kf
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
“This is Bill Cosby comin’ at you with music and fun, and if you’re not careful you may learn something before it’s done. So let’s get ready, OK? (Fat Albert voice) Hey, hey, hey!”
Despite the controversy around Bill Cosby now, he was a great role model for kids and “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” was full of valuable messages.
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids is an animated series created, produced, and hosted (in live action bookends) by comedian Bill Cosby, who also lent his voice to a number of characters, including Fat Albert himself.
Watch: (Random Episode) http://www.toonova.com/fat-albert-and-the-cosby-kids-season-5-episode-4
This was a British series about horses. I was into horses for a few years, going to Pony Club and so on. I don’t remember this show as much as I remembered the theme tune and the “lightning tree”
Fraggle Rock is a British/American/Canadian children’s live action puppet television series created by Jim Henson, about a society of Muppet creatures called Fraggles.
There are three main intelligent anthropomorphic species in the Fraggle Rock environment: Fraggles, Doozers and Gorgs. The Fraggles and Doozers live in a system of natural caves called Fraggle Rock that are filled with all manner of creatures and features, and which connect to at least two different areas (the one of the Gorgs and the one of the “silly creatures”, or humans). One of the main themes of the series is that, although the three species depend on the other for their survival, they usually fail to communicate due to vast differences in their biology and culture. The series mainly follows the adventures of five Fraggles: Gobo, Mokey, Red, Wembley, and Boober, each with distinct personalities.
I remember the Doozers would build amazing structures that the Fraggles would then eat, and I always wondered what they tasted like (the buildings, not the Doozers!)
The Greatest American Hero
A great show, and an amazing theme song that people still know today.
The Greatest American Hero is an American comedy-drama television series that aired for three seasons from 1981 to 1983 on ABC. The series features William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley (“Hanley” for the latter part of the first season), Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell, and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson. The series chronicles Ralph’s adventures after a group of aliens gives him a red suit that grants him superhuman abilities. Unfortunately for Ralph, who hates wearing the suit, he immediately loses its instruction booklet, and thus has to learn how to use its powers by trial and error, often with comical results.
Hart to Hart
Hart to Hart was a watchable night time US adventure / crime show summed up in the opening credits sequence, narrated by Max (the Harts’ butler) as he introduces the characters: “This is my boss – Jonathan Hart, a self-made millionaire. He’s quite a guy. This is Mrs. H – she’s gorgeous. She’s one lady who knows how to take care of herself. By the way, my name is Max. I take care of both of them – which ain’t easy; ’cause when they met, it was murder.” (or as he pronounced it, moidah!)
Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner) was the CEO of Hart Industries, a Los Angeles-based global conglomerate. His wife Jennifer (Stefanie Powers) was a beautiful freelance journalist. Living the jetset lifestyle, the Harts often found themselves involved in cases of smuggling, theft, corporate and international espionage and, most commonly, murder. At their opulent Bel Air estate, they were assisted by Max (Lionel Stander), their loyal, gravel-voiced butler, cook, and chauffeur who also helped with their “cases”.
Hill St Blues
It was the theme music of this show that stayed with me over the years, I’m not sure I ever got into the show itself.
Hill Street Blues is an American serial police drama that aired on NBC in primetime from 1981 to 1987 for a total of 146 episodes. The show chronicled the lives of the staff of a single police station located on the fictional Hill Street, in an unnamed large city, with “blues” being a slang term for police officers for their blue uniforms.
Hogan’s Heroes is an American television sitcom set in a German prisoner of war (POW) camp during World War II. It ran for 168 episodes from September 17, 1965, to April 4, 1971, on the CBS network. Bob Crane starred as Colonel Robert E. Hogan, coordinating an international crew of Allied prisoners running a Special Operations group from the camp. Werner Klemperer played Colonel Wilhelm Klink, the incompetent commandant of the camp, and John Banner was the inept sergeant-of-the-guard, Hans Schultz.
The drum solo at the start of the theme is iconic!
It Ain’t Half Hot Mum
Who can forget the British institution Windsor Davies. Davies’ best known role was as Battery Sergeant Major Williams in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (1974–81). Among his catchphrases was “Shut Up!”, delivered as an eardrum-shattering military scream. Another phrase was “Oh dear, how sad, never mind”, delivered in a dry, ironic manner, and used when others around him had problems.
It Ain’t Half Hot Mum is a BBC television sitcom, about the adventures of a Royal Artillery Concert Party, broadcast on the BBC between 1974 and 1981, and written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. It was set in India and Burma, during the last months of the Second World War, starting just after V-E Day in 1945.
“Meet the gang, cos the boys are here!”
Bonus: “Whispering Grass” was a hit song sung by Windsor Davies and Don Estelle from the series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10dmK7O-KSY
Sadly we still have to deal with The Hoff when he should have faded gracefully into history like this show…
“Self-made billionaire Wilton Knight rescues police Detective Lieutenant Michael Arthur Long after a near fatal shot to the face, giving him a new identity (via plastic surgery) and a new name: Michael Knight. Wilton selects Michael to be the primary field agent in the pilot program of his public justice organization, the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG). The other half of this pilot program is the Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT), a heavily modified, technologically advanced Pontiac Firebird Trans Am with numerous features including an extremely durable shell and frame, controlled by a computer with artificial intelligence. Michael and KITT are brought in during situations where “direct action might provide the only feasible solution.”
Who can forget the intro:
“Knight Rider, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless in a world of criminals who operate above the law.”
Watch: (KITT vs KARR) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3Sys85g8Ag
Life Goes On
Life Goes On opens with the cast singing The Beatles’ “Ob La Di Ob La Da” which has made it a nightmare, rights-wise, to release on DVD. The show was famous for featuring an actor with Downs Syndrome (Chris Burke) as well as Broadway star Patti LuPone.
Patti LuPone, Kellie Martin and Chris Burke recently reunited on the Hallmark Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-z0JzELsxA
During the show’s first year, the main focus was on Corky. Much of the show examined the challenges of a family whose son had Down Syndrome. The Thatchers sought to have Corky interact with regular society after spending years socializing him amongst other kids with Down syndrome in “special” classes.
The third and fourth seasons centered on Becca and a new character named Jesse (Chad Lowe). Jesse, a junior, met Becca through the school’s theatre department. As the two became friends, Jesse told Becca he was HIV-positive.
The fourth season’s first episode, in which a 40-something Becca (Pamela Bellwood) tours the house she grew up in while remembering the events of 25 years earlier, establishes that Jesse would ultimately die from AIDS and that Becca would move on to marry a man named David.
This was a pretty intense show to watch especially with the HIV-storyline, both Kellie Martin and Chad Lowe gave outstanding performances and made this a show I’ve remembered fondly over the years. This was TV drama at its best.
It was hard to find any of the “good” episodes from Season 4 online.
Season 4: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-WfaXJ3m34XQiOVfDgTjWOMQnWz-D52A
(Bec to the Future) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rB1_j26jnA&index=1&list=PL-WfaXJ3m34XQiOVfDgTjWOMQnWz-D52A
M*A*S*H was all the rage when I was in primary school, one of cool kids (Aaron Hooper, where are you now?) rocked the green M*A*S*H t-shirt of which everyone was jealous.
The show was huge, Alan Alda was hilarious, the theme was epic and some of the sadder episodes (i.e. the show’s finale, and “Abyssinia, Henry” where Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake dies) devastating.
Watch: “Abyssinia, Henry” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8sgTck2CgA
Tom Selleck’s moustache steals the show in this series which played around the same time as Hart to Hart.
Magnum, P.I. is an American crime drama television series starring Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator living on Oahu, Hawaii. The series ran from 1980 to 1988 in first-run broadcast on the American CBS television network.
Another epic intro / theme
Open All Hours
Open All Hours was a British sitcom starring David Jason (he was big in the 80s) and a stuttering, Ronnie Barker as Arkwright, a pragmatic, miserly shopkeeper with old fashioned values, whose world seems to stop at his shop door, except for his uncontrollable lust for Nurse Gladys Emmanuel (Lynda Baron), which may prompt him on occasion to wander across the road, usually with a ladder, to gain access to her bedroom window.
Sapphire and Steel
Sapphire & Steel is a British television science-fiction fantasy series starring David McCallum as Steel and Joanna Lumley as Sapphire. One of my favourite childhood shows, it was slow, atmospheric, terrifying sci-fi with a typically low British budget (awfully cheap intro). I couldn’t get enough of this show and the final episode, where the stars are trapped for eternity inside a motorway service station cafe, still plays on my mind!
The first serial involving the power of nursery rhymes is still one of my favourites.
There’s a rumour that it’s going to be rebooted by Luther creator Neil Cross (based here in NZ). http://www.blastr.com/2015-7-9/cult-classic-british-sci-fi-series-sapphire-and-steel-get-reboot
Don’t mess it up Neil! Seriously, if you have Neil’s email address let me know – I want to send him a very long email explaining how much I don’t want him to mess up the reboot!
Another classic. I think I learned a lot from this show as a kid, and the harmonica solo from jazz harmonica player Jean “Toots” Thieleman during the closing credits is amazing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K_SD2GWEHE)
Sesame Street is a long-running American children’s television series created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. The program is known for its educational content, and images communicated through the use of Jim Henson’s Muppets, animation, short films, humor, and cultural references. The series premiered on November 10, 1969, to positive reviews, some controversy, and high ratings.
Wow, 45 seasons, over 4,386 episodes…
Scooby-Doo is an American animated cartoon franchise, comprising several animated television series produced from 1969 to the present day. The original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, was created for Hanna-Barbera Productions by writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears in 1969. This Saturday-morning cartoon series featured four teenagers—Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers—and their talking brown Great Dane named Scooby-Doo, who solve mysteries involving supposedly supernatural creatures through a series of antics and missteps.
Scooby Doo taught us that the real monsters are humans…
Sigmund and the Sea Monsters
This is a bit of an odd one, I remember a few episodes and was quite captivated by the idea of the sea monsters being obvious men-in-cheesy-costumes.
Sigmund and the Sea Monsters is an American children’s television series that ran from 1973 to 1975, produced by Sid and Marty Krofft and aired on Saturday mornings. There were 29 episodes spanning two seasons.
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em
Michael Crawford … he not only created hapless Frank Spencer in this series (which ran from 1973 – 1978), he originated the title role in The Phantom of the Opera. What a range!
Space: 1999 is a British-Italian science-fiction television series that ran for two seasons and originally aired from 1975 to 1977. In the opening episode, set on 13 September 1999, nuclear waste stored on the Moon’s far side explodes, knocking the Moon out of orbit and sending it, as well as the 311 inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, hurtling uncontrollably into space. The series was the last production by the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and was the most expensive series produced for British television up to that time.
Like Doctor Who, I’m not even going to bother describing Star Trek to you. Suffice it to say that the original series was huge for me, as it was replayed on New Zealand TV in the 70s and 80s.
Tales of the Gold Monkey
This was an Indiana Jones-style show set erroneously in 1938 in the South Pacific, the series is about an ex-Flying Tigers pilot named Jake Cutter (Stephen Collins). (The Flying Tigers operated from 1941-1942.) Now the operator of an air cargo delivery service based on the fictional South Seas island Bora Gora, he flies a red and white Grumman Goose called Cutter’s Goose. Jake’s best friend is his mechanic Corky (Jeff MacKay), a good-hearted alcoholic with a memory hazy from heavy drinking. However, a one-eyed Jack Russell terrier named Jack, which barks once for “no” and twice for “yes” (or the opposite if it suits him) would dispute just who Jake’s best friend really is. Jack wears an eye patch, but used to have a false eye made of opal with a star sapphire center that Jake lost in a poker game—and refuses to let Jake forget it.
It hooked me because the idea of flying a seaplane was exciting! Hey, I was a kid…
Watch: (Best I could find, sorry! Intro at 30 seconds) http://sharerepo.com/w9394kuda21y
Judd Hirsch, Danny De Vito, Andy Kaufman, Christopher Lloyd… comedy gods!
Taxi is an American sitcom that originally aired from 1978 to 1982 on ABC and from 1982 to 1983 on NBC. The series—which won 18 Emmy Awards, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series—focuses on the everyday lives of a handful of New York City taxi drivers and their abusive dispatcher.
The show focuses on the employees of the fictional Sunshine Cab Company, and its principal setting is the company’s fleet garage in Manhattan. Among the drivers, only Alex Rieger, who is disillusioned with life, considers cab-driving his profession. The others view it as a temporary job that they can leave behind after they succeed in their chosen careers.
Watch: Watch the episode “Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey” on Netflix (Season 2 Episode 3) or here: http://watchonlinefree.tv/tv/taxi/season2/episode3/reverend-jim-a-space-odyssey or here: http://gorillavid.in/ke882d46bs3b
The series is set in the year 2020, after an alien force has destroyed NASA’s Mars base and Earth is under threat. A small organisation, The Terrahawks, is set up to defend the planet. From Hawknest, their secret base in South America, they develop sophisticated weapons to prepare for the battles to come.
Terrahawks was less straight-faced than any of Anderson’s previous series, featuring a wry, tongue-in-cheek humour as well as dramatic jeopardy. The ensemble cast, with each member assigned a vehicle, had many similarities with Anderson’s Thunderbirds, whilst the alien invasion plot was reminiscent of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and the live action UFO.
For me, hearing Windsor Davies again, and seeing the rolling spherical robots was the exciting part.
The Cosby Show
Another evening staple.
The Electric Company
I loved this kid’s show and it taught me a lot.
The Electric Company is an educational American children’s television series that was produced by the Children’s Television Workshop (now called Sesame Workshop) for PBS in the United States. PBS broadcast 780 episodes over the course of its six seasons from October 25, 1971, to April 15, 1977.
The original cast included stars like Morgan Freeman and Bill Cosby
Watch: (I couldn’t find a full episode online, but here’s the intro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_iGaQglnKg)
The Famous Five
One of my favourite shows as a kid, based on the book series by Enid Blyton which I devoured avidly. I loved this show (and had a bit of a crush on Georgina). The intro still gives me shivers! I collected the paperbacks which featured photos from the series on the cover.
The Magic Roundabout
I only have a vague memory of this one! I was very young when this aired but my Mother tells me I loved it!
The Mickey Mouse Club
The Mickey Mouse Club is an American variety television show that aired intermittently from 1955 to 1996. Created by Walt Disney and produced by Walt Disney Productions, the program was first televised from 1955 to 1959 by ABC, featuring a regular but ever-changing cast of teen performers.
The Onedin Line
Ponderous British naval drama set aboard an epic ship which ran from 1971 to 1980.
The series is set in Liverpool from 1860 to 1886 and deals with the rise of a shipping line, the Onedin Line, named after its owner James Onedin. Around this it depicts the lives of his family, most notably his brother and partner Robert, a shop-owner, and his sister Elizabeth, giving insight into the lifestyle and customs at the time, not only at sea, but also ashore (mostly lower- and upper-middle-class).
One of the ships used, the Søren Larsen, is a brigantine built in 1949 in Nykøbing Mors, Denmark. Her current homeport is Sydney, Australia but she’s been to New Zealand which is cool.
The theme features the ship smashing through waves to an excerpt from the Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia from the ballet Spartacus by Aram Khachaturian.
One episode that freaked me out and stuck in my mind is when one of the characters “drowns” in a ship’s hold full of grain (Season 5, Episode 6 “Dead Man’s Cargo”).
The Tomorrow People
Another huge show for me. The Tomorrow People is a British children’s science fiction television series, created by Roger Price. Produced by Thames Television for the ITV Network, the series first ran from 1973 to 1979.
All incarnations of the show concerned the emergence of the next stage of human evolution (Homo novis) known colloquially as Tomorrow People. Born to human parents, an apparently normal child might at some point between childhood and late adolescence experience a process called “breaking out” and develop special paranormal abilities. These abilities include psionic powers such as telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation. However, their psychological make-up prevents them from intentionally killing others.
The Tomorrow People operate out of a secret base, The lab, built in an abandoned London Underground station. The team watches for new Tomorrow People “breaking out” to help them through the process and sometimes deal with attention from extraterrestrial species as well as facing more earthbound dangers. They also have connections with the “Galactic Federation” which oversees the welfare of telepathic species throughout the galaxy. In addition to their psychic powers, they use advanced technology such as the biological (called in the series “biotronic”) computer TIM, which is capable of original thought, telepathy, and can augment their psychic powers. TIM also helps the Tomorrow People to teleport long distances, although they must be wearing a device installed into a belt or bracelet for this to work. Teleportation is referred to as jaunting in the programme. The team used jaunting belts up to the end of Series 5, after which they used much smaller wristbands.
Such a freaky opening sequence – the hand, opening and closing, always spooked me. I mean, watch the YouTube clip and you’ll see what I mean.
Watch: (watch the whole intro starting at 0:40) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3l7penC0lI&index=10&list=PL4D61F6FA5C0B0FD5
The Waltons is an American television series created by Earl Hamner, Jr., based on his book Spencer’s Mountain, and a 1963 film of the same name. The show is centered on a family in a rural Virginia community during the Great Depression and World War II.
Loved the theme, and the show usually ended with an exterior shot of the house and everyone saying goodnight to each in voiceover.
“Good night John Boy”
The Wombles are pointy-nosed, furry creatures that live in burrows, where they aim to help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in creative ways. Wombles were created by author Elisabeth Beresford, and originally appeared in a series of children’s novels from 1968. Although Wombles supposedly live in every country in the world, Beresford’s stories are concerned with the lives of the inhabitants of the burrow on Wimbledon Common in London, England.
The characters gained a higher national profile in the UK in the mid-1970s as a result of a BBC commissioned children’s television show which used stop motion animation. A number of spin-off novelty songs also became hits in the British music charts. The Wombles pop group was the idea of British singer and composer Mike Batt.
The Womble motto is “Make Good Use of Bad Rubbish”. This environmentally friendly message was a reflection of the growing environmental movement of the 1970s.
I had a plastic Wombles tent!
Thunderbirds is a British science-fiction television series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, filmed by their production company AP Films (APF), and distributed by ITC Entertainment. It was produced between 1964 and 1966 using a combination of marionette puppetry and scale-model special effects sequences – a hybrid filming technique known as “Supermarionation”. Two series comprising a total of 32 episodes were filmed.
Top Cat is an animated television series made by the Hanna-Barbera studios which ran from September 27, 1961 to April 18, 1962 for a run of 30 episodes on the ABC network.
It had a cool intro tune and played a lot in the 70s in New Zealand as I recall.
Who killed Laura Palmer?
Twin Peaks is an American television serial drama created by Mark Frost and David Lynch. It follows an investigation headed by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) into the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). Its pilot episode was first broadcast on April 8, 1990, on ABC. Seven more episodes were produced, and the series was renewed for a second season that aired until June 10, 1991. The show’s title comes from the small, fictional Washington town in which it is set.
(This is a series you need to watch all of, start to finish!)
UFO is a 1970 British television science fiction series about an alien invasion of Earth, created by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson with Reg Hill, and produced by the Andersons and Lew Grade’s Century 21 Productions for Grade’s ITC Entertainment company.
The show’s basic premise is that in the near future – a fictional version of 1980 (a date indicated in the opening credits) – Earth is being visited and attacked by aliens from a dying planet and humans are being covertly harvested for their organs by the aliens. The show’s main cast of characters are members of a secret, high-technology international agency called SHADO (an acronym for Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation) established to defend Earth and humanity against the mysterious aliens and learn more about them, while at the same time keeping the threat of an alien invasion hidden from the public.
It had a pretty funky intro and theme tune 🙂
When the Boat Comes In
This was a show that I saw occasionally but I have no memory of the show itself, just the theme music.
When the Boat Comes In is a British television period-drama produced by the BBC between 1976 and 1981.
The series stars James Bolam as Jack Ford, a First World War veteran who returns to his poverty-stricken (fictional) town of Gallowshield in the North East of England. The series dramatises the political struggles of the 1920s and 1930s and explores the impact of national and international politics upon Ford and the people around him.
The memorable traditional tune “When The Boat Comes In” was adapted by David Fanshawe and sung by Alex Glasgow for the title theme of the series. Fanshawe also composed the incidental music.
WKRP In Cincinnati
WKRP in Cincinnati was an American situation comedy television series that featured the misadventures of the staff of a struggling fictional radio station in Cincinnati, Ohio. I watched it sometimes, but the theme tune has stayed with me.
NZ On Screen Kiwi TV Classics
This collection brings together clips from shows like Country Calendar, Close to Home, Shortland St, Selwyn Toogood, Billy T and Thingee.
If you’re a Kiwi this will probably resonate with you.