Tele-Tuesday – Down Memory Lane: 1986

The 1980s – the decade known for punk rock, heavy metal bands, the Rubik’s cube, the “perm” and “mullet” hair styles, shoulder pads, jean jackets, and leg-warmers.

Top entertainers in the ’80s included Michael J. Fox, Eddie Murphy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, and David Hasselhoff to just to name a few.  Some of the highest grossing films during the ’80s are considered classics now such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Beverly Hills Cop.

The “Brat Pack” also formed in the ’80s, and movie greats The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and St. Elmo’s Fire launched the careers of Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, and Demi Moore – but I’ll save this for a future Friday FabOoolousness post.

Very important to the ’80s generation, MTV was born and music videos swept the nation.  Michael Jackson led the music industry, joined by Aerosmith, Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Metallica, Motley Crue, and many more.

Now shift specifically to 1986 – What do I remember about that year?

The Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated after take-off, televised live in classrooms across the United States, including mine.

What else?

Racing home on Friday nights after our high school football games to watch Miami Vice and Crime Story with my family.

Television crime dramas filled the networks with popular detective and private investigator shows in 1986, which is why I’ve marked this year as the beginning of my television addiction.

Magnum P.I. 1980-1988

Tom Selleck plays Thomas Sullivan Magnum living on the Robin’s Nest estate in Hawaii, the alleged home of author, Robin Masters.  “The Nest” is managed by Jonathan Higgins (John Hillerman) and protected by two Doberman Pinschers: Zeus and Apollo.  A former SEAL, Magnum works as a private investigator, drives a Ferrari (just one of the many perks of living on the Masters’ estate), and enjoys a cold beer with his former Marine buddies: Rick and T.C.

There have always been rumors of a Magnum P.I. reunion movie, but where is it?

Cagney and Lacey 1981-1988

Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly star as New York City detectives Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey.  Despite their differing backgrounds (Cagney hailed from a wealthy family and Lacey was a hard working mother and wife), the two solved crime and built a lasting friendship in a man’s world.

Due to the series popularity, the ‘90s saw four Cagney and Lacey television movies which sometimes air today on Encore.

Remington Steele 1982-1987

Stephanie Zimbalist stars as Laura Holt, a private investigator, who after struggling to find enough clients for her agency hires a con man (Pierce Brosnan as Remington Steele) to play the role of her boss.  The farce leads to many laughs and to an eventual romance between Laura and Remi.

After announcing cancellation, NBC aired six television movies in 1987 to wrap up the series, but who wouldn’t love to see a reunion show today?

Scarecrow and Mrs. King 1983-1987

Kate Jackson stars as Amanda King, a divorced housewife who goes to work for Lee Stetson (Bruce Boxleitner), a top agency operative with the codename, “Scarecrow.” Despite not having any professional training as an operative, Amanda travels the world with Scarecrow assisting him on cases and going undercover with her boss.  The relationship leads to a romance, but after Jackson battled breast cancer in real-life, the series reduced her role and eventually cancelled the show after the fourth season.

Hunter 1984-1991

Fred Dryer and Stepfanie Kramer star as Sergeant Rick Hunter and Sergeant Dee Dee McCall, partners in the Los Angeles Police Department.  A popular theme on ‘80s television, the two partners dabble with a potential love story, but after six seasons Stepfanie Kramer left the show to pursue other career opportunities.  Hunter was partnered with a few other female detectives, but the series lost its flare and ended after season seven.

NBC aired a few reunion television movies in the ‘90s, and in 2002, Stepfanie Kramer returned for a special two-hour movie. With good ratings, the networks attempted to revive the series in 2003 with three one-hour episodes before cancelling again.

Miami Vice 1984-1990

Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas star as Miami police detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs. Crockett lives a luxurious lifestyle driving fast and expensive cars while he sleeps on his sailboat with his pet alligator, Elvis.  Visiting from New York searching for the man who murdered his brother, Tubbs works alongside Crockett and eventually transfers to Miami were the two partner up permanently.

And, who can think Miami Vice without picturing Crockett’s pastel pant suits, and hearing the fabulous music of Phil Collins or Jan Hammer?

Moonlighting 1985-1989

One of the first successful television dramedies, Moonlighting stars Bruce Willis as David Addison, a private detective, and Cybill Shepherd as Maddie Hayes, a former model.  After David convinces Maddie to not sell the agency during tumultuous times, Maddie moves in to the office and forms a partnership with David and renames the business Blue Moon Investigations after one of her most famous modeling jobs and endorsements for Blue Moon shampoo.

The two form a lasting partnership, argue constantly, and eventually fall in love.  I have David and Maddie listed on my all-time great television duo list.

Crime Story 1986-1988

Dennis Farina stars as Lieutenant Mike Torello on the hunt for mobster Ray Luca (Anthony Denison).  Wanting to destroy Luca, Torello follows Luca from Chicago to Las Vegas.  Season one ended with one of the most talked about cliff hangers in television history – an A-Bomb explosion in the Nevada desert.

After the network moved the show to a different night, Crime Story lasted only two short seasons.  This began my frustrations with networks moving a series around from night to night and with writers ending a television season on a cliffhanger. We’ll never know if Luca or Torello survived the plane crash.

Are you a child of the ‘80s? What are some of the earliest shows your remember watching? Did you enjoy any of these 1986 greats? I’d love to hear from you!

55 Replies to “Tele-Tuesday – Down Memory Lane: 1986”

  1. I have another 1986 fact for you…I graduated from High School that year and moved away to go to college at Mizzou (go Tigers!).

    LOL. That was a great year, and (once again) a fabuloooous post. 🙂

    Thanks for transporting me to “back in the day.”

  2. Both of my sons were born in the 80’s. LOL. I remember all of these TV shows, and I watched most of them. Especially, Scarecrow and Mrs. King and Remington Steele.

    I was in high school in the mid and late 70’s. Hmmm. Maybe I should do a post about that era. LOL

    1. Hey, Lauralynn! I was born in the 70s so I don’t remember all that much, except for reruns on TV that is. I’d love to see you do a post! I must give all the credit to my mom for me watching Remi and Scarecrow. There were some good looking men on the tele in the 80s! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I remember all those shows 🙂

    1986: The shuttle. My younger sister graduated from high school. Trade school in Miami. Liking it so much I moved there a few months later, in a wild cross county drive with a cousin (so he could be in Fort Lauderdale for spring break, LOL, priorities right?). And yes, I saw a taping of Miami Vice (street scene) while there. A fantastic family reunion. My first cruise. A trip to Disney World and one to Key West.

    Wow, looking back that was a pretty awesome year 🙂

  4. Can’t forget puff paint…had to have it all over my notebooks! Great post. Anytime I see the 1990’s relating to old shows/music I think “That wasn’t that long ago.” Oh no, my friend…that was at least 20 years ago! Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    1. Hi, Tammy! I had puff paint all over my book covers too! We had to wrap our text books in paper and I doodled all over with my pretty paint. I am a complete child of the 80s. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Oh…Moonlighting! That was the first time I realised a favourite show could go wrong. Up until that point the actual quality of a show hadn’t mattered, but when Moonlighting went of the rails, I could’ve cried. Except I was an ’80s teen, and waaaaay too manly for that.

    1. Hey, D! When do you think Moonlighting “jumped the shark”? When David and Maddie officially became a couple? I always use D&M as a prime example as to why TV duos can’t get together. Like Booth and Bones – keep the romantic tension, but coupling them could be the kiss of death. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Ah, therein lies the mystery. For years as a kid I watched shows that I enjoyed but now have no memory of. The Six Million Dollar Man, Starsky and Hutch, The A Team, Tales of the Golden Monkey, Morcombe and Wise, The Two Rommies. And, of course, Moonlighting. All I know is that about the time I started to feel Moonlighting was special to me in particular, when I started to have expectations about the dialogue, the plotting, the characters, that’s when it started to let me down. I think allowing David and Maddie to become a couple was probably a watershed moment, and I actually remember the episode where Maddie list her baby – mainly for Bruce Willis dressed as a foetus…Or did I dream that? Sorry, it’s very hot here and I’ve stupidly had an early beer to cool me off.

      2. Hey, D! You’ve named some good oes: The Six Million Dollar Man (which also leads to the Bionic Woman), Starsky and Hutch, The A Team…. You’re now the 2nd person to mention Tales of the Golden Monkey; what is this? And Two Roomies? I love hearing about new TV shows…well, okay, not new; but new to me! Thanks for stopping by!

      3. Ok, having to reply out of sync… Firstly “The Two Rommies” should have been ‘The Two Ronnies” – a comedy sketch show by Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker. A lot of it would now be considered very un-politically correct, but they did some beautiful word-related comedy that I remain jealous of to this day. I’ll try and find some examples on You Tube.
        Secondly, what do you mean you’ve never heard of “Tales of the Golden Monkey”? Jake Cutter flying his lovely amphibious plane “Cutter’s Goose” around the far Pacific with his monkey, the fat jolly sidekick guy, the urbane Frenchman who lived on their island home, the sinister Japanese woman who loved Jake, and the feisty American woman he never quite got around to going out with? Find a copy NOW and lose yourself in wonder. But don’t send it to me, because if it isn’t as good as I remember it, then I don’t want to know!

  6. The Shuttle – I live on the West Coast, so I didn’t watch it in the classroom. It was on too early. I watched it at home, but they told us about it at school. I was seven and in the first grade. I remember my teacher trying to explain it to us and it being on the news over and over when I got home.

    Out of those shows listed, I remember watching Magnum P.I. and Scarecrow and Mrs. King. I loved Scarecrow and Mrs. King. It was on of my favorites. I watched Cagney and Lacey later on in a film studies class (or television studies as it pertains to this) and enjoyed it as well.

  7. Love your list, Tiffany! I watched almost all of them (not “Hunter” so much). Now I know you couldn’t cover everything, but you forgot two pivotal series:

    The A-Team

    Maybe you can do a “part two” later? I would love to read what you have to say about those two series!


  8. Tiffanny–we thought alike this week. My Wild-Card Wednesday is going to be 80s themed, too! Moonlighting was my favorite show back in the day. My parents refused to watch it. My great-grandmother felt sorry for me and gave me her 1960s vintage TV so I could watch it in room. LOL

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    1. Hey, Catie – I have heard that great minds think alike. 🙂 Your great-gradmother and I would have gotten along just swell….that’s my kind of lady! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. I so adored Hunter, which I think is a precursor to my Law and Order series obsession. I definitely was more of a sitcom fan during this time, but of course loved Moonlighting too, though I don’t think I understood “sexual tension” at 10 years old! 🙂 Thanks for the post and the opportunity to relive these shows!

    1. Hey, Caryn! Thank you for the subscription, by the way! You have met a Law & Order obsessed fan right here….when I was drafting today’s post, it made much more sense to me why I love the crime shows today. How is it possible for a 9 year old to watch as many as I did? I should have known there was a tv addict in me. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Wow! With the exception of Crime Story I watched every one of those shows growing up. But I’m not sure I’d want to see a reunion show for any of them simply because reunions for TV shows tend to be poorly done or overdone. Remember the “second” MASH? Ugh, no thanks, I’ll live with my happy memories.

    I also watched the Space Shuttle explode in class my senior year. It was an odd moment because in sixth grade I did a science project on the Shuttle that launched my love for space and ultimately science fiction. Seeing the Shuttle explode left me stunned for some time, it just didn’t seem possible.

    Thanks Tiffany, great post.

    1. Hey, Gene! I agree, some reunion shows ruin a good thing – but then there are others that are fun, just like Hunter in 2002. Quite a few of these ’80s stars are big-time now, so I’d hope they would be very picky with reunion scripts – if we were to be so lucky.

      If you’re ever bored, check out Crime Story – it’s just two seasons and forever hooked me with the opening song, Runaway. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Love, love, lovin’ the 80’s. I pay for XM just so I can hear 80’s on 8 (forget the other 10000+ channels). I started reading your post thinking, “she better mention Hunter…!” I watched that, Moonlighting and Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Hmmm, I’m sensing a theme here with partners of the opposite sex… Fave 80’s movies: Sixteen Candles, Better Off Dead and the Goonies. Oh, I love the 80’s so…

    1. I enjoy XM channel 8 too, Claudia – especially on road trips….and the hair band channel. 🙂 Thanks for the ’80s enthusiasm, I could write about ’80s pop culture forever! Thanks for stopping by!

  12. There are several shows I watched listed here but by far my favorite was Magnum, P.I. Tom Sellect is such a nice guy I would have watched his show even if it had stunk to high heaven which it didn’t. He’s a classy guy and it was a classy show.

    I loved all the movies you talked about in the 80’s from Sixteen Candles to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Many of them still hold their own today. I’m still a fan.

    Even though she wasn’t born til 1988 my youngest daughter is a huge fan of 80’s music and knows more about it than I do. She keeps me rockin, lol.

    I know exactly where I was when the shuttle exploded, at an exercise club, it was such a shock. It’s all we talked about. It was such a tragedy.

    1. Tom Selleck is dreamy, isn’t he, Angela? I’d always called him “Magnum”, even in Three Men and a Baby – but now, I catch myself calling him “Jesse Stone.” He plays such wonderful characters…

      Your daughter and I would get along – even if she is a decade younger than me! She has fabOoolous taste. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. The shuttle – I was in seventh grade that day. My regular teacher was out, and I’d had to go to my “alternate teacher” (We didn’t have subs, they just assigned you another class room to go to and work to do when a teacher was absent) We were coming back from lunch, climbing the stairs tot eh second floor when we hear that the shuttle had exploded. We thought it was a joke, until we got back to the classroom and an announcement come over the school PA.

    TV: Perfect Strangers (1986-93) No one’s mentioned this yet!
    Sledge Hammer! (86-88)
    Airwolf (84-86)
    Tales of the Gold Monkey (82) Only one season, but I LOVED this show. So sad it never saw season 2. (If I ever had the money, I’d buy myself a Grumman Goose!)

    1. Perfect Strangers just might make the 80’s Titter list…..I have a ton of those ready to go too!

      You are the second to mention Sledge Hammer! You and Jen Kirchner reminded me about this wonderful show…and you know what? Yea, I watched it too!

      I have never heard of Tales of the Gold Monkey….thanks for stopping by, Derek!

  14. I remember the shuttle launch. I was taking a copy editing class in college, and we had it on the tv. We were all stunned, and the teacher used it as a learning moment for how a journalist must keep their cool and report the facts, even in a tragedy.

    Loved those shows you mentioned. Amazing that Tom Selleck and Pierce Brosnan were ever that young. Still would love to meet either of them.

    My earliest crime drama was Perry Mason. It was a real treat when my folks would let me stay up until 9 p.m. on a Friday night to watch Perry Mason. I quickly discovered once I went to law school that no one ever breaks down on the stand and confesses in real life. 🙂

  15. Little late to the party here. I loved cop dramas in the ’80’s and I was a HUGE fan of Hunter. So glad you gave it a shout out. For the comedy side of cop shows, I really loved Sledge Hammer! Do you know that one? It only ran for two seasons, but it was great. I own the DVD’s. 🙂

    1. Jen! SLEDGE HAMMER! I had forgotten all about it, and I did watch it! Are you kidding me? 🙂 I love that you own the seasons – if we didn’t live so far apart, I’d have to borrow! Thanks for stopping by! (enough exclamation points?)

  16. I can’t choose my favorite! I loved Remington Steele! Posters with his face covered my room along with pictures of Corey Haim! I also watched every episode of Hunter. Awesome flashback!

  17. I graduated high school in ’89, so this is my time frame. My favorite crime-solving shows were Simon & Simon and Whiz Kids (not a duo). Whiz kids were a bunch of gifted high school kids who used their expertise in computers and electronics to help the police. Loved that show.

  18. I graduated high school in 1986 as well! I was at home sick on the day that the Challenger exploded. I watched the footage over and over on the TV – on every channel. It was particularly heartbreaking because we had followed how Christa McAuliffe, a teacher, was going on the shuttle.

    As for TV, I know it technically started in 1979, but Hart to Hart ran through 1984, and I loved that show! Such a smart, classy couple and so in love.

  19. Julie, I LOVED Hart to Hart, and I had the show description written before I realized it wasn’t around in ’86. I loved Max and Freeway! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

  20. What a fun and nostalgic trip! I think the Challenger explosion is one of those events like 9/11 where everyone who’s old enough remembers what they were doing when they heard the news. But regarding the lighter moments of 1986, I loved Remington Steele (and Pierce was the best James Bond, I don’t care what all the Sean Connery “purists” say. 🙂 ) I also loved another show called Spenser for Hire.

    1. Jeanne, I completely agree about the Challenger explosion. The memory will always live as fresh as the morning of 9/11 in our memories.

      Spenser was one of my favorites! One of my nephews is named Spencer – I had hoped for the Spenser spelling and recommended Hawk for his brother. My brother didn’t listen to me. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  21. Oh wow thank you for the trip down memory lane!! I was 15 in 1986 and loved most of those shows that you mentioned in your post. I didn’t see Hunter, possibly because I’m in the UK not the US, but the others….WOW! Magnum was my favourite (Tom Selleck was hot, even to a 15 yr old) and Pierce Brosnan…no words are needed lol!

    I think the best thing of all those shows was their theme music. So memorable, and entertaining (not) to my kids as I just sang them all to them now teehee!!

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