TV From The 80s & Why Dennis Farina Will Kick Your Ass!
What the fuck happened to Television?
I mean TV these days is pretty god-fuckin’ awful. TV dramas and most sitcoms have been usurped by Reality TV Shows, all of which I despise unless they are cooking shows.My youth had such awesome shows. Even the bad shows were great simply for the sheer awfulness they managed to produce. Look what the 80s gave us Knight Rider, Street Hawk, The A-Team, Automan, Space Rangers, Phoenix… fuck the 80s gave us Manimal, which was so horrendous it was fucking brilliant! I mean who doesn’t want to see a licensed physician fight crime by turning into animals? I was 11 when Manimal was on TV and you know what? I fuckin’ loved it!
The thing is Manimal was so bad, I mean SO BAD, that I don’t think even Sci-Fi re-aired it and Sci-Fi re-aired Misfits Of Science like 50 times! Of course the 80s did give some really GREAT TV shows like Magnum P.I. Words cannot describe how awesome Magnum is. A Vietnam vet/P.I. still dealing with his own post war issues while working as “Head Of Security” for a millionaire novelist all while working as a Detective on the side, Magnum was dramatic, funny and not afraid throw in some liberal action scenes. I think Magnum was one of the few shows that was actually designed to let families watch a detective show together. Hell, Magnum was my Grandmother’s favorite TV show and when I would go visit her during vaction time, it was mandatory that we watch Magnum, which was totally OK with me because Magnum was badass. Magnum P.I. was the show you could watch with your grandparents.
Sadly the days of the TV Detective are being replaced by the police procedural. I like CSI just fine but does there need to be 3? I’m still baffled as to how NCIS is still on the air, let alone allowed to have a spin-off. I like Mark Harmon just fine but honestly, the best thing he has ever done was Summer School… ok and Dr. Caldwell on St. Elsewhere. Great Balls Of Moses! There is another great show from the 80’s right there. St. Elsewhere was such a great show, a prefect blend of medical drama and humor with such an incredible cast. It also had one ofthe most mind-blowing brilliant Series Finales in the history of TV, with hint that the whole show just might be the result of the imagination of a autistic child named Tommy Westphall. 6 years we watched some great shit happen on St. Elsewehre, from Howie Mandel’s Dr. Wayne Fiscus getting shot, to Mark Harmon’s Dr. Caldwell contracting HIV and dying alone, to a crazy serial killer story. Look, I love House but , it could get cancelled tomorrow and I don’t think I’d be to upset. I remember being 6 when St. Elsewhere and being pretty annoyed about it.
Another TV show from the 80s that people tend to forget is Crime Story, a period cop drama starring Dennis Farina. The mere fact that it had Dennis Farina in it automatically makes it awesome because otherwise Dennis Farina will KICK YOUR ASS! No seriously, he is Dennis Farina and right now he is at home or on a set somewhere getting ready to act but in his head he is thinking “Some asshole mook hasn’t watched Crime Story. I think I need to kick his ass!”. Luckily Crime Story is out on DVD. Hurry, buy it now before Dennis Farina finds you! If he finds you, for all that is humanly sane, do not fight back. You will just piss Dennis Farina off if you fight back!
Let me get back on track here and bring up a show that pretty much was made just to give a few actors from M.A.S.H. a job after that show ended its mammoth 11 year run. Let’s face it, M.A.S.H. is the all time TV king, still having the highest rated episode in the history of televison for its final episode “Goodbye, Farewell And Amen”. But that wasn’t enough as America was soon subjected to After-M.A.S.H. a true stinker of a show. Where as something like Manimal is so bad you are compelled to watch to see if it gets any worse, After-M.A.S.H. was just plain bad. I really didn’t care what happened to Conoel Potter, Klinger and Father Mulcahy after Korea. It was better htat their fates post-Korea were left unknown. I mean, one of the best things about Hawkeye Pierce is that it is probably better off not knowing what happened to him afterward. Sure you’ve got the post-M.A.S.H. books about Hawkeye, written by the original author of M.A.S.H. A Novel about Three Army Doctors but does anyone remembers those? Were you even aware of their existence until you read the sentence “Sure you’ve got the post- M.A.S.H. books about Hawkeye, written by the original author of M.A.S.H. A Novel about Three Army Doctors but does anyone remembers those?”
Really there was no way After-M.A.S.H. had a prayer of lasting long, the gravy train on the franchise had run its course. If only the producers of Friends had looked to After-M.A.S.H. and just not made Joey, the world could’ve been spared more Matt LeBlanc. The real beginning of the end for M.A.S.H. was when they rolled out M.A.S.H. action figures. Somethings are not meant to be, a 3 and 3/4 transvestite action figure of Jamie Farr is one of those things. Now I live in Toledo, so taking any kind of shot at Jamie Farr will lead to a riot outside my apartment by angry Lebanese. I mean the man has his own Golf Tournament for God’s sake! Jamie Farr is the Patron Saint Of Toledo and if it weren’t for M.A.S.H. and to a lesser extent The Gong Show, would people in Toledo even know who Jamie Farr is?
The 80s were really just a great time to be a kid watching TV. We had crap that I’ve gone over and then we had shows that, for their time were awesome but now are sippets of the time period. Shows that encasulate the 80s and were awesome for their time but now are kind of comical because their context is so out of whack. Miami Vice and L.A. Law are prime examples ofthis. Make no mistake, Miami Vice was badass. It had sex, dugs and rock’n’roll all rolled into one slickly made TV Cop show. It was Starsky & Hutch in Florida and dressed a bit nicer. Sure some of the stories were a little… um.. improable shall we say? Y’know loike “Holy Shit! Crockett has amnesia and has become a drug dealer!”. Yeah, shit like that. Still, Miami Vice, despite being dated, holds up better than L.A. Law. What exactly were we thinking in the 80s when we decided that watching douchebag lawyers be was good entertainment? L.A. Law was all power suits and flashy bad acting, well save for Corbin Bernsen. His Arnie Becker was a douchebag but at least he was upfront about it. L.A. Law reminds me of every kid I hated at boarding school. The arrogant douchebags that talked about the car their dad was getting them when they got theri license. The douchebag tht would go on and on about social parties and recreational drug use. The trust fund kids that really, you just want run them over with a riding mower. That is what I want ot do when I watch L.A. Law, run rich douchbags over with riding mower.
So in the end, 80s TV is just a mishmash ofreally great bad shows with some horribly dated shows that make us go “Fuck! Did I really wear that? Look at how tall my hair is!”. The 80s gave us follow-up shows to showsthat didn’t really require to be followed up. They also gave us the blueprint for the modern hospital drama. They showed us that all Vietnam vets should just retire to Hawai’i and become detectives. Most importnatly, the 80s gave us Manimal. That my friends, is something we should all be very, very grateful for. Well that and for the fact that Dennis Farina isn’t kicking our collective asses!