Throwback Thursday: “Airwolf” (1984-1987) and “Blue Thunder” (1984)

“Airwolf” (1984 – 1987) and “Blue Thunder” (1984) were part of the decade’s fad of building TV shows around incredibly high-tech vehicles — sports cars, helicopters … even a preposterously conceived “attack motorcycle.”  (Does anyone else remember 1985’s lamentable “Streethawk?”)

“Airwolf” was a decent techno-thriller produced by CBS.  (It was revamped in its final year and relaunched on the USA Network.)  It had great action sequences, a likable star (Jan-Michael Vincent) and seemed written to appeal to an older audience, with a fairly sophisticated and morally ambiguous overall story setup.  And goddam if it didn’t have a kickass theme — even if it’s a bit of an earworm and leans heavily on  the snythesizers.  (It was an 80’s thing.)  You can check it out in the first clip below.

“Blue Thunder” was ABC’s putative competitor, I suppose.  It was an adaptation of what I remember to be a pretty respectable 1983 feature film with Roy Scheider, but the show only ran for a single season.  I hardly remember it.  (As you can see from the second clip below, though, it had a pretty interesting cast, including Dana Carvey, Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith.)  I’ve never heard anyone bring up “Blue Thunder” nostalgically either.  I do remember that my friend Keith was a fan — he and I got into a spirited debate once about which could defeat the other in an aerial battle.

If Hollywood wants to recycle everything from the 1980’s … how the hell did “Airwolf” escape its radar?  (No pun intended.)  I would love to hear Ki: Theory update that killer theme.




“Throwback Thursday: “Bigfoot and Wildboy” (1977 – 1979)

“Bigfoot and Wildboy” (1977 – 1979) is another obscure TV show that is perhaps best forgotten.  It was a segment on something called “The Krofft Supershow” in 1977, I think, before the segments were re-edited into a half-hour program.  I became a fan of it as second grader in the fall of 1979.  (Or maybe I watched its reruns in third grade, in 1980 — to be honest, this was so long ago that I hardly remember.)

They don’t make TV shows like they used to.  And that’s a good thing.  “Bigfoot and Wildboy” seemed to rely heavily on three ingredients: an utra-cheesy 70’s score; truly terrible special effects (even for the time); and lots of shots of its two title characters either jumping, or running at the camera in slow motion.  (I actually just watched a few minutes of the full episode you see posted below.)

I was pretty preoccupied with “Bigfoot and Wildboy” when I was very young.  I remember having to make journal entries in the classroom, in which we could write and illustrate anything we wanted.  (It was precisely the sort of open-ended journal writing exercise with little academic value to which I’d be subjected, occasionally, throughout my school career — even in my college poetry class.)  But we were allowed to select our own topic in the second grade, and that was at least some fun for an imaginative kid.  The nuns (it was a Catholic school) sometimes prodded us to write about real-world events; 1979’s Space Shuttle Columbia, for example, was high on their list of suggestions.

Given a blank slate, though, I tended to write almost exclusively about imaginary characters and monsters — peppered, perhaps, with intermittent entries about dogs.  I distinctly remember drawing Bigfoot and Wildboy one day.  (If memory serves, we wrote and drew in our journals after recess, maybe to get us refocused.)  I drew them leaping over a fence and running toward the viewer.  (Seriously, the show had a lot of shots like that.  Check out the opening credits below.)

I remember a nun looking over my shoulder and inquiring delicately about the giant hairy humanoid and the half-naked boy … when I explained the characters to her, she suggested with (uncharacteristic) patience, “Tomorrow, let’s try to write about something from the real world.”


Throwback Thursday: NBC’s “Cliffhangers” (1979)

We were chatting about obscure TV shows a couple of weeks ago after I shared a post about “Manimal” (which I was surprised to find lovingly remembered by some otherwise sane people).  I was shocked when someone else remembered “Cliffhangers,” which ran for a single season on NBC in 1979.

Dear God, did I love this show when I was a first grader.  I hollered whenever it came on; I’m pretty sure my Mom was amused by that.  I think this is technically the first prime-time show I was ever a fan of.  (Yeah, I ended that last sentence with a preposition; it’s my damn blog.)


Throwback Thursday: more Halloween “treats” you never wanted.

I did a Throwback Thursday post two years ago about the Halloween treats that you never wanted to get as a kid in the 1980’s — Candy Corn, Good-n-Plenty (which were neither good nor plenty, in those little boxes), and, maybe worst of all, those little, soul-deadening, opposite-of-Halloween-candy toothbrush kits.

Here are a few more.  I’m surprised I left them out in 2015.

Bit-O-Honey was pretty gross, if memory serves.  Necco Wafers were disappointing — they were like larger, inferior versions of those little rolls of delicious Smarties.

Candy Buttons were perplexing.  They were clearly an inferior candy … they just didn’t taste all that hot.  And they were inexplicably stuck in tiny portions on a strip of paper that turned wet and gross with your saliva after the difficult work of plucking them off with your teeth.  (Was I just doing it wrong?)  I suspected as a kid that they were some kind of novelty candy from our grandparents’ time, and were therefore supposedly nostalgic or something.  (I am too lazy to Google such information now.)  I remember thinking that however quaint they might have been during those horse-and-buggy days, the adults who gave these out kinda needed to get over it.

Mary Janes were actually damned delicious.  But there was a catch.  They stuck to your teeth like superglue for hours, causing you enough grief to regret succumbing to their temptation.  They were like goddam high-tech cement from the future.

The very worst offenders that I can think of right now, though, were those hard candies known as “strawberry bon bons.”  (They’re pictured dead last below.)  They were like some mean-spirited joke — the outer shell was sweet, but hidden inside was a kind off … moist, repulsive mush that I suppose was meant to be strawberries.  Maybe it was derived from strawberries, I dunno.  But it had the consistency of insects that were first pulverized and then desiccated.  They were almost as bad as candy corn.




necco wafers - 2 oz



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Throwback Thursday: “Manimal” (1983)!

“Manimal” (1983) was an infamously bad TV show.  It was so bad that it became a routine punchline on “Mystery Science Theater 3000” about a decade later.

I dunno.  I remember being pretty keen as a kid to watch this dude turn into a panther.  (Panthers, by the way, were kind of a thing for a while in the 1980’s — on posters, stickers, notebooks, etc.  The girls had their unicorns and the boys had their panthers.)


Throwback Thursday: “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” (1979 – 1981)

When I was in the first grade, I absolutely loved “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.”  It was, technically I guess, a dystopian science fiction story in which a contemporary astronaut is frozen for 500 years, then returns to a post-nuclear earth.  Its feature-length pilot was created by Glen Larson, who also wrote the pilot for “Battlestar Galactica” the preceding year.  (Weird trivia — Wikipedia informs me that this was released theatrically, along with “Battlestar Galactica” in limited theaters.)

Of course I didn’t realize this at the time, but “Buck Rogers” was pretty bad.  It was horribly bad.  Indescribably bad.  It was even bad by cheesy 1970’s TV sci-fi standards.  You can actually find full episodes on Youtube, and I started one, just on a lark.  I could only watch about one minute, maybe less — plus that soul-deadening clip of “Twiki” in the second video below.   Seriously, it’s as though Larson was intentionally giving the worse script he could come up with to NBC as some sort of prank.  (After being told to resuscitate the heroic Buck, one advanced futureperson advises another, “He’s liable to be not too coherent.”)

About Twiki — that little guy fascinated a lot of very young kids in 1979.  For a while, it was all the rage for us to do our “deeby-deeby-deeby” Twiki impressions.



Throwback Thursday: Monogram’s “Battlestar Galactica” models (1978)

These “Battlestar Galacatica” models were released by Monogram in 1978, the same year the TV show debuted.  My older brother had all four of them hanging from the ceiling of our room.  (I was a first grader in 1978, and still a few years away from model building.)

I definitely had watched the show, but I wasn’t quite as into it as the other boys in my class.  (And that’s probably ironic, considering my sheer fanaticism as an adult for Ron Moore’s remake series between 2004 and 2010.)

The other boys were constantly screaming about it.  (Maybe I was just a quiet kid — it seemed to me at the time that they were endlessly hollering about whatever it was that they liked.)  I’m not sure why I was less enthusiastic — I certainly loved my “Star Wars.”   And a year after “Battlestar Galactica” hit the small screen, my best friend Shawn and I went nuts for a show that is now remembered by few — “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.”