Like Jell-o pudding and Cool Whip. Hairspray and perms. Rainbows and
ponies. Some things were MADE to go together. Check out these fabulous
crime fighting TV duos from the 80s. Some were all business, some were
romantic, some kept us guessing, but they were ALL awesome teams.
What’s that? Punks making trouble in Malibu? Shoplifting gang on Sunset
Strip? Quick, send Ponch and Jon! CHiPs chronicled the adventures that tough-guy Ponch (Erik Estrada) and straight-laced Jon (Larry
Wilcox) encountered as partners in the California Highway Patrol. Based
in southern California, CHiPS had the added allure of motorcycles and
mirrored sunglasses. Side note: Estrada didn’t appear in seven episodes
due to money disputes, and was replaced by Bruce Jenner during that
time. CHiPS aired from 1977 until 1983:
Watch the CHiPs intro.
to Hart (1979-1984) starred Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers
as the Harts, a wealthy couple who secretly work as detectives to spice
things up. My favorite thing about this show was Stefanie Power’s hair.
I totally coveted those fluffy auburn locks. The butler, Max, helped
them out with their escapades, but it was really all about Jonathan and
Watch the Hart to Hart intro.
Remington Steele ran from 1982 until 1987. My main memory of
this show is one of frustration: How in the world did mild-mannered
Laura Holt (played by Stephanie Zimbalist) land a hottie like Remington
Steele (Pierce Brosnan)? Sure, she was the boss of the detective outfit,
and Pierce Brosnan’s character had a shady past, but whatever: he was
hot as sin and cool as ice. Mmm-hmm.
Watch the Remington Steele intro.
Scarecrow and Mrs. King offered a slightly more tepid take on
the battle against baddies. The 1983-1987 series starred former angel
Kate Jackson as Amanda King, a divorced housewife and mother who bumps
into Agency guy Lee Stetson, played by Bruce Boxleitner. Amanda helps
out with a case, and gets hired by the Agency as a result. She and Lee
(codename: SCARECROW) work together on exciting missions and, you
guessed it, eventually fall in love.
Watch the Scarecrow and Mrs. King intro.
Offering a feminist spin on the police
Cagney and Lacey starred Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly as two NYC
detectives. CONFESSION: I never actually watched this. My teenage self
craved romantic knowledge, and where is the romance in a show about two
women cops, I ask you? However, I clearly did not hold the majority
opinion, because the two actresses won the Emmy for Best Lead Actress in
a Drama for SIX YEARS IN A ROW, which is pretty dang impressive. The
show aired from 1982 until 1988. Interesting tidbits: M*A*S*H’s Loretta
Swit played Cagney in the original TV movie, but couldn’t get out of her
M*A*S*H contract to work for the TV show. Then Meg Foster was Cagney for
the first season, but The Man decided she was too aggressive. Here,
then, is the SECOND season intro with Sharon Gless as the Cagney you
know and love:
Watch the Cagney and Lacey intro.
1982 also brought us the world’s first
human-Trans Am partnership in Knight Rider. Oh, yeah. David
Hasselhoff was a billionaire detective, Michael Knight, who got a new
identity and then drove around fighting crime in the Knight Industries
Two Thousand, better known as KITT. KITT had artificial intelligence and
a dry sense of humor, as well as all sorts of cool Batmobile-y tricks
and a red light on the hood to let you know he’s thinking. KITT wasn’t
just a radical car; with his intellect and skills, he was the perfect
partner for Michael. The show aired until 1986.
Watch the Knight Rider intro.
T-shirts and pastel blazers. Jan
Hammer’s synthesized music. Ferraris and speedboats and drugs. Miami Vice took the country by storm
from 1984 until 1989. The gritty crime drama influenced music and
fashion in a big way. Sonny Crockett, played by Don Johnson, and Rico
Tubbs, played by Philip Michael Thomas, were vice cops in Dade County.
Crockett and Tubbs took care of business and looked totally bitchin’ in
Watch the Miami Vice intro.
Last but TOTALLY not least is what I
consider the ultimate 80s partnership show:
Moonlighting. The 1985-1989 series starred Cybill Shepherd as
Maddie Hayes and Bruce Willis as David Addison. Maddie and David
together run the Blue Moon Detective Agency. The wisecracking,
bickering, and sexual tension combined to make Moonlighting an
enormous success; the show launched Bruce Willis’s career. Al Jarreau’s
awesome theme song became a hit in its own right:
Watch the Moonlighting intro.
All these partnered-up shows were the
bomb, and just listening to the fabulous theme songs takes me right on
back to the eighties. I’m totally inspired: with a good partner, you can
take on the world. Bad dudes, beware!