The news was not good for us Gen X kids this week. We lost Lisa Marie Presley, Jeff Beck, and Adam Rich. Lisa Marie and Adam were both the same age at me. So was Ken Block, who I have never heard of, but also died this week. Does that make me feel old? No, they both died very young. It’s tragic. And bad things happen in threes. Usually.
What makes me feel old is that Adam Rich was the youngest child in my childhood favorite television series, “Eight is Enough” from 1977 through 1981. He played Nicholas Bradford, the adorable but bratty and lovable imp with seven older siblings who were always getting into mischief one way or another every Wednesday night starting when I was in fourth grade. No, what makes me feel old is that fact that in my mind, Nicholas Bradford is still 12 years old, and always will be. But he was not. Adam Rich was 54 years old, and “Eight is Enough” was on TV FORTY-TWO YEARS AGO! How can that even be, when I’m clearly not a day over 31? When I was in fifth grade, my friend and I would watch the show religiously every week, practically taking notes to compare the next day so we could then reenact the scenes we loved the most, with the characters we admired and loved the most, on the playground during recess. Yes, it’s pretty corny to look back at, but 42 years have gone by since those lunchtime games, and she’s still the first person I thought of when I heard that Adam Rich had passed away. Safe passage, Adam.
It’s also hard because I am deep into writing my series, “McKinney High Class of 1986,” and my brain has been firmly planted in that era for hours each day since November 2021. I think in the 80s now, I think about what the kids would be doing, and saying to each other, what they would be wearing, what music they would listen to, and of course, what shows they would be watching on TV. Well, if we were talking about fourth grade, I can tell you it was “Eight is Enough.” But what else captivated our time and attention back then? What did TV have to offer in the days just prior to and during the music video era, when we turned our attention to MTV, VH1, and “Friday Night Videos?”
Looking back at it now, I cringe to think about what we watched back then. I’m going to share a list of the shows I was enamored with back then, and a little bit about them, and then I’m gonna wonder what it was that made us watch. Remember, this was an era when to change the channel, we actually had to get off our butts from our cozy chairs and couches and actually approach the television sets to turn a dial. So we had to be committed to what we were going to watch for the next hour if we didn’t want to be bothered to get up again. So let’s take a look:
- Miami Vice: Wow. I used to love that show so much! I couldn’t wait to see what kind of adventure Crockett and Tubbs would have that week, and what cool outfits they would be sporting, what color blazer over what color tee shirt. Basically, they were lovable and macho cops, in mild Miami, hitting the hard streets to eradicate crime and lock up the bad guys. And they had a wicked good soundtrack. Glenn Frye actually guest starred in one episode, “Smuggler’s Blues,” which featured his hit song of the same name. And Phil Collins was in “Phil the Shill,” featuring his song, “Life is a Rat Race.” Those guys were way awesome. Still are (RIP Glenn). Okay, confession: I used to go to watch Miami Vice at my high school with the boys in the dorm (I didn’t live in the dorms), and I felt so cool, hanging out with the guys, watching the coolest show on TV at the time. Well, then they watched “Damien, Omen 3” and that was totally uncool, and I can still see the guy pulling back the hair to reveal the “666” on the kid’s head…but I digress. Miami Vice: Cool in the 80s. Misogynistic, campy, and horrible in retrospect. But good memories, nonetheless.
- Murder She Wrote: I don’t have much to say about this show that I watched, which had about 10 other variations of older, professional type people who somehow got themselves sucked into murder mysteries they had to solve, week after week. There were doctors, writers, lawyers, ex-wives of millionaires, actually millionaires with nothing better to do, and many others. The interesting thing is it took about 40 years for viewers to finally figure out the big twist. The question was: why did these people always seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when these murders happened in the first place? Well, the answer is actually pretty obvious: IT WAS BECAUSE THEY WERE THE REAL MURDERERS! Couldn’t anyone see it back then?? Were we that oblivious to the truth? They framed all those innocent people at the end of each show! They were actually serial killers!!!! Okay, okay, I’m alright now. All is well. “Murder She Wrote,” “Diagnosis: Murder,” “Matlock,” and “Hart to Hart:” Good back then, and since many of the repeats are still shown in syndication today, still good today, if you can get past the whole SERIAL KILLER thing.
- The Love Boat and Fantasy Island: I put these two together because they were inseparable. They were on every Saturday night for, like, my whole childhood through college. When I was a teenager, I babysat for my cousins every Saturday night; I had a raging social life as you can see. After I put the kids to bed, the only option to keep me occupied until the parents came home was these two shows. And God forbid they came home before the dramatic conclusion of that night’s Fantasy Island! So, Love Boat: Basically, go on a cruise to meet your soul mate, and a few days later, you leave the ship announcing your engagement. Or go on with your horrible spouse, and rekindle the romance, and have a renewal of vows. Or maybe you go on the cruise to have a wedding at sea, but learn that your fiancé is a turd, and fall in love with his best friend, or brother, and in the end, the wedding is cancelled, but no one cares, because you found true love. And then there is the lovable crew of misfits who run the place under the strong guidance of Captain Stubing (Murray from the Mary Tyler Moore show). If you are really lucky, you will disembark from the ship and catch a plane right to Fantasy Island to have your biggest wish come true. But maybe, watch out what you wish for… Mr. Roarke, your host. And you get to watch his witty rapport with Tattoo, his, what? Assistant? Mr. Roarke always freaked me out. Who the hell was that guy? Some people think he was some kind of angel, but I’m pretty sure he’s, well, the other thing. But on one episode, he actually did battle with Roddy McDowall (the guy from Planet of the Apes) as the devil. Hmm. I don’t think so. Okay, prognosis: Loved the shows in the 80s, don’t know how I would have lived without them every week. Maybe I would have read a book, who knows. Now? Yikes. Yeah, no. I have seen the repeats. No thank you. Uh uh. And recently I saw a remake of Fantasy Island. People. Please. Leave well enough alone. We had to live in the 80s. The kids today don’t deserve the torture! And what was with adding a kid to the cast of Love Boat? Jumping the shark? Vicky Stubing (the captain’s “illegitimate” daughter whose mother died, who he never knew about, and who stowed away on his ship and became part of his crew, intending to add cuteness (?) to the show?). No Vicky ruined the show. And does anyone remember Typhoid Julie?
- Sitcoms that we
enduredwatched lovingly in my youth: “Charles in Charge” (I deeply regret how Scott Baio turned out), “It’s Your Move” (Jason Bateman: swoon then, swoon now), “The Cosby Show” (which should never be on TV again for obvious reasons), “My Two Dads’ (but not in the way you would think), “Night Court” (Classic, but why the remake?), “Alf” (okay, wicked funny), “Cheers” (the best comedy in history, unchallenged), “Growing Pains” (again, sorry for Kirk Cameron, ew), “Family Ties” (a favorite…ahead of its time, and introduced us to the unparalleled Michael J. Fox), and lastly, “Saved by the Bell” (oh come on, those kids were not real. Did those kids go to your high school? They certainly didn’t go to mine!). Back then: Loved them all except “Saved by the Bell,” even if I did watch it from time to time…Now: Cosby-no. 2 Dads-had a chance to do something awesome, but didn’t, still love Paul Reiser. I later met one of the guys in “It’s Your Move” in college, so that was cool, so yes to that one (and did I mention Jason Bateman? Oh, I did?). The rest were pretty good. I would maybe watch them again. Oh, not Charles in Charge. I forgot that one. No. I think we’ve had enough of the down and out kid who ends up getting the hot blond girlfriend at the same time as endearing small children and their parents. And Scott Baio. No.
Okay, so that was sort of fun, going back down memory lane. Man, TV was really different back then. Thank goodness for music videos. Back then: awesome. Now: today’s kids: “what the heck is a music video? What’s a VJ? Isn’t that a female body part??? Wait-TVs had dials? What’s vertical hold?”
One last note: I will be starting the cover reveal for my upcoming book, “May I Have Your Attention Please,” starting next week on my Facebook page, Debby Meltzer Quick Author, and on TikTok, @dbmquick. Please follow me on these pages. And please explore my page here at debbymeltzerquickauthor.com.
As always, thanks for reading to the end! Have a great week!
2 thoughts on “C’mon and Zoom Zoom”
I agree with EVERYTHING you wrote. Must be cuz we are the same age. Don’t forget the quote from Murder She Wrote: “I need MORE WARMTH!” It was a line of a news director who was forever unsatisfied with his news reporters.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I remember that quote. Most likely, because my best friend never let me forget it! 🙂