The Essentials: TV Action (80’s Edition)
The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington hits theaters this coming Friday September 26th, but I wonder how many people who go out to see the film this weekend ever saw or even know about the TV show the movie is inspired by.
This certainly isn’t the first time a movie based on a TV show has happened and I’m confident in saying it won’t be the last.
But all the commercials and social media hype for The Equalizer definitely had me thinking about the rich history of action on TV, more specifically action shows from the 80’s and that is why I now present to you The Essential Action TV shows of the 1980’s.
1. The A-Team – It is hard to argue that The A-Team was not THE action show of the 1980’s. Former Army Special Forces turned soldiers of fortune after they are accused of a crime they did not commit. You had the leader and the man with the plan, Hannibal. The brute force of B.A. Baracus. The unpredictable Murdoch. And the smooth con man Face. Great characters, perfectly cast (except for Face in the pilot) and a fun concept. Plus Mr. T was everywhere back then… he had his own cartoon show, his own cereal, his own toys. He even teamed up with Hulk Hogan at the first WrestleMania! It should be noted for Special Forces guys they all had terrible aim.
2. Knight Rider – Not far behind The A-Team was Knight Rider. As if though Trans Ams weren’t cool enough, Michael Knight’s Trans Am, named KITT, had Turbo boost power and it could talk thanks to artificial intelligence… plus that red light on the front end. It really was the coolest car on television (Sorry General Lee).
3. Magnum P.I. – While the first two shows I mentioned owe a lot of their success to kids, Magnum P.I. was a hit with the ladies. Tom Selleck played private investigator Thomas Magnum, who had the tough job of solving crimes in beautiful Hawaii.
4. MacGyver – Part scientist/part government agent, there wasn’t much MacGyver (played by Richard Dean Anderson) couldn’t fix with his Swiss Army knife and some duct tape. It is hard to believe SNL’s MacGyver spoof, MacGruber, made it to the big screen before a movie based on MacGyver.
5. Airwolf – Who doesn’t want to watch a show about a super sonic high-tech military helicopter that is flown around by Jan-Michael Vincent? I know I did. Throw in the delightful Ernest Borgnine as his sidekick and you have a real winner on your hands. Plus there was the guy with the eye patch!
6. Hunter – Rick Hunter (played by former NFL defensive end Fred Dryer) was known as “The Dirty Harry of Television”. He got the job done by any means necessary and he didn’t even have a cool car. But he did have a female partner, Dee Dee McCall (played by Stepfanie Kramer). The show got off to a rough start ratings wise, but would stay on the air for 7 seasons.
7. The Equalizer – Before there was Denzel, there was Edward Woodward. Woodward played Robert McCall, a disenfranchised spy who calls it quits and uses his skills and connections to assist those in need and in the process make up for some of the awful things he was forced to do in his previous line of work. Woodward brings a great deal of class to the character and dare I say was the most sophisticated crime fighter of all-time.
8. The Fall Guy – Lee Majors played Hollywood stunt man by day and bounty hunter by night, Colt Seavers. Having Heather Thomas on the show certainly didn’t hurt the show’s popularity.
9. Street Hawk – NBC had a high tech car with Knight Rider, CBS had a high tech helicopter with Airwolf so ABC decided they would get themselves a show about a high tech motorcycle with Street Hawk. Rex Smith played Jesse Mach, a motorcycle cop who was injured in the line of duty and recruited to be a part of a top secret government project known as Street Hawk.
10. The Master– Have I mentioned in previous posts how popular ninjas were in the 80’s? NBC knew it and that’s why they green lit The Master. Unfortunately even the inclusion of action icons Lee Van Cleef and Sho Kosugi couldn’t keep it on the air for long.