Ah, nostalgia. Say what you will about the TV landscape, television today is pretty high class. Outside of lame comedies like According to Jim, and reality TV in general, TV these days is pretty top notch. Shows like Boston Legal and Medium and many others are fast-paced, plot-rich, and engaging. Shows from the eighties and earlier simply would not play these days.
But for post-baby-boomer, early Generation-Xers like me, some of the classic shows of the 80s & 90s will always hold a soft-spot in our hearts, regardless of their merits. Here are a few of my favorites, even though they'd only last a few episodes these days.
#1 - Gimme a Break - A standard-issue sitcom with racist overtones, this show cast a fat black woman (Nell Carter) in charge of a bunch of white kids. Still, she managed to rise above the premise.
#2 - Herman's Head - A tragically underrated sitcom from FOX's semi-early days. It starred William Ragsdale (Fright Night), who had a cast of characters in his head that represented his various emotions. Also starred Yeardly Smith (Lisa Simpson) and Hank Azaria (countless other Simpsons characters). Very funny, and would probably play today.
#3 - Empty Nest - The brilliant Richard Mulligan (Burt Campbell on Soap) played a widower who suddenly had to deal with his daughters moving in. Dinah Manoff (Marty Marachino--like the cherry--from Grease) played the crazy daughter, and paradoxically, troubled Kristy McNichol played the level-headed daughter. Throw in David Leisure (the lying Isuzu guy) and Park Overall, and you had a very, very talented cast. This quasi-spinoff of The Golden Girls had less of a following, but was just as funny.
#4 - Head of the Class - This was Howard Hessman's follow-up to his classic role as Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati (not counting his short-lived role as Bonnie Franklin's husband in the waning seasons of One Day at a Time). Here, Hessman played a throwback hippie teacher to a bunch of intellectually gifted students. Not a classic, but it was pretty funny in its day. And co-star Robin Givens married Mike Tyson, so. . .no wait, that's not so good. . .