Since the Emmys are on tonight (Sunday night), I thought I'd switch gears from the music-focused Blast from the Past entries, and go to television. When it comes to television of today, I'd have to say that comedy is in fine form. In fact, I think we are currently in a real golden era for fantastic sitcoms, which today often means single-camera shows with no laugh track. Going back to the 80s--though the shows are stuffed with nostalgia--there is often more of a "stage play" feel to sitcoms. Many wouldn't play well today.
Starting with 1980 (though technically speaking that is the last year of the 1970s. . .look it up), Taxi was the coda to the stellar ABC Tuesday night line-up. Though it had its moments, I never cared for it much. It certainly had the harshly lit, playing to the audience stage feel I was talking about. But for some reason, I didn't like it, and particularly loathed the theme song Angela, which never really fit the absurdest vibe of the show. Taxi won both 80 and 81. So, I'm including WKRP in Cincinnati, a runner-up both years, and a vastly superior show, with a vastly superior theme song.
In 1982, both of the above shows were still in contention. But the winner was the long-running Barney Miller. It wasn't one of my favorites, but might be were it on today. It was a little "old" for me at the time. But I always dug the theme song. 1983 brought the first win for Cheers, the long-running Ted Danson comedy. I was slow to liking Cheers, but then, so was the rest of America. I still can't believe it was started when I was a sophomore in high school. Soooo long ago.
1984 was the year I graduated high school, and started college. Cheers was still the Emmy winner. So, I'll choose a period runner-up I always liked, the Susan St. James/Jane Curtin comedy, Kate & Allie. For 1985, The Cosby Show took the crown. Due to un-embeddable YouTube clips though, I had to settle for the final season's theme song. Why the f*&k to people do that to the videos? Ticks me off!
1986 and 1987 were both won by a comedy about retirees living in Florida. Yes, a cast with primarily 60+ year-old women, The Golden Girlsmanaged to not only win the Emmy, but also was extremely popular on Saturday nights, a night the networks don't even try to program anymore. By 1988, it was finally time to sentimentalize the late 60s and early 70s. The Wonder Years, a sitcom that seems very un-80s, picked up the award.
1989 saw a return win for Cheers, so to quote Wolf Blitzer and David Gregory, "we're going to have to leave it there. Happy Monday, and welcome to the new fall TV season!