Miami Vice

•June 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

So….how do we boil down 112 episodes of one of the 80s’ best and most influential TV shows into a few hundred words?

How about: Crockett. Tubbs. Castillo. Elvis the alligator. T-shirt and blazer. Jan Hammer. Stan & Larry. Gina. Trudy. Ferrari. Guns. Drugs. Sheena Easton. Evan. Caroline. Golden Triangle. Noogie. Phil Collins. Little Richard. Miles Davis. St. Vitus Dance. Burnett. Michael Mann…

We could go on and on. Heck, we could write individual posts about pretty much every episode, including the phenomenal season two ep “Out Where the Buses Don’t Run”, which TV Guide named as one of the top 100 TV episodes of all time.

The saga of Crockett and Tubbs and their ongoing struggle to bring law and order to Miami was nothing short of a cultural revolution…and to think it all started with a simple memo from Brandon Tartikoff (the former head of NBC’s Entertainment Division), who wrote just two words: MTV cops.

Michael Mann took the idea and ran with it, creating a music-driven, moody, dark show (though with occasional glimpses of humor––thanks Stan!) that never shied away from showing the seedy underbelly of vice cops in what was then one of America’s most vice-ridden cities.

The list of guest stars could scroll for days, as could the episode-by-episode soundtrack. And that’s before we even begin to talk about the shows it inspired (NYPD Blue, Homicide, The Wire…) and the movies (Bad Boys, To Live and Die in LA, The Usual Suspects…).

But for us, THE Miami Vice moment came just over halfway through the pilot episode (“Brother’s Keeper”), as the newly introduced pair drive down the mean streets in a scene set to the ethereal, haunting “In the Air Tonight”. We knew instantly what we were in for. And we loved it.

Miami Vice lasted five full seasons on NBC (1984-1989), never doing really well ratings-wise, but there’s no denying it’s impact in our favorite decade.

It was a great run, and we’ll freely admit that when we saw Crockett and Tubbs drive away one last time in that “stolen” white Ferrari after turning in their badges in the final episode (“Freefall”), a part of us died too.

“Hey Tubbs, you ever consider a career in southern law enforcement?”

“Maybe. Maybe.”

We ♥ Miami Vice.

Need You Tonight/Mediate

•June 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Come over here…”

Any of you who join us in looking back fondly on the late 80s and remembering them as “INXS time” (yes, that’s a thing) no doubt share our pain.

How amazing was Kick when it debuted in mid-October 1987? (We’ve already sung its praises, in case you need a refresher.) And how even-amazinger was “Need You Tonight/Mediate”, the album’s first single, which first hit our ears a month earlier?

Notice that, yes, we called it “Need You Tonight/Mediate” and not just “Need You Tonight”…which brings us back to the aforementioned pain. Sure, despite the flawless segue linking the fourth and fifth songs on Kick, we only really ever heard “Need You Tonight” on the radio, leaving “Mediate” be relegated to the forgotten netherworld of 80s pop/rock.

It may seem like a minor little thing to get all bent-out-of-shape over, but when you have something so good (and as relatively short) as “Mediate” just sitting there already?? Just play it DJs! Come on!

Fortunately MTV occasionally played the songs together, thanks mostly to the uber-memorable dual-video directed by Richard Lowenstein…which went on to win 5 Moon-men at the 1988 Video Music Awards. The “Need You Tonight” section riffed on the Kick album cover before becoming a collage-tastic bit of video genius, and then the “Mediate” part payed homage to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. Together they made five-and-a-half minutes of awesome:

Seriously…five-and-a-half minutes. That’s all it would have taken for radio stations to play the whole song(s), as it (they) was (were) meant to be heard.

But, eh, we’re just being petty, we suppose. “Need You Tonight” (without “Mediate”) spent a whopping 25 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 including a single week at the top spot in January 1988. And it would end the year as the 2nd biggest song, behind only George Michael’s “Faith”.

Not too shabby…for half a song.

Grrrrr.

“…like pretty Kate has sex ornate.”

We ♥ Need You Tonight/Mediate.

The Breakfast Club

•June 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment


“You mess with the bull, you get the horns!”

In 1985 John Hughes was really getting into the swing of things, and his next hit, The Breakfast Club, was no different.

In fact, this little gem went on to earn the unofficial title of “quintessential high school film”, so if there’s anything more 80s than The Breakfast Club, we’d love to know about it.

(Just kidding. There isn’t. No point in checking.)

The movie, starring 80s fan favorites Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, and Anthony Michael Hall, focused on teens from different cliques forced into the school library for an all-day Saturday detention. While none of them are friends (C’mon! Jocks can’t be friends with geeks and burnouts…it’s the 80s!), they do all know of each other.

At first, tensions are high as Bender (Nelson) antagonizes the others, and Assistant Principal Vernon intends to make their day as miserable as possible. But as the day wears on, makeovers are had, the required dance montages happen, and problems are solved as all the kids realize they all aren’t so different from each other after all. A few romances blossom, and the movie, of course, ends with the iconic scene of Bender throwing his fist in the air as he walks off into the sunset.

Off camera, things didn’t go so smoothly, though. Nelson got sooo into character that he often bullied Ringwald…which pissed off John Hughes so much that after filming ended, he vowed to never work with Nelson again. *Sigh* We know it’s probably not what you want to hear. So we’re not gonna dwell on that.

The movie grossed over $38 million and went on to cement its standing in the pantheon of high school movies. Whether you’re a total basket case, a brain, a jock, or a princess, The Breakfast Club has something for all of us, and that’s why we love it.

We ♥ The Breakfast Club.

Calculator Watch

•June 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Hey, we couldn’t ALL rock the ultra-hip Esprit pull-overs and pegged Jordache jeans, right? No, back in the 80s, as The Breakfast Club so deftly pointed out (more on that tomorrow, by the way), there were jocks and princesses and nerds. And for every dude (or dudette) who adorned his wrist with a Swatch (or three), there were others of us who wouldn’t step out the door without our super-functional (albeit clunky) calculator watch.

First developed by Pulsar in 1975, the calculator watch didn’t really take off until our favorite decade. (Isn’t it that way with MOST things?) From Casio to Armitron to Timex, everyone got in on the action…and why wouldn’t they?

Giving people the opportunity to perform simple mathematical functions from the privacy of their own wrist was space-age kinda stuff. “You mean I don’t have to take up precious space in my shirt pocket for my Texas Instruments TI-25 anymore? Sign me up!”

Are we right? Or are we right?

Sure, you could only perform basic (+-x÷) math on most of the watches, and you needed a finger the size of a newborn infant’s to be able to press ‘1’ without also pressing ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘4’, and ‘0’ at the same time…but still––math on our watch! Awesome!

Believe it or not (and yes, we totally believe it), the calculator watch is still very much a ‘thing’. You can get this Casio beauty for under $20. Today!

I mean, these days we’ll just use our Blackberry if we need to multiply 45 by 23– but back in the 80s we were all about the calculator watch. Jordache always made our ass look huge anyway…

We ♥ the calculator watch.

“This is Your Brain on Drugs.”

•June 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

To be honest, as most of us children of the 80s floated through our favorite decade listening to Mr. Mister and taking in the latest Eddie Murphy flicks, we weren’t thinking very much about doing drugs. That’s not to say, though, that drugs weren’t a big thing in the 80s. From the rise of crack to the uber-prevalence of cocaine, drugs were certainly a problem…and as much as Nancy Reagan thought “Just Say No” would actually make a difference, well… Come on, get real.

But then in 1987 we all got the message loud and clear, and it couldn’t have been more simple. All it took was a fried egg in hot pan.

Just like that, any thoughts you may have entertained about snorting the ol’ Bolivian marching powder went right out the window. It was one of the 80s’ biggest ‘Daaaaamn!’ moments, and though there obviously aren’t any statistics that can prove the PSA’s effectiveness, we’re willing to bet that it made a BIG difference. And, hey, if it only prevented ONE kid from picking up a crack pipe, it was worth it.

The spot was thought-up by the now-defunct Keye/Donna/Pearlstein agency, and it was directed by Joe Pytka, who went on to direct the videos for Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” and The Beatles’ “Free as a Bird”, along with Space Jam.

It has since gone on to become a pop-culture phenomenon all its own, having been referenced in countless shows and movies, including The Simpsons, Married…with Children, Roseanne, Saturday Night Live, and Beverly Hills 90210 over the years. And in a 1997 article, Entertainment Weekly called it 8th best commercial of all time. (The Energizer Bunny was #1, for the record.)

The American Egg Board may have had a bee in their bonnet about it, thinking kids would watch it and think that EGGS were the problem…but, that’s the American Egg Board for you. For the rest of us, the fried egg did the trick. We continued to enjoy our breakfast with a cooked chicken embryo, but we sure as hell didn’t cook up some heroin with it.

Any questions?

We ♥ “This is your brain on drugs”.

Pictionary

•June 8, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Originally it was marketed as “charades on paper”, and why not? Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that stick…and make someone really, really rich.

In this case, it was Seattle waiter Rob Angel, who in 1981 was oft prone to sketch phrases at parties and have people guess what he drew. Maybe he didn’t feel like tugging at his ear for “sounds like”…or making that movie-projector motion with his hands. Who knows?

What we do know is that Angel made it work. Eventually he got his friends in on the action, telling them to flip through a dictionary and draw the random word they landed on. (Hence, the game’s name…in case you’ve been wondering all these years.)

By 1984 Angel had decided that he was really onto something, so he did what any normal guy would do…read the entire dictionary, make a list of words, categorize them on cards, store the cards in little boxes, place those boxes into a bigger box, add a game board and a timer, mass-produce it all, ship it, and sell it.

Within three years, Angel was selling 3 million copies of that simple little game in the simple dark blue box.

In fact, just after the 1987 holidays, Toy and Hobby World magazine surveyed retailers about the biggest toys of the season, and Pictionary was #2, only behind the new and snazzy Nintendo Entertainment System.

Then in 1989, everyone’s favorite “charades on paper” game was featured in what would go on to become everyone’s favorite romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally (which we ♥!).

Baby fish mouth!

In 1994, Pictionary was sold to Hasbro, which then sold it to Mattel in 2001. At the time, more than 32 million copies were in print.

And to think, it all started with a Seattle waiter who just liked to doodle.

We ♥ Pictionary.

Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears

•June 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“They’re dashing and daring, courageous and caring, faithful and friendly, with stories to share!”

As much as we enjoy writing and posting these daily reminders of the best things to emerge from our favorite decade, we won’t lie——sometimes it’s a little bit heartbreaking. No, not “my fish just died in a tragic explosion” heartbreaking, but still…it’s kinda bittersweet to think back on the awesomeness of the 80s and remember the things that kids these days won’t ever get to experience for themselves.

…like Saturday morning cartoons.

Among the best of the bunch was Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears, which premiered in 1985 and was the first (along with The Wuzzles, which we ♥!) animated TV series from the Mouse House. And because it had the Disney name on it, we knew we were in for a treat.

Sure enough the studio gave us a cartoon that looked like it was light years ahead of the other Saturday morning fare at the time (ironic, since it took place in Medieval times). It was polished and smart, and it even had a killer theme song, which was sung by none other than Joseph Williams, the one-time lead singer of Toto and also the son of composer John Williams. Who knew?

Of course when we think about Sunni, Zummi, Gruffi, and the gang’s quest to help Cavin and Princess Calla against the evil ways of Duke Igthorn (booooooo!), we can’t help but think first and foremost about that delicious Gummiberry Juice. Created by combining just the perfect mix of a rainbow’s worth of colored berries, it was as much a part of the show as the bears themselves.

And how Hi-C, Capri Sun, or Kool-Aid didn’t find a way to buy the rights and mass-produce the stuff for us humans, we’ll never know.

No, today’s kids may never know the joy of waking up on a Saturday morning with four straight hours of cartoons laid out in front of them, but at least we can share stories of what life (and cartoons) used to be like in the good ol’ days.

“High adventure that’s beyond compare, they are the Gummi Bears!”

We ♥ Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears.