Wednesday, August 28, 2013

An '80s Summer Classic

Just as summer is about to fade away, here's a scene from a memorable 1983 summer comedy classic.

Warning: there is one somewhat "not safe for work" line in this scene. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

'80s Summer Memories

As we reach mid-August, it brought to mind some memories of '80s summers.

Check out this California Cooler commercial from 1986, which featured the '60s surfer classic "Louie Louie." The culture of the '80s had a great way of appropriating nostalgia of times past, and re-creating it in the '80s in a fun filled and often zany way. This commercial, for example, invokes this imagery of some far away, perhaps past, moment in time when people got together, sang wacky songs, and hung around the beach. It could well have been the surfin' '60s, but the commercial appropriates it for the '80s and leaves you with a very-80s spirit of fun and excitement.

And here's Bananarama, with their very summery hit, "Cruel Summer." The lyrics invoke the heat of the season.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Material Girl

As usual, I'm a little late with this... but August 16 was Madonna's birthday. So how better to celebrate (belatedly) the birthday of the iconic '80s material girl, but with the iconic Marilyn Monroe inspired "Material Girl" video.

I remember this video was frequently shown on many an '80s retrospective as symbolic of '80s music and culture. 

Catchy too.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Greatest American Hero

One of my well remembered TV series from the early '80s was Greatest American Hero (1981-1983), a quirky super hero series which featured an unlikely and fumbling everyday guy as its protagonist. I think what made the series so likable was the sense that the "hero" was someone who never even sought the role, a well meaning person who had hero status thrust upon him and tried to deal with it as best as he could. Neither the hero nor the show took themselves too seriously.

William Katt starred as the unlikely hero, Ralph Hinkley, a schoolteacher assigned to a special education class. Connie Selleca stars as Pam Davidson, an attorney who handled Hinkleys divorce, but soon becomes his love interest in the show. Ralph's last name was changed to "Hanley" after an assassin whose last name was Hinkley attempted to kill President Reagan in March of 1981. 

The great Robert Culp played FBI agent Bill Maxwell, who somehow linked up with Ralph and Pam, and often provided the more hard-edged strategic mindset which the others lacked.

Together, the disparate trio repeatedly found themselves batting bad guys after an unexpected encounter gave Ralph his super powers.

During an trek in the desert, Ralph and Bill had a close encounter with space aliens. (I always thought the spaceship was cool.)

The aliens beamed down a special suit which only Ralph could use, and which was the source of his powers, which included such typical super hero abilities as flight, invisibility, strength and remote viewing.

But the mild mannered Ralph proved to be an uneasy superhero, which made him all the more likable in the role. More problematic was the fact that they lost the manual provided with the suit which showed how to properly use it. So, Ralph, with the help of Bill and Pam, had to learn how to use it by trial and error, with often funny results. Ralph's haphazard effort at flying was a frequent feature of the show..

Heres the intro, courtesy of

The theme song, written by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer and sung by Joey Scarbury, became a hit in 1981. I remember hearing it frequently on the radio back then.

 I was 11 years old that year, when the show premiered. Now, looking back, I see both the song and the TV show as reflective of that era. When the show premiered in 1981, the United States was just recovering from a rough period where hostages were held for over a year in Iran, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and the economy was in a bad state. Although the country was not yet out of the woods, by any means, there was the uneasy glimmer of hope and optimism. I think the portrayal of Ralph's uneasy hero status, and the song about being surprised at unexpected success, seemed to echo this mood.