TV Guide Fall Preview 1983 Introduced a Mixed Bag of New Shows
1983 was a fun year for television watchers. The networks debuted a number of dramas, cop shows, sitcoms, and even sci-fi/fantasy programs in their 1983 Prime Time line up. Not every television show was a big hit, but the year did turn out several memorable programs that maintain a cult following to this very day. Here’s a look back at 13 memorable programs that appeared in the TV Guide fall preview 1983 issue.
The Hits and Misses of 1983
1. The A-Team (January 23, 1983 – March 8, 1987)
If you can find them, you can call the A-Team. The ragtag group of wanted ex-military heroes/fugitives popped up all over the United States offering muscle to people in need. The show reinvigorated George Peppard and made Mr. T into an iconic 1980’s figure.
2. Goodnight Beantown (April 2, 1983 – August 29, 1984)
This “dramedy” turned out to be a bit bittersweet since it was the last major television series to feature the great Bill Bixby. Bixby teamed with Mariette Hartley to deliver the news, the serious and the funny, on a Boston television station.
3. The Mississippi (March 25, 1983 – March 6, 1984)
This short-lived series focuses on the weekly adventures of a retired criminal defense attorney who moved to the quiet life along the Mississippi River working as a riverboat captain. Things didn’t stay quiet forever as the captain consistently found new clients in legal woes.
4. Cutter to Houston (October 1 – December 31, 1983)
Medical dramas can be hit or miss and this one was a huge miss lasting only 9 episodes. Cutter Community Hospital of Texas was the site of a few melodramatic adventures on a show that couldn’t connect with an audience.
5. Hardcastle and McCormick (September 18, 1983 – May 5, 1986)
Brian Keith and Daniel Hugh Kelly made a unique team of a Judge and an ex-con race car driver. The two shared great chemistry and the show’s writing was top-notch. The wild action of the show makes it one very fun action series that TV really could use today.
6. Scarecrow and Mrs. King (October 3, 1983 – May 28, 1987)
Amanda King lived a rather mundane life until a chance encounter led her to meet Lee Stetson, a super-spy who goes by the nickname Scarecrow. A romance develops between them as they jump from one dashing adventure to the next.
7. After MASH (September 26, 1983 – May 31, 1985)
The long-running classic television series M*A*S*H came to an end in 1983, but the trials and tribulations of Klinger, Potter, and Father Mulcahy continued at a Veteran’s hospital in Missouri. The quirky series was quite interesting and started out with solid ratings. The ratings eventually cratered and the series saw an unfortunate cancellation.
8. Whiz Kids (October 5, 1983 – June 2, 1984)
Whiz Kids tried to fuse the popularity of the computer-hacking themes from the film War Games with a traditional TV detective show. The Whiz Kids were sort of a geeky version of The MOD Squad. As innovative as the show was, Whiz Kids came about ten years too soon to be a success.
9. Hotel (September 21, 1983 – May 5, 1988)
Take The Love Boat, move it to land and add a little melodrama and you get Hotel. Aaron Spelling put two great leads in the series: James Brolin and Connie Sellecca. The two met a litany of guest stars ranging from Robert Reed to Burt Convey to Maclean Stevenson to Susan George. A little humor popped up here and there, but some explored mature themes and dark tones.
10. Mr. Smith (September 23 – December 16, 1983)
Unique definitely would be a way to describe Mr. Smith, a television series starring an ORANGUTAN. A comedy featuring a wisecracking version of Dr. Zaius wasn’t exactly what audiences were looking for. Somebody at NBC clearly liked the idea.
11. Webster (September 16, 1983 – March 10, 1989)
The 1980’s truly was an awesome decade for family sitcoms and Webster was one of the most poignant. Emmanuel Lewis’ star shined as the precocious youngster adopted by Alex Karras and Susan Clark. Humor combined with social commentary helped Webster become a memorable sitcom.
12. Jennifer Slept Here (October 21, 1983 – September 5, 1984)
Ann Jillian haunts a house and does so with a focus on laughs and not scares. A fantasy-themed show featuring the ghost of a late actress worked hard at breathing life into the sitcom format, but never really succeeded.
13. Manimal (September 30 – December 17, 1983)
Simon MacCorkindale played Dr. Jonathan Chase, a fellow whose skills the police really needed. He could shape-shift into all kinds of animals. When the police said a little bird told them something, they weren’t kidding this time around. Manimal is often considered one of the worst television shows of the 1980’s and a negative check mark on Executive Producer Glen A. Larson’s resume. Such an assessment isn’t fair. As silly as Manimal could be, the show was a lot of fun.
These shows reflect only a small number of the cool and not-so-cool offerings found in the TV Guide fall preview 1983 issue. A few of them live forever in reruns and others wait to be rediscovered. Hopefully, with the expanding cable universe, we’ll see all of these shows airing along with many others from the 1980’s.
Sources – Wikipedia, IMDB.
Photo credits: TV Guide