Ten 80s Television Shows That Might as Well Be Movies

By  · Published on June 10th, 2010

With The A-Team hitting theaters June 11, I felt inclined to compile a list of ‘80’s television gems that are ripe for studio picking. I’ve narrowed said list down to my ten favorite nostalgia inducing shows, adding a gentle twist to each plot to maximize studio head salivation.

Note: A series that ends in the eighties is fair game.

Small Wonder (1985)

Forget the pedobear summoning story of a grown man creating a fully functioning ten year old girl android that lives in a closet in his son’s bedroom – we’re adding to a franchise.

Ted Lawson, a Cyberdine Systems engineer discovers the secret remnants of yet another T-101 cyborg, as well as the revolutionary microprocessor that would eventually spawn Skynet. Instead of helping to create the system that will eventually give rise to the machines, Lawson manages to sneak the material home with the intent of creating the best riding lawnmower – -ever, and perhaps the first laptop. When his obnoxious neighbor, John Connor, picks on him yet again for not being able to enter the neighborhood’s Annual Family Cup, requiring both a son and daughter to compete in all categories – Ted uses his great abilities to create V.I.C.I., an android built for one purpose – to beat the Connor clan at the potato sack race, egg run, and balloon toss.

Oh yeah – and to kill John Connor.

Director: Adam Shankman (produced by James Cameron, of course)

Webster (1983)

Marlon Wayans is Webster St. John, a highly experienced cat burglar – and adorable at only 4ft. tall. After years of big heists becoming entirely too easy, Webster sets his sights on the biggest job of them all – breaking into the Tower of London, and stealing the Crown Jewels. While departing his plane in London, Webster St. John is suddenly whisked away by a royal escort, mistakenly identified as Queen Elizabeth’s newly adopted five year old Eritrean orphan arriving on the same flight. Hilarity ensues as Webster attempts to use his new found access to Buckingham Palace and mistaken identity to take advantage of the wackily unwitting royals within; but ultimately learns about love, and family.

Director: Keenan Ivory Wayans

ALF (1986)

After escaping brutal testing by the American government, Gordon “ALF” Shumway has returned – and he’s pissed. With the full support of a Melmacian space armada at his command, ALF begins systematically destroying major cities worldwide. The remnants of humanity converge, reluctantly led by disgraced Major Willie “Ace” Tanner, a famous fighter pilot and biophysicist turned drunk has-been. His family must help Tanner accept the past, get sober, and complete the most difficult scientific task he’s ever faced – lacing every cat on the planet with a bio-engineered, air-born virus that will slow the Melmacians down enough to turn the tide.

Director: Michael Bay

Perfect Strangers (1986)

Balki “The Viper” Bartokomous is the world’s most dangerous terrorist and international spy, hailing from the rogue state of Mypos. The CIA, after years of pursuit, has finally tracked his movements to a few square blocks in New York City. They know he has big plans, and they are about to come to fruition. New York’s only hope is that their best profiler, Larry Appleton, can put together the clues he’s left behind in time to stop the carnage. In the meantime, Larry has to deal with the dissolution of his marriage, and the sudden arrival of a long lost cousin who he’s taken into his home.

Director: Phillip Noyce

Airwolf (1984)

Airwolf spends his days flying the friendly skies, giving happy humans tours of the scenic views to be found in Sunny Valley, Oregon, and palling around with his buddy Blue Thunder and best friend, pilot Stringfellow Hawk. Sadly, Hawk begins spending less time with him, and more with a new friend, the arrogant but impressive V-22 Osprey. When Stringfellow leaves town on a cross country flight to Florida’s Annual Air Acrobatic Jamboree without him, Airwolf and Blue Thunder follow, embarking on an adventure to prove to his old friend that newer doesn’t always equal better.

Director: John Lasseter

Three’s Company (1977–1984)

High powered lawyer Jack Tripper’s life is perfect; a beautiful house, kids, and a doting wife. Little do they know, however, that he is living a double life. Bored with the day-to-day business of being a father, husband, and upright defense attorney, Jack embarks on a wild escapade with two sexually free women across town in the seedy part of Chicago. Jack’s obsession with playing roommate begins to affect his work, and the physical remnants of his sexual escapades become harder to hide from his wife. When one of the women, Chrissy, ends up disappearing after a drug fueled night of passion and Jack is fingered for foul play, he must not only come to terms with his infidelity, but clear his name before ace detective Stanley Roper puts him behind bars.

Director: Alan Parker

The Jeffersons (1975–1985)

It is 2045, and Los Angeles has been turned into a giant penal colony, the population of the world so great that every human is treated like a criminal before they’ve even done anything, the greatest crime of all being procreation. George and Weezie Jefferson are held in Complex 222, a huge living facility in Downtown LA. The only sliver of hope for a better life is to participate in a combat tournament held every ten years within each complex, the select few that win being flown to Catalina Island, AKA – “The Pie”, to live the remainder of their lives in peace and comfort. The only way to win is to fight your way from floor-to-floor against your fellow tenants, movin’ on up until there are only two – who face each other in combat to the death to reach the helipad, and the world beyond. George and Weezie fight together to break the system, destroy their enemies, and escape as a couple to freedom.

Director: Paul Michael Glaser

Night Court (1984)

Supreme Court Judge Harry Stone has notoriously cast the final vote on keeping the legalization of gay marriage out of The Constitution. While walking to his car, a woman throws a bottle at him from an apartment window, knocking Harry unconscious. He wakes in the apartment of a man named Bull Shannon, who felt compelled to take him in. All Stone recalls is the job he first pulled out of college, working small claims on the midnight shift at a courthouse in Houston, Texas. Harry insists on being taken in the hopes of finding someone who may know who he is, and they embark on a cross country jaunt – the now empty slate of Harry being filled with the unique characters he meets as they drive. Along the way, Harry and Bull begin planting the seeds of sweet, sweet love – but with the memory of Harry returning bit by bit as they get closer to their destination, can it possibly last?

Director: Garry Marshall

Mr. Belvedere (1985)

When the Owens family puts an advertisement out for a butler, they have no idea that they will have soon unleashed the ultimate evil into their remote and lavish mansion. Mr. Belvedere, a seemingly mild-mannered English gentleman, is given a two day trial period to see if he is a good fit for the family – but the two days turn into a trial, of terror. Belvedere, a sociopath of the highest order, drugs the family during high tea. When they wake, the house is boarded shut, turned into a puzzle of death – and they soon find they are the hunted, and the butler is the hunter. Belvedere is serving death, on the finest china.

Director:Vincenzo Natali

My Two Dads (1987)

Roommates Michael and Joey are remarkably labeled as genetic matches for the seventeen year old daughter of the recently departed woman they both dated years ago. They take the job as joint fathers seriously, providing a safe and loving home for their new daughter, Nicole. When on her eighteenth birthday they are informed that the testing was botched, and neither are the father – an uneasy love triangle forms between them all. Upon the three consummating the relationship, they are contacted again – the false positive not being false after-all. Suddenly a hole is torn in the space/time continuum, and future Nicole steps into their bedroom from another dimension, to inform them that they are in fact related – she is their mother. Young Nicole tears off her face to reveal her true reptilian features.

Laser gun fight.

Director: Uwe Boll