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Great shows from the 80's and 90's you probably forgot about

Updated on April 13, 2014

Depending upon your age, you probably watched all or most of these shows "back in the day". All completely awesome shows in their own right, and all deserve their due, so here they are. There are plenty of others not on the list, but I felt these were the best of the often forgotten. Most of these shows I have meticulously hunted down and watch often, (or in the case of Unsolved Mysteries, watch every day). They don't make 'em like this anymore;

You...may be able to help solve a mystery
You...may be able to help solve a mystery

Unsolved Mysteries

If I haven't made it crystal clear on previous hubs, Unsolved Mysteries is without a doubt, my most favorite thing in life. Hands down. I could go on forever about the magic and wonder that is Unsolved Mysteries, but I'll spare you. Suffice it to say that this show was a favorite of many, as it's original episodes hosted by Robert Stack (with the exception of the first 3 episodes), ran for 14 years from 1987 till 2002. It then began airing in 2008 hosted by Dennis Farina, but was nowhere near as good as the original, and I, as well as other UM purists, refuse to watch them. For many of us, Unsolved Mysteries was a spooky show, that creeped-out it's viewers regardless of their age. Very creepy music throughout the episodes, and recreations of subjects including murder, kidnapping, missing persons, unexplained death, UFO's, ghosts, strange legends, and also included the not-so-creepy segments like miracles, and lost loves. It aired on NBC Saturday nights at 8pm, then on Lifetime in syndication, later on Spike when it came back in 2008. I was 5 years old when the show fist started, but didn't start watching it until I was 8 years old, and I was instantly hooked. I love being scared and could never get enough Unsolved Mysteries. I own "The Ultimate Collection", as well as watch it through underground "UM enthusiasts" websites, on a daily basis. I've seen every segment a thousand times, which gives me a huge advantage were I ever playing murder trivia. On a personal note, Robert Stack is the love of my life, I've been in love with him since I was 8, (what little girl wasn't), and have an autographed 8x10 of him above my bed.
Unsolved Mysteries brings back a flood of memories for most people who watched tv in the 80's 90's...and everyone has their favorite segments. And everyone loved watching the bad actors doing the recreations of creepy situations, and peeing themselves during segments where ghostly heads appeared on the stove top and eggs flew through the refrigerator. Can't get enough.

Amazing just how many people choke on hotdogs
Amazing just how many people choke on hotdogs

Rescue 911

In the same vein as Unsolved Mysteries, Rescue 911 features recreations of real-life situations. However, not as creepy, it was stories of actual 911 emergency calls that spanned the gamut of everything from drowning, fires, choking, accidental overdoses, electrocutions, falls, car accidents, and even included more lighthearted segments about pets accidentally dialing 911, burglars calling 911after getting stuck in chimneys, and other funny situations. Hosted by William Shatner, the show ran from 1989 till 1996. They used recordings of the actual 911 calls, and used the actual EMT's, operators, victims and family members when possible. Another show I religiously watched as a child, it's a show I still watch a lot, usually watching them on youtube. It taught us valuable lessons like; never take out the object you've been impaled with, never move someone who's been hit by a car or fallen 5 stories, and most importantly, never stick your tongue to the inside of the freezer. And who didn't enjoy pointing and laughing at people who get their tongue stuck in a bottle or accidentally locked themselves in their own bedroom?! Great show.

Must be what it's like to have food stamps
Must be what it's like to have food stamps

Supermarket Sweep

"Next time you're at the checkout line and hear the beep, think of the fun you could have on Supermarket Sweep!"
Don't lie, you know you watched it all the time. The super-corny game show where three teams of two people raced through the aisles of an on-set supermarket, grabbing as much stuff as they could, in an effort to have the highest grocery totals in order to win. And you know darn well that a little part of you always wanted to run through your grocery store, grabbing all the shiny-packaged hams, giant wedges of imported cheese, and giant candybars...whenever you went grocery shopping. You know you did. Something you might not know however, is that this show actually first aired back in 1965, and ran until 1967. It was hosted by Bill Malone, but the show didn't really take off. It did however, when it was revived in 1990. It was hosted by David Ruprecht and continued until 1995. He hosted the show again when they revived it in 2000 and it ended in 2003. I still watch this show on youtube sometimes. Somehow in each episode there would always be one team that did way better than the the other two, and one that would do really badly who you always felt bad for. Such is life.

No returns accepted
No returns accepted

Shop 'til you Drop

The game show seemingly created by the same genius who came up with Supermarket Sweep, and usually aired right after Supermarket Sweep, it featured two teams of two people each, set in a mock mall that screamed; "It's the 90's!" that consisted of a whopping 14 "stores". There was several rounds where the contestants had to participate in goofy stunts like dressing their partner while they simultaneously dribbled a basketball and other such silliness. The team with the most points then would then get to do the "shop 'til you drop" round, where they had to decide whether to keep or trade in various prizes, all within 90 seconds. Those prizes had to have a grand total-worth of $2,500, if they wanted to win the grand prize trip. It really did look like fun. But then you'd get frustrated and yell at the tv when they'd trade in an expensive VCR for a pair of sunglasses, or something small like a decorative crystal candy dish would supposedly be worth $1,500. This showed aired on and off from 1991 until 2005 and was hosted by Pat Finn for most of the seasons. But really only the ones that ran in the 90's were the good ones. What really made the show great, was those episodes where the person doing the running, exchanging the gifts, would slip and fall on their ass in their rush down the stairs. Youtube is the place to watch the episodes, and I still do. Good stuff.

Clearly Jane Fonda didn't age well
Clearly Jane Fonda didn't age well

Tales from the Crypt

If you're a horror buff like I am, you remember watching Tales from the Crypt. I absolutely loved the Crypt Keeper, thought he was just so handsome, (it's not difficult to see that I was a somewhat disturbed child). It wasn't something I was allowed to watch as a kid (there was violence, gore, obscenities and even nudity). So, I had to sneak downstairs to our semi-finished basement after everyone went to bed, in order to watch it. The show ran on HBO from 1989 until 1996 and took horror-based EC comics, and turned them into creepy half-hour episodes. They often had well-known actors and actresses in individual episodes, such as; Joe Pesci, Brook Shields, Steven Weber, Benicio del Toro, Tim Curry, Adam West and John Stamos, among others. You can buy many of the seasons of the show on DVD, and a find a few episodes on youtube. What ended up being ironic for me, was that my now ex-mother-in-law is like the identical twin to the Crypt Kepper. Nightmares all around.

When you can't get enough Menendez...
When you can't get enough Menendez...

A Current Affair

The often sleazy "news" program with the awesome jarring theme music/sound effect. For the most part it featured tabloid gossip and scandals, rarely featuring anything of real substance, which is part of what made it so good. It ran from 1986 until 1996 and had several "anchors" throughout it's run, but the most notable was Maury Povich, who was on from the first season until 1990. I always associate the show with OJ Simpson and Tonya Harding. However, I remember seeing a segment once, I was probably around 8, and it was one of the rare times my parents went out and we had a babysitter. She was watching it, and the segment was about abuse in nursing homes, and it had hidden cameras in several nursing homes, and I heard the wailing and moaning of several of the elderly residents who were being neglected and abused in the nursing homes, and scared the ever-living piss out of me. I'm not entirely sure why, but it did. I couldn't sleep for several nights and I always remembered it. (Meanwhile around the same age I was obsessed with Unsolved Mysteries which really is creepy and scary, yet it was a segment of A Current Affair that traumatized me...go figure!) As I got a little older I started to appreciate ACA more. And though the stories are no longer relevant, I'd love to sit and watch those old episodes. WA-PAM!

"Camp Anawanna; we hold you in our hearts, and when we think about you, it makes me wanna fart!"
"Camp Anawanna; we hold you in our hearts, and when we think about you, it makes me wanna fart!"

Salute your Shorts

While this show was only in production from 1991 to 1992, it still made it's way into our hearts. A half-hour comedy about a group of pre-teens who were ever-trying to pull pranks on their camp councilor and each other, at the summer camp "Camp Anawanna". Dr. Kahn ran the camp, though you never saw him, only heard him over the loudspeaker. Crazy shenanigans that were way too well thought out and executed to actually be something a bunch of kids could ever come with. It was slightly crass at times, but that's what made it good. Naturally, I gravitated towards the main trouble-maker with the most attitude, also with red hair and a mullet....Bobby Budnick. He was played by Danny Cooksey, who was also on the show "Diff'rent Strokes". I also always liked "Donkeylips", the enormously fat kid with a painfully awesome lisp. You can watch some of the episodes on Amazon. You know the drill; get home from school, grab a Fruit Roll-Up and turn on Nickelodeon to watch Salute Your Shorts, then go to school the next day, try one of the pranks that you saw on the show, and get detention when it fails and all your friends rat you out. Good times, good times....

You can however, swing on a wrecking ball completely naked....on television
You can however, swing on a wrecking ball completely naked....on television

You Can't do that on Television

I can't possibly think of a better title for a show. It was often just called YCDTOTV, which totally rolls off the tongue. While the shows name promises rude, crude, and raunchy hilarity, it now seems mild, especially by today's standards. However it was still considered groundbreaking at the time, and had one episode that was banned here in the US, due to a funny sketch that poked fun an adoption. It ran in the US from 1981 until 1990 but originally Started in Canada in 1979 for a brief season . It was a sketch-comedy that featured kids and teens doing different sketches and segments, with reoccurring segments including "Barth's Burgers" and the seemingly most memorable "Locker jokes". Kinda like a half-assed kids version of Saturday Night Live. The show birthed the now legendary Nickelodeon staple, green slime. Slime was dumped on the cast members head whenever they said "I don't know", which was frequent throughout each episode. Probably a concoction that we now know causes cancer, before they changed the formula over the years. As a kid you thought it was badass and so cool because in reality, you were a dork in contrast. It's most certainly a classic and really put Nickelodeon on the map. The opening theme was somewhat creepy with it's scene animation and kids being produced in a sausage factory. There are only a few stray episodes on youtube, which is too bad since the show was great, and worth watching over and over. Classically classic.


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    • Lynn Savitsky profile image

      Lynn Savitzky 

      3 years ago from New Jersey

      I grew up with Salute Your Shorts and You Can't Do That On Television. Those were the days.


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