Television was invented around 1927, and the first-ever series ever broadcasted on it was The Queen’s Messenger, from Schenectady, New York station WGY on September 11, 1928. Presently, we have completed almost 11 decades since then and have lived through the journey of changing television with the growing technologies. In this article, we are discussing the journey of the 1980s and particularly 1983 through the Top 15 TV shows that aired during that time period.
1983 was the year when the most loved network, Disney Channel, was launched, opening up its precious treasure of some meaningful and entertaining television series, especially for the kids of that time. Some of the worth remembering TV shows of 1983 include The A-Team, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Alvin, and the Chipmunks, Blackadder, etc. So let’s have a look at our list of top 15 TV shows from the year 1983 and enjoy the journey of television series that preceded the pop culture of the 1990s.
1. The Jeffersons
The Jeffersons is an American sitcom that aired on the CBS network from 18th January 1975 to 2nd July 1985. Remembered as one of the longest-running sitcoms in history, it was also the longest-running spinoff of All in the Family(1975), where Jeffersons were the neighbors of Archibald “Archie” Bunker And Edith Bunker. The Jeffersons had 11 seasons and 253 episodes.
The story revolves around the Jeffersons family, who have moved from their old working-class section of Queens in New York to a luxurious Colby East high-rise apartment in Manhattan. This family involves Louise (Isabel Sanford) and her husband George (Sherman Alexander Hemsley), and their son Lionel (played by both Michael Jonas Evans and Damon Evans).
George started his career as a dry-cleaner in season-1 and owns five stores throughout New York City later. Louise is friends with Tom and Helen Willis, the interracial couple, and Lionel got to marry their daughter, Jenny Willis (Berlinda Tolbert) later in the show. George’s mother, played by Zara Frances Cully, is a typical mother-in-law for Lousie.
This was the first TV show of 1983 to feature an interracial married couple on television and raised relevant issues like alcoholism, racism, suicide, adult literacy, and homosexuality. It ended abruptly without a proper finale episode.
2. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
This American television series was released on 5th September 1983 and ran till 21st November 1985. It had two seasons with 130 episodes. This was an animated adaption of the Masters of the Universe franchise by Mattel, Inc. and revolves around the life of He-Man and the antagonist, Skeletor, from the planet Eterna. The franchise also had a spinoff named She-Ra: Princess of Power which stars She-Ra based on his sister of He-Man fighting Hordak and the Evil Horde for freedom.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power(2017-2018), and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) have recently premiered on Netflix as a reboot series. Gwen Wetzler produced the series in 1983 while Rob David produced the 2021 reboot version.
He-Man is an alter ego of Prince Adam from Eteria, a planet of magic and fantasy. He is the son of King Randor and Queen Marlena. Once He-Man finds a magical sword that endows him with magical powers and abilities. He has to proclaim “By the Power of Grayskull!” to transform himself into He-Man. He-Man works to protect his planet from the Skeletor along with his allies. Skeletor wants to conquer the castle of the gray skulls and rule the entire universe.
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks
The top animated TV shows of 1983 included Alvin and the Chipmunks, an American series featuring the three singing Chipmunks named Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. They were originally a part of a virtual music band by Ross S. Bagdasarian in 1958. They have a human adoptive father named David “Dave” Seville.
Bagdasarian Productions along with Ruby-Spears Productions produced eight seasons until 1990. It initially introduced the three Chipettes, named Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor, who were the female counterparts of the chipmunks. Miss Beatrice Miller was their guardian. It got aired on the NBC network.
The leader of the chipmunks, Alvin, is a talented troublemaker plus narcissistic with a golden heart. Simon is the middle brother who is the most realistic and intelligent character. He wears a pair of glasses whose color changes with time. Theodore is the sweetest and most lovable character of all.
The eldest among The Chipettes is Brittany, a counterpart to Alvin, who is as self-centered as Alvin but loving. Jeanette is the middle sister and Simons’s counterpart. She is smart but shy and clumsy. Theodore’s counterpart is the youngest sister Eleanor, who is more athletic and intelligent than him but likes food like Theodore.
Rowan Atkinson, popularly known as Mr. bean, was an antihero named Edmund Blackadder in a British period drama named, Blackadder. It aired from 15th June 1983 to 2nd November 1989 having 24 episodes for four seasons on BBC1. It was produced by John Hardress Wilfred Lloyd and starred Rowan Atkinson as Edmund Blackadder and Sir Anthony Robinson as Baldrick. Blackadder was ranked 9th-best TV show of all time by Empire magazine. Edmund Blackadder was ranked third on Channel 4 list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters in 2001.
Being one of the history-based TV shows of 1983, it is based on four different periods of British history from 1485 to 1917. Each season portrays Edmund Blackadder and his misfortunes as a member of the same dynasty. Season 1 was set in the fictional reign of Richard IV, Season 2 (1986) in the time of Elizabeth I, Season 3 (1987)in the time of George III, and Season 4 (1917) display the world war times. Edmund Blackadder, an intellectual inferior to his servant, Baldrick, becomes the clever and scheming one who controls Baldrick in later seasons.
5. Jane Eyre
This British television drama series is an adaptation of a novel written by Charlotte Brontë with the same title. It aired on BBC1 network, from 9th October to 18th December 1983. Barry Leopold Letts was its producer and it was written by Julian Charles Becket Amyes. It starred Zelah Clarke as Jane Eyre, the female protagonist, and Timothy Leonard Dalton Leggett as Edward Fairfax Rochester. It had a total of 11 weekly episodes.
Jane is an orphan who has spent a miserable part of her childhood with her aunt, who sends her later to a residential school for studies, having a limited supply to adjust with. She then takes her studies very seriously and later gains the position of a governess in the house of Edward Rochester.
Edward has a daughter named Adele, who has recently shifted with her father. Soon Jane realizes the odds of the house, witnessing some shadows and weird unknown voices. She falls in love with her master, but the mysteries of Rochester house haunt them together.
6. Family Ties
Family Ties was an American sitcom created by Gary David Goldberg starring Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton. The NBC network broadcasted it for 7 seasons and 176 episodes running from 22nd September 1982 to 14th May 1989. Among the TV shows of 1983, Family ties portrayed a decade of changing values of 1970s cultural liberalism to the conservatism of the 1980s in America, which was also reflected in Alex’s ties with his parents, played by Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter. Family Ties won several awards, including three Emmy awards by Michael as the lead actor in comedy series.
The Keaton family involves Alex and his parents with two daughters, Mallory and Jennifer. Andrew “Andy” Keaton is the youngest of all and was born in season 3 because Meredith was pregnant for real during the show. The recurring plot shows aspiring millionaire Alex, wanting to be rich and successful bringing his money-making schemes, which often land him in troubling situations. He often lands up in clashes with his liberal parents.
7. The Greatest American Hero
Can you imagine a school teacher as a superhero? Well! this did happen in a 1983 American comedy-drama, the Greatest American Hero. It was aired on the ABC network on 18th March 1981 and ran for 3 seasons with 45 episodes. Stephen Joseph Cannell created the show that ended on 2nd February 1983, starring William Theodore Katt as Ralph Hinkley in the lead. Robert Culp as Bill Maxwell (an FBI agent) and Connie Sellecca as Pam Davidson (the lawyer) also played significant roles in it.
Ralph Hinkley teaches in Los Angeles Public School. During a school trip, he meets aliens who hand him a suit with an instruction booklet which he loses later. Now to use his suit, which endows him the superpowers, Ralph uses trial and error methods that generate a comic environment in the show. He later collaborates with Pam and Maxwell to fight the crimes in his world.
The show landed into a few controversies, one because of the surname and the second because of Superman. During season 1, a man named John Warnock Hinckley Jr was the prime suspect in the murder of American President Ronald Wilson Reagan. Therefore, Ralph was given a new surname, Hanley. Also, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. once filed a lawsuit against ABC as the character resembled the already popular Superman in his appearance and abilities. The case was dismissed later.
8. The A-team
This American action-adventure series was aired on NBC from January 23, 1983 –to March 8, 1987. It was Stephen Joseph Cannell’s first series after he was fired from ABC. The A-team ran for 5 seasons with 98 episodes. The show features a team of four Vietnamese veterans who underwent court-martial for a crime they never committed. So, to prove their innocence to the authorities, they eloped from the prison and would help all those they met on their journey.
This travel adventure-loving team will meet people from different locales each week and help them out in miseries. Its members include Lieutenant Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith (an unorthodox), the Faceman Lieutenant Templeton Peck, a strong man, Mr. T who is the Seargent and a mechanic, and finally pilot Captain H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock. They were also supported by reporters like Amy Allen and Tawnia Baker.
Initially, the show was critically acclaimed but its ratings kept on declining subsequently. It was nominated for the Emmy awards.
9. Hill Street Blues
Hill street blues is an American police adventure series that aired on NBC from 15th January 1981 to 12th of May 1987. It ran for 7 seasons with 146 episodes. The show became one of those TV shows of 1983 that inspired many upcoming shows like this. It received 26 Emmy Awards, including the four outstanding drama series. The series was co-created by Steven Ronald Bochco and Michael Kozol.
HSB displays the day-to-day work and problems faced by the men in blue uniforms of the local police station located on Hill Street. The show was one of those low-rated shows which made it to a second season. It gained momentum from season 5, for which it received an Emmy award for the first time. The theme was changed from a crime-based to a soap opera during the mid-seasons (season-5).
10. No place like home
No place like home was a British situation comedy series directed by Robert Henry Douglas Drane, aka Robin Nash. Jon Watkins has written and created this series starring William Charles Anthony Gaunt as Arthur and Patricia Garwood as his wife, Beryl Crabtree. It is a 5-season series with 43 episodes. It was aired from 13th December 1983 to 22nd December 1987 on the BBC1 network.
Beryl and Arthur have four children who slowly leave their nest to explore the world outside. To enjoy a time together, Arthur and Beryl plan for a second honeymoon.
However, their children are tired of the struggles outside their parent’s home, thus return ruining their plan. It has been a trendy show of its time, especially since the first three seasons were warmly received and appreciated. However, the later series and its re-revised castings couldn’t attract their audiences much.
11. Happy Days
Happy days is an American sitcom created by Garry Kent Marshall which aired on the ABC network from 15th January 1974 to 19th July 1984. It is an 11 seasons series with 255 episodes. The show stars, Ronald Howard as Richard Cunningham, Henry Winkler as his friend Arthur Fonzarelli (Fonzie), and Thomas Bosley and Marion Ross as Richard’s parents, Howard and Marion, respectively. It was one of the top most popular and successful TV shows of 1983.
The story revolves around Richard and his family. Richard joins the army and marries his girlfriend, Lori Beth. His younger sister Joanie is a mischievous character who is a rebel.
Fonzie’s cousin Chachi, who has a crush on Joanie eventually marries her. And, they move to Chicago to pursue a career in music. Fonzie was initially a minor character. However, his growing popularity led to his extended role. Also, Fonzie was one of the most merchandised characters from the show. The show has two reunion specials named The Happy Days Reunion Special (1992) and Happy Days: 30th Anniversary Reunion(2005).
This series was a British television crime drama that aired on ITV from 16th March 1983 to 8th May 1985. Euston Films were the producers, while Lynda La Plante was its writer. The British academy television awards nominated it for the best drama series in 1984. Widows series ran for 2 seasons with about 12 episodes in total.
The show stars Ann Mitchell as Dolly Rawlins, Maureen O’Farrell as Linda Perelli, and Fiona Hendley as Shirley Miller as the widows of three armed robbers named Harry Rawlins, Joe Perelli, and Terry Miller, killed in an armed robbery.
A rival gang that wants to take over Harry’s crime business is threatening the widows while the police are interrogating them. Despite these problems, the three ladies try to solve the robbery mystery on their own. Hence the series follows their story. They also find that Harry is alive at the end of the first season.
Dramarama is among the British TV shows of 1983 made exclusively for children and was broadcasted on ITV between 12th September 1983 and 21st August 1989. The Anna Margaret Home created anthology series was a mix of science fiction, satire, and supernatural themes. It had 7 series with around 100 episodes. Each episode was a one-off episode, having a different storyline and different cast because the production of the whole show involved twelve ITV regional companies with their own set of stars and executive producers.
However, the show was a platform for budding talents and writers like Anthony Horowitz, Paul Abbott, Kay Mellor, Janice Hally, Tony Kearney, David Tennant, and Ann Marie Di Mambro.
Its most renowned episodes include Dodger, Bonzo And The Rest(1984) by the Thames, and Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night(1988) by Granada.
14. Diff’rent Strokes
Diff’rent Strokes is an American sitcom starring Gary Coleman as Arnold and Todd Bridges as Willis Jackson, the two African American boys adopted by a wealthy family on Park Avenue. The show aired on the NBC network between November 3, 1978 –March 7, 1986, for 8 seasons containing 189 episodes.
The show revolves around the two boys, Arnold and Willis from Harlem, who have lost their mother. Their responsibility is now taken up by an affluent widower businessman, Phillip Drummond (Played by Conrad Bain), for whom their mother worked. Budd Grossman produced series tries to explore issues of younger generations in a dramatic form in their growing stages including child sexual abuse, alcoholism, racism, kidnapping, illegal drug use and hitchhiking.
The show had extraordinary episodes and one of them featured First Lady Nancy Reagan, the then-wife of President Ronald Reagan, to promote her ‘Just say no’ campaign against war and drugs. Also, Alexander Gordon Jump appeared as the guest star in The Bicycle Man episode.
This series is one of those TV shows of 1983 that revolves around a 5-year-old orphaned kid, Webster Long (played by Emmanuel Lewis), who has to adjust to a new family comprising his footballer father, George (Alexander George Karras), and socialite mother, Katherine (Susan Clark), a newly married couple entering a phase of sudden parenthood.
This series is an American sitcom that aired from 16th September 1983 to 10th March 1989 on the ABC channel. Stu Silver created the show that ran for 6 seasons with 160 episodes. Joel Zwick was its director along with Lee Bernhardi.
So, these were some of the top 15 most popular tv series from 1983. Hope this article will help you pick your favorite one.