Autumn 1984: The (Wonderful) Season of Television!
Ah, 35 Years ago, tis was the season and a great time to be in my early teens.
No, I’m not referring to Christmas, fuck no! Autumn is, and has always been my favorite season, especially after enduring the heat and humidity of Summer. The crisp air, Caramel Apples, making new friends in school...but not necessarily doing schoolwork, especially Homework!
What's so significant about the fall, is the debut of TV series and during Fall 1984, there were quite a few memorable premiers starting with the return of G.I. Joe, one of my most valued intellectual properties!
Around mid to late September, Revenge of Cobra, another Five-part miniseries which is a continuation to the Joes' Mass Device special, features the new heroes and interesting villains to join the fight for freedom or world domination!
Cobra Commander with the help of his closest ally, Destro, uses a device (Yes, another Macguffin. ) to cause havoc across the globe , appropriately named "the Weather Dominator"!
In order to stop Cobra's climate changing weapon, the Joes embark on a quest around the world in order to nullify the device and during so, encounter a few farfetched scenarios
What I loved the most about "Revenge", was again, the introduction of characters, that became instant staples within the Joe universe. Roadblock was a tough badass who often belted out a few rhymes, despite facing imminent danger. Actor Kene Holiday brought about a modicum of gravitas, when providing the voiceover.
I loved the scene in which he singlehandedly takes down a bunch of Cobra soldiers while singing the series' anthem. Needless to say, that he saves the day.
Then there's Zartan, a master of disguise who is the featured antagonist aside from Cobra Commander and Destro.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the first animated appearance of Storm Shadow who is supposed to be Snake Eyes' rival, yet he interacts with Spirit Iron Knife??
Okay, despite Revenge of Cobra repeating the themes and scenarios from the more serious MASS device miniseries, there was plenty of fun to be had, especially if you were a Joe fan. What I liked was the additional vehicles like the Sky Hawk, new Joes primarily Roadblock, Flint and Lady Jaye, and of course Cobra recruits Zartan, Firefly, Storm Shadow who established their very own "Legion of Doom"!
Also, I gotta love the new, intro that ends with Duke pursuing escaping Cobras with both Roadblock and Scarlet at his side. It was symbolic if not virtual signaling of how Americans of different backgrounds, races, etc. join forces to fight the common enemy. G.I. Joe ARAH embraced diversity way before it became this "trend"! *Looking at Disney/Marvel*
Now, speaking of "diversity", Autumn1984 was the premiere of one of the most influential Crime Dramas of Television. What was greenlighted as "Rock and Roll Cops", manifested into this amazing series called Miami Vice!
Vice was memorable for its great use of storytelling, colorful characters both literally and figuratively, a great duo not seen since the likes of I Spy, where you have this White Detective with a Black Hispanic partner. And in the pilot, Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs don't start off as "bffs" as an uneasy alliance forms because of a notorious Drug lord, Calderon.
Now, while these contributing factors add plenty of depth to Miami Vice, it’s the use of assorted soundtracks that really compliments this series! Jan Hammer's use of electronic music followed by songs from various recording artists, became not only a gamechanger, but the standard, as following dramas utilized songs during important scenes.
The music was a great touch, whether its Todd Rundgren's ominous "Tiny Demons" or Jan's solemn, yet sobering "Rain" .
I enjoyed the first three Seasons of Miami Vice, however there were signs that this series was coming to a standstill. If there weren't episodes that ran on autopilot, there’s weird shit involving Crockett's amnesia and Trudy seeing UFOs with James Brown as a goddamn alien! Well at least the series finale was a great way to close things out.
NBC was on top of their game during that time. If it wasn't Miami Vice, it’s The Cosby Show, that dealt with a successful Black family that avoided the stereotypical tropes found in Black comedies such as Good Times. Black people were seen on a more positive light, presenting a positive influence throughout.
Despite all the accusations hurled at the show's primary protagonist, that won't nor should it diminish the positive cultural impact and legacy brought about from this groundbreaking show.
NBC also debuted V the Series, a continuation of the two venerable miniseries of the early eighties, that lasted roughly around two seasons that ended with an unresolved cliffhanger. The series, overall, was a flop but it was cool to see returning characters like Michael Ironside's, Hammond. Oh, and the off screen death of one of the supporting characters, had something to do with behind the scenes controversy.
All the more reason why "V the Series", deserved to die an early death. Jus saying. 😉
Now back to cartoons, or as they now call it "Animated series ", from the makers of G.I.Joe A real American Hero, came this new Intellectual property about Robots from another planet, engulfed in a civil war a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away only to take place on present day earth.
Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, unlike Gobots, kickstarted this robot craze since the series was critically and commercially acclaimed.
The voice acting was stellar and the bizarre concept of "Robots in disguise " used for that good vs evil template, excelled because of a simplistic, yet engaging storyline involving an sense of wonderment, as in a boy being friends with robotic anthropomorphic aliens from a distant planet, led by the heroic Optimus Prime.
Transformers went on for three seasons and soon, a major motion animated feature.
What started out as a toyline import, became a huge phenomenon!
After the Transformers miniseries came and went during the Autumn season, a new series somewhat similar to Transformers, but at the same time, different, was Mighty Orbots. This series about a bunch of robots, formed to create a superpowered bot to combat the evil intergalactic entity called Umbra.
Orbots was more family friendlier than say, Transformers due to the characters being more on the comical side. Also, it had great if not superior animation as well, courtesy of Tokyo Movie Shinsha.
Mighty Orbots was known for having this catchy theme during its intro.
Sadly, what killed the series after one or two seasons, was some bizarre lawsuit filed by Tonka toys.
I don't seem to remember the details, but it may have something to do with copyright infringement.
Well at least there was some catharsis during the final episode.
Yeah, despite all the cool technology with smart TVs and your choice of streaming platforms, things were simpler back then in my youth. Like that anticipation of a new or returning series debut, being glued to a 20" TV or setting your VCR to record programs while away. Now that winter is fast approaching, I’ll always think fondly of that season within that year. Those were some fun times, indeed.
**Autumn in New York**