I grew up on 80s television—the perfect thing for a small child.
No season-long plots.
No inside meta-jokes.
No call-backs to previous episodes or prior seasons.
Each episode a perfectly self-contained microcosm of the show without any lasting consequences.
But what made them easiest to watch was their strict adherence to formula.
Think about it: an 8-year-old always wants to fast-forward to his favorite scenes in a movie. He knows what he wants to see, and he wants to see it as soon as possible.
Think about The A-Team.
You know what you’re gonna get in every episode.
- Hannibal will be away on some movie-related job.
- Face will need to con his way out of whatever he’s stuck in.
- B.A. will pity fools.
- The boys will have to break Murdock out of the loony bin.
(After 5 seasons of breakouts, they’d probably have shipped 2013 Murdock to Guantanamo by now.)
- They’ll have to drug B.A. so he’ll fly.
- One of their old C.O.s (usually one with children) is in trouble.
- Their opponents will have mullets.
- There will be welding, usually in a barn.
- They’ll fire off somewhere between 3,000 and 10,000 rounds of ammunition. Lots of shit explodes. Miraculously, no one is killed.
Lather, rinse, repeat. There’s something really comforting about that.
Or, if you want, think of every single plot of Magnum, PI, which I pulled out of Netflix mothballs last week.
- Magnum has at least two flashbacks to ‘Nam per episode.
- Higgins threatens to take the Ferrari away.
- One of Magnum’s ex-girlfriends is in trouble. (Jesus. I thought I got around, but Magnum is out of fucking control, son.)
- TC: “You know I can’t do that, Thomas!” But he always ends up flying Magnum somewhere anyway.
- Rick comps Magnum and his ex for drinks at the King Kamehameha Club.
- Magnum solemnly pines for something lost (girlfriend, former buddy from the shit, car keys.)
It’s wonderful. I love the 80s.