16 sweet shows turning 40 years old in 2022

1982 was the year of Michael J. Fox, talking cars, and a Shatner comeback

Oh, what a year it was in 1982. Diet Coke and E.T. were introduced, as was the phrase to "throw someone under the bus." G.I. Joe action figures (you know, the smaller ones) hit toy stores. Ms. Pac-Man chomped her way into arcades. 

And these TV shows all premiered on the small screen. As we said, it was quite a year for entertainment.

1. At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert


Who knows what people did with two thumbs before Siskel and Ebert? (This guy!) Ah, we kid. But popular film appreciation was changed forever with the two charmingly combative Chicago critics.

Image: Tribune Entertainment

2. Cagney & Lacey


Loretta Swit was originally tapped to play Cagney… until M*A*S*H locked her into her contract. Then Meg Foster was cast. Then producers replaced Foster with Sharon Gless, the Cagney we know, to soften the character. Tyne Daly was there all along. Here's a crazy stat: for six straight years, one of the two women won the Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a Drama.

3. Cheers


We still want to go to a place where everybody knows your name. Consider how Ted Dansen and Woody Harrelson remain A-list actors. Who would have ever thought Woody would be the one to go on to decades of prestige? 

4. Fame


The movie Fame did wanna live forever — as a TV show. Well, it lasted six seasons. Not shabby at all. And it helped make Janet Jackson a star.

Image: MGM

5. Family Ties


The decade of Michael J. Fox. Okay, it technically started with Midnight Madness, a cult comedy we refuse to overlook, but Family Ties made the energetic actor a sensation.

Image: Paramount

6. Knight Rider


A talking Pontiac was the coolest thing on TV that year. And we're including Hasselhoff. Sorry, Hoff. The car was more awesome.

Image: NBC Universal

7. Late Night with David Letterman


So much modern (or should we say post-modern) comedy traces its roots back to Letterman. He made late-night delightfully weird, with regular players like Chris Elliott and Larry "Bud" Melman. And then there were the Top 10 Lists and Stupid Pet Tricks. And countless other memorable gags. Not bad for a weatherman.

Image: NBC Universal

8. Newhart


A decade after The Bob Newhart Show premiered, Newhart returned with a more concisely titled sitcom, changing his character and setting. The urban comedy shifted to a rural setting, in Vermont. Of course, it was all a dream of psychologist Bob Hartley. As we learned in that brilliant finale.

9. Police Squad!


Though it lasted a mere six episodes, Police Squad! packs more side-splitting laughs than most long-running sitcoms. The Zucker Brothers, hot off Airplane!, took their surreal slapstick humor to the small screen, casting former straight man Leslie Nielsen as a buffoon detective. ABC canceled the show, but it earned Emmy nominations and spawned a film franchise in The Naked Gun.

10. The Powers of Matthew Star


Blending superheroes and space opera, Matthew Star centered around the titular prince of the planet Quandris (Peter Barton), who flees 12 light-years to pose as a teenager on earth with his protector, who assumes the role of a high school teacher (Lou Gossett, Jr.). Barton nearly died making it. Read up on why it's a rather fascinating show.

11. Remington Steele


With his suave style, winking humor, and sharpshooting, the character Remington Steele was essentially a dry run for Pierce Brosnan becoming James Bond. Stephanie Zimbalist, daughter of 77 Sunset Strip star Efrem Zimbalist Jr., offered a link to TV past. And the show itself harkened back to the hip detective series of the '60s.

Image: 20th Television

12. Ripley's Believe It or Not


This syndicated "true stories" series was basically our internet, sharing unbelievable tales that had to be shared. Only, we had to use our mouth.

Image: ABC

13. Silver Spoons


Every kid who grew up in this era yearned to have Ricky's set-up — the arcade machines, the train, the racecar bed. Of course, they were all owned by his dad, Edward Stratton III (Joel Higgins), the original man-child and predecessor to the modern bro.

Image: Sony Pictures Television

14. Square Pegs


Sarah Jessica Parker may be Carrie Bradshaw to most, but she will forever be adorkable teen Patty Greene in our minds. Square Pegs was perhaps the first show to humanize nerds, nearly two decades before Freaks and Geeks. Of course, this show about nerds was hipper than the rest, booking music acts The Waitresses and Devo to play dances, and bringing in Bill Murray as a guest star.

15. St. Elsewhere


It's Tommy Westphall's world, and we're just living in it. If you know the legend of the last episode, you get that reference. (Basically, the entire series was revealed to be the fantasy of an autistic child with a snowglobe.) Give the casting director all the awards — this hospital dramedy made Denzel Washington and Howie Mandel household names.

Image: 20th Television

16. T.J. Hooker


The second coming of Shatner. The Canadian thespian was pigeonholed as Captian Kirk. Certainly not a bad way to make a living. But throughout the Seventies, he struggled to shake off the stereotype, largely appearing in small roles as a bad guy or failing to launch new shows like Barbary Coast. Cop action hour T.J. Hooker changed that. Rescue 911, Boston Public and the Shatnerenaissance followed.

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Moverfan 29 months ago
I don't know why reading about At The Movies sparked this memory, but for a while in the seventies, Leonard Maltin (later seen on Entertainment Tonight) did movie reviews during the news on WDIV, our local NBC affiliate. There was one movie he warned everybody against seeing in 1977, said it wasn't worth the ticket price or the two hours. It was a little sci-fi film called...Star Wars. Does anybody know what happened to that film?
15inchBlackandWhite 29 months ago
You call yourselves a classic TV network, and yet you can't manage to spell Ted Danson's name properly?
MichaelVegas 29 months ago
I still watch Knight Rider even today and use to go the the Knight Rider Car show they USE to have every year here in Vegas, there I met David and got his autograph and Met and talked to Rebecca Holden, she really HAD one of the Knight Rider Cars from the show and she let me sit in it and get a picture with her, VERY nice friendly woman.
Snickers 29 months ago
My dad loved Knight Rider as well as Airwolf and the A-Team.
Joyous 29 months ago
I really would love to see Here comes the brides with Bobby Sherman. I saw it come up in the listing but did not air because of the passing of one of the Monkey's Mike N. I am sad of that, watched the binge of the Monkeys.. Would love to see Here comes the brides. When will you be airing that show?

Randall 29 months ago
As a St. Elsewhere SUPERFAN (I never missed an episode ) I would like it said that there were four superstars from that show Denzel Washington, Howie Mandel and William Daniels (known as Mr Feeny to latter generations ) and a Fellow called Mark Harmon! FUN FACT William Daniels Real Wife Bonnie Bartlett played alongside him in this cutting edge show.
RobertK 29 months ago
Great List! Back in the early eighties, I was starting my career, beginning married life, raising and providing for children and maintaining my home as well as my parents, you know, Life! I had no time for TV back then but now, 40 years later, these are all new shows to me and I really enjoy them when I can find them. Many Thanks, METV!!
CortneyNicole 29 months ago
Happy 40th Anniversary to all the best shows in 82!
Runeshaper 29 months ago
Happy 40th Anniversary to all of these shows!
DZee 29 months ago
Loved Newhart. Their show finale was one of the best ever.
Moverfan DZee 29 months ago
The first season was wonderful. Then they brought in Stephanie the stupid stuck-up bimbo who apparently never realized she'd been hired as a maid (and probably couldn't spell "maid" either). So I quit watching four or five episodes into Season Two and didn't come back until the finale. (Stay out of the leftover Japanese food, Bob--and the moo goo gai pan.)
327053 29 months ago
From this list, I saw Knight Rider, Ripley’s, Silver Spoons and Remington Steele. Wow 40 years!!! 😬
Peter_Falk_Fan 30 months ago
From this list, I watched "St. Elsewhere". "T. J. Hooker", "Family Ties", and "At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert". I would watch "Late Night with David Letterman" if someone I liked was on, esp. Teri Garr. Their banter was fun to watch. But, in those days, half the time that my TV was turned on, it would be on MTV.
MrsPhilHarris 30 months ago
Never watched Fame, Knight Rider, Matthew Star, Square Pegs, or St. Elsewhere. Saw Cagney & Lacey once or twice, same with Ripley’s, Silver Spoons and TJ Hooker.
daDoctah MrsPhilHarris 30 months ago
I watched Knight Rider a few times, but Square Pegs was must-see TV for me. Unfortunately, the general public instead preferred the other high-school show, Facts of Life (started in '79 and ran nine seasons).
Moody MrsPhilHarris 29 months ago
I watched Knight Rider & St. Elsewhere a few times but never cared much for them. My wife really liked St. Elsewhere though. I watched T.J. Hooker several times only because of Heather Locklear. 😁😉
MrsPhilHarris Moody 29 months ago
I think most guys tuned in to see Heather. 😉
Snickers MrsPhilHarris 29 months ago
Sorry, but I never cared for Matthew Star. I didn't think the acting all that great and the plots were kind of boring.
MrsPhilHarris Snickers 29 months ago
I had never heard of it until ME started showing it. I’ve seen the last 15 minutes of maybe 3 episodes. It’s kind of cheesy.
Jaxter14 MrsPhilHarris 29 months ago
True about Heather and there was another attractive Heather back in the 80’s, Heather Thomas of The Fall Guy with Lee Majors of 6 Million Dollar Man. It was a fun series.
MrsPhilHarris Jaxter14 29 months ago
I heard Tommy Lee got in touch with Heather Locklear thinking she was Heather Thomas. 😁
Moriyah 30 months ago
I wonder when there will be something new that's Gomer related will come out soon onto here!
LoveMETV22 Moriyah 30 months ago
Well they haven't done one in a while, so be patient. Hope your holidays were happy and fun. Didn't you go to New Mexico?
Moriyah LoveMETV22 30 months ago
I did! And it was really fun!
Stoney 30 months ago
Some very good shows on this list that I'd like to see again.
Deleted 30 months ago
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LoveMETV22 30 months ago
I was adding
"Not a guess just an add:"
Thank you though for the additional info.
LoveMETV22 29 months ago
Nope, I don't know who you're talking about.
29 months ago
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LoveMETV22 29 months ago

stephaniestavr5 LoveMETV22 10 Hours Ago
Someone else mentioned in this article, also made the Game Show scene. Do you know who I'm talking about?
cperrynaples 30 months ago
Siskel & Ebert started on PBS with Sneak Previews 4 years earlier! Siskel died in 1999, but Ebert continued until his death in 2014!
cperrynaples 30 months ago
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daDoctah stephaniestavr5 30 months ago
I used to be able to tell whether I would like a movie based on their "thumbs" ratings. If they both voted a picture down, I knew to skip it. If they both voted up, I *might* like it but it wasn't definite. But any time they disagreed, I knew it was one I had to see.

Unfortunately, this method never worked when Siskel substitutes came along.

(BTW, I made up a little rhyme early on to keep track of which was which: "Gene is lean, but Roger is larger".)
UTZAAKE cperrynaples 30 months ago
Always got a kick out of their self-confident smirks when they introduced each other at the start of the show.
denny 30 months ago
I absolutely hated FAME, had to watch it because my sisters wanted to. With only 1 TV, 5 kids, and 3 channels not much choice.
UTZAAKE denny 30 months ago
I so concur with you.
GoUTVols1961 denny 29 months ago
Same here except it was my fiancé who loved the show.
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