Kevin Arnold from ‘The Wonder Years’ says, “Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you’re in diapers, the next day you’re gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place, a town, a house like other houses and a yard like a lot of other yards on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is, after all these years, I still look back, with wonder.” No matter how old you are or how different your tastes might be as an adult, childhood memories always make the kid within you, come alive. Fox Crime’s revival of the long-running crime series Law and Order, Zee Café’s re-runs of Full House, and Comedy Central’s revival of Everybody Loves Raymond, made me nostalgic and desirous to see my favourite television series and sitcoms of the 1980s and 1990s back on TV. Hopefully, the producers of these shows are reading this and will revive these shows soon.
1. Who’s the Boss?
A popular American sitcom that aired between 1984 and 1992 details the life of a retired major league baseball player, played by Tony Danza, his young daughter played by Alyssa Milano (of Charmed fame), his employer played brilliantly by Judith Light, and her family. The show’s success stemmed from the effervescence and comic timing of the lead character Tony Micelli and his employer’s feisty and contemporary mother, Mona Robinson. Every episode exuded warmth and energy and depicted the idiosyncrasies of life in the American milieu.
2. Three’s Company
One of my all-time favourite American sitcoms that takes you on an insanely crazy ride through the lives of three single roommates: Jack Tripper, Chrissy Snow, and Janet Wood, and their escapades and misunderstandings with their landlord (played brilliantly by Don Knotts), Three’s Company, made my world a happier place.
3. Mind Your Language
I do hate saying this because honestly, Sridevi’s English Vinglish, captivated me from scene one but Gauri Shinde’s masterpiece fades in comparison to the hit British comedy TV series, Mind Your Language that premiered in late-1977. Set in one of London’s adult education colleges, this series reached out, across borders with its motley group of actors from Germany, China, Japan, Spain, Italy, Greece, Pakistan, France, India, Sweden, and Hungary. Every actor played their character to the T and the entire series was generously infused with superb comedy and healthy humour.
Saaya was an Indian soap-opera of the late 1990s and it starred actors such as Mansi Joshi Roy, Achint Kaur, Harsh Chhaya, R. Madhavan, and Anup Soni. The show was immensely popular while it was on air.
5. The Wonder Years
This American television-drama holds a special place in my heart for it aired in the year that I was born in – 1988. The series traced the life of an American family through the eyes of their teenage son, Kevin Arnold. As I was growing up, I could find resonance with Kevin’s escapades, his difficulties to cope, and his tug-of-war love for his family. This television drama remains a fond memory of my wonder years.
6. Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi
A laugh-riot comedy sitcom that originally aired on DD National, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi starring the late Shafi Inamdar and Swaroop Sampat, revolved around a middle-class married couple, and detailed their frequent brushes with misadventure humorously.
7. Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne
Before director Prakash Jha became renowned for his intense genre of films such as Gangaajal and Aarakshan, he made a comedy serial in the late 1980s that was immensely popular with the masses and that found resonance across the nation. Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne centered on Mungerilal (a role played to perfection by multi-talented, veteran actor Raghubir Yadav), a small-time clerk whose habit of day-dreaming took him away from the troubles of his daily life.
Another very-popular American sitcom, Cheers, ran for eleven successful seasons and took us deep into the lives of regulars at a Boston bar named Cheers. The joyous camaraderie between the characters played by Ted Danson, Shelley Long, and Nicholas Colasanto lent the show the exuberance and audience-connect, which kept it running for eleven long seasons.
Sandhya Mridul infused this Hindi television show with her energy and her brilliance as an actor. The story revolved around twin sisters who decide to exchange places for a week. One of my favourite shows, Hubahu, had an untimely end when the producers decided to end the serial because of high production costs.
10. Diff’rent Strokes
Diff’rent Strokes, a highly popular American sitcom of the 1980s, owed its success to the show’s child actors, Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges, both African-Americans who played the role of two orphaned brothers that are taken care of by their mother’s ex-employer, a rich White businessman.