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4 Detective Shows from the 1970s & '80s

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Kit happily writes articles on almost any topic you could hope for. When he's not knee-deep in programming, he enjoys chilling with his cat

Remembering the '70s & 80s Detective Show

If you grew up on '70s and '80s television, you no doubt saw your share of detective series. Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco, Mannix, Barnaby Jones, Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, Moonlighting, the list goes on and on.

Some of those shows have lingered in the public mind, like Cagney and Lacey and Charlie's Angels, a pair of shows with women in the lead roles. However, others were failed experiments, like Tucker's Witch and Knightwatch, which weren't able to capitalize on their respective gimmicks. Learn about all four shows here!

1. Tucker's Witch

In 1982, TV audiences got to see the premiere of the television detective series, Tucker's Witch, starring Tim Matheson and Catherine Hicks. The series ran for one season and featured 13 episodes. It has since been canceled, but its IMDb audience rating is better than the average. Despite its mediocre quality, this TV detective show is still worth watching.

Matheson and Hicks played married detectives, Rick and Amanda Tucker. In the show, Rick uses his psychic powers to investigate cases, and Amanda tries to keep her secret. The series had its ups and downs, and the characters remained interesting and likable. But, in the end, it was the supernatural element that caused Amanda Tucker's harrowing downfall.

The series premiered on CBS on October 6, 1982, and aired for twelve episodes. It was up against shows like Dynasty and Quincy ME. It struggled to find viewers and was put on hiatus after six episodes. The series returned six months later but did not fare enough to earn a second season. While the show had potential, it ultimately did not live up to its promise.

2. Knightwatch

Knightwatch is one of the few television detective shows from the 1980s that still has fans today. It was one of the ABC television series that was promoted as an original series. In the show, a group of tough city punks, the Knights of the City, use their martial arts skills to fight crime. The group is led by charismatic leader Tony Maldonado, who was a former gang member.

The show starred Carole Stanwyck, an inner-city teen vigilante who trains in martial arts and goes on missions in the inner cities. Their missions often involve avoiding rapes and settling urban squabbles without firearms. Sadly, the show didn't get off to a good start, and it ended up being canceled after three months. However, Knightwatch fans shouldn't despair! There are many similar TV detectives shows out there, which are no less entertaining.

3. Cagney & Lacey

In 1982, the CBS television network debuted Cagney & Lacey, a new series with a female lead. The two-character show was the first serious television crime drama starring female leads. It ran for seven seasons, from 1982 to 1988. The series is still popular today, with more than 40 million viewers watching it on TV every week. In addition, Cagney & Lacey's success helped to kickstart the female detective genre.

The series featured two female cops, Christine Cagney and Mary-Beth Lacey. Although they were not identical in personality, their friendship forged a strong bond and enabled them to work together to solve crimes. The duo faced a number of challenges in their daily lives, including rape and alcoholism. Both women were successful in their fields, but their personal lives were complicated.

The show ended in 1983, but was revived the following year, as a rerun during the summer. This summer run sparked a Cagney & Lacey revival in 1984 and was picked up by TV Guide. The show finished in the top ten for the 1983-84 season, earning 36 Emmy Award nominations and 14 Emmys. The show also won four Emmy Awards, including Best Actress.

4. Charlie's Angels

There are lots of things you can learn about this classic television show by reading this. First, there is the series' main characters: Sabrina Duncan, Jill Munroe, and Kelly Garrett. They were all police academy graduates, assigned to various jobs, including parking ticket writers and traffic directors. Then, they quit their jobs and joined the Charles Townsend Agency, where they worked as private investigators. They received case details from their boss Charlie, portrayed by actor John Forsythe. Of course, their cover was sometimes blown.

In one episode, the Angels are sent undercover to a winery to find the missing owner. Another episode focuses on a mysterious kidnapping. In another episode, a school has been taken over by a demonic couple who want to turn the children into demons. There was also an episode where it was revealed that angels are originally human and were turned into angels by God himself.

The series' popularity reached new heights during its first two seasons. It was a rating juggernaut and spawned a number of merchandise tie-ins. Lunchboxes, trading cards, board games, and dolls were all popular products. Even more popular are the Charlie's Angels t-shirts, hats, and lipsticks. Despite its success, it did not last long enough to continue to the fifth season.

Original cast of Charlie's Angels. L-R: Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson.

Original cast of Charlie's Angels. L-R: Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson.

While Kate Jackson played the highly intelligent Angel Sabrina Duncan, she was later fired from the show. Scripts and cast changes eventually led to Jackson leaving the show. After three seasons, Jackson opted to join another show. Her character went on to star in Scarecrow and Mrs. King in the 1980s. Eventually, Farrah Fawcett returned to the show as an occasional guest star.

The characters in Charlie's Angels were a lot of fun to watch. The show was one of the highest-rated prime-time series of the era. The characters never met the male protagonist, but instead spoke with him on speakerphone. In season five, a young actress named Tanya Roberts joined the cast as his assistant. For a short time, the show was a huge hit, and fans were hooked.

One of the most memorable moments of the TV show is the episode when Charlie and his friends save Kelly. This episode features a memorable scene with Charlie and Kris saving Kelly from a coma. Unlike other episodes of Charlie's Angels, the episode also has a very memorable theme song. In addition to its music, Charlie's Angels inspired many people, including the younger generation.

© 2022 Kit