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25 awesome openings to '80s action shows (and five they missed) - VIDEOS

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 28th 2008 12:07PM

Magnum, P.I.We've talked a lot here about theme songs and how they just don't make them like they used to. The openings to shows used to be a lot longer, a real part of the show. Today we're lucky if we get a few bars of music and maybe a credit or two. Heck, one show, Lost, only plays one note and shows the logo.

The Popcorn Trick has a list of the Top 25 Opening Credits of '80s Action Shows, and you can't argue with most of the picks. Magnum P.I. is on the list, as is Riptide, Miami Vice, and The A Team. I would quibble a little bit with the choice of The Rockford Files. One of my favorites, but it was really more of a '70s show than '80s (it ended in 1980). I was 13 years old when Vegas premiered (in 1978 - it ran until 1981) and I wanted to be Dan Tanna and live in Vegas and have hot girlfriends and drive around with a lion in my sports car.

Cagney and Lacey shouldn't be on the list though. It should be replaced with one of several other shows from the '80s. After the jump, the five shows they missed.

Stingray: Yeah, I know, I've been talking about this show a lot lately, but I don't see how they missed this opening. It has everything: cool techno song, exploding helicopters, mysterious symbols, shots of the hero.

Macgyver: Come on, a list of '80s action show openings and this isn't listed? Nonsense! Watch Richard Dean Anderson slide down a desert hill on a map, use his Swiss Army knife, and look cool in a leather jacket!

Spenser: For Hire: Maybe I'm just biased because this show was set (and filmed!) in Boston, but this was a intelligent, well-written, well cast show, and the opening conveys what the show is about. You get shots of Boston Common and Avery Brooks looking menacing and Robert Urich and Barbara Stock taking a shower together. Besides, how many TV show openings show Larry Bird shooting a basket and the show's hero eating spaghetti?

Strike Force: This wasn't the best show, but I have to include it because it's such a great example of 80s action shows. You have the military-sounding theme song (sorta A Team-ish), all the heroes running and getting into cars to chase someone, an incredibly cheesy logo, the team walking towards the camera all together, and three scenes where the hero aims a gun and shoots! Awesome.

Mister T: If you'll excuse the inclusion of a cartoon here, I'd just like to point out that this cartoon features Mister T (in probably the only time his name was spelled that way and not Mr.) as the leader of some sort of gymnastics team that fights crime? I barely remember this show, but it looks insane. When the gymnasts are doing their thing, why does it sound like someone ripping up a piece of paper? Also, the team drove around in the world's biggest van.

Every time I see this I think of the TV Funhouse spot on SNL. Drink your school! Stay in drugs! Don't do milk!

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Sarah Cook

What no "Scarecrow and Mrs. King"? come on

April 29 2008 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Love the list. I saw every episode of Automan broadcast in the UK, and Airwolf deserved to score higher, but Quantum Leap was the big omission.

April 28 2008 at 7:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had completely forgotten about "Stingray!" Man! That was an awesome show. Thanks or bringing back a good TV memory. :)

April 28 2008 at 7:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Haha congrats for getting all ther QL words MPC!

April 28 2008 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

while I know it kicked off in 79 it went way into the 80's the Dukes of Hazard opening is great and a classic

April 28 2008 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Matthew P. Christensen

Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished .... He woke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.

April 28 2008 at 3:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Matthew P. Christensen's comment

As the author of the piece I will address some comments...

While I'll admit the McGyver exclusion was a slight oversight, watching those credits doesn't overwhelm me. True, a good amount of action, but with only RDA's sexiness and no homoeroticism whatsoever (he's the only one in the credits) it wouldn't rank high based on the criteria I used to rate them. Add that to a mid score for intangibles (positive: he made stuff on his own; negative: he hated guns) and I figure it would place in the 20s at best.

April 28 2008 at 4:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All of your videos are not gone.

April 28 2008 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ggm's comment

I meant now gone.

April 28 2008 at 2:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, they are back now. When I clicked on them before, it said "the video is no longer available". Now they work again. Weird. Sorry for the false alarm.

April 28 2008 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


God, how I wished Robert Urich would have guest starred on an episode of DS9 as a character named Spencer just to hear Avery Brooks say that anew....

April 28 2008 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know it only started in 1989, but Quantum Leap was a classic :) Anyone else still remember all the words?

April 28 2008 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Edd's comment
Matthew P. Christensen

What Words?

April 28 2008 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just about any opening theme done by Post and Carpenter should be on the list. They ruled during that time period. (and what, no Hill Street Blues?)

April 28 2008 at 1:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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