Following the sad death yesterday of Max Wright - the TV dad on 80's sitcom ALF - we took a walk down memory lane to remember some of the most popular shows from the 80s.

From Family Ties to The Golden Girls, here's our top five picks from one of the golden era's of television that you may have forgotten just how much you loved.


FAMILY TIES

FAMILY TIES -- Season 3 -- Pictured: (l-r) Meredith Baxter as Elyse Keaton, Michael Gross as Steven Keaton, Justine Bateman as Mallory Keaton, Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton, Tina Yothers as Jennife
FAMILY TIES -- Season 3 -- Pictured: (l-r) Meredith Baxter as Elyse Keaton, Michael Gross as Steven Keaton, Justine Bateman as Mallory Keaton, Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton, Tina Yothers as Jennife

Essential pre-dinner viewing for many Kiwis, Family Ties was a classic American sitcom that enjoyed a seven season run between 1982 and 1989.

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The show launched the career of Michael J. Fox who went on to become one of the most popular Hollywood stars of the 80s through movies such as the Back to the Future and Teen Wolf.

Featuring relatable characters that reflected the shows audience, Family Ties centred on the Keaton household in Columbus, Ohio. Parents Steven and Elyse Keaton were former hippies-turned-baby boomers, raising their three kids – ambitious young Republican in the making Alex (Fox), fashion-obsessed Mallory (Justine Bateman), and independent tomboy Jennifer (Tina Yothers).

The story lines and humour tended to focus on the cultural change that was occurring in America during the Reagan administration, as younger generations began rejecting the counterculture of the 60s and began embracing more conservative and materialist ideals.
There were always life lessons to be learned from each episode, but we're pretty sure some wouldn't fly these days. One memorable and somewhat controversial episode saw Alex pressure Mallory into sourcing him some amphetamines from her obese friend, Effie, to help him get through his school exams. The drugs help his productivity in the short term but his behaviour turns erratic before he loses the plot and attacks Mallory when she won't hand over more pills.

The hugely popular show also featured cameos from other emerging Hollywood actors such as Tom Hanks, and Stand By Me stars Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman and River Phoenix.


GOLDEN GIRLS

The Golden Girls was ahead of its time with comedy that still holds up today. Photo / Getty Images.
The Golden Girls was ahead of its time with comedy that still holds up today. Photo / Getty Images.

It's both alarming and depressing to realise that Golden Girls – which launched in 1985 – remains one of the most progressive mainstream comedies America has ever produced. The show, created by Susan Harris and featuring four women over 50, was wildly ahead of its time and yet proved that mainstream America – and the world – was ready and willing to watch funny women on screen. A fact that was seemingly forgotten during the 20 years that followed its exit from our screens.

Even today, Golden Girls' comedy stands the test of time and regularly proves itself to have been freakishly prescient – such as the episode where Dorothy tries out of Jeopardy and says to host Merv Griffin: " Mr. Griffin, please. You are the most beloved man in America. You are bright, you are charming. You are the anti-Trump."

Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia were sassy AF, channelling big dick energy before millennials were eating solids. They portrayed female friendship in all its complicated glory and became as close with their viewers as they were to one another. Sing it now… "Thank you for being a friend…"

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MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN

Married...with Children stars Christina Applegate, David Faustino, Ed O'Nell, and Katy Sagal. Photo / Getty Images.
Married...with Children stars Christina Applegate, David Faustino, Ed O'Nell, and Katy Sagal. Photo / Getty Images.

Things got a bit edgier for Kiwi kids when Married…with Children arrived on New Zealand screens in the late-night Friday spot (just before The WWF Superstars of Wrestling) back in 1987.

The show followed the suburban Chicago lives of Al Bundy (Ed O'Neill), a once legendary high school gridiron star turned down-on-his-luck women's shoe salesman, his lazy wife Peggy (Katey Sagal), popular, pretty and dumb daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate), and greasy, unlikeable but smart son Bud (David Faustino).

Their neighbours were the well-off younger couple Steve Rhoades and his feminist wife Marcy, who goes on to re-marry with new 'trophy husband' Jefferson D'Arcy, making her Marcy D'Arcy.

The storylines generally revolved around Al's dubious schemes being ruined by his own oafish dim wit and the universe working against him.

The hugely popular show ran for a decade until 1997, with its iconic opening credit sequence made forever memorable due to the show's theme song, Love and Marriage, performed by the one and only Frank Sinatra.

ALF

The cast of ALF; Benji Gregory as Brian Tanner, Andrea Elson as Lynn Tanner, ALF, Anne Schedeen as Kate Tanner, Charles Nickerson as Eric Tanner, Max Wright as Willie Tanner
The cast of ALF; Benji Gregory as Brian Tanner, Andrea Elson as Lynn Tanner, ALF, Anne Schedeen as Kate Tanner, Charles Nickerson as Eric Tanner, Max Wright as Willie Tanner

This show about a wise cracking, jive-talking alien life form was a true pop culture phenomenon from the moment it landed on screen. It was the sort of concept that could only come out of the 80s and that we just don't get enough of these days; an alien crashes on earth and takes up residence with a family. Brilliant in its simplicity and flawless in its execution, ALF topped TV ratings and space invaded every aspect of our lives; he had a toy line, spin-off cartoon shows, an official Fan Club that posted you a Membership certificate (you bet we joined that club), collectable bubblegum stickers and even a hit single, Stuck on Earth, which reached no.3 on our charts.

ALF, the character, was sarcastic and troublesome, a bit like a furry Bart Simpson, and spoke almost entirely in quips and catchphrases ("No problem!", "No way!", "Yo Willie!"). This made him the worst sort of house guest for the put upon Tanner family but made him highly quotable on the playground and the show highly entertaining for the whole family to watch, during an era when the whole family would watch TV together.

But the real secret to ALF's success was that every kid wanted an alien pal to hang out with. ALF gave us that. Even if he was always trying to eat the family pet...

WHO'S THE BOSS?

The cast of WHO'S THE BOSS?
The cast of WHO'S THE BOSS?

Angela Bower was clearly the boss. Tony Micelli was her live-in housekeeper. It's pretty straight forward. But for eight full seasons the 'will they/won't they' nature of their relationship kept us watching.

Well, that and Bower's free-spirited mother Mona who also lived in the house, had the show's best lines and was already ready with a ribald comeback or some saucy innuendo.

In fact, the video below makes the case that it was randy gran Mona who was truly the boss...

All of which sailed over our heads as kids but can appreciate now whenever we catch or hunt down a rerun.