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Nostalgic Impulse: 10 live-action shows from my childhood

Like the previous list, these are not my top ten shows of the nineties (some do not fit the time period for starters), nor are these in any particular order, but rather this is just a list of ten shows from my childhood that I loved and like to remember. I am well aware that some of these shows might be ones I shouldn’t admit to loving, but hey, I’m only human. I like just as much total shit as highbrow art. In writing this list, however, I’ve thought of a good many more than just ten shows. I might just have to write a part two of this article, so stay tuned!

1) MacGuyver

If anyone tries to say that Richard Dean Anderson is not one of the sexiest men to have ever lived, then I show them the door. I’m right there with Patti and Selma from The Simpsons, still majorly crushing on the ever-useful MacGuyver. The show was pre seasonal story arcs for tv shows, which means it doesn’t hold up quite as well as it might have done. But above all, this show is always a lot of fun. There are spies, terrorists, general assholes and criminals, and even occasionally someone who just doesn’t like the environment. I do have one question for Mac though, just how many ‘old friends’ does he have?! And why do they never seem to live through the episode (unless they’re hot women of course)?

2) Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

herculesWhile we are on the subject of lovely men, let’s not forget that absolutely gorgeous Kevin Sorbo. I met him at a convention not too long ago and he was very sweet, and was a lot more down to earth than I expected. Having loved him so much as a kid, I lost my cool rather more than I thought I would when he shook my hand. But, shhhhh, I’m totally cool about such things! Hercules had everything – mythology, monsters, magic, and a really tragic backstory. Oh yeah, and sometimes he teamed up with…

3) Xena: Warrior Princess

Let us not forget the lovely women that were around at the time… Lucy Lawless was as stunning as she was brutal. Xena was girl power for the girls who were more tomboy than Spice Girl (like me!). The show was actually a spin-off from Hercules, after Xena became a very popular character in a guest appearance. It even involved the producing talents of Sam Raimi, better known for Evil Dead and the Toby Maguire Spider-Man films.

4) Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

Sticking with a more superhero and action vibe, Lois & Clark absolutely has to make this list. I loved this show, again my pre-teen lack of hormones still had me boy crazy. I was all about Dean Cain. Although for me, the two that really stole the show were Lane Smith as Perry White and Justin Whalin as Jimmy Olsen. A few years ago I rented the first season of this on DVD – for shits ‘n’ giggles. I laughed so hard! The first episode has Clark’s mother sewing him an outfit and a very cheesy montage of him trying on a number of different attempts. But what do they all have in common? They’re all made of lycra and have undies on the outside! Why?!

5) Sliders

sliders-the-first-season-dvd-cover-23Ok, so I’m noticing the general fantasy/sci-fi focus this list is having so far, but don’t worry, I’ll be sure to cover some other genres as well (if not in this list, the next one). There’s one episode of this show that I’ll always remember – they went to a planet with purple sky. I couldn’t tell you anything else about the episode (or much to do with the plot of the show without looking it up, my memory really is terrible these days), but I always wanted purple sky! Of course, there was Jerry O’Connell – no longer chubby little Vern in Stand By Me, but a proper hunk. But the best thing about this show was of course the amazing John Rhys-Davies.

6) Sabrina the Teenage Witch

This show was based on characters that original appeared in Archie Comics, starring Melissa Joan Hart as the titular Sabrina Spellman. Sabrina is a witch, living with her two aunts, Hilda and Zelda (also witches), in Massachusetts. The first three seasons of this show were fantastic; I still love them in all their silliness. The show really did jump the shark after the fourth season. Sabrina went to college… Harvey was out and instead she pined for coffee-boy Josh. I loved Caroline Rhea as Hilda (and now love her even more in Phineas and Ferb) – and the first season encounters with her on-again-off-again romance with Drell (Penn Jillette – one half of illusion and comedy duo Penn and Teller) always had me in stitches. Salem Saberhagen, the family cat (aka a cursed warlock – doomed to spend 100 years as a pet after trying to take over the world) was my favourite character, however. Especially when he put on a pin stripe suit, smoked a cigar, and became his own mafia boss.

7) The X-Files

As you can probably tell by now, I was a big sci-fi fan back in the day (and still am). The X-Files was a very important show in my sci-fi upbringing. Even now I’m not big on ‘aliens’ but this show did it so well that I just didn’t care. The episode ‘Badlaa’ from season eight remains one of the scariest things I have ever seen on television. My friend Elli and I used to tell each other scary stories about the beggar on the squeaky wheeled platform. The episode isn’t one of the show’s best now that I have re-watched the series, but as a kid, I loved a good scare. Since The X-Files, the only show I think that has done so well with the ‘weird science’ side of things is Fringe.

8) The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Will Smith is now a megastar. Back then he was fresh, singing catchy tunes with his pal DJ Jazzy Jeff and wearing his blazer inside out to school. This show never seems to be off the air. Some channel somewhere is playing it, and I totally get why. It is great fun. At times it has a tendency to club us over the head with moral messages, but for the most part is fun, witty, and always entertaining. I blame this show for my love of bloopers. Often the credits would roll over bloopers from the filming of the episode. Oh, and of course, the best dance to bring out at weddings is the Carlton dance!

9) The Nanny

Good ol’ Fran Drescher. The woman’s voice to skin a cat. It was awful. But the show captivated America, and Australia was right there along with them (I’m not sure if it was a hit here in the UK though?). I religiously watched this show for years, long after I had seen every episode multiple times. The romance that really got me was not that of Fran and Maxwell, but of CC Babcock and Niles. One of the most memorable moments for me was Niles’ impression of Tom Cruise in Risky Business. And who would have though that cute little Madeline Zima would grow up to be such a bad girl in Californication.

10) Dawson’s Creek

I am not ashamed to admit (although maybe I should be) that I still regularly re-watch my complete seasons on DVD of this show. Sure, it went downhill when they went to college and still didn’t seem to know any better (no wonder they didn’t make too many new friends at college). But who could watch this show and not absolutely love Pacey – or ‘Pissy’ as my mother called him (after a brilliant turn by child-star Jonathan Lipnicki). Personally I always loved the quiet in-joke Josh Jackson makes to himself as the star of the Mighty Ducks movies in the first season, but that’s the kind of dork that I am. Anyone who was rooting for Joey to end up with Dawson – what was wrong with you?! I bet you were the ones hoping Buffy would go with Angel and not Spike too?! You suck! Joey and Pacey forever. But special nod should go to James Van Der Beek (not for being whiny bitch Dawson but for something far more recent…) for his absolutely stellar performance in the sadly short-lived show Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23. If you haven’t seen it, watch it.

About Megan Leigh

Writer and editor of Pop Verse. Co-host of Breaking the Glass Slipper. My special interests include publishing, creative writing, and geekery.

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