1980’s Television

1980’s television taught us so much.  The Bren Ten was controllable for controlled “triple taps”.  A Ruger Mini-14, when fired with the stock folded, was guaranteed to only hit the dirt beside a moving car, and if it did hit the car, it was only a tire.  The car would then flip over 96 times, and then it would show both of the occupants getting out and merely dusting themselves off.  A Smith and Wesson Model 29 (and oddly enough the SPAS-12, and HK P9) would blow the hood open on a car as it traveled towards you.  That bad guys could be armed with the same weaponry as the good guys, but always lacked in marksmanship skills.  And those that are serious carry a M1911 in their waistband with no holster.

1980’s television was a constant struggle between good and evil.  It was scripted and most of the times the good guys won.  It was neatly finished in an hour, unless of course it was a cliff hanger episode that was a two-parter.  A trip to the medical examiner’s office always had the PI or police officer interviewing the medical examiner.  And the viewers did not have to see the deceased’s spleen to figure out “whodunit” that the latest crop of CSI type shows do these days.

Today, sometimes we catch an old show and think “How in the hell did I watch this?”.

For every one of the good action shows, there were a dozen buddy cop dramas, or even the occasional buddy cop/school teacher with a superman suit.  Sometimes it was hokey.  But, it was always entertaining, unlike the current fad of reality TV.  Genuine turn your brain off for an hour and enjoy.

If 1980’s television taught us anything, it taught us to enjoy the small things…….


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About Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones has been a Sheriff's Deputy in Kentucky since 1996. Jerry is currently assigned as a patrol deputy, firearms instructor and senior operator/training supervisor with a multi jurisdictional tactical team. Jerry is Kentucky POST certified to teach firearms, SWAT, and sniper operations and deployment at the Academy level. Jerry is also the President/CEO of Operation Specific Training and the Law Enforcement Representative for Apex Tactical Specialties.

27 thoughts on “1980’s Television

  1. And don’t forget, the AR7 was sniper weapon of choice out to a 1000 yards or so, with the Beretta 92 and Walther PPK had to have the slide racked back before you entered every room you cleared, and a Snub nosed Revolver is deadly accurate out to 50 yards or so and an AR15 didn’t need a magazine to fire 15 or twenty times (all from Charlies Angels and TJ Hooker)

  2. Having been born in the late 80’s, I missed most of these shows–all the action dramas growing up were about government conspiracy. Recently I saw that Magnum PI was on Netflix and started watching it. I have to agree with you, the action sequences are hilarious, the plots are convenient, but it’s fun, sometimes clever, and never features a decomposed body.

  3. Let’s not forget that the Detonics Combat Master, at a feathery 34 ounces unloaded, makes a great backup to carry in an ankle holster under a pastel featherweight suit.

  4. Left out Simon and Simon or al least only vaguely referenced it, the golf bag with the AR-180 and riot gun. Crocket only used the Detonics that one time I believe and it seemed like he lost it when he went overboard.

  5. They were cool guns back then. Mostly blued and all steel. Those shows were part of the reasons certain firearms did so well at the time. Look at the WD, Rick uses a Python and the prices have tripled.

  6. And that a thrown hand grenade, or even larger explosive device, produces a huge fireball that causes everyone within close proximity to fly several yards into the air, but otherwise receive no damage. It was good times.

    • I saw TJ Hooker just one time. In that episode, TJ and his partner were chasing an SUV containing a kidnap victim. The SUV went off-road up a hill, and TJ and his partner stood at the bottom of the hill firing their Model 15s at the fleeing SUV, apparently unconcerned whether their rounds were hitting the kidnap victim in the SUV or just flying over the hill into God knows what.
      At the end of the episode, the bad guy jumped out at TJ with a knife. TJ drew his PR-24, laid it across the outside of his arm, and parried the knife thrusts. I was laughing so hard I didn’t see how he subdued the bad guy.
      Apparently, I went to a different academy than TJ did.
      That was quality entertainment.

      • I just remember Hooker ALWAYS burned rubber when driving the circa 1980 Gran Fury/St. Regis.

  7. I’m a good bit older than a lot of you guys, but it’s well to point out that cops were almost never the bad guys back then. In drama, comedy or the nightly news.

    Cut my teeth on a Police Story, Rockford Files, SWAT, Magnum P.I., and, forgive me, Starsky and Hutch.

    Miami Vice came out my last year in college and featured state of the art firepower, cool cars, hot girls and popular music. Still like to hear Lunatic Fringe, When the Bullet Hits the Bone, and Smuggler’s Blues on the way to search warrants.

    I never got a Testerossa when I was in Narcs, but did have a 360 Dodge Ram 4×4 with an MP5/40 in a Big Sky Rack. And now see eerie similarities between True Detective and Real Detective.

    Never based my gunhandling on TV guys, though I still see new guys clearing houses like modern TV cops.

    Maybe you won’t even…blink. Classic.

    Even cooler: just today 3 out of 4 of Dayshift detectives polled said they’d most like to have me with them in a Hot Tub Time Machine situation…:)

  8. Greatest Chuck Norris scene in my mind from the opening of Lone Wolf McQuade: when he makes a full 360 degree spin while firing an uzi in full automatic, hitting at least 12 horse thieves.

  9. So wait a minute. You’re saying, stuffing my 45 in the waist band my super tight pants, or my super short shorts isn’t tactically sound? I always wondered how they kept the gun from sliding down his pant leg. Must be movie magic.

    On a side note, I’m in my late thirties and will have to admit that Magnum PI was the beginning of my love of the 1911.

  10. <>

    I gotta tell this one…I’d moved out of NYC and was living in Florida, mostly shooting IPSC stuff, when I got a frantic call from another writer friend of mine. “Listen Bane,” he said, “I’ve B-S’ed my way into writing a script for Michael Mann on ‘Miami Vice.’ He’s all hot on gun s$%t and you know I don’t know nothing on that. You gotta give me something that makes me look like a gun guy!”

    Hmmmmmmm, me-thinks….”do you know the difference between ‘cover’ and ‘concealment’?” He didn’t, so I explained. “Great! Great! Need more!” Okay, how about…”the classic sniper shot into this real specific area on the face? They won’t even twitch.”

    “Talk slower…I’m writing this down. ‘They won’t even twitch?’ Oh man, Bane…that’s golden! Thanks, buddy!”

    I swear to God, my weird little contribution to American popular culture!

    BTW, in the same “won’t even twitch” episode, Sonny whack a guy hiding behind a door, because it’s “concealment,” not “cover.” LOL!

    Michael B

    • Michael, I remember the swamp shootout with both scenes. At the time I saw it, I knew there was a gun guy behind the scenes. Now I know he rest of the story.

      Thanks for contributing, then and now!

  11. Mr. Bane, you ought to do a segment on your show about seminal gun moments in movies and TV. Remember the “hot loads” episodes on Police Story? Or the one w Jan-Michel Vincent using an M16A1 to good effect?

    Lot of good stuff from before the pussification of our culture…

  12. Like many I was disappointed getting into LE in the 80’s and getting a primer grey 5.0 Mustang with a passenger door that you could only get in and not get out when I worked Vice to pick up crack whores and tranny’s instead of a Ferrari (I would have wanted the Daytona instead of the Testarossa). I could never pull off the Sonny Crockett look, so I ended up dressing like Fred Dryer as Sgt. Rick Hunter instead. I miss the 80’s, it was really a great time to be both young, and a cop.

    • A real Daytona would have been great, DB, but sadly the one on Vice was a ‘vette with a kit car body on it. Before the Ram I had a seized & massaged Stang 5.0 GT that made my 5-year-old daughter scream in fear on the way to school. Before than it was decrepit Dodge caravan that happily crapped its transmission and engine in a “pursuit”. That one was just embarrassing…

  13. The best cop shows ever to be on television up until shows like NYPD Blue, Blue Bloods and other somewhat recent police/crime dramas was hands down Adam-12 and Dragnet. They were cheeseball in their own ways, but always faithful to how things were done back then more or less and always entertaining. I never got into the 80’s cop shows, because they always seemed way too over the top after watching the classics.

    • I disagree. They were good, but the most realistic cop show that was ever on TV, then or now, was Barney Miller. I can’t tell you how many situations in that show were straight out of real life. (I believe they had a NYPD detective as a technical consultant.)
      As to the gent who got the gray Mustang, I got a black ’79 Capri (not Caprice) for a UC car. On the plus side, it had an 8-track with tapes (it was a seized ride), and I could listen to Del Shannon singing Runaway while I drove on the streets of Chicago.

  14. There’s still some 80s magic that bleeds over. Watches the alternate endings from Arnold’s “Sabotage” and noted the female Atlanta detective demonstrating the apparently new Glock 22 with 24 round standard length magazine.

  15. I recently started making my way through Magnum on Netflix. The nostalgia was/is epic. More importantly, the fact that Bellisario made the SEAL teams a major element of the main characters’ background, and that it was completely lost on most of the show’s audience, is funny to me. Especially now.

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