Saturday, 5 July 2014 | MYT 7:00 AM

Doogie, Urkel, The Hoff: 6 memorable TV shows that debuted in 1989

Seinfeld turns 25 today. Here are six TV shows that are also hitting the quarter-century mark this year.

It's hard to believe that 25 years ago, Seinfeld hit the small screen in the US. It was a show about nothing, and remained a show about nothing until its end in 1998. Created by writer Larry David and comedian Jerry Seinfeld – who starred as himself – Seinfeld followed the “adventures” of four single friends who lived in New York City.

It was easy to relate to Jerry, Elaine, Kramer and George, thanks in part to clever writing and comic timing of the actors. The success of Seinfeld inspired the creation of other New York City-based sitcoms that also highlighted the “plight” of single folks: Friends, Sex And The City, Will & Grace, How I Met Your Mother and The Mindy Project.

Seinfeld ran for nine seasons and wasn't just a commercial success – actually, it still is since it's in syndication. It's also been a favourite of critics the world over, appearing in many “greatest TV programme” lists. While other shows that made their debut the same year as Seinfeld in 1989 didn't fare as well – save for The Simpsons – many are still memorable. Here are six of our favourites:

Doogie Howser, MD (1989-1993)

Neil Patrick Harris all suited up in hospital scrubs. 

If you were a teenager in the 1990s, you'd remember being so awestruck by teen doc Doogie Howser, the star of this sitcom. Played to perfection by a young Neil Patrick Harris, Doogie was a child genius who became the youngest doctor in the US at age 14 – the show began with him at age 16. Apart from having a busy life saving lives, Doogie still went through his life like any other teen. His best friend Vinnie (Max Casella) lived next door, his girlfriend Wanda (Lisa Dean Ryan) was pretty cute, and he wrote in his diary every day. Actually, the diary was his computer, so at the end of each episode, viewers would see him typing in his entry.

Saved By The Bell (1989-1993)

Here’s one sitcom from the 1990s that was so well-loved by teen despite being so cheesy it hurts. Perhaps the collection of good-looking kids like Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Mario Lopez, Lark Voorhies and Elizabeth Berkley had something to do with it.

The Saved By The Bell crew with (clockwise from right) Mario Lopez, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dustin Diamond, Elizabeth Berkley, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Lark Voorhies.

Saved By The Bell was pretty much your basic high school comedy that featured a group of friends – there was a nice guy, a jock, a bookworm, a cheerleader and an all-round silly guy – who faced normal teenage problems, as well as touched on social issues like drug abuse, broken families and bullying. The show spawned two spin-offs and two movies. Maybe it’s time someone suggested a Saved By The Bell: The Millennials version for today’s teens.

Quantum Leap (1989-1993)

A show about a guy who can literally “leap” into another place, time and body? Yes, please!

Bakula, Stockwell, a confused baby and Ziggy, the 'supercomputer' that helped keep track of Sam's time-travelling adventures.

Quantum Leap starred the handsome Scott Bakula as quantum physicist from the future Sam Beckett, who became “lost” in time during a botched time travel experiment. When he leaped, Sam temporarily took the place of someone else, usually in a different location and period. Sam’s sidekick Al (Dean Stockwell) didn't leap with him, but he did help him out. Al appeared as a hologram that only Sam, animals, kids and mentally ill folks could see. Quantum Leap was a favourite among viewers and critics not just because of its interesting storyline, but also for its humorous script.

Family Matters (1989-1997)

This sitcom never really took off in a big way in Malaysia, but many of us are familiar with its star character: Steve Urkel. With huge, thick glasses, bright-coloured shirts, high-waisted pants, suspenders and a grating voice that would annoy even the most docile, Urkel was the entertainment industry’s uber nerd.

Jaleel White as uber nerd Steve Urkel.

Played by Jaleel White, Urkel was the accidental star of Family Matters. The show initially focused on the lives of the Winslow family members, who lived next to the Urkels. Although White found international fame as the nerdy character, he's said before that it was tough for him to find work post-Family Matters as he would only get offers to play Urkel-esque characters.

Baywatch (1989-1999)

A series that revolved around the drama of lifeguards in California was bound to happen. Why? Because of bikinis, hot buff bodies, and perpetual tans.

The Hoff (centre) and his underlings in Baywatch

Baywatch began in 1989 with David Hasselhoff (who ended his Knight Rider stint a few years prior) and Parker Stevenson (who starred in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries) as seniors in the LA County Lifeguards unit. Their team consisted of a group of pretty young things that included every girl’s dream guys Eddie (Billy Warlock) and Matt (David Charvet), and every boy’s dream girls Shauni (Erika Eleniak), Summer (Nicole Eggert), Caroline (Yasmine Bleeth), Lani (Carmen Electra) and CJ (Pamela Anderson).

Funny enough, Baywatch was initially cancelled by the studio after the first season. However, Hasselhoff and the show’s creators decided to revive it in 1991 as a syndicated series, which proved to be a smart move as it became a commercial success not just in the US but globally too. There was also a Baywatch: Hawaii edition (1999-2001), which introduced us to the hunk that is Jason Momoa aka Game Of Thrones’ Khal Drogo.

The Simpsons (1989-today)

Ageless: The Simpsons has everything for everyone. No, really.

It's the greatest TV cartoon of all time, the show that has received a ton of awards and even more nominations – The Simpsons is so popular all over the world there’s really no other series one can compare it with. In September, it will kick off its 26th season in the US; it is the longest-running American sitcom, the longest-running American animated programme and the longest-running scripted primetime TV series in the US. Need we say more? 

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Elaine Benes: Unlikely hipster fashion champion

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , TV , Sitcom , Drama , Series , 1989 Baywatch , The Simpsons


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