The 1980s was an interesting time for science fiction on television. Influenced by the success of Star Wars and other films, the networks came up with a number of shows, most of them aimed at young audiences, to bring the look and feel of a big-budget movie to the small screen.
The Incredible Hulk
Based on the comic book character, the series starred the late Bill Bixby as David Banner, a brilliant scientist forced to go on the run after his green alter ego, played by Lou Ferrigno, was accused of murder. The show lasted until 1983.
The Greatest American Hero
William Katt played Ralph Hinkley, a hapless Everyman who is given a superhero costume by aliens, but loses the instruction book that came with it, leaving Ralph and his partner, gung-ho FBI agent Bill Maxwell (the late Robert Culp) to try and figure out how to use the suit so Ralph could catch bad guys. The series was known for its theme song, “Believe it or Not” by Joey Scarbury, which became a Top Ten hit in 1981.
This mercifully short-lived series was an attempt to finally have the Colonials discover Earth circa 1980, with a different cast (with the exception of Lorne Greene, who played an older, bearded Commander Adama.)
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Updated version of the 1930s comic strip and movie serial character, starring Gil Gerard as astronaut William “Buck” Rogers, who wakes up from suspended animation in the distant future.
Mork and Mindy
Hugely popular during its first couple of seasons, this series, a spin-off of “Happy Days,” went into a ratings decline from which it never fully recovered before going off the air in 1982. It introduced the comic genius of Robin Williams to the world, but that was about it.
Time-travel series featuring Jon-Erik Hexum as Phineas Bogg and Meeno Peluce as Jeffrey Jones, a contemporary kid from 1982 who joins Bogg on adventures into the past, which were based on historical events such as the sinking of the Titanic.
Misfits of Science
Another short-lived superhero series about a team of young people with various abilities; similar in some ways to the X-Men and Ghostbusters, and considered a cult favorite.
The original miniseries which led to a TV series about lizard-like aliens who look human on the outside and who claim to need our help, but who really want to steal Earth’s water supply and use humans as food instead.
Adventure series about an archaeologist and his family who find themselves transported to a strange world in another universe.
Short-lived superhero series about a police officer who creates a holographic artificial intelligence that fights crime with the aid of a cursor that acts as a sidekick and which could create a holographic car and helicopter. The series was influenced by the success of Disney’s Tron.