1) Knight Rider (1982–1986)
What was it about? Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) is a lone and mysterious crime fighter of the future, battling evil men with the aid of a souped-up talking sports car. The show saw Hasselhoff rise to superstardom, with Knight Rider becoming one of the most popular shows of its time.
About the theme tune: The theme also proved to be very popular and influential, swapping the usual '80s standard of orchestral show tunes with electro/synth rock. Whereas Hasselhoff may have been the lead human character, the show and its theme were all about KITT. The theme later became the foundation for smash hit "Ghetto Superstar" by Pras.
2) Airwolf (1984–1986)
What was it about? Renegade pilot Stringfellow Hawke (Jan Michael Vincent) strikes an agreement with an intelligence agency to fly an advanced battle helicopter in exchange for finding the whereabouts of his lost brother. The show also starred Ernest Borgnine as Hawke's ageing co-pilot, but who cares who he was? Borgnine was awesome in everything he did!
About the theme tune: Hollywood composer Sylvester Levay (Mannequin, Navy Seals, Hot Shots) created this theme tune two years after Knight Rider hit television screens. It shows, and we love it because it's a somewhat more accomplished version of that theme. Unlike Knight Rider's purely electro/synth rock style, Airwolf made synthesizer music seem more orchestral, making it revolutionary and yet also familiar to the ear.
3) Miami Vice (1984–1990)
What was it about? Simply, but so stylishly, Miami Vice followed the professional and personal lives of two Miami police detectives, Crockett and Tubbs. The show defined the '80s as one of its longest-running shows—lasting nearly two-thirds of the decade—and was just about the closest a television show got to feeling like the action cop movies of the era.
About the theme tune: Jan Hammer's synth tracks went somewhere between sounding like a Vangelis movie soundtrack and Jim Johnston's old WWF entrance themes (fitting since Don Johnson and Brett "The Hitman" Hart look so alike). Miami Vice's soundtrack also inspired a lot of detective movie composers of that decade.
4) Quantum Leap (1989–1993)
What was it about? Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) is a scientist of the future who finds himself trapped in time and traveling from body to body through influential events and eras of America's history. Only when he rights all the wrongs can he move on, and his only help comes in the form of an upbeat and snappily dressed holograph named Al (Dean Stockwell).
About the theme tune: If you never noticed the similarities in convention between Quantum Leap, The A-Team, and Magnum, P.I., then you don't know composer Mike Post, who wrote or co-wrote most themes of the '80s' greatest successes. Quantum Leap's theme is more quaint and family friendly than his other works, and isn't typically sci-fi; but then, Quantum Leap was more about the drama than the futuristic elements.
5) Street Hawk (1985)
What was it about? Injured ex-motorcycle cop Jesse Mach (Rex Smith) finds himself fighting crime as the experimental pilot for a new, secret combat motorcycle while he poses as your ordinary desk sergeant by day. The show only had one season in the mid-'80s but that didn't stop it becoming a great cult classic.
About the theme tune: '80s giant of synth-pop, Tangerine Dream, who also scored many movies of the decade, provided the fantastical and energetic intro theme. If you don't know Tangerine Dream, they're best described as the Daft Punk of their time.
Please stay tuned for Part 2 of the Unforgettable '80s TV Show Themes which will be available next month. Meanwhile, tell us what your favourite tune was and why you liked it in the comments section below! Thanks for reading and enjoy the videos!