Daily Dirt: Best and worst of the 1980s? Maybe you should ask Capt. Obvious

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Daily Dirt for Sept. 21, 2021

A little Mayhem, a little Lily … and a lot of Louie DePalma in Vol. 74 of the Daily Dirt, which, as always, provides you with three thoughts of the day — and all free of charge. Is this a great country or what?

1. I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy ongoing commercial themes. Certain characters become part of my viewing family and make those commercial breaks more tolerable. Here are my current favorites in this category:

  • A. Dean Winter, Allstate Insurance’s “Mayhem”: If he looks familiar, you’re correct. Winters has also had roles on “Law and Order: SVU” and “30 Rock”. Winters’ former partner on “30 Rock,” Tina Fey, even joined him on a few “Mayhem” commercials in 2019.
  • B. Milana Vayntrub, AT&T’s Lily: She was a key part of the company’s advertising campaign 2013-16, and then returned in 2020. She plays the ditzy brunette who is easily overwhelmed. In between her AT&T gigs, she had a role on “This Is Us.” 
AT&T’s Lily (Milana Vayntrub), in and out of uniform.
  • C. Dennis Haysbert, Allstate: Another Allstate star, Haysbert has been the “they’re in good hands” spokesman since way back in 2003. His distinctive and comforting voice is a key to his success and popularity. Haysbert is a veteran character actor, once playing the president of the United States on “24”.
  • D. Stephanie Courtney, Progressive Insurance’s Flo: At first, I thought Flo was annoying and the equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard. Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy her schtick. 
  • E. Brandon Moynihan, hotels.com’s Capt. Obvious: Same as Flo, I thought Capt. Obvious was unwatchable at first. Now, I sit back and chuckle.

2. Five TV shows in the 1980s that I could never connect with, and wondered how anyone could watch them week in, week out:

  • A. “Growing Pains”: One of the most syrupy sweet 30-minute programs ever forced on American audiences. Fun fact: Leonardo DiCaprio was once a cast regular.
  • B. “Knight Rider”: The alleged star of the show was KITT, a Pontiac Firebird with artificial intelligence. Need I say more? Oh, one other thing … David Hasselhoff was the star of the program. Don’t hassle the Hoff.
  • C. “Dukes of Hazzard”: Five minutes of Boss Hogg was about 4 minutes, 30 seconds too much.
  • D. “Miami Vice”: True, Crockett and Tubbs fought the cocaine epidemic, but they actually had more success popularizing pastel sports jackets.
  • E. “Who’s the Boss?”: Two words. Tony. Danza.

3. Let’s stay in the same decade, and offer five shows from the 1980s that were actually entertaining to watch:

  • A. “Hart to Hart”: Critics say this program personified the “opulent ’80s.” That’s a little deep for me. I just know I loved watching the jet-setting husband-and-wife crime-solving team of Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers (Jonathan and Jennifer Hart).
  • B. “Newhart”: Understated comedian Bob Newhart played Dick Loudon, whose character moved his family to Vermont to operate a 200-year-old inn. Some of the memorable characters there were — drum roll, please — Larry, his brother, Darryl, and his other brother, Darryl.
  • C. “Taxi”: The weekly performance of Danny DeVito as Louie DePalma was certified gold, episode after episode.
  • D. “The Cosby Show”: American loved this 30-minute sitcom, absolutely adored it. And then we all found out what a creep Bill Cosby actually was.
  • E. “Cagney and Lacey”: Christine Cagney (Sharon Gless) and Mary Beth Lacey (Tyne Daly) were arguably the best onscreen detective tandem of the decade.

Steve Fact O’ The Day
When I got my driver’s license as a 16-year-old in 1970 and filled a car with gas for the first time, the cost per gallon was 36 cents.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. Steve’s first car ran on kerosene.

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