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The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
The A-Z of Television in the '80s (D)
A B  C E  F G H I J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  
Dads
(ABC; 12.5.86-6.27.87)
Barry Bostwick and Carl Weintraub played a pair of single fathers, a reporter and a stonemason, one with a teenage daughter and the other with two sons. (Half-hour sitcom)
Dallas
(CBS; 4.2.78-3.3.91)
The legendary primetime soap opera about the Ewing clan, headed by Jock, a wildcatter who struck it rich, who had three sons -- the conniving J.R., the emotionally unstable Gary (who went on to lead the cast of a spinoff series, Knots Landing), and the scrupulous Bobby, whose wife Pam wass the sister of Cliff Barnes, son of Jock's ex-partner, who sought revenge against the Ewings for the ruination of his father, etc. etc.
Dalton's Code of Vengeance
(NBC; 7.27.86-8.24.86)
A short-lived hour-long drama featuring a Vietnam vet who roamed around the country righting wrongs. Played by Charles Taylor, the character was introduced in a TV movie that aired in June 1985, and a follow-up TV-movie that aired in May 1986. The films were turned into two episodes each, and there were two more original episodes shown before the series was cancelled.
Dance Fever
(Syndicated; 1978-1987)
This half-hour show gave amateur disco dancers national exposure.Deney Terrio and two women were the show's own dancers; when Terrio left in 1985, Adiran Zmed took his place. There were a total of 234 episodes.
Dancin' to the Hits
(Syndicated; 1986)
This half-hour music series was hosted by Lorenzo Lamas; each episode featured a regular troupe of professional dancers and one live performance by new acts. There were a total of 30 episodes.
Darkroom
(ABC;11.27.81-7.8.82)
This hour-long anthology series hosted by James Coburn specialized in stories of suspense and supernatural terror, a la Night Gallery, with stars like David Cararadine and Esther Rolle making appearances. (16 episodes)
Day by Day
(NBC; 2.29.88-6.25.89)
This half-hour sitcom was all about a yuppie couple -- he was a stockbroker, she a lawyer --  who quit the rat race and opened a day care in their home so that they could spend more time with their own kids. Featured Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the husband's former business associate, and Courtney Thorne-Smith as a sexy teenager hired to help out in the day care.
The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd
(NBC; 5.21.87-6.29.88)
Critically-acclaimed sitcom about the life of a divorced thirtysomething woman in New York City. When NBC cancelled the series after one season, Lifetime picked it up and produced new episodes from 1989-1991. Blair Brown starred as the title character. (65 episodes)
Dear John
(NBC; 10.6.88-7.22.92)
With one hit sitcom (Taxi) and one flop (Detective in the House) to his credit, Judd Hirsch returned to TV as John Lacey, a mild-mannered high-school English teacher trying to cope with life after divorce. He joined a singles support group populated by some real characters. Based on a British TV comedy by the same name. (Half-hour sitcom, 90 episodes)
Dempsey & Makepeace
(Syndicated; 1985)
This hour-long British-made (ITV) adventure series featured Michael Brandon and Glynis Barber as two members of Scotland Yard's special undercover group, SI-10. Dempsey was a brash New York cop who worked with the aristocratic Lady Harriet Makepeace. This unlikely team fought crime for a total of 31 episodes.
Designing Women
(CBS; 9.29.86-5.24.93)
All about the four women who ran an interior decorating business -- the classy, sharp-tongued Julia (Dixie Carter), her flashy sister Suzanne (Delta Burke), divorced mom Mary Jo (Annie Potts) and businesslike Charlene (Jean Smart). When NBC announced the show's cancellation, the fan uproar caused the network to reconsider, and the half-hour sitcom went on to run for 163 episodes.
Detective in the House
(CBS; 3.15.85-4.19.85)
Riding high in the wake of the hit comedy, Taxi, Judd Hirsch showed up again as a successful engineer who chucked it all to realize his dream of becoming a private detective. He enlisted the aid of veteran gumshow Nick Turner (Jack Elam) to show him the ropes, while his long-suffering wife (Cassie Yates) went back to work to provide the family with a regular income.
The Devlin Connection
(NBC; 10.2.82-12.25.82)
The suave, independently wealthy Brian Devlin (Rock Hudson), a former private investigator, helped out his brash son Nick (Jack Scalia), an aspiring private eye. Leigh Taylor-Young also starred, as Lauren Dane, Devlin's beautiful assistant. Originally slated for Fall 1981, this series was delayed due to Hudson's open-heart surgery.
Diamonds
(CBS/USA; 9.22.87-May 1989)
The twist to this hour-long detective drama was that the main characters were actors (who happened to be married) who played a a married couple who were private eyes on television. The series is cancelled, the two get divorced, and then try to make a living as real private eyes. Got it? Cancelled by CBS after one season, Diamonds was picked up by USA for its second.
The Dick Cavett Show
(ABC; 9.23.86-12.30.86)
Dick Cavett returned to host another discussion program that aired on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but even though it was scheduled to follow the popular Nightline, and featured guests such as Carol Burnett and Lily Tomlin, the series failed to generate much viewer interest.
Dick Clark's Nighttime
(Syndicated; 1985-1986)
The host of the classic American Bandstand returned to produce and host this late-night musical-variety series that featured live performances, interviews, videos and on-stage dancing. It lasted for 26 episodes.
Diff'rent Strokes
(NBC; 11.3.78-8.30.86)
Gary Coleman was the star of this hit sitcom. He starred as Arnold, who, with brother Willis (Todd Bridges), were two black kids from Harlem being raised by the wealthy Philip Drummond (Conrad Bains). You see, their deceased mother had been Drummond's housekeeper. Drummond's new housekeeper, Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae) went on to star in the spinoff Facts of Life, and First Lady Nancy Reagan showed up in a 1983 episode about drugs. (189 episodes)
A Different World
(NBC; 9.24.87-7.9.93)
This spinoff from the popular The Cosby Show had Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) going off to college and trying to make it on her own. When Bonet was eased out after the first season -- her appearance in the controversial film Angel Heart might have had something to do with it -- Jasmine Guy and Kadeem Hardison took up the slack as students Whitley and Dwayne (who would eventually marry.) There were 150 half-hour episodes (with six of them unaired.)
Dirty Dancing
(CBS; 9.29.88-1.14.89)
It was probably inevitable that the hit film would inspire a half-hour comedy/drama. Patrick Cassidy took the role of Johnny Castle, dance instructor at a summer resort in the Catskills, while Melora Hardin played Frances Kellerman, the 17-year-old daughter of the resort's owner, who falls in love with Johnny, much to the dismay of daddy. There was plenty of dancin' to go along with the romancin'.
The Dirty Dozen
(FOX; 4.30.88-7.30.88)
Based on the 1967 movie starring Lee Marvin, this hour-long war drama was a misfire for the new FOX Network. Ben Murphy starred as Lt. Danko, who led a group of former military prison inmates on special missions against the Nazis. Thirteen episodes were filmed, all in Yugoslavia, but only seven were paid for and aired by Fox, which caused a legal firefight between Fox and MGM/UA, the production company.
Dr. Ruth
(Lifetime; 1984-1991)
Dr. Ruth Westheimer became a pop culture icon as the host of this discussion show that focused on sex. The diminutive, grandmotherly psychologist with the thick German accent dispensed advice in a show that was launched in August 1984 in a half-hour format, only to be expanded to one hour a year later. It spawned a number of "spinoffs" like What's Up, Dr. Ruth (1989), which targeted teens.
Dolly
(ABC; 9.27.87-5.7.88)
Country-and-Western superstar Dolly Parton headlined this one-hour musical variety show that featured a guest star list including the likes of Burt Reynolds, Alabama, The Oak Ridge Boys, Willie Nelson and Kermit the Frog. Nonetheless, the variety show's time had passed, and Dolly was cancelled after a single season.
Dolphin Cove
(CBS; 1.21.89-3.11.89)
Frank Converse starred as a dolphin researcher who moves to Australia with his two children following the death of his wife, where he wass hired by a wealthy industrialist to work on man-dolphin commu- nications. Co-created by Peter (Jaws) Benchley, this hour-long drama lasted just eight episodes.
The Dom DeLuise Show
(Syndicated; 1987-88)
This half-hour sitcom was built around Dom's Barber Shop, where the star and his partner George -- George Wallace, who, lke DeLuise, was a standup comic -- welcomed a host of eccentric regulars as well as guests like  Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin and Tom Jones. (24 episodes)
Domestic Life
(CBS; 1.4.84-9.11.84)
Produced by Steve Martin, this half-hour sitcom starred Martin Mull as the host of a Seattle-based radio talk show about family issues, a topic in which he was an expert thanks to his own family, wife Candy (Judith-Marie Bergan) and two children. (10 episodes)
Double Dare
(CBS; 4.10.85-5.22.85)
Billy Dee Williams starred as Billy Diamond, a professional thief based in San Francisco who is caught by Lt. Jennifer Warner (Janet Carroll) and agrees to work with the SFPD, along with his partner Sisko (Ken Wahl), as an alternative to serving a prison sentence. (Hour-long detective drama)
Double Trouble
(NBC; 4.4.84-8.21.85)
This half-hour sitcom had Jean and Liz Sagal playing teenage twins who, though identical in appearance, were exact opposites in personality. They lived with their widowed father (Donnelly Rhodes), owner of a dance studio in Des Moines, but only for 23 episodes.
Down and Out in Beverly Hills
(FOX; 4.26.87-9.12.87)
Based on the hit 1985 movie of the same name, this half-hour sitcom starred Hector Elizondo as the wealthy patriarch of a Beverly Hills household invaded by a homeless derelict (Tim Thomerson). Reprising his film role was Matisse, the charismatic border collie.
Downtown
(CBS; 9.27.86-9.5.87)
A police detective (Michael Nouri) serves as parole officer for four ex-cons living in a halfway house. Blair Underwood starred as a former pickpocket, and Mariska Hargitay as a tough but pretty street-person who tried to help the cop solve his cases. Robert Englund was also in the cast. (One-hour drama; 13 episodes)
Dragnet
(Syndicated, 1989-1990)
The revival of the classic cop show, this one starring Jeff Osterhage and Bernard White, with the former providing the narrative a la Webb. Premiering in September 1989 only in Los Angeles and New York City, there were 52 half-hour episodes.
Dream Girl, U.S.A.
(Syndicated; 1986)
Hosted by Ken Howard, this half-hour program was essentially a beauty contest with four contestants in each of 26 episodes.
Dream Street
(NBC; 4.13.89-6.7.89)
From the producers of thirtysomething, this hour-long drama chronicled the lives and loves of a group of lower-middle-class Americans. Filmed on location in Hoboken, NJ -- while it lasted. Stars included Dale Midkiff, Peter Frechette.
Dreams
(CBS; 10.3.84-10.31.84)
This half-hour sitcom starred John Stamos as Gino Minnelli, welder by day and aspiring rock musician by night. Martha (Jami Gertz) was a backup singer in his band, which performed at a small neighborhood pub owned by Gino's uncle.
The Duck Factory
(NBC; 4.12.84-7.11.84)
Jim Carrey starred as a young cartoonist from the Midwest who landed a job in a Hollywood animation studio populated by a somewhat looney collection of characters, one of whom was played by veteran comedic actor Jack Gilford. (Half-hour sitcom, 13 episodes)
Duet
(FOX; 4.19.87-8.20-89)
This half-hour romantic comedy focused on the lives of two couples -- Matthew Laurence and Mary Page Keller as one and Chris Lemmon and Alison La Placa as the other. It lasted two seasons, and then La Placa went on to star in a spinoff entitled Open House.
The Dukes of Hazzard
(CBS; 9.26.79-8.16.85)
Bo and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat and John Schneider) battle their nemesis Boss Hogg in this popular rural comedy featuring a souped-up Dodge Charger, the "General Lee," and a theme song performed by Waylon Jennings. In 1982, a contract dispute saw Wopat and Schneider replaced by Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer, but ratings suffered, and Bo and Luke returned. There was an animated version that aired on CBS Saturday mornings in 1982. (Hour-long comedy; 147 episodes, 2 movies)
Dynasty
(ABC; 1.12.81-5.11.89)
This lavish primetime soap opera was the only one able to give Dallas a run for its money.  There was John Forsythe as multimillionaire Blake Carrington with his wife Krystle (Linda Evans), spoiled daughter Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin) and vengeful ex-wife Alexis (Joan Collins) along with a host of others including James Farentino, Ali McGraw, Dale Robertson, Heather Locklear, George Hamilton and Diahann Carroll. There was a short-lived spinoff, The Colbys. (219 episodes)