About Advertise
Culture, Leisure


by Brandon Edmonds / 03.12.2010

I’m big and sedentary. Television has always been the reward for sitting still. If you could accurately map the impact of behavior on sensibility, my readout would indicate a dominating splodge of boob tube man hours. It shaped me. So what a retro, nostalgic delight it is to come across the Wiki List of SA TV series. My formative viewing was pretty much slap bang in the 1980s and 90s. It’s a lapsed era of super solid TV. What’s charming about it now is how shared the shows were. Truly collective social experiences, since we had no alternative. Demographics weren’t segmented, chopped and fragmented. The whole family settled in. The SABC was it. This is pre-Windows. No torrenting, streaming or Youtube. Just regular programming. Going through the show-list is like flipping through a diary uncovered moving house. I’m instantly time-traveled back to the boy I was when these shows aired. A dreamy, soft-bellied kid with a fanciful imagination and a penchant for hot dogs. God, I loved these shows. Each and every one.

In alphabetical, if not biographical, order then.

The A-Team (1980s)
Hannibal’s paternal insouciance got to me. My step-father was an abusive jerk. The plan always came together. Peril meant ingenuity and team-work. An Emersonian lesson for a boy. And that music. I still hum it on the crapper.

Airwolf (1980s)
Stringfellow Hawk is an even cooler handle than Han Solo. Jan Michael Vincent has since devolved into a broken wreck in his personal life, but back then, in a leather jacket, with a military do, and that Eastwood glare, I was so fucking gay for him.

Animaniacs (1990s)
Whip smart dialogue. High brow movie lampoons. Propulsive energy. It opened up cultural space for the deluge of animation today.

Kid’s show. I had the lamp. They were blobby molecules. Benign ectoplasm in primary colours. I’d listen to my ‘parents’ fighting late into the night, staring into the lamp’s purple glow.

Baywatch (1990s)
I did gender studies. It didn’t get me laid. The male gaze, the stiltedness, the regressive breast mania. Pamela Anderson in slow motion. Our Gen X Kennedy moment. Touch yourself TV.

Benson (1980s)
Subversion is a black butler who’s the smartest, most humane, and capable person in a room of well-to-do-whites. In South Africa in the 1980s.

Charlie’s Angels (1970s)
The sunny grin of Farrah. Women used to look like this. Libido melting.

Chips (late 1970s)
Motorcycle emptiness. Buddy dynamics. Mexican teeth. I loved it so much I’d straddle the loo backwards and pretend it was a police bike.

Dallas (1980s)
American gothic. Dysfunction. The moral vacuity of ultra-wealth. Pamela Ewing’s porno face. Sue-Ellen’s drunk mouth. JR’s nihilism. It mapped bleakness like Balzac.

Family Ties (1980s)
Michael J. Fox’s Alex P. Keaton is running Lehman brothers surely. He was a money-driven, morally uptight, go-getting right-wing douche. And he’s everywhere now.

He Man
This shit can’t be good for you. He was blonde and rippling. Aryan ubermenschen aesthetics. Totally awesome.

Heidi (1980s)
They were always pouring milk into a bowl and eating cheese. A lactose culture. Cheesy. It was in Afrikaans so I could only guess at what she was laughing about with Peter. Sheep fucking?

Knight Rider (1980s)
It was Spock the ride basically. I never missed it. My mom’s Mazda 323 never said a freaking thing.

Liewe Heksie (1981)
The Nazi’s were also into the occult. Just saying.

Little House on the Prairie (1970s/80s)
Voortrekkers. They had to make their own butter. It looked so hard. I just thought…have something else on your bread.

Magnum P.I (1980s)
I grew up in Durban. Hawaii-lite. My uncle looked like him. My uncle was a selfish prick. Dobermans, paddle-skiing and a Ferrari. Alpha masculinity. A lesson in what I’m not.

Man From Atlantis (1980s)
I practiced his spastic undulating style in many swimming pools in the year of the Laingsburg floods. It was a weird country. We were already drowning.

Man van Staal (1980s)
Simulcast. That sound when he ran fast. Dadadadda. $6 million dollars wouldn’t get you much of a man today. Bieber for the weekend. Beckham for brunch.

Maya the Bee (1980s)
Maya is the veil of illusion in Hindu belief. It’s what traps you in your own limits. Stops you seeing the larger harmony. Who better to express this than a worker bee in a busy colony? I loved this show.

MacGyver (1980s)
Patron Saint of DIY. White trash ingenuity. We’ll all need to be him soon enough with this economy. I always hoped he’d fuck up. Just once. To humanize him.

Miami Vice (1980s)
Undercover work takes acting chops. Neither of them had any. Just exposed forearms and shades. Unwatchable.

Murder She Wrote (1980s)
My gran got her hair done like her. Old people are the future. Not children. They’ve got savings. And real estate.

Pinky & the Brain (1990s)
Outsized ambition in a tiny body. Anticipating Berlusconi. “The same thing we do every night, Pinky…”.

Pop Shop (1980s)
VCR timing. As soon as the host stops talking, push play and record simultaneously. Duran Duran. Depeche Mode. Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Life long images.

Postman Pat (1980s)
Competent bachelor. Kind to animals. Company car. What did he do at night?

Redding Internasionaal (1980s)
Puppet sex in “Team America World Police” reminded me how much I wanted it to happen back then. Puppet hotties in couture. Phallic rockets. Ruined in Afrikaans.

Santa Barbara (1990s)
For Kelly. Who owes me 700 pairs of soiled gym socks.

Shaka Zulu (1980s)
Mighty Henry Cele. Bayete! Nkosi. Heights local TV doesn’t even glance at now.

Sha Na Na (1980s)
Bowser. Leather jackets. Dumbness.

Silver Spoons (1980s)
The episode where Ricky Schroeder dines out then slips away without paying was electrifying to me. I learned criminality from Ricky Schroeder.

The Simpsons (1990s)
You had to sit up and stay alert. Writing good enough to shoot into space on behalf of humanity. Top Ten ever.

Survivor (1990s)
It’s debased Romanticism. The Romantics turned Nature into a laboratory of feeling. Survivor turns it into Virgin Active. The best of these shows. By far.

ThirtySomething (1990s)
This show mattered to me. I lived it. Michael and Hope. It was so wrenching and satisfying I feel like I’ve already been through married life.

The Thorn Birds (1985)
I got that it was a priest fucking a hottie. I didn’t get why it made my mother cry.

Trompie en die Boksembende (1980)
I knew I didn’t want to be friends with Trompie. He was so lonely, or was it self-reliant? Afrikaans boys looked half-wild. More African. Ironically.

Twin Peaks (1990s)
How do you dream American dreams once they’re sour? Turn them into a riddle, a puzzle and a nightmare. Norman Rockwell eats Francis Bacon. So fucking intense.

V (1980s)
Still the most indelible moment in 80s TV. A woman goes to her room and locks the door. Then locates a mouse and swallows it. Whole. In close up. Slowly.

Vetkoek Paleis (1990s)
In John Waters colours. Headache bright. Unattractive locals serve…vetkoek.

Who’s the Boss? (1980s)
The proto-Guido Tony does the housework. Angela’s in advertising. Who’s the boss? A question neatly resolved if we saw her get into bed with a nice long dildo. Angela!

The X Files (1990s)
The whole thing was a search engine. Punch in crop circles see what you get. Join the dots for a conspiracy theory. Everyone who programs the things you love to use loves this show. And Sculley.

Yizo Yizo (1990s)
Gorgeous to look at. Convincingly desperate. Kwaito-laden and street smart. This show was as good as almost everything else back then. It’s a resource.

Shit, that’s a lot of wasted time. No wonder I’m unmarried, unemployed and unhappy. Great. What’s on tonight?

31   0
  1. Mick says:

    Ag cool. But you missed Die Swart Kat, and the original Brakanjan. How-how-how-how-how-how (that’s not a question repeated six times, it’s the theme song)! Ooh and The Lone Ranger hio Silver Awaayyh! Wow I’d utterly forgotten about Maya, that yeller busybody. And I Still have fucked-up eyebrow motion from (trying to) copy Man van Staal’s enviably serious looking ‘eyebrow lift’ for like a year..

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  2. Missy Gouws says:

    Spot on – V mouse eating scene is the most indelible 1980s TV scene ever. Word. But you stand corrected: The V Mousie Mousie scene was not a woman alien. It was a man. He reaches into his boot, grabs the mouse, goes “here Mousie Mousie” and then proceeds to swallow it. Whole. In slow mo. A scene recreated and replayed across school yards across SA the following day, if our primary school was anything to go by,

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  3. angela blandsbury says:

    Nostalgia is dangerous, tread lightly.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  4. Jessica says:

    Hey thanks for that. Magnum! My dad called him Magnumpie. When I was about eight, my nanny walked me to the tearoom to buy sweets and on the way back I was so anxious not to miss Maya the Bee that I ran across the road and got knocked over by a volksie. Unharmed. But by the time I got to Addington hospital Maya was over. Not the last time I was knocked down by a car as you well know

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  5. Classic! says:

    “I loved it so much I’d straddle the loo backwards and pretend it was a police bike. “

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  6. molly says:

    Dude, Postman Pat is totally married. Tsk, tsk, lazy journalism …

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  7. Jeff says:

    See http://www.tvcream.co.uk for hours more nostalgia.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  8. Jason says:

    TJ Hooker!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  9. Wouter says:

    Bravestar, Thundercats, Tom & Jerry, Dawie die Kabouter, and the story with Pokkel the squirrel (Cant remember the name) just to mention a few more. Then there was this dude wearing a white cloak, with a hammer held by his belt, who could fix anything. His wife also seemed to be one that could float. Same timeframe as the guy who sat on swans’s backs. I think his name was Nicholaas? Anyway, if someone knows, share it!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  10. brandon edmonds says:

    No way. Pat got hitched. She didn’t make much of an impression.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  11. Marcus says:

    Anyone remember a series that was shown on Saturday afternoons in the early 80s?
    About a group stranded on a tropical desert island? Might have been dubbed into Afrikaans?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  12. Wouter says:

    @Marcus, Tropical heat or Blue Lagoon?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  13. Andrea says:

    Another classic was Hoekie vir Eensames.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  14. Byron says:

    Buck Rogers!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  15. Marc says:

    Die Rooi en die Blou: Balls of red and blue plasticine battling it out in a kinda SPY vs. SPY way used as fillers between programs. Great piece! Thanks

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  16. Kay says:

    How about The Mantis Project? Haunted house surrounded by sand. People getting picked off one by one. No water. Freaky rocking horse. Marius Weyers losing his shit in the Namib.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  17. Kitiara says:

    Jeez, what a fab trip down memory lane. thanks that was great!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  18. bahumbuggah says:

    faken hell, that takes one back, quite agree with @Kitiara. It also offers a moving portrait of the youthful Edmonds – madly libidinous, estranged, Wildean, adrift among Dobermanns, paddleskis, Philistine kin…. Hahaha, @Jessica, do you regularly bolt into traffic & emerge unscathed? We are happy for it, if it is so.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  19. sylvia says:

    that so nice. what about the dubbed one’s. Die geheimenisse van Parys, Die meisie van Avignon, Angelique, there was a kiddies one about a boy and a hawk , Nils Holgeson, Pinoc. Man there are too many good one’s. Wish they made then like those years.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  20. Hads says:

    Great effort. The one with the boy on the back of the swan was Nils Holgerson. A favourite was also “Wowser” who struggled against the villain cat, “Ratso”.

    Battlestar Galactica, Morph, Spioen Spioen, Falcon Crest, Wielie Walie and Bonanza are my two cents worth for today

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  21. penis in french says:

    Howdy, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any help is very much appreciated.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  22. Richard says:

    I believe there was a series called Sebastiaan. Does anybody know the actor names or the English/French name of the series?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  23. Anonymous says:

    Riptide? Robotech?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  24. funker says:

    Awesome , waa is Buck Rogers en Die Man van Intersek , Sam Casey , asook Automan , en dan nog Taakmag en Vyfster ook , ma ek likes dai Man from Atlantis , dai was nou kwai , wou altyd so lank onner water bly lol

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  25. Annette says:

    Walking down memory lane…….. What a good feeling I must say! Where can I find The Mantis Project with Marius Weyers on dvd? I am actually looking for a couple of “old” tv seriies’. Wolwedans in die skemer with Elize Cawood and Ryno Hattingh, Simon and Sandra with Ilse Roos. I can’t find it on Kalahari.

    Please if anyone could help, I would appreciate it!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  26. Happy memories says:

    I’m also looking for The Mantis Project – it was beyond creepy and I missed the end due to unwelcome guests. But this brought back many happy memories. I wish I knew what the title was for the series about “Oompie” or “Van Toeka tot Nou”. I think it was the only history I ever remembered.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  27. Happy memories says:

    Oh, and I found Buck Rogers in a video rental shop. It is still awesome.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  28. Leon says:

    Wat van vyfster, balade vir n enkeling, transkaroo, agter elke man, orkney snork nie, haasdas, wielie walie, pumkin patch, zet, zap mag, mantis project, spies en plessis, ens.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  29. Leon says:

    En dan natuurlik Velapi, rabobi…

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  30. Virginia says:

    Skollie!! – 5 Ster
    En Knersis.. Was dit die program se naam of die ‘flying dentures’ s’n?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  31. Virginia says:

    Padington Bear
    Belade vir n enkeling
    Neels Hilgerson..vlieg met die ganse daar vêr…

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  32. arlien says:

    Has anyone found a place to get dvds of the golden oldies! Would love to see Angelique again…. and Tierbrigade, and Simon en Sandra…… have substantial collection of golden oldy movies- but so TV Series

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  33. luci says:

    any1 remember, i think “lewe van n elending”? probably early ’90’s afrikaans cartoon.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  34. Augusto says:

    My so-called Life. Claire Danes (Angela) and Jarod Leto (Jordan Catalano)

    High quality high school angst. And one miserable sodding season.

    “….and why do we need cheerleaders?. Can’t people cheer by themselves, for themselves?”

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  35. Augusto says:

    Under the Mountain. I think a tonne of shrinks got rich off that terrifying little romp. The Wilberforces. Did you flinch?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  36. Yash says:

    The littlest hobo.
    La linear (that white chalk drawn character)
    Simon in the land of chalk drawings.
    Tony Hart / Take Hart.
    Three for the road.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  37. Yash says:

    Tales of the golden monkey.
    Simon and Simon.
    Cover up (I need a hero theme song)
    The fall guy
    21 jump street
    Hardcastle and McCormic
    The Carol Burnette show

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  38. Machiel says:

    Everybody forgets one of the very first programs ever on S.A t.v was Die Kavaliers! It was something like the 3 Musketeers.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  39. MIKE PEDRO says:




    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0