Recently, there has been a lot of talk about ‘the good old days’ of TVB and the ‘golden era’ of the HK television industry (which in my opinion is represented by the early 80s to mid-90s, though officially that era includes the late 70s as well as the late 90s). Since I grew up in the 80s era surrounded by TVB series (our entire household consisted of TVB fans back then), it’s probably not surprising that I’ve seen so many of the series from that era. Some of the series I watched back in the 80s when I was too young to understand what the series were about, whereas others I watched (or re-watched in some cases) later on when I was older. Regardless of when I watched though, the TV series from those days (80s and 90s) will always be TVB’s best productions in my book. Yes, of course there were ‘good’ series as well as ‘bad’ series back then, as that is inevitable no matter which era – the difference is that the ratio of ‘good’ series to ‘bad’ series back then was way higher than it is now (the ‘rough estimate example’ I always use is that back in those days, I would venture to say that at least half or more of the series released in a year were 'good' and/or worth watching from beginning to end, while nowadays, I would be hard-pressed to find even a handful that I would consider ‘good’ or that I'm able to tolerate enough to sit through from beginning to end -- THAT’s how bad it’s gotten!)
We all know that TVB’s series have gone downhill the past decade or so (actually longer than that depending on who you ask – my personal opinion is that their series have been going downhill for the past 15 years). Well, with TVB’s series hitting an ‘all-time low’ in the past 2 to 3 years, there has been an increased interest on the part of many audiences to watch/re-watch the older TVB classics from the 80s/90s era. Unfortunately, many of the series from those eras (especially the 80s era) are very hard to find nowadays, as technology was not as advanced back then (there was none of this ‘streaming on the internet’ stuff that we have now) and TVB has been very ‘stingy’ about releasing many of the older classics on DVD over the years. Nowadays, pretty much the only way to watch these older classics is to wait for TVB to re-broadcast those series on their TV channels (i.e. during midnight timeslot) or, if you live in Hong Kong, you can go on TVB’s website to watch (TVB launched their GOTV service about 2 years ago where, if you have a paid subscription, you can have access to their entire ‘vault’ of series produced from the 1970s to now, so fans can re-watch to their heart’s content…but again, the caveat is that this service is limited to HK region ONLY).
Since I’ve been asked several times over the years for recommendations of TVB series to watch from those eras, I decided to finally compile the lists and post on my blog (80s era only for now). For the record, these lists only consist of series that I’ve watched and therefore are absolutely NOT all-inclusive. Also, another ‘disclaimer’ of sorts: just because certain series are on the list, doesn't mean they are 'good' series nor are they necessarily my favorites -- some of the series I included because I may feel that they are worth a watch purely from a ‘historical’ (TVB history) perspective, regardless of whether I personally liked the series or not. Some of the series may sound familiar, as most of the popular classics from that era are included, as are some of the more obscure works that some audiences may never have heard of. Lastly, I didn’t have time to include plot synopsis of each series, so I would recommend Googling for that information if needed. I also didn’t put down any comments or notes about why I recommend the series or what my thoughts are/were on each series (mostly because I don’t have time for that but also in some cases, I don’t remember enough about the series to give any type of detailed analysis). With that said however, I don’t mind giving brief thoughts on particular series or helping with questions/research on certain individual ones if asked – I just didn't have time to do that on all of them for this post.
** Note: I used Wikipedia in conjunction with TVB’s website and a few other sources to gather the information for each series. Note that the cast lists are not all-inclusive and the English song titles are rough translations.**
Here’s my list of recommendations from 1980 and 1981 (remaining years to follow in subsequent posts):