When people ask me why my English sounds so American – and sometimes they do – my answer is always the same: “Too many episodes of Happy Days and rock’n’roll.” That’s what I told the English gentleman in Oxford who was the first one to ask me that, and that’s the answer I’ve stuck to ever since.
Now, we both know that there’s no such thing as “too many episodes of Happy Days” or even rock’n’roll but it is true that I was raised on TV.
I’ve watched a lot of TV in my lifetime, starting from Thunderbirds when I could barely sit up, to Happy Days and Columbo to Miami Vice and Moonlighting to Arrested Development and The Crown which is what Wife and I watched last night.
In the early 80s, Mom and I – and it was always Mom and I – watched Dallas, a little bit of Dynasty, The Thorn Birds and Shogun – Richard Chamberlain was a huge star back then – A Fine Romance, Yes, Minister, Auf Wiedersehn, Baby, ‘Allo, ‘Allo, Dempsey and Makepeace, The Love Boat, Bergerac, Mork and Mindy, The Cosby Show, Magnum, P.I, Family Ties, Taxi, The Golden Girls, Hill Street Blues, and … well, if it was on, we watched it. (Note: We only had two channels and programming between 5pm and midnight).
That’s how I happened to see the most 80s moment I can think of. It happened around 1984, when Al Corley paid a visit to Finland. And if you say “Al Who?” I understand. Al Corley played Steven Carrington, Blake’s homosexual son, on Dynasty but only for two seasons before being replaced by another actor.
But, in 1984, he was a star in Finland because he was an American actor on a hit show (which was a season or two behind the US). We didn’t get many stars for a visit back then, especially not stars that weren’t athletes competing in Finland. Also, Al had released an album, and was out promoting it.
So, one evening, in the middle of a Finnish Saturday night entertainment show, on to the stage walks Al Corley in a colorful 80s shirt. He’s got no band but he does have two drum sticks in his hands as he takes his position behind electronic drums, and starts to sing. His hair is the perfect 80s hair, his shirt the perfect 80s shirt, and the fact that he performs his song on his own, beating those electronic drums, is also very decade appropriate.
It was Finland at its most 80s – and 80s at peak Finnishness.
I couldn’t find that clip, but I did find this. Enjoy.
This is the From The Desk of Risto Pakarinen 2017 advent calendar. Behind every door, you’ll find something related to the 1980s