Bonnie Tyler said it in the 80s in a music video with laser whip toting cowboys but I think her song may have been written three decades too early. Before I go any further, I just have to wince at the fact that the 80s was three decades ago. OK, let’s get on with it.
So where have all the manly heroes gone? I can’t for the life of me think of a recent show that has had a central male hero character that takes no shit, gets the job done and exudes a mega load of testosterone in every episode. At some stage, and I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but the solo hero seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur.
I guess the closest thing that comes to mind would be Jack Bauer in 24, but even then I never got the same sense of manliness and heroism from him as I did from his predecessors.
I wonder if the need for smoldering sexual tension on screen is what lead to the downfall of the macho male protagonist? Is it no longer the done thing to idolize characters that live fast, punch hard and score all the hot ladies? Perhaps shows with such a masculine main character were alienating the female viewership, though as a theory I find it hard to believe because I don’t know how any lady could turn off a screen displaying the gloriously hirsute chest of one Mr Tom Selleck.
Instead now we are presented with teams and groups of at least two people who work together to fight crime and solve mysteries.
Take for example your CSI franchise of shows. We have a variety of teams put together to solve crimes made up of guys and girls of varying ages. Without a doubt between at least two characters there will always be some sort of sexual tension that plays out in a will they/wont they sub plot that will continue for at least half a season. On the same sort of slant you have other duo based crime shows like Bones and Castle which have been forever playing off of the burning question of whether or not the characters were going to bone each other. Pun very much intended.
If we cast our minds back in time, team based shows have been around for a long time, but even back in the 80s, whether all boys (A-Team) or all girls (Charlies Angels) they were so much more heroic. Once they started mixing up the gender balance I think everything went wrong. If one of Charlie’s Angels decided to join the A-Team it’d take no time before the epic heroism and action prowess of the team would be compromised because B.A. would start thinking twice before driving the van through an exploding truck to rescue Murdock because he’s in love with the Angel and he never got to say goodbye to her before they went on this crazy foo’ jibber jabber mission.
Bring that scenario to the current day though and audiences would be all over that aspect of the show. TV gossip mags would have cover stories for months if it looked like the coming week’s episode the two of them might hook up.
So allow me to pay tribute to some of the greatest television heroes of times gone by who now, sadly, I feel may be an extinct species. Who do you think should be added to these hallowed halls of heroism?
Living in the guest house of a rich author’s home in Hawaii, Magnum is a private investigator hired to look after security of the property known as Robin’s Nest. He sports an epic mustache, wears Hawaiian shirts, shorts and boat shoes and drives around in a red Ferrari owned by his gracious employer. Helped out by ex-nam chopper pilot T.C. and house keeper/man servant to his rich boss, Higgins, Magnum solves crimes in Hawaii that quite often involve super hot ladies. He’s all man.
Played brilliantly by a thick haired and dashing Tom Selleck, Thomas Magnum lives the live many of us would dream of and has a mustache every man should envy.
Lee Majors. What a man. The Six Million Dollar Man. A test pilot, horrendously injured in a test flight of a new aircraft, Austin loses both of his legs, an arm and one of his eyes. The OSI (Office of Strategic Intelligence) use their technology to rebuild his bits and pieces making him even more of a man than he was before. One worth at least six million dollars you would assume. Granting him super speed, strength and stamina as well as super telescopic vision, he uses his new abilities to fight the forces of evil and defeat his enemies. He fights everything from terrorists to aliens to a bionic Bigfoot! You can watch the epic showdown between Steve Austin and Bigfoot below, featuring the legendary Andre The Giant as Bigfoot!
Possibly one of the greatest characters ever to grace the television screen, MacGyver I think has probably had more of a continuing impact on our lives than any other TV character, even today, nearly 20 years to the day that the show finished it’s run. The term MacGyver is still used regularly when people fix something in some sort of ingenious or unusual way. MacGyver was employed by the Phoenix Foundation, a sort of semi-quasi alternate government like organisation. Responsible for making Swiss Army Knives cool, he was the master of making everything out of anything and being able to adapt to any situation. He hated the idea of carrying a gun and preferred to use science and engineering to solve his problems and get him out of situations. Using duct tape, paperclips and his knife, Mac could pretty much build, blow up, unlock or escape anything.
The role that defined Richard Dean Anderson’s career and ingrained a cultural reference that has endured for over 20 years, it (un)fortunately wasn’t enough to make the mullet stand the test of time.
Sam “Mayday” Malone (Cheers).
The following clip says it all.