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From saving people trapped in wells to leading sick dogs to the vet, Lassie tells the tales of a dog smarter and braver than humans. But what the show is really about is the post-World War II values like being loyal, the importance of family, and working hard. Did you know that Lassie was actually a male?
Bonanza set a new standard for westerns. Instead of an action-forward story centered around good guys vs. bad guys, Bonanza was a character-driven story. Old Ben Cartwright was there to help viewers navigate good and evil on their thousand-acre Nevada ranch. Thanks to producers’ decision to film the show in color, Bonanza still remains hugely popular today
Good Times took some huge risks that paid off. During the first few years the show didn’t back down from discussing injustice in urban America, featuring strong African-American characters with something to say about the issues of the time. Through both good times and bad, the Evans family laid the foundation for future African-American role models.
The Brady Bunch! Here’s the story … of a man named Brady… This blended family tackled all kinds of life challenges in the ‘70s. And while some of the hairstyles and outfits have aged badly, the Brady values are timeless. Each show tries to impart a lesson, like cheating is bad, or you shouldn’t accuse someone of a misdeed if you don’t know what really happened.
People tend to think of “The Cosby Show” as the first to show a prominent professional African-American family. However, The Jeffersons featured George as a newly minted millionaire who never forgot his roots. Louise was a prototypical African-American mom, who was a former maid, and now had a maid. Despite all the demographic aspects of the show, it never lost its heart. Sometimes a bit corny perhaps, the show never got to a point where it was no longer relevant.
One of the longest-running children’s TV shows of all time, Bob Keeshan, as Captain Kangraoo, taught lessons in morality with the help of his friends: Mr. Green Jeans, Mr. Moose, and Mr. Rabbit, among others.
Hee Haw is snubbed by some folks and is unappreciated by some, but all in all it was a show that made you laugh, even when it was corny (they were in Kornfield County after all). But the treasures were the great cast ensemble and the talented musical guests. I mean look at the first episode. It features Miss Loretta Lynn as their first guest!
Mork and Mindy! You watch this show and you know why Robin Williams became an instant mega-star. He is funny, manic, adorable, and just lost in the world. You can’t go wrong with this kind of humor. Only Robin could make you genuinely believe water was being sucked up by his finger and how he sat or visited was even better yet.
Following in the magical fantasy footsteps of Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie was one of the classic sitcoms of the 1960s. Perched precariously between the conservative 1950s and the sexual revolution, it was both a paragon of wish fulfillment and a product of the Cold War and the Space Race, thanks to the memorable device of making the hero an astronaut.
Sanford and Son! One of the most influential TV shows in history. Fred Sanford is a fine specimen of a man; lying, cheating, drinking, and being annoying and abusive to everyone he comes into contact with, but still deep down a loving man. Lamont also has some rough edges, which really brings to light the fact that nobody is perfect, and sometimes you turn out being just like the company you keep.
Get Smart is one of those shows that seems to get better and better as time goes on, even though the spy craze and the Cold War that gave birth to it are both long gone. Perhaps because it was a satirical take on the genre has given it more of a shelf life. GS helped open the door for sitcoms to do satire, but even there, only a few sitcoms have done satire as well as Smart.
Dean Martin could sing, tell a joke, and look good while doing so. He had a certain boozy breeziness that was very appealing. Of course, this was back in the days when an adult could drink and smoke on television without inciting the health police to take action. Good music, great guests, and Deano as the host–who could ask for anything more?
Sesame Street, is, in a word, sensational. The show itself has been educating two generations since 1969, and has inspired multiple movies, spin-offs and parodies. The ways they teach kids are so creative, fun, and effective. The show also has some of the most famous and lovable characters; Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, Bert and Ernie. They made the show a classic.
And now for something completely different: Monty Python’s Flying Circus first aired on BBC in 1969 and has influenced countless men and women in the media and comedy since. Five Englishmen, all working under the constraints of conventional TV shows, gathered together with an American to break the rules. The result? Genius.
After a few episodes that were somewhat rooted in reality, Green Acres’ true oddness started to bloom. The characters see the opening credits as they appear on screen (or on chicken eggs); they talk with baseball-playing pigs who become movie stars; ; a full-sized Eiffel tower is built on the Douglases’ lawn. Hooterville is clearly operating in its own bizarre universe where Oliver is the only normal, reasonable person—and even that’s questionable!
Another Lucille Ball TV show. It was immensely popular when it aired and at one point was even one of America’s most-watched sitcoms. The audience grew fond of Lucille Ball from her others shows and this is what made the show so successful.
One of the longest running and most violent detective shows of its time, Joe Mannix lived in LA and during the first season worked for Intertect,a detective agency that made extensive use of computers. This cramped Joe’s freewheeling style,and in season 2 he opened his own one-man agency and acquired a secretary, Peggy Fair. Joe Mannix was a smart guy,but also didn’t mind letting his fists do the talking…
M*A*S*H was a true ensemble series. It was set in Uijeongbu, South Korea, north of Seoul, during the Korean War. The series focused on the group of doctors and nurses whose job was to heal the wounded who arrived at this “Mobile Army Surgical Hospital” by helicopter, ambulance or bus. The hospital compound was isolated from the rest of the world.
There was a time on Earth when all of the world stopped to watch The Benny Hill Show. Businesses would close, people stayed home and every TV in every house tuned in to watch this man who just wanted to make us laugh. And laugh we did. Labeled a dirty old man for the content of a few sketches, he was considered a genius by fans and his peers. Even Thames Television admitted far too late that canceling the show was the worst mistake they had ever made.
The Twilight Zone was a commercial hit and ran for 5 seasons. The show leaned more into the fantasy aspect while a lot of other shows of the time were sitcoms about normal people. The surreal encounters in the show gave an audience a unique viewing experience for the time.
When Gunsmoke premiered, its introduction by John Wayne notified the viewers that they were about to see a different kind of TV western drama, and he was right. At the time, shows of that genre were aimed at kids, ie: The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid, Gunsmoke was billed as the first adult western.
Come and knock on our door, Three’s Company has been waiting for you… Who could have ever imagined that an Indiana-bred woman would outshine her better-known blond colleagues and last throughout the entire run of a sitcom series? That’s exactly what Joyce DeWitt accomplished as the “second banana” co-star to Suzanne Somers and John Ritter on Three’s Company.
Barney Miller was a thinking man’s comedy. The mid-seventies was a time when preachy sitcoms ruled the air waves. Over-the-top in the way they presented previously “taboo” topics, these sitcoms played on the social and racial tensions that were very much a part of that era. Barney Miller wasn’t really like that. Although it featured a very diverse cast and dealt with social issues, the show was very sedate in its pacing and subtle in the way it made its audience laugh.
My Three Sons is the story of a Mid-West Aeronautical Engineer who watches his family grow up. This seemingly innocuous and simple, but effective sitcom, was a huge hit and a cornerstone of television’s ‘family programming’ era in the 1960s. It was one of the early CBS programs in color, and while it ran the weekly show was much anticipated by parents and kids alike. It didn’t solve world problems and it didn’t address many complex social issues, it was just there to make you laugh.
“Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the police academy. And they were each assigned very hazardous duties but I took them all away from all that and now they work for me. My name is Charlie.” Those famous words were heard every week from 1976 to 1981 during Charlie’s Angels 5 year run. For its time, this show broke down stereotypes, showing women as smart, capable, strong and independent!
Mayberry R.F.D. premiered in 1968 as a spin off of The Andy Griffith Show, a show with the highest ratings, at the time, of any new show in the history of television. Andy Griffith had grown tired of doing The Andy Griffith Show, so it was decided to continue the show using a different format. But what do you think happens to the show when you remove Barney, Andy, Opie and Floyd? Nothing good for sure.
Hogan’s Heroes is something totally unique, with a formula that can never be duplicated. A comedy set in a POW camp? It sounds completely nonsensical, and it is many times, but it also has some great acting and terrific verbal word play and characterizations. The characters are all believable, and a perfect cast was selected, but sometimes the scenarios are totally absurd.
The Six Million Dollar Man! “Steve Austin, astronaut, a man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, we have the technology. We have the capability to make the worlds first Bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster.”
“Petticoat Junction” was in a category all its own, possessing a folksy charm – particularly in the first couple of seasons – which aimed not for big laughs or broad humor, but which mirrored small-town and rural values, recognizable characters, and quaint situations. Bea Benaderet, long-time radio and television character player popular on numerous vintage shows, stepped into the starring role of “Kate Bradley,” a widow whose grandfather had stubbornly built a small inn situated off the beaten path – and accessible only by a delightfully antiquated train.
On Happy Days, Laverne De Fazio and Shirley Feeney were two girls who were love interests for Richie Cunningham and Fonzie. Their occasional appearances led to their own series which takes place in the same city as Happy Days: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during the 1950s and 1960s.
The Flying Nun was a one of the many fantasy sitcoms on the 1960s. It was about a not-so-likely girl from Chicago becomes a nun and moves to the Convent San Tanco in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her creative ideas and youthful spirit are a breath of fresh air in the convent.. Now named Sister Bertrille, the young novice discovered that she had the ability to fly. She only weighed 90 pounds and when the wind was right she could fly due to her winged coronet.
HERE’S LUCY. This often forgotten and critically bashed series from Lucille Ball, her 3rd, is arguably superior to the Lucy Show. Probably unjustly misaligned by critics due to a difficult and weak opening season, HERE’S LUCY improved with every season and contains some of the best work of Lucille Ball’s career. Missing from the Lucy Show, however, is the character development, focus, and warmth (that made I Love Lucy so successful).
Welcome Back, Kotter is a comedy centered around a group of misfit kids. That formula became a mainstay for comedy shows to follow decades later. The center of the show was the original misfit teacher himself, Mr Kotter. His students, each with different issues and personalities all fit in with someone we each knew or could associate with back in the day.
Adam-12, which was another “true-story” based television series from Jack Webb in the same vein as Dragnet and Emergency, was the first TV series to more realistically portray the joys and frustrations of being a police officer in the late 1960s through middle 1970s. This “new” attention to detail made the show a catalyst for uncounted numbers of people to enter law enforcement agencies when they became adults, the same way COPS has done since 1989.
Taxi’s television history is filled with contradictions. Produced by some of television comedy’s most well-regarded talent, the show was canceled by two different networks. Despite winning fourteen Emmy Awards in only five seasons, the program’s ratings were rock-bottom for its final seasons. Although it thrives in syndication and is still well-loved by many viewers, Taxi will be best remembered as the ancestral bridge between two of the most successful sit-coms of all time: The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Cheers.
Hawaii Five-O! After his father is murdered, Lieutenant Commander Steven J. McGarrett decides to return home to Oahu in order to catch the killer. The governor offers him the opportunity to run a new task force where he is able to call the shots. Steve brings together his own team, starting with Chin Ho Kelly, an ex-Honolulu Police Detective and former protégé of McGarrett’s father.
After the success of The Flintstones, the modern Stone Age family, Hanna-Barbera decided to make a similar family cartoon, but set in their vision of the Space Age in the 21st century. This new series that debuted September 23, 1962 became The Jetsons. Set mainly in sky-high Orbit City, the show featured the family of George Jetson, Jane, his wife, their daughter Judy, and son Elroy living the average life in the future with flying space cars, instant transport tubes, and various robots and gadgets than can get their work done for them in a matter of seconds.
Little House on the Prairie is an award-winning family drama was based upon Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 9-part series of autobiographical books. Television producer and NBC executive Ed Friendly became aware of this enduring story in the early 1970s. He asked Michael Landon to direct the pilot movie, who agreed on the condition that he could also play Charles Ingalls.
Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of our Lives… For over forty years, those words, spoken by the late Macdonald Carey, have introduced and underscored one of daytime drama’s rare mainstays. The show’s success derives from its consistent commitment to excellence in writing and storytelling, supported by an ensemble of performers, and an uncanny knack for anticipating viewer interests. From demonic possessions and baby switches to exciting teen stories and love triangles, Days of our Lives remains a perennial favorite among viewers of all ages.
Many criminals made the mistake of underestimating Lieutenant Columbo, a homicide investigator with a crumpled trench-coat and a beat-up car, who certainly acted as an incompetent bumbler. But he was so polite to every suspect, and he talked so much about his wife that he lulled even the shrewdest murderer into a false sense of security. And although the audience had witnessed the murder in the beginning of each episode, it was still a surprise to see what mistakes the killers had made during the seemingly perfect murder.
WKRP was the brainchild of Hugh Wilson, who cut his teeth as a writer for Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart. Written for a younger, hipper sensibility, it was one of the few sitcoms that was really in tune with the times. Despite strong reviews, none of the execs at CBS ever really got the show. They would take it off the for hiatus, move it around the schedule unannounced, effectively killing any chance it had at getting the fame it deserves.
You would be hard pressed to find someone who lived through the ’70s that didn’t watch Happy Days. It was a simple show, about a much simpler time that ingeniously appealed to all generations. A show built from hopeful nostalgia, and born of fortunate happenstance. Happy Days tells the story of the Cunninghams, one of America’s most beloved TV families played by Tom Bosley (Howard), Erin Moran (Joanie), Marion Ross (Marion), and Ron Howard (Richie).
Smiles everyone, Smiles! So began this long-running (7 season) series which was one of the ABC Network’s anthology guest-cast series (along with The Love Boat) that proved wildly popular. Each week two guests came to Fantasy Island to get their wish/fantasy fulfilled. Their mysterious host, the debonair and suave white-suited Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban), would do the sometimes impossible and grant them their wishes … but there was always some twist to the fantasy, letting the guest learn something about themselves or get something they weren’t expecting.
The Mod Squad is the theatrical adaptation of the popular 60s TV show. The story centers on three Juvenile delinquents who get a second chance by serving as pawns of the police. Considering their ties to the underworld, Julie Barnes (Claire Danes, Romeo and Juliet), Pete Cochran (Giovanni Ribisi, Saving Private Ryan, Avatar) and Lincoln Hayes (Omar Epps, House) can go places other cops can’t, so they are tapped by Captain Adam Greer (Dennis Farina Snatch, Manhunter) to infiltrate a seedy night spot suspected of being a front for a prostitution ring.
Family Affair was one of those successful family comedies of the 1960’s. Bill Davis’ carefree existence as a swinging bachelor was just about perfect. A highly paid consulting engineer, he maintained an elegant apartment off Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and had his domestic needs cared for by a very English gentleman’s gentleman, Mr. French. Into this life of independence came three young orphans, the 6-year old twins Buffy and Jody and 15-year-old Cissy.
This 7-year series chronicled the adventures of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), a team of government spies and specialists who were offered “impossible missions” (should they decide to accept them) by the unseen “Secretary”. Although the cast varied over the years, the main characters included The Team Leader (Dan Briggs the first season, then Jim Phelps the other six), The Techno-Wizard (Barney Collier), The Strongman (Willy Armitage), The Master of Disguise (first Rollin Hand, then The Amazing Paris), and The Femme Fatale (Cinnamon Carter, Dana Lambert, Casey, Mimi Davis).
All in the Family! This popular, controversial sitcom was spun off from 1970s classic All in the Family, and features the same kind of bigoted humor that made Archie Bunker famous. Mean-spirited George freely offers stinging remarks about “white folks” and Helen and Tom’s interracial marriage. Throughout it all, Louise finds herself apologizing for her husband’s actions.
The Carol Burnett Show is one of Televisions greatest show’s in history. An American variety/sketch comedy television show starring Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner. Lasting 11 successful years starting in 1967 and ending in 1978 not without winning 25 Emmy Awards, 8 Golden Globe Awards and 3 People’s Choice Awards.
Bewitched is a fantasy sitcom chronicling what happens when a witch and a mortal fall in love and get married in 1960s and ’70s suburban America. At the very center of the show is Elizabeth Montgomery’s portrayal of a good-hearted witch named Samantha. A strong, independent woman with the world at her finger tips (or at the twitch of her nose), she gives up her witchly life to do things the “mortal way”. Her mortal husband Darrin Stephens (played by Dick York, and later Dick Sargent) is a talented advertising executive with McMann & Tate.