Who can keep track of all the television series that aired? Besides IMDb and Wikipedia.
During the 1960s, television was much more adventurous than the previous decade. Cowboys, police, doctors and harried dads were still the main menu, but there was more realism on one end and more wild fantasy on the opposite end. Both ends of the spectrum produced hits and missed. Music and variety was still popular, but audience tastes were shifting younger. Television programming might have aimed younger, but purchasing power, as well as political power still mostly belonged to the older generation, at least for now. The decade would see tremendous culture change, reflected in shows premiering. Staying on the air was another matter. The television graveyard accumulates many new residents each season, despite lofty premises, big names and great time slots.
Many of the following shows run one season or less, but a few lasted several years. See how many you remember.
So indulge me while I relive a few television memories from my youth. You might remember a few of these or not.
It’s About Time – Created by Sherwood Schwartz (Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch) Astronauts travel back in time and befriend some cave people. The show last a season, which was one season too long. The quality of My Mother the Car.
Blue Light – Robert Goulet was a double agent in Nazi Germany, really working for the Allies. H is deep under cover as part of a network known as the “blue light.”
Garrison’s Gorillas – A group of convicts are led in missions against the Nazis. Each convict has a specialty. If they survive the war they receive parole. Sound familiar?
T.H.E. Cat – A former cat burglar and circus acrobat becomes a professional bodyguard protecting others. A novel idea, developed by Harry Julian Fink, one of the creators of Dirty Harry. Starring Robert Loggia, the show had a difficult time finding an audience.
He & She – This show took up where The Dick Van Dyke Show left add, and became the bridge to That Girl, The Doris Day Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The sophisticated comedy of the Van Dyke Show along with wacky characters was an odd blend, but it left its mark as Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss created a memorable show for one season. The creative talent went on to many successful projects.
Occasional Wife – Single executive Peter, needs a wife so he can get promoted. He makes a deal with a young woman to pose as his wife, whenever needed. Interesting concept, used many times.
Love On a Rooftop – Young marrieds, struggling financially, live in rooftop apartment. Pete Duel (Alias Smith and Jones) and Judy Carne (Laugh-In) starred in this comedy. They refuse help from her meddling father.
Mr. Terrific – An attempt to cash-in on the campy super hero craze. A mild mannered gas station employee became Mr. Terrific when he popped a pill, giving him great powers, although he failed to harness them well. In the 1980s, The Greatest American Hero had the same story line.
My Living Doll – Bob Cummings was a familiar TV and film star. In this show he played an Air Force psychiatrist who is put in charge of a robot, Julie Newmar, to teach human behavior. This strategy aligned with male fantasy of the era. It lasted one season when Cummings abandoned the show.
Pete & Gladys – A spin-off of December Bride, Harry Morgan reprised his role as Pete and Cara Williams as his wife Gladys. Affable and familiar, this sitcom did not have the flair of hipper, more creative shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show or The Andy Griffith Show. This show was like conventional 1950s married comedies. Whatever happened to Harry Morgan?
Felony Squad – Howard Duff and Dennis Cole were big city detectives, one was a rookie, the other a veteran cop. Not the most original concept, but the show lasted nearly three seasons. Cop shows would change in the next decade.
The Good Guys – Bob Denver, post-Gilligan, starred as a taxi driver and Herb Edelman, as a restaurant owner. Longtime friends, they try many ideas to get rich, without achieving it or finding an audience in two seasons.
The Baileys of Balboa – A charter boat captain and his family often collide with the wealthy and snooty yacht owners at a beach resort. Imagine the Skipper and the Minnow bumping heads with a passel of Mr. Howells.
O.K. Crackerby – Wealthy businessman moves to swanky digs where his very rough edges prevent him from being acceptable to the ritzy society. Starred Burl Ives. Jed Clampett in Miami Beach.
The Pruitts of Southampton – Phyllis Diller stars, with the help of Richard Deacon, Paul Lynde, John Astin and Marty Ingles. The rich Pruitts are actually broke, and are allowed to continue appearing solvent by the IRS.
My World and Welcome to It – William Windom played a cartoonist. Based on Thurber’s cartoons, the show incorporates animation in a creative way of merging the “reality” of a sitcom with more conceptual humor about life. The show had Sheldon Leonard, Danny Arnold and Mel_Shavelson involved but it was a bit too unique to capture an audience.
The Guns of Will Sonnett – Father and grandson search the West for Will Sonnett, a gun for hire. Walter Brennan and Dack Rambo traveled two seasons but never caught up with him.
Branded – Chuck Connors struggled to find a successful series after The Rifleman. Branded was one of several action shows he tried. A cavalry officer, wrongly branded a coward, Connors tried to clear his reputation and help others along the way.
Lancer – In this Western, the Lancers were a well-to-do ranching family of a father and two half-brothers. Like The Big Valley, The Virginian, Bonanza and High Chaparral, it was a show of contrasting family members, not fighting Native Americans as much as power-hungry and dishonest White Men.
This is Tom Jones – Produced in England and shown by ABC in America, the show capitalized on Jones’ popularity. His guests included a mix of traditional performers and younger ones popular in the late 60s.
Where the Action Is & Happening ’68 – Dick Clark productions, spotlighting young, hip music. Clark moved the show out of the studio and to the weekday afternoon schedule.