Previously, we covered the first five of my twenty all-time favorite television shows…if you missed them, you can get caught up by clicking here.
Now let’s continue – here are numbers fifteen thru eleven.
15 – Baa Baa Black Sheep (1976-1978) – Also known as Black Sheep Squadron, this show was based on the real life exploits of Major Gregg “Pappy” Boyington and his collection of misfit pilots who made up the 214 Marine Fighter Squadron during World War II in the Pacific. Robert Conrad played Boyington, a rough and ready pilot who had a penchant for bending the rules. He and his “Black Sheep” reveled in their reputation as screw-ups and miscreants – but they always got the job done. The appeal of the show for me was the fact that these guys were looked upon as the bottom of the barrel – but they always came out on top. Proving you should never judge a book by its cover. Other regulars on the show included Dirk Blocker, whose older brother Dan played Hoss Cartwright on Bonanza, John Larroquette who later played Dan Fielding in Night Court and Larry Manetti, one of Tom Sellek’s cronies in Magnum P.I.
14 – The Odd Couple – (1970-1975) – The plot of two polar opposites having to coexist was not invented by Neil Simon – but it was perfected by Jack Klugman and Tony Randall. Based on Simon’s play of the same name, this show combined top notch writing, perfect casting and all around great acting to make it one of the funniest shows of its time. In fact it still holds up pretty well. Unfortunately, the show was not as popular as I think it should have been – never ranking higher than 25 on the Nielsen ratings. Randall and Klugman were nominated for Emmys in every season – Klugman won two and Randall one. Klugman also won a Golden Globe in 1974. The show was great, to me, because of the chemistry between Oscar and Felix and because it attempted to answer the age old question…”Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?”
13 – M*A*S*H – (1972-1983) – After reading the book in high school and seeing the movie, I was destined to love the TV show. I looked up to Hawkeye and Trapper not only for their irreverence and insubordination, but also for their loyalty to each other and their dedication to their profession. The fact that they were hilarious didn’t hurt either. Mash had quite a run and went out in style. In all honesty, I thought the overall quality of the show started to decline after four or five years, but it never got to the point where I wouldn’t watch. The concept of people being in the worst possible situation and struggling to make the best of it – while also trying to accomplish such an important task is pretty compelling, especially for a thirty-minute television show. Not too many programs had the guts to try it.
12 – Happy Days (1974-1984) – It’s a funny thing about Americans…we have this fascination with nostalgia. Some of our most popular television shows are about bygone eras. During the seventies, the fifties were very popular. Not with the people who lived through them, but with their children. I believe it started with the movie American Graffiti and took off from there. Like most things nostalgic, Happy Days didn’t dwell on the negative…instead it portrayed life from a simpler time, and made it funny. It even took a character who would have been, in real life, a hood – and turned him into a hero. Granted the show ran for much longer than it should have, but this is probably a testament to its popularity. I may have been born many years too late to understand them – but to me, the fifties will always be Happy Days.
11 – Lost in Space – (1965-1968) – It’s hard to believe the Space Family Robinson only traveled through space for three seasons. It seems to me as though the show was on forever. I loved this show as a child for the adventures, aliens and action…as I got older I began to notice the fantastic tongue in cheek humor in the show (watch the episode about the killer tomatoes and tell me I’m wrong). Mark Goddard, who played Major Don West, once said in an interview that he often had to turn his head away from the camera and hide his laughter with his hand. Believe it or not, according to the show, their mission began in 1997…pretty optimistic writing I’d say. I loved all the characters, except Dr. Smith of course…talk about a great villain. Dr. Smith had an uncanny knack for putting the Robinsons in…(yeah here it comes)…danger! danger! danger!
So there you have it, the second portion of my list of television shows that I really miss. In the next installment I’ll countdown numbers ten through six…but first a word from our sponsor