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The Best, Most Ridiculous, Situation Comedies of the 60s and 70s

By Edited Nov 10, 2015 5 9

It Never Got Any Better Than This

Bewitched

No television show from today can compare to the situations comedies of the 60s and 70s. Sure, Parks and Recreation has its moments and The Office will make you alternately chuckle and cringe but the heyday of situation comedies was in the 1960s and 70s when the form was first being developed. With no real restrictions other than belly buttons, comedy writers were free to expound on everything from a fictionalized New York City to the all too real horror of the Nazis.

Here then are seven of the best, most ridiculous situation comedies of the 60s and 70s:

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Batman

Batman
Forget Michael Keaton, Christian Bale and any of the other Dark Knight stuff. The deliciously, campy fun of the Batman television series is definitely “where it’s at.” The homoerotic stylings of Adam West and Burt Ward are a must-see. In addition, the fantastic array of Hollywood stars that make appearances as Supervillains, cameo or otherwise, is simply staggering. While the comic books are often credited with many of the tropes associated with Batman, many of the memes were actually created in this fantastic and still eminently watchable TV show.

Best Episode: Any one featuring Julie Newmar or Yvonne Craig. Unfortunately, they never fought each other. Holy catfight, Batman!

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The Beverly Hillbillies

The Beverly Hillbillies
For anyone from my generation who has ever felt out of place, Uncle Jed, Granny, Jethro and Ellie Mae form an indelible memory as they dealt with the vagaries of city livin’, unfettered wealth and the “cement pond.”

The foils, Milton Drysdale and Miss Hathaway, were performed with deadpan and impeccable comedic timing by Robert Bailey and Nancy Kulp. Granny, with her “rheumeetiz” recipe and Jed with his homespun wisdom stole the show, however and the country music always added a nice touch. It certainly was a simpler time.

Best Episode: “Admiral Jed Clampett”After bumping into one, Jethro complains that the steel bulkheads, “Sure do hurt.” Jed notes that, “The boy’s head ain’t doing the bulkhead no favors, neither.”

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F Troop

F Troop
Quite accidentally, this sitcom follows the exploits and mishaps of the soldiers stationed at Fort Courage, Kansas under the command of Wilton Parmenter. With O’Rourke, Agarn, Wild Eagle and, of course, the rambunctious Wrangler Jane, the post-Civil War, American West would never be the same.

Don’t miss Vanderbilt, Duffy or the redoubtable Dobbs. Another highlight is Frank de Kova as the Indian Chief of the “We’re the Hekawi” tribe. Too funny for words.

Best Episode: “That’s Show Biz” - Lowell George and Little Feat show up as Cpl. Agarn’s new band, The Bedbugs.

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Get Smart

The Cone of Silence
With one of the best opening sequences ever seen on TV and its incredible send-up of the spy genre, this TV show created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry is one of the classic situation comedies of all time.

Besides Smart (Don Adams), 99 (Barbara Feldon) and the Chief (Edward Platt), there are a host of other memorable characters including Siegfried (Bernie Kopell), Hymie (Dick Gautier), Larabee (Dick Karvelas) and the Admiral (William Schallert). Each character was sublimely ridiculous in their own way. This show is a masterpiece of comedy and all but ends once confidence in 007.

Best Episode: "Washington 4, Indians 3"That’s the second biggest arrow that Max has ever seen.

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Gilligan's Island

Ginger or Mary Ann
As everyone knows, in this TV show, seven unlikely tourists end up as castaways on a remote, desert island. The show revolves around their repeated attempts to exit the island are meet with rescuers. Unfortunately, Fate,  in the form of Gilligan, always sabotages their efforts. The show bounces from one unlikely encounter to the next without a shred of decency or shame. Still, it is a delight to watch, if for no other reason than to wonder why no one puts Gilligan out of his (and their) misery.

Believe it or not, the show stretched one’s credulity even further in the reunion shows. In one particularly memorable and forgettable reunion show, Gilligan and the other castaways must rely on the Harlem Globetrotters to defeat a group of robot basketball players to get off the island. The most unbelievable scene is when Gilligan makes a slam dunk.  I can’t make this stuff up, folks.

Best Episode: “The Producer” - The show’s take on Hamlet must be seen to be appreciated. As the Captain says, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be. Do not forget, Stay out of debt!”

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Green Acres

Green Acres
Not the most subtle, but certainly one of the funniest, situation comedies to hit the airwaves in the 1960s, Green Acres  combined the vacuous naiveté of Eva Gabor with the utterly futile endeavors of Eddie Albert to create one of the most memorable “fish out of water” comedies of all time.

Add in the recurring characters of Eb, Mr. Haney, Mr. Kimball and the Ziffles, including Arnold, the TV loving pig and you have the fixin’s for a hilarious romp through the American heartland.

Best Episode:The Price of Apples”Now, where will Oliver find a head gasket in the middle of nowhere?

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Hogan's Heroes

Hogan's Heroes
The only TV show (and probably anything else) condemned by both the American Nazi Party and the Jewish Defense League. It seems that offending everyone s the surest route to great comedy.The series detai

The Nazis are portrayed as bumbling idiots from General Burkalter (Leon Askin), through Colonel Klink (Werner Klemperer) and Major "Who is zis man?" Hochstetter (Howard Caine) to Sergeant Schultz (John Banner). Not incidentally, all of these actors are of Jewish descent.  Watch this show or we'll send you to the Russina Front.

Best Episode: "The Crittendon Plan": The hopelessly inept Colonel Crittendon  (Bernard Fox) is mistaken for another Crittendon. Instead of a brillinat way to end the war, this Cruttendon wants to plants geraniums along the runways in England so that returning fliers will feel welcome.

The Daily Double

I Dream of Jeannie & Bewitched

I

I Dream of Jeannie
’ll admit, I can’t choose the better of these two shows. Barbara Eden and Elizabeth Montgomery are both excruciatingly beautiful, the straight men are average and the assorted supporting characters are the best part of the show. Even their riffs on the main character are the same. Just consider Serena, the cousin and “evil” nemesis of Sam, and Jeannie II, the unnamed alter ego of Barbara Eden’s character. Holy cow! Did these guys all eat lunch together or what?

Bewitched
Essentially the same show, these two situation comedies gave unlimited power to the “average” Joe. Admittedly, one character was an astronaut – at the time, the most difficult job to get in America – and the other worked for a Madison Avenue advertising firm. Still, the shows aimed to see how the average American would deal with such power. Let’s be real, if placed in the same situation, we’d have all acted like Major Healy, the wonderfully cast, Bill Daily, and gone completely out of our minds.

Best Episode: "Uncles A-Go-Go": The one with Dr Bellows singing, “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.”  Too much!

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Need I Say More?

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Mary Tylefr Moore Show
I’ll admit, I can’t choose the better of these two shows. Barbara Eden and Elizabeth Montgomery are both excruciatingly beautiful, the straight men are average and the assorted supporting characters are the best part of the show. Even their riffs on the main character are the same. Just consider Serena, the cousin and “evil” nemesis of Sam, and Jeannie II, the unnamed alter ego of Barbara Eden’s character. Holy cow! Did these guys all eat lunch together or what?

Essentially the same show, these two situation comedies gave unlimited power to the “average” Joe. Admittedly, one character was an astronaut – at the time, the most difficult job to get in America – and the other worked for a Madison Avenue advertising firm. Still, the shows aimed to see how the average American would deal with such power. Let’s be real, if placed in the same situation, we’d have all acted like Major Healy, the wonderfully cast, Bill Daily, and gone completely out of our minds.

Best Episode: "Uncles A-Go-Go": The one with Dr Bellows singing, “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.”  Too much!

Revealed!

The Location of the Bat Cave

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Comments

Jan 21, 2013 7:20am
Marlando
I liked Green Acresw...Gilligan's Island and Get Smart but certainly none of them touched the rich humor of All in the Family and MASH. I can barely stomach the comedies on today except I still watch 3 1/2 Men with Charlie Sheen on reruns. Anyway, thanks for the meories and two tumbs up.
Jan 26, 2013 12:33am
netgear4235
I also liked older comedies, today is nothing compared to the comedies of before. I personally like threes company the best
Feb 12, 2013 6:46am
Ascentive
I grew up in Europe and know only a few popular US shows.
I do remember the Batman TV show and some Western Shows.

Thumbs Up!
Feb 12, 2013 2:01pm
Case1worker
I remember all except Gilligans island and Get Smart- guess it is because I was in Europe or the Far East- still great shows and Bewitched was my favourite by far
Feb 12, 2013 4:53pm
weianow
I grew up with these shows. Oh the memories you've brought up. I actually thought Larry Hagman was great at Major Nelson. He reacted off Barbara Eden quite well. Not many comedies can even touch these "oldies." Thumbs up for the article--great job.
Feb 14, 2013 4:27am
mikerobbers
What a great article! Bewitched surely bewitched my early childhood. Thumbs up!
Feb 17, 2013 2:57am
cosmoslyn
aww... i loved watching them when I was a kid. nowadays the shows lack content, they just look good now.
Feb 18, 2013 9:23am
Rex
Gee. what about Andy Griffith?
Feb 25, 2013 11:08am
hillloyd
REX,
Aunt Bee is very reclusive these days and doesn't want any publicity.
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Bibliography

  1. Various "Hogan's Heroes." Wikipedia. 25/02/2013 <Web >
  2. Various "Beverly Hillbillies." Wikipedia. 25/02/2013 <Web >
  3. Various "TV Tropes." Series: Batman. 25/02/2013 <Web >
  4. Captain Brain Damage "Lowell Geoge on F Troop." My Les Paul. 25/02/2013 <Web >
  5. Various "Get Smart - TV Series." http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058805/. 23/01/2012. 25/02/2013 <Web >
  6. Various "Gilligan's Island." Gilligan's Island TV Show. 25/02/2013 <Web >
  7. Various "I Dream of Jeannie Cat and Details." TV Land. 25/02/2013 <Web >

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