Some More Classic TV Shows That Can Go Against Any Current Show

This is my second part of a list of trailblazing classic television shows you need to see.

Archie and Edith’s chairs at the Smithsonian.

Archie and Edith’s chairs at the Smithsonian.

Maddox Greenberg, Staff Writer

I, as I’ve told you last time doing one of these, am an old soul per se when it comes to television shows.  I have seen more than a dozen classic television shows and I’ve figured, ‘Why just do half a dozen?’  So, I’m doing another half dozen.

 

Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin.

Batman.  Airing in 1966, the show follows the adventures of Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, and his ward Dick Grayson, a.k.a. sidekick Robin, as they fight against some of their most known, and unknown, supervillains.  Villains from the Joker and The Penguin to King Tut and Egghead.  What makes this show unique is it looks and feels like a comic book.  The characters look similar to the characters in the books.  Whenever Batman and Robin fight, they always have ‘Boom!’ and ‘Wham!’ on the screen, just like in the comics.  There is nothing remotely close to that in today’s comic book shows.  With a catchy and familiar theme song, and supervillains cheesy sidekicks’ names, this television show set the bar in its category of comic book series.  And who could forget that line after each episode: “Same bat time, Same bat channel.” Here is a link to some of the fights in the first season of the show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZaG_13ZIYY 

 

Cover of Good Times with John Amos in the lower middle and Jimmie Walker on the far right.

Good Times.  Good Times follows the Evans, a poor African American family living in the Projects in Chicago during the 1970s.  From some shenanigans going on to events African American families faced during that time, and still current today, the Evans always find the good times at the end of each episode.  The show has a great, catchy, uplifting, familiar theme song that aired on CBS.  The show was created by Mike Evans (not the Buccaneers wide receiver) and developed by the legendary Norman Lear, and featured a star-studded cast with Jimmie Walker, as the thin, charismatic, artistic eldest son of the Evans with notable catchphrase “Dynomite!”; John Amos, as the patriarch of the Evans family James; and a young Janet Jackson in the later seasons.  This show was the first-ever spinoff of a spinoff in television history!  The show was a spinoff of a show called Maude, starring a young Bea Arthur, which was the first of seven spinoffs from a show called All in The Family.  Here is a clip with JJ saying his famous catchphrase: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9YsYxKkAIM 

 

 

Cast of the Jeffersons (left to right): Franklin Cover as Mr. Willis, Roxie Roker as Mrs. Willis, Paul Benedict as Harry, Isabel Sanford as Louise, Sherman Hemsley as George, Marla Gibbs as Florence, Mike Evans as Lionel, Ned Wertimer as Ralph, and Berlinda Tolbert as Jenny.

The Jeffersons.  Another show by Norman Lear about an African American family, a spinoff of All in the Family, with a very familiar and catchy theme song, The Jeffersons follows Louise and George Jefferson, who were neighbors of All in The Family’s family, the Bunkers.  George is more stubborn while his wife Louise is more level-headed.  From a description of the theme song, the show is about them “moving on up” in uptown, fancier New York City in Manhattan.  Their neighbors are interracial couple (first time ever) the Willises, who have two adult kids that George arrogantly referred to as “zebras,” and Paul Benedict, a friend yet dimwitted British neighbor.  The Jeffersons also have a housekeeper named Florence, who gets her own show called Checking In.  And The Jeffersons, in early seasons, featured George’s mother, “Mother” Jefferson, who hates Louise.  Here is a clip when George found out he was a descendant of African monarchs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGAzw5ObVv0

 

 

Picture from the first season (left to right): Larry Linville as Frank, Loretta Swit as Margaret, Alan Alda as Hawkeye, McLean Stevenson as Henry, Wayne Rogers as Trapper, William Christopher as Father Mulcahey, Gary Burghoff as Radar, and Jamie Farr as Klinger.

M*A*S*H*.  M*A*S*H* started out as a movie called, you guessed it, M*A*S*H*.  It originated from a book called MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors.  The show follows M*A*S*H* 4077th in South Korea during the Korean War (1950-53).  MASH stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.  Now, while the 4077th wasn’t real, MASH’s were.  The show consists of some normal and wacky characters, including Dr. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, a very charismatic and funny doctor who is the best surgeon on the base and takes his work seriously; Hawkeye’s roommate “Trapper” John McIntyre (seasons 1-3), same as Hawkeye is personality; and during the remainder of the 11-season series B.J. Hunnicutt, still the same in personality but a tad bit more serious at time; devoted head nurse and enrolled career army nurse (meaning she didn’t sign up for the draft) Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan; her boyfriend throughout the first six-or-so seasons, and roommate of Hawkeye and Trapper/B.J. in “The Swamp”, Frank Burns, who still loves and misses his wife, but is like Houlihan in he is stern towards the others and follows the protocol; Lt. Col. Henry Blake (seasons 1-3), the head of the M*A*S*H* unit and a comedic character who is one for the ladies, but like most in the 4077th, has a family waiting at home; Sherman Potter takes his place after his death in the end of season three.  Potter loves horses and his wife and is experienced in war, having served in World War II.  He is stricter and more focused than funny, which I hate but my sister loves.  Other characters, and I mean characters, are Walter “Radar” O’Reilly, the 4077th’s company clerk who is very youthful and can sense when the “choppers” are coming in before anyone knows, which gives him the nickname “Radar” (and the actor, Gary Burghoff, is the only one of the series cast who was also in the movie); and Maxwell Klinger, the oddball of the characters.  Klinger wants out of the war so badly that he is trying to get a Section 8 (mentally unwell) by dressing up in women’s clothes.  However, he never gets that “Section 8” and ironically, in the last episode of the show, Klinger marries a South Korean woman and stays in Korea.  This show has hit seriously funny moments like “5 o’clock Charlie” to more serious moments like when Trapper was trying to rescue a young South Korean boy who he wanted to adopt but went in the landmine field and Trapper was inches away from any mines.  Despite the circumstances of the war, the people at the 4077th try to make the best of it while doing their jobs which sometimes requires meatball surgeries (“sew them up, get them out”).  Here is a clip of the Best of Hawkeye: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6P2pUJEzGw 

 

 

From the iconic Christmas episode, “Christmas Story”, where Ben Weaver (black suit) gifts everyone with presents at the end of the episode.

The Andy Griffith Show.  The 1960s-era sitcom follows Sheriff Andy Taylor, his deputy Barney Fife, Andy’s Aunt Bee, and Andy’s son Opie in a small North Carolina town called Mayberry.  The show follows Andy and Barney dealing with hilarious yet sometimes serious squabbles with the residents and out-of-towners.  In the end, Andy always finds a rational way of solving any situation.  One of the most notable people they come to face is town drunk Otis Campbell, who is constantly there and often gets the keys and opens the one-of-two jail cells.  Some familiar faces of the show are the residents, including barber Floyd, Mayor Pike, Barney’s girlfriend Thelma Lou, and dimwitted gas station employee Gomer Pyle (who gets his own spinoff where he joins the Mariners in Gomer Pyle, USMC), and later his cousin Goober.  This show has even had some notable episodes like “The Bank Job”, where Barney is irate over the relaxed security in the bank and tries to go undercover as a robber, only that the bank is skeptical when real robbers show up; and “Christmas Story”, where town grump Ben Weaver orders Andy to arrest a man on Christmas Eve for moonshining.  When Andy does so, he brings the man’s family in, as well as Andy’s family, to have a Christmas dinner party the man’s family was originally going to do.  The episode later ends with Ben feeling guilty on missing out on the Christmas party, with us figuring out he doesn’t have a family to celebrate Christmas with and just wants to join the party but doesn’t know how.  He ends up giving gifts to everyone to try to join the party.  Here is a clip of the wacky deputy Barney Fife: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1nuaOg_8NU 

 

Finally,

 

The cast on the magazine commemorating the 50th year of the show. Left to right: Jean Stapleton as Edith, Rob Reiner as Mike, Carroll O’Connor as Archie, and Sally Struthers as Gloria.

All in The Family.  One of my favorite television shows out there.  This show has broken barriers as well as crossing lines and was very historic.  It has the most spin-offs ever, with seven (Good Times, The Jeffersons, Maude, Checking In, Gloria, Archie Bunker’s Place, and 704 Hauser).  The show won multiple Emmy’s, including 1971 Outstanding New Series and a four-time Emmy-winner Outstanding Comedy Series.  It was ranked number 1 in the yearly Nielsen ratings from 1971-1976, the fourth listed on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All-Time, Bravo gave Archie Bunker the title of TV’s greatest character of all time, and in 2013, the Writer’s Guild of America ranked the show the fourth best-written TV show ever.  The show tore down barriers like talking about abortion, homosexuality, rape, racism, the Vietnam War, menopause, and miscarriages, considered “taboo” topics at the time.  I heard that they even, a humorous barrier torn down, broke the barrier of the sound of toilet flushes, which has never happened in TV at the time.  The show set the bar saying that sitcoms can talk about controversial, current topics in a serious yet humorous way. 

 

 All in The Family follows bigoted and racist Archie Bunker; his wife, loving yet dimwitted Edith; their daughter Gloria, who is stubborn like her father but loving like her mother; and Gloria’s boyfriend/husband/ex-husband Mike Stivic, a social and civil rights activist.  Their ideals are different, as this perfectly demonstrates the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers.  Archie often calls Mike “meathead”, for him not liking Archie’s views, and constantly telling his wife Edith to “stifle.”  What makes Archie funny is, other than is bigotry, the comedic gag is that he has trouble saying words or spelling them.  Like he would spell a word completely wrong.  He would even mistake one event for the other when trying to prove a point.  The show primarily takes place in the living room and kitchen, but there are times they go to Kelsey’s Bar and to the Jeffersons’ house/Mike and Gloria’s home.  The show’s most notable episodes include “Sammy’s Visit,” featuring legend Sammy Davis, Jr. of the Rat Pack, “The Draft Dodger,” and “Everybody Tells the Truth.” The show definitely set a precedent for other shows and will forever go down in history as one of the most acclaimed television series of all time.  It has to, Archie and Edith’s chairs are in the Smithsonian.  Here is a clip of some of Archie Bunker moments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbEyeo9xFC0 

 

 

I hope you enjoy this list again and I suggest you watch some of these shows.  They appear, most of them here and on the other list, on TV Land, Comedy Central, Antenna TV, Sundance, and MeTV.