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Subject: AOL's Top 40 TV Shows of the 1960's

Written By: woops on 09/08/09 at 9:45 pm

Would throw in another animated series ("Rocky & Bullwinkle") and replace #38 with "Gidget"

In AOL TV's continuing countdown of the best TV shows of each decade, we travel back in time to the 1960s, when viewers were entertained by wacky sitcoms like Green Acres, Bewitched and The Addams Family, a proliferation of Westerns that featured future superstars like Clint Eastwood and Michael Landon, variety shows like Laugh-In and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and James Bond-inspired spy shows like The Saint and I Spy.

Viewers were also into grittier fare like realistic cop dramas (Ironside, Adam-12) and war action series (12 O'Clock High, Combat!), though there was plenty of classic sitcom fun on the airwaves, too, from The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show to Get Smart and My Three Sons.

Take a look at our picks of the decade's best and let us know if we got it right. -- By Kimberly Potts

40. The Flintstones (1960-1966)

The first primetime 'toon for adults was like a Stone Age version of The Honeymooners, and a spoof of futuristic life, with Wilma's garbage disposal (a hungry bird under the sink) and Fred's record player (another long-beaked bird served as the needle). The show also featured the beloved "Meet the Flintstones" theme song, which wasn't introduced until the series' third season.

39. Rawhide (1959-1966)

Among the most popular of the ubiquitous TV Westerns of the decade, Rawhide revolved around a group of men who drove cattle across the country in the 1860s and '70s. It was a tough gig -- droughts, thieves, harsh weather and disease confronted the men -- which called for a tough hombre to lead the way: future Oscar winner Clint Eastwood, who played hothead cattleman Rowdy Yates.

38. The Flying Nun (1967-1970)

It didn't get more high concept than the ABC sitcom about a nun (Sally Field) who could fly. How? "When lift plus thrust is greater than load plus drag" is how the 90-pound Sister Betrille explained her ability, which sometimes helped save her Puerto Rican convent, and sometimes complicated her life, like when a bird fell in love with her. Kookier still: Field released a 'Flying Nun' album in 1967.

37. 12 O'Clock High (1964-1967)

Adapted from the Oscar-winning 1949 flick starring Gregory Peck, the action-packed ABC war drama followed the adventures of the 918th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Eighth Air Force in World War II. Unlike most series, High's commanders didn't send their troops out alone ... the leaders were fighting alongside their men, leading to the second season death of General Savage (Robert Lansing).

36. Batman (1966-1968)

The DC Comics' Caped Crusader really packed a POW! BIF! BAM! in this uber-campy ABC series take on the comic book classic, in which tights-sporting Batman (Adam West) and his sidekick Robin (Burt Ward) defended Gotham City from a lineup of colorful, wacky villains like the Penguin, the Riddler and the Joker, using the Batmobile, the Batcave's massive Batcomputer and a never-ending supply of bad Batpuns.

35. Julia (1968-1971)

The show starred Diahann Carroll as a widowed nurse raising her son in Los Angeles after her husband was killed in Vietnam. Simple concept, but the series made a huge impact as one of the first to showcase an African-American female lead. Julia pleased many critics with its non-stereotypical minority lead, but angered others, who felt the NBC show ignored Julia's cultural background.

34. Adam-12 (1968-1975)

Created by Dragnet's Jack Webb, Adam-12 was another realistic look at cop life. LAPD vet Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) planned to retire after the death of his partner, but he stuck around to train rookie Jim Reed (Kent McCord), and two opposites bonded while covering cases that ranged from the funny to the tragic. The show was also the first writing gig for A-Team creator Stephen J. Cannell.

33. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964-1968)

A descent into campiness led to a short run for the spy series, but not before two great seasons with clever plots (including an ep written by Harlan Ellison), great action and an impressive lineup of guest stars who helped American agent Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Russian agent Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) take on international bad guys THRUSH.

32. The Judy Garland Show (1963-1964)

Even the legendary singer couldn't compete with ratings powerhouse Bonanza, which is why the show only lasted one season. But Garland, who was in one of the stormier periods of her personal life, was in top form in the variety series, which, at its best, revolved around her grand musical performances, as well as guest gigs by Liza Minnelli, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Count Basie and Mickey Rooney.

31. Hogan's Heroes (1965-1971)

What's the biggest reason for the success of Hogan (Bob Crane) and his Heroes in eliciting secret info from their Nazi captors at a German WWII POW camp: the bumbling ineptitude of Col. Klink and Schulz, or Hogan and company's clever ruses and ability to stay cool under fire? A lot of both, all of which made for plenty of laughs and led to three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series.

30. Mod Squad (1968-1973)

The times, they were a-changing, and police captain Adam Greer needed a youthful injection of officers so his department could interact with members of the counterculture and those who preyed upon them. Enter Linc, Pete and Julie (Peggy Lipton), who would make up for their own misdeeds by forming Greer's titular team. The groovy cop drama was also one of uber-producer Aaron Spelling's first hits.

29. The Monkees (1966-1968)

Which came first, the band or the TV show? It was the show, as producers auditioned hundreds to find four fellas who could play a fictional band that would churn out real tie-in records. Inspired by the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night, Davy, Peter, Micky and Mike not only went on to have a hit sitcom, but also sold millions of records with tunes like 'I'm a Believer' and 'Last Train to Clarksville.'

28. Combat! (1962-1967)

Its realistic portrayal of a U.S. Army platoon's battles in Europe during WWII was the show's trademark, with much of the cast, including Vic Morrow, being WWII vets. The series, which included battle scenes and a focus on the more personal, human stories of war, also featured a string of famous guests, including Robert Duvall, James Caan and Lee Marvin, while Robert Altman directed several episodes.

27. The Big Valley (1965-1969)

Most Western dramas of the decade were all about the men, but the San Joaquin Valley homestead of the wealthy Barkley clan wasn't just any old dude ranch ... the Barkleys' were led by widowed matriarch Victoria, played by big-screen legend Barbara Stanwyck. She and feisty daughter Audra (Linda Evans) accounted for much of the show's action, even with tough guys like breakout star Lee Majors nearby.

26. It Takes a Thief (1968-1970)

Inspired by the 1955 Cary Grant gem To Catch a Thief, the TV show starred Robert Wagner as Alexander Mundy, a suave playboy who financed his fancy lifestyle by stealing. After getting caught and thrown in prison, the U.S. government offered him a deal: steal on its behalf and go free. The breezy series also featured Fred Astaire in a guest turn as Mundy's father, who was also a smooth criminal.

25. That Girl (1965-1971)

Before Mary Richards was turning Minneapolis and the rest of the world on with her smile, Marlo Thomas was doing the single career girl thang in the Big Apple. Thomas was That Girl, Ann Marie, a small-town New Yorker who moved to NYC to become an actress. Fame eluded Ann, but she did win audiences -- and boyfriend Donald -- with her goofy charm, groovy fashions and girl power ambitions.

24. Ironside (1967-1975)

Raymond Burr went from legal drama (Perry Mason) to cop drama with Ironside, in which he played a gruff San Francisco police detective who was left paralyzed and in a wheelchair after an assassination attempt. Ironside returned to his job -- as a special consultant -- and continued to nab bad guys with the help of a specially equipped van, a team of assistants and some killer sleuthing skills.

23. Bewitched (1964-1972)

There was no more powerful snoot in TV land than Samantha Stephens' (Elizabeth Montgomery) magical beak. Samantha, in fact, could make anything happen with a little twinkle of her nose ... well, anything but make her mother accept her mortal hubby Darrin, make Darrin accept her use of magic and make viewers accept a Darrin switcheroo (Dick Sargent replaced Dick York with no on-screen explanation).

22. The Saint (1962-1969)

Before he was Bond, James Bond, Roger Moore was another literary hero: The Saint, a suave, wealthy man who acted as a modern-day Robin Hood: he'd steal and swindle, but only from those who had taken advantage of the vulnerable. The series, based on Leslie Charteris' novels, was a British production that aired in the U.S. in syndication, before NBC picked up new eps for a summer run in 1967.

21. The Addams Family (1964-1966)

Creepy, kooky and altogether ooky, The Addams Family delighted viewers with a macabre take on the family sitcom and one of the catchiest theme songs ever. Father Gomez, mother Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch the butler, Grandmama, Cousin Itt, kids Pugsley and Wednesday and disembodied hand Thing also inspired some great spin-off movies, but the series started life as a New Yorker magazine cartoon.

20. The Dean Martin Show (1965-1974)

A showcase for the easygoing charm and soothing crooning of its star, The Dean Martin Show featured celeb guest stars (who were often a surprise even to Martin), dancers, comics and lots of back-and-forth between Martin and his piano player, Ken Lane. The show also served as the inspiration for the still-popular celebrity roasts, which began as a regular segment on the Rat Pack-er's series.

19. My Three Sons (1960-1972)

Imagine what the Brady Bunch guys would have been like if they'd never hooked up with Carol and the girls, and you've got this ABC/CBS comedy family. Widowed dad Steve (Fred MacMurray) raised sons Mike, Robbie, Chip (and later adopted Ernie), while live-in grandpa Bub (William Frawley) and Uncle Charley helped the Douglas men navigate school, girlfriends and Steve's eventual re-marriage.

18. Peyton Place (1964-1969)

A true primetime soap -- the show aired several new episodes a week at its peak -- Peyton followed the novel and 1957 film in telling the randy, sometimes scandalous adventures of the citizens of a small town that was anything but sleepy. Murder, comas, affairs, secret paternities and more affairs were the show's trademarks, and helped launch the careers of series stars Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal.

17. McHale's Navy (1962-1968)

McHale's Navy was set in the South Pacific during WWII, where Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale (Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine) and his merry band of Navy PT boat sailors drew the ire of prickly Capt. Binghamton. Binghamton wanted to oust rules-breaking McHale, but couldn't, because despite their shenanigans, McHale and his men (including a hilarious Tim Conway as bumbling Parker) always got the job done.

16. Mission: Impossible (1966-1973)

Their mission, should they choose to accept it each week, was to travel the globe, thwarting the evildoing of a string of international baddies. Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) led the Impossible Missions Force agents as they employed cool gadgets, disguises and clever plots (all backed by that familiar theme song) to defend their government and keep viewers enthralled with the instant-hit spy series.

15. The Lucy Show (1962-1968)

Lucy and Ethel were together again, sans Ricky and Fred. Lucille Ball was Lucy, a widowed mom of two who shared her suburban home with single mom pal Vivian (Vivian Vance), who was among the first divorced characters in sitcom land. But modern times aside, the show's best moments again sprang from Lucy and Vivian's slapstick comedy, and guest stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

14. Avengers (1961-1969)

It wasn't until the fourth season that Diana Rigg joined the show as Emma Peel, but that began the "spy-fi" series' most notable era, as Peel teamed with bowler-hatted secret agent Mr. Steed (Patrick Macnee) and the show took on a lighter tone. Viewers found Peel's mod fashions, hot car and playful, more youthful 'tude to be the perfect complement to the more proper, old-school Steed.

13. The Wild Wild West (1965-1969)

It's best to forget the title also applies to the awful 1999 film remake and instead focus on the Robert Conrad series, in which Conrad played James T. West, an undercover agent assigned by Ulysses S. Grant to help thwart coup-minded baddies. West and fellow agent Artemus Gordon employed all sorts of gadgets and ruses in their work, making the show one of the first TV works in the steampunk genre.

12. Green Acres (1965-1971)

The Beverly Hillbillies in reverse and a spin-off of Petticoat Junction, Acres was also its own brand of bucolic comedy. Following rich New Yorkers Oliver and Lisa (Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor) as they moved to an old farm, the show would feature TV-obsessed pig Arnold, spoofed Hillbillies in a meta theater production and found the Douglas duo wearing fancy duds on their dilapidated farm.

11. Gunsmoke (1955-1975)

It's the granddaddy of the TV Western and still among the longest-running hits in primetime, and much of Gunsmoke's success has to go to lead James Arness, who, sadly, never won an Emmy for playing Marshal Matt Dillon. He did lead the series to become the standard for the genre's move from the big screen, where Westerns focused on action, to the tube, where they were more character driven.

10. Star Trek (1966-1969)

It's tough to overstate the pop culture impact of Trek, which spawned five spin-off TV series, movies, books, games, conventions, merch and more nerd loyalty than anyone in Hollywood, save George Lucas, could hope to inspire. It also led to the invention of the save-the-show campaign: A letter-writing effort by Trekkies saved the show from cancellation during its second season.

9. Get Smart (1965-1970)

The proliferation of '60s spy series begged for a spoof, which Mel Brooks and Buck Henry were only too happy to create with this Emmy-winning classic. Don Adams was bumbling Maxwell Smart, Agent 86, who both tripped up and saved many a secret mission. Thank goodness for gadgets like the shoe phone, and Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), who often saved Smart's bacon and eventually married him.

8. I Spy (1965-1968)

The Emmy-winning series was one of the best of spy genre, pairing Bill Cosby and Robert Culp as agents who travelled undercover as a pair of tennis players. Beautiful locales (the show filmed on location in places like Rome, Madrid and Acapulco) and gritty storylines were the norm, but the real appeal was the easy chemistry between the leads, who reunited in an episode of The Cosby Show in 1987.

7. The Fugitive (1963-1967)

A story so compelling it was adapted as a terrific Harrison Ford movie and another short-lived Tim Daly series, The Fugitive revolved around Dr. Richard Kimble's (David Janssen) attempt to clear his name for the murder of his wife. Kimble knew the creepy One-Armed Man had done it, and justice was finally served in his amusement park showdown with the killer in one of the best series finales ever.

6. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967-1970)

Most variety series targeted an older demo, but the Smothers siblings aimed their humor at hipper viewers. Political and edgy content eventually lead to an acrimonious split with CBS (chronicled in the 2002 documentary Smothered), but not before the Who's exploding drum performance in 1967 and clever, controversial skits penned by future star writers like Rob Reiner, Steve Martin and Albert Brooks.

5. The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)

The Danny Thomas Show spin-off created one of TV's most beloved small towns. Mayberry was protected by caring sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith), a widowed dad raising adorable Opie (Ron Howard) with the help of his pie-baking Aunt Bee. Opening with the most famous whistled tune ever, the show also starred comedic genius Don Knotts, who won five Emmys for his portrayal of excitable deputy Barney Fife.

4. Bonanza (1959-1973)

Most TV Westerns were all about the action. That wasn't MIA on Bonanza, but the show focused more on the Cartwright family, the owners of the titular Nevada ranch. Pa Ben (Lorne Greene) had been widowed three times, and was left with three sons -- sophisticated eldest bro Adam, sweet Hoss and hotheaded Little Joe (Michael Landon) -- whose clashes and personal lives kept the paterfamilias busy.

3. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966)

It's not surprising that a show about a TV writer featured such great writing, especially since legendary talent Carl Reiner was a writer/producer/performer. The series, which revolved around Rob Petrie's (Dick Van Dyke) work life with The Alan Brady Show and his home life with wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore), became a top 20 hit, but, amazingly, was nearly canceled after its first season.

2. Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (1967-1973)

The seminal sketch-comedy series paved the way for shows like Saturday Night Live by featuring comic shtick that not only launched many a catchphrase ("Sock it to me" and "You bet your bippy"), but many a career, too. Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin and Ruth Buzzi were the show's breakouts, but hosts Dan Rowan and Dick Martin also welcomed guests like Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr. and even Richard Nixon.

1. The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

Rod Serling initially conceived the anthology series as a way to get his more political viewpoints across, behind sci-fi-themed stories. Critics loved the show, and with enduring episodes like the classic "To Serve Man," "I Sing the Body Electric," "Time Enough at Last" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," Twilight has inspired future generations of TV's best writers, from J.J. Abrams to Joss Whedon.

Subject: Re: AOL's Top 40 TV Shows of the 1960's

Written By: Frank on 09/09/09 at 12:24 am

I thought "The Dick van Dyke show" would have been 1st.
Laugh-in was funny, But I guess if I were to see it today, it wouldn't be as funny as it was 40 years ago.

Subject: Re: AOL's Top 40 TV Shows of the 1960's

Written By: Michael C. on 09/09/09 at 5:48 am

Glad to see.....
It Takes a Thief and Ironside on the list.
My opinions......I don't think I'd have The Lucy Show on there.....Nowhere near the level of I Love Lucy....The Flying Nun...?...the gimmick show went on about 2 seasons longer  than it should......Adam-12....basically Dragnet from a Patrolman's point of view....
I'd have had The Patty Duke Show......Honey West.....the first Woman P.I. who's Karate came in handy......
and Dark Shadows...a gothic Horror soap...that became a phenomenon......merchandising included a series of novels,bubble gum cards,comic books & LPs{a soap so popular it even spawning 2 Theatrical Films...}.

Subject: Re: AOL's Top 40 TV Shows of the 1960's

Written By: Frank on 09/09/09 at 4:54 pm

Glad to see.....
It Takes a Thief and Ironside on the list.
My opinions......I don't think I'd have The Lucy Show on there.....Nowhere near the level of I Love Lucy....The Flying Nun...?...the gimmick show went on about 2 seasons longer  than it should......Adam-12....basically Dragnet from a Patrolman's point of view....
I'd have had The Patty Duke Show......Honey West.....the first Woman P.I. who's Karate came in handy......
and Dark Shadows...a gothic Horror soap...that became a phenomenon......merchandising included a series of novels,bubble gum cards,comic books & LPs{a soap so popular it even spawning 2 Theatrical Films...}.

It takes a thief. Alexander Mundy. Haven't seen that in 35 years at least.
The Flying nun wasn't that great. Agreed
Never saw "The Patty Duke Show"

Subject: Re: AOL's Top 40 TV Shows of the 1960's

Written By: Michael C. on 09/09/09 at 6:09 pm

The Patty Duke Show was very funny...Coming out on DVD....I'm looking forward to getting it....
Here's the intro....

It Takes a Thief was a really good series.......One of My favorite 60's series......

It takes a thief. Alexander Mundy. Haven't seen that in 35 years at least.
The Flying nun wasn't that great. Agreed
Never saw "The Patty Duke Show"

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