Would we even be the fierce individuals we are if we didn’t have such great role models on TV as we were growing up? Or did we get fierce in spite of the characters we watched in the ’70s? Join us on a Friday Five trip down TV memory lane and see if you agree with our picks for stand-out 1970s TV fare! [Note: just because we watched it doesn’t mean we necessarily remember it fondly. Case in point: Brady Bunch (mega-wince) didn’t make either of our lists. However, I believe the expression “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha” is as universally understood by 1970s teenagers as totally unflattering straight-cut mini dresses and nose-framing parted-down-the-middle or bowl-cut hairstyles.] Also, before judging too harshly, please keep in mind TV watching in our homes was not a democratic process, you watched what had been turned on by your parental units. Requests for input usually set off internal alarm bells!!!
Family Affair (1966 – 1971): LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this show. I actually wrote a fan letter to the show and got a response (form letter at best but it made me feel very special). In this show, Bachelor Uncle Bill and his butler Mr. French end up having to care for the children of relatives who have died in an accident. Cissy (big sister) and her twin siblings, Buffy (girl) and Jody (boy) come to live with Uncle Bill and Mr. French and the show takes the viewer through the trials and tribulations and triumph as the five of them become a family. Honestly, still today I get very emotional remembering watching that show. It was soooooo close to my heart.
Partridge Family (1970 – 1974): Even did an art project with a funk-a-del-ic partridge when I was in middle school. I was pretty certain, my family could form a group and sing just as great as the Partridge Family. My only problem was finding a ‘hip’ mom and somewhat weird and creepy Reuben Kincaid for a manager. My family did perform on the 4-H stage at the Armada Fair, costumed out in red, white and blue and singing our own lyrics to ‘We’d Like to Teach the World to Sing…”. It was complete with myself on the keyboard, big sis on the guitar, younger siblings singing and dancing all while moving props around on the stage. I’m pretty sure you guys feel bad that you missed it!! I think my knitted hot pants set me up for success!
M*A*S*H (1972 -1983): I still love these re-runs. Each show had something really funny, really sad, and really meaningful. That’s a pretty big accomplishment. The theme song was so heart-wrenching also. I felt very mature watching a show like this; there really were some pretty ‘grown-up’ themes in this series.
Laverne and Shirley (1976 – 1983): Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated! Loved these two girls, HATED those annoying apartment-mates Lenny and Squiggy. LOVED it when Fonz had a guest appearance and really loved the concept of two young women living on their own and, while still connected to their families, they made their own decisions. May have enjoyed this one also due to timing, this came around during my Junior and Senior year of high school when I was convinced I was so ready to be on my own!
The Love Boat (1977 – 1978): I know – sooooooo cheesy, but that worked for me then. I loved the guest stars and the fantasy of actually going on a cruise. Nowadays, some of that glamour and allure have waned for me, but back then it was so cool to think people actually took vacations on cruise ships, and people got to have the cool jobs that Captain Stubing, Doc, Gopher, Isaac, and Julie McCoy got to do.
Bracken’s World (1969-December 1970): It was a nighttime soap before there were nighttime soaps. One of the few things my sister and I could agree on during those early years was this show. Charming Peter Haskell, oh-so-blond Dennis Cole, and soap opera drama that was more sophisticated than the daytime stuff. The series centered on a powerful head of Century Studios and a group of up-and-coming starlets. The first season Leslie Nielsen was just a powerful voice on the phone (must of been where Charlie’s Angels got the idea) but the second season he appeared in person. The series didn’t last long – barely made it into the 70s and was cancelled in the middle of its third season. Over a decade later I ran into Leslie Nielsen in a restaurant. [Only knowing him from that serious role and being unaware of the slap-stick Airplane movies he was more famous for, I was shocked that he kept sitting on a whoopie cushion much to the entertainment of his fellow diners.] I worked up the nerve to say ‘hello’ as he was leaving and told him how much I enjoyed that show. He said it was a good show, but it was ahead of its time. Based on the later success of Dallas and Dynasty, I have to agree.
Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)
I didn’t know it was different because it was about a single woman who wasn’t widowed, divorced or seeking a man. I just knew seeing her toss that hat in the air every week made me smile. And I could really relate to Rhoda! One of my favorite Mary/Lou Grant exchanges was when Lou told her she had spunk. She blushed and tucked her head modestly. Then he growled: “I hate spunk.” Still cracks me up!
Flying Nun (1967-1970)
How could anyone not love Sister Bertrille? Especially if they had known her as Gidget prior! Another show that barely made it into the 70s, but left me each week with a smile on my face and a desire to be lifted by a gust of wind. The good sister seemed to be able to solve just about any problem by flying somewhere.
Dark Shadows (196601971)
Checking in to see what vampire Barnabas Collins was up to each day was incentive to rush through my after-school chores. Vampires were not quite as good-looking in the 70s as they are today! But Dark Shadows had something for everyone: werewolfs, zombies, time travel, parallel universe, romance and lots of drama. It’s cult following far exceeds the more recent Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Mod Squad (1968-1973)
The Mod Squad (Pete, Link and Julie) were rebellious, had legal problems, and were the coolest outcasts on the block. They were recruited to be undercover (unarmed) detectives as an alternative to incarceration. The ‘Establishment,’ man. They needed some persuading. Tough (but with heart-of-gold) Captain Adam Greer was just the one to do it – as well as mentoring them through their weekly moody moments. The street smarts, the hippie-chic colored glasses, the bond they formed as they dealt with cutting edge issues like drugs, racism, violence and fought for justice. Oh my gosh – I felt cool just watching this show!
At the risk of ending up out of breath, travel back in time with the compelling, action-packed opening to the coolest, grooviest, Michael-Cole-including (sighhhhhh . . . ) show EVER! (And check out that roster of now-famous ‘guest appearances’)
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE 1970s SHOW?