Many a Gen Joneser watched a good share of television as a kid, especially a variety of sitcoms that spanned the spectrum of quality. Here are twenty that come to mind, not in rank order, though I do lead with a classic:
1. Dick Van Dyke Show — One of the very best sitcoms of all time, groundbreaking in its own modest way, starring Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore as Rob and Laura Petrie. Episodes were set in the Petrie’s New Rochelle NY home and at Rob’s job as head writer for the Alan Brady Show in Manhattan.
2. Gilligan’s Island — The theme song says it all. It’s iconic TV for Gen Jonesers. (Plus, the ultimate question: Ginger or Mary Ann?)
3. Andy Griffith Show — Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) keeps the peace in the small town of Mayberry, North Carolina, aided by his bumbling but well-meaning (and hilarious) deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts).
4. Get Smart! — A Mel Brooks classic, starring Don Adams as hapless Agent Maxwell Smart, with his smart and beautiful sidekick, Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon).
5. Bewitched — Elizabeth Montgomery’s Samantha Stevens was the world’s most comely suburban witch.
6. I Dream of Jeannie — Larry Hagman is an astronaut who discovers a genie in a lamp, a/k/a Jeannie (Barbara Eden), and the rest is all kind of silly. Yes, but we watched.
7. Hogan’s Heroes — With a little bit of work, this could’ve been Mel Brooks-level brilliant. It needed Mel Brooks to get there. Still, Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz gave us reason to laugh at the Nazis.
8. F Troop — Politically incorrect but sometimes hilarious sitcom of U.S. cavalry stationed at Fort Courage, forging business deals with an Indian tribe led by a chief with a New York accent.
9. McHale’s Navy — I remember the reruns on afternoon television. I remember wincing at references to “the Nips.” Oy.
10. Beverly Hillbillies — Gotta tell you a story ’bout a man named Jed. Sick-at-home, morning rerun television.
11. Green Acres — Another legendary theme song. Fred Ziffel and Arnold the Pig were my favorite characters.
12. Petticoat Junction — Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Betty Jo made it easy to forget about Uncle Joe. Plus, if you loved trains as a kid, the Hooterville steam engine was a fave.
13. The Odd Couple — My office has been inspired by Oscar Madison’s interior decorating scheme.
14. The Brady Bunch — “Here’s the story, of a lovely lady.” You know the rest. Plus the whole Marcia vs. Jan thing. A defining Gen Jones sitcom.
15. The Partridge Family — David Cassidy and Shirley Jones sing some very corny pop songs. I confess that I liked this show.
16. Mary Tyler Moore Show — This time MTM is a single career woman, working for a TV news station, with a grouchy boss and a hilariously inept lead anchor. A great 70s sitcom amidst a sea of clunkers.
17. Bob Newhart Show — Deadpan hilarious Bob Newhart plays therapist Bob Hartley, with lovely Suzanne Pleshette as wife Emily, and a motley crew of colleagues and clients.
18. MASH — We’re bridging to the modern era with this important classic that mixed comedy and drama. Alan Alda as Dr. Hawkeye Pierce led one of the great series of all time.
19. Happy Days — The Fonz and all that. One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock rock.
20. Welcome Back Kotter — Gabe Kaplan starred as a New York schoolteacher presiding over a rowdy bunch of high schoolers called the sweathogs, one of whom was a young John Travolta.
Please feel free to add your favorites to the list, or take aim at mine!