As a grade schooler during the late 1960s, I always looked forward to Saturday night’s television lineup. The real world might’ve been in a state of crisis and unrest — this was, after all, the heart of The Sixties — but the realm of network television was still very much a sheltered place. Starting in the fall of 1968, for example, the following TV shows made up our standard Saturday night fare (Central times listed):
6:30 — “Adam-12” — A cop show, co-produced by Jack Webb, featuring patrol officers Reed and Malloy on the streets of pre-Rodney King Los Angeles.
7:00 — “Get Smart!” — I didn’t appreciate the brilliant humor until I was older, but this spy vs. spy sitcom featuring Don Adams as dimwitted Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, and Barbara Feldon as his brainy, beautiful partner, Agent 99, made for excellent comedy!
7:30 — “My Three Sons” — Featuring Fred MacMurray as a widower raising his three sons. A sentimental, feel-good family sitcom. Extra points for those who can hum the all instrumental theme song.
8:00 — “Hogan’s Heroes” — Who woulda thunk that a sitcom set in a German prison camp could be so stupidly funny? The character of Sergeant Schultz (John Banner) is iconic to a certain generation of viewers. (If someone tells you, “you’re just like Sergeant Schultz,” do not take it as a compliment!)
8:30 — “Petticoat Junction” — A light sitcom set at the Shady Rest Hotel in the rural town of Hooterville, featuring a neat old steam train and three comely lasses, Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Betty Jo. Those who tired of the Ginger vs. Mary Ann debate could refocus their attentions here.
9:00 — “Mannix” — The only one-hour show on the list. A private detective series featuring Mike Connors as tough guy Joe Mannix. He was sort of the clean-up hitter of the Saturday night lineup.
Of these programs, only “Get Smart” and, yup, “Hogan’s Heroes” manage to hold up over time, due to some hilarious characters and clever dialogue. But back then, Saturday night TV meant an uninterrupted run of fun shows and after-dinner goodies, staying up late with no school the next day — a more innocent time of life, before the tumult of adolescence, and with little more to worry about than whether Mannix would catch the bad guy.
You can check out the full 1968-69 television lineup here on Wikipedia.