What are the 3 greatest TV lineups of all time?
As television networks start debuting their new seasons, a look back at the best TV lineups of all time - from groundbreaking to groovy. Do you agree with my list?
Our kids will never quite understand what life was like for us in the old days, right? How we mastered cursive writing, rotary phones, and Pong, all while taking care of our Pet Rocks and not smashing our fingers with Clackers. And that was just the 1970s.
Then there was how we watched TV.
Kids born in the 21st century, those accustomed to countless sources of streaming entertainment, will never understand what it was like to have just four television stations.
I, for one, couldn’t wait to get my sticky little Jolly Ranchered fingers on the extra-thick “TV Guide Fall Preview” issue each year. It was full of schedules for the new season and blurbs about the new shows. What shows would I watch? When would I turn from one channel to the next? What would I do if two favorite shows went up against each other? Oh, the horror of the pre-VHS days!
So many possibilities! Of course, most new shows failed. But some TV shows became monster hits and when paired with other monster hits, created the most epic, legendary lineups of all-time.
Without further ado, here are my choices (in no particular order) for the three best TV lineups of all time. I've also included an honorable mention, mostly because of my enduring love of a certain 1970s TV cop.
The Sentimental Favorite
ABC - Friday Night - 1971-72
I know this first one will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but to 8-year-old me, ABC on Friday night was nirvana.
“The Brady Bunch,” “The Partridge Family,” “Room 222,” “The Odd Couple,” and “Love, American Style.”
Here in the Central Time Zone, we’d kick off our Friday night with "The Brady Bunch" at 7 p.m. (perhaps eating a dinner of pork chops and applesauce.) Then at 7:30, ‘C'mon get happy! It was time for “The Partridge Family.”
The shows in the 8 p.m. hour skewed a little older than the bubble gum bliss of the earlier hour, with the school-based comedy “Room 222” and Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.
If we were lucky Mom and Dad (or the babysitter) would let up stay up to watch the slightly risque “Love, American Style,” where every joke went over my Cindy Brady-esque-pig-tailed head.
The Gold Standard
CBS - Saturday 1973-74
The shows that filled CBS’s lineup on Saturday night in the early ‘70s, are, on their own, considered some of the greatest programs in television history. Put them together and it’s almost hard to imagine this kind of quality was scheduled back to back to back to back on a weekend night.
“All in the Family,” “M*A*S*H,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and “The Carol Burnett Show.”
Not only were these shows groundbreaking in their treatment of issues like racism and women's rights, but they were also just plain hilarious.
Sammy Davis, Jr. kissing Archie Bunker and the demise of Chuckles the Clown. Need I say more?
Must See Magnificence
NBC - Thursday 1984 - 1985
By the ‘80s, when dramas like "Dallas" and "Dynasty" were kings and queens of the little screen, sitcoms, it seemed, couldn't quite measure up.
That changed in 1984, when NBC stacked its Thursday night with such quality writing, acting and directing, that they eventually often outperformed the soapy dramas (except maybe when Krystal and Alexis Carrington duked it out in the fountain. How does one compete against that?)
The lineup featuring “The Cosby Show,” “Family Ties,” “Cheers,” “Night Court,” and “Hill Street Blues,” was often compared to the CBS Saturday lineup from a decade before. According to ME-TV, it also helped define the weeknight pattern, going forward, of programming four sitcoms earlier in the evening capped off by a "gritty" drama.
“Aaaaayyyy” Honorable Mention
ABC - Tuesday 1978 - 1979
“Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley,” “Three's Company,” “Taxi,” “Starsky and Hutch.”
The first four shows deserve honorable mentions for their theme songs alone. The last makes the cut because 44 years later I still have a crush on Starsky.
I know I’ve missed many favorites. Given my age, I know the ‘70s and ‘80s are heavily featured here. Did I miss some westerns from the ‘50s and ‘60s or some animated classics of the ‘90s and ‘00s?
Let me know your favorites!
Most importantly, happy viewing!