James Bond meets Mel Brooks. Would you believe … a spoof so far ahead of its time that it was turned into a movie starring Steve Carell in 2008? The original sitcom, with guest stars ranging from Ernest Borgnine to Johnny Carson, aired for five seasons.
"Hogan's Heroes" wasn't the first to satirize the Nazis—Charlie Chaplin ("The Great Dictator") did it as early as 1940—but this sitcom set in a German POW camp was a radical departure for prime time. Despite mixed reviews, it scored the highest ratings among the new shows in the fall '65 lineup.
Lost in Space
The Swiss Family Robinson in outer space. Kids naturally identified with 9-year-old Will (Billy Mumy) and 13-year-old Penny (Angela Cartwright), but the character who stole the spotlight was the older guy viewers loved to hate—Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), later described by Mumy as "a snivelling coward who would cower behind the little boy."
I Dream of Jeannie
NBC's answer to ABC's "Bewitched." A NASA astronaut (Larry Hagman) crash-lands on a deserted island where he finds an exotic bottle (originally designed in 1964 as a decanter for Jim Beam bourbon) and sets free the sexy genie inside, who spends the next five seasons showing her gratitude. ("Master, I am going to please thee very much.")
We liked her, we really liked her in this ABC-TV adaptation of the 1959 Sandra Dee movie—though not so much that we were willing to give up "The Beverly Hillbillies" on CBS. "Gidget," in which 18-year-old Sally Field played a boy-crazy surfer girl, was cancelled after just one season. But her career really took off a year later with "The Flying Nun."
This rural sitcom—about an urbane lawyer (Eddie Albert) fulfilling his dream to become a farmer, to the dismay of his glam wife (Eva Gabor)—built on the success of "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Petticoat Junction." It was still going strong when the series fell victim to the "rural purge" of 1971. A "Green Acres" movie and Broadway musical are currently in development.
The Wild Wild West
Sold as "James Bond on horseback," this spy-western hybrid rejuvenated a TV genre considered past its prime. The series, about gadget-wielding Secret Service agents in the aftermath of the Civil War, saw healthy ratings for four seasons, but was cancelled when Congress called on the networks to reduce violence on television.
The Big Valley
This more traditional western starred a big-screen legend—Barbara Stanwyck, cast as the matriarch of the Barkley ranch. Stanwyck also played a role in how the part was written. "I'm a tough old broad from Brooklyn," she told the show's producers, adding, "If you want someone to tiptoe down the Barkley staircase in crinoline and politely ask where the cattle went, get another girl."
Imagine Don Rickles as Bald Eagle, the renegade son of an Indian chief. That was just one episode of this western farce, a slapstick comedy in which "paleface and redskin both turn chicken." Although set shortly after the Civil War, the series often alluded to 1960s pop culture (rock and roll, the Playboy Club) as it goofed on Hollywood's idea of the Old West.
J. Edgar Hoover served as a consultant on this series, which followed the QM Production formula—four acts followed by an epilogue—so familiar to fans of "The Fugitive." But "The F.B.I." was also a precursor to "America's Most Wanted." Many episodes ended with the show's star, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., telling viewers about real-life fugitives being sought by the F.B.I.—including James Earl Ray, the assassin who shot Martin Luther King, Jr.
Run for Your Life
Though not a QM Production, "Run for Your Life" was clearly inspired by "The Fugitive." Ben Gazzara starred as a terminally ill attorney who hits the road after doctors give him something like a year to live. Along the way, he solves murders, confronts Communists, finds a teenage runaway and gallantly persuades women—that's Katherine Ross ("The Graduate") in the photo—not to fall in love with him.
My Mother the Car
In 2002, TV Guide ranked the 50 Worst Shows of All Time. "My Mother the Car" came in second, after "Jerry Springer." The creative team behind this sitcom included Alan Burns and James L. Brooks, who later created "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and Chris Hayward, a writer for "Get Smart." Even so, the series—starring Jerry Van Dyke (Dick's brother) as a man whose car is the reincarnation of his dead mother—lasted only one season.
Please Don't Eat the Daisies
Based on the 1957 best-seller, which inspired the 1960 Doris Day movie, "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" gently satirized life in the 'burbs. The series lasted until 1967, when it was crushed by "The Jackie Gleason Show." (Just to connect all the dots, that's guest star Audrey Meadows—Gleason's co-star on "The Honeymooners"—in the photo.)
In 1965, Bill Cosby was well known as stand-up comic but untested as an actor—yet he would win three Emmys for "I Spy." Given the current accusations against him, no one can look at this spy drama the same way we did back in the day. Co-star Robert Culp wrote for the series, which distinguished itself by taking a more "realistic" approach to the genre than, say, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."
The Dean Martin Show
In 1964, Dean Martin one-upped the Beatles when "Everybody Loves Somebody" replaced "A Hard Day's Night" as the nation's No. 1 single. A year later, he had his own variety show, a throwback to the heyday of the Rat Pack that nonetheless lasted nine seasons. Early shows featured Frank Sinatra and John Wayne, but the guests eventually ran the gamut, from Dennis Hopper to Gladys Knight & the Pips.
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