We go back decades and we try to make the top 10 TV shows of 1960s…
#10. Combat! (1962–1967)
Television’s longest-running WWII drama, “Combat!” follows an American infantry squad as they battle their way across Europe from D-Day forward. Praised for its realism and the way it handled the struggle of retaining one’s humanity in the midst of such horror, the show watches more like a collection of movies than individual episodes. This is in large part thanks to the fact that alternating episodes feature different protagonists, Lt. Gil Hanley and Sgt. Chip Sanders, which allows the series to focus on a single story at a time rather than divide its attention.
#9. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962–1992)
“The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” established the late-night talk show genre that is so ubiquitous today. Despite his affable on-screen presence, it is rumored that Carson was a difficult person who often didn’t get along with the celebrities he was interviewing. Regardless of any behind-the-scenes drama, the show was a runaway success, earning 40 Emmy nominations and taking home six trophies during its 30 years on the air.
#8. Doctor Who (1963–1989)
In the science fiction classic “Doctor Who,” an immortal Time Lord accompanied by various companions, travels across the universe in his shape-shifting spaceship to prevent evil forces from wreaking havoc on humanity. Holding the title as the longest-running science fiction series on television, “Doctor Who” has had multiple casts and iterations of the doctor throughout its many seasons. The original run of the series was canceled in 1989 due to low ratings and increased competition from other networks.
#7. The Forsyte Saga (1967–1969)
The last BBC soap opera to be produced in black-and-white, “The Forsyte Saga” details the fortunes and dramas of the Forsyte family from the end of the Victorian era through the inter-war years. The show primarily focuses on the fates of Soames and Jolyon, two wealthy cousins who choose remarkably different paths in life. It proved a universal hit as “Forsyte mania” swept all of Europe, with many countries closing businesses early on Sundays (when new episodes of the show aired) so everyone could head home to watch.
#6. The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962–1965)
A continuation of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” is an anthology series featuring a collection of shorter drama, mystery, and thriller stories in each episode. Many of these stories are about fictional murders and often contain twist endings. While the stories themselves have proven to be rather forgettable, many fans will recall the series’ opening and closing sequences where Hitchcock addresses the camera directly while the show’s theme song, “Funeral March for a Marionette,” plays in the background.
#5. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour (1968–1978)
Following the successful debut of “The Bugs Bunny Show,” Warner Bros. rolled out the carpet for “The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour,” a longer version of the original featuring seven cartoon segments interspersed with interaction sequences between the characters. Each episode of the show opens with the theme song “This Is It,” which plays while all of the characters, from Bugs Bunny and Road Runner to Wile E. Coyote and Elmer Fudd, march across the screen.
#4. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001)
One of the most beloved television programs of all time, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” was a half-hour show for preschoolers that explored educational and emotional themes. The series is perhaps best remembered for the frank, honest, and age-appropriate manner in which Fred Rogers dealt with the trickier parts of life such as anger, divorce, and war. The show was so timeless and impactful that reruns are still regularly shown on PBS stations around the country.
#3. The Bugs Bunny Show (1960–1975)
Each episode of “The Bugs Bunny Show” features three separate cartoon segments and several members of the Warner Brothers cartoon cast, including Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, the Tasmanian Devil, and Tweety Bird. The series was originally part of ABC’s prime-time lineup, but after two seasons moved to a Saturday morning time slot, where it remained for decades.
#2. The Carol Burnett Show (1967–1978)
“The Carol Burnett Show” was one of the first variety shows led by a woman and remains one of the most critically acclaimed variety shows of all time. Known for sketches like “The Family” and “Went with the Wind!” as well as characters like the Charwoman, the series had a relatively small cast (Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, and Tim Conway were the only other regulars). However, during the 11 seasons it spent on air, nearly every famous face in Hollywood, from Ronald Reagan to Robin Williams to Lucille Ball, made a guest appearance.
#1. Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969–1974)
Called “television’s most influential comedy series,” “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” is known for its absurd sketches, innuendo-laden jokes, and risque humor. Despite almost being canceled after its first episode—BBC1 controller Paul Fox believed that the show went “over the edge of what was acceptable”—the series ran for four successful seasons before the troop decided to call it quits. Stars Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam, along with director Ian MacNaughton, were the creative minds behind the landmark program.