My Favorite TV Shows from the Seventies

After writing a post about heartthrobs from the seventies who can still make our hearts flutter, I thought I’d revisit my favorite shows from that decade. Even today, my favorite TV shows all came from the seventies. I’d rather watch a rerun from the seventies over just about any current show.

The shows from the seventies are the best! If reruns of Welcome Back, Kotter are airing, I’m all over it! A major dilemma for me would be if Welcome Back, Kotter and Happy Days are running in the same time slot. Yikes! Which one would I watch?

Back in the olden days when I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of channel choices to watch TV. Around 1970 we got cablevision in our area and that gave us the big 3 American channels that aired out of Seattle. You know it: ABC, CBS, and NBC.

My favorite shows from the early seventies changed as 1980 inched closer. Some of my favorite seventies shows even transitioned into the eighties. Yay Happy Days!

The Partridge Family

My Favorite TV Shows from the Seventies

The Partridge Family began airing in 1970 on ABC and we had cablevision by that time. Lucky me! It’s definitely one of the shows I remember watching when I was younger and trying never to miss it. Unlike many teens and tweens, I wasn’t a huge David Cassidy fan. There was just something about Danny Bonaduce’s character of Danny that grabbed me. Probably that whole smart ass thing.

This hippy family who became a musical act and traveled around in a psychedelic bus were alluring. I mean, doesn’t everyone want to do that? The Partridge Family was notable for switching out one of its actors and hoping the audience wouldn’t notice. Ha ha! The youngest son, Chris, was played by Jeremy Gelbwaks in the first season, and for the rest of the run played by Brian Forster. The first Chris was a brunette and the second Chris was a blonde. It was pretty obvious it wasn’t the same little boy!

It’s amazing how other shows got away with doing that but they had to be hit shows. Bewitched had a second Darren and Roseanne had a second Becky.

The Partridge Family had several famous actors guest star during the run, and many who would become famous later on. I remember Jodie Foster guesting on the show.

I had two or three of The Partridge Family record albums when I was a kid. They’re probably worth a few bucks now. Wish I’d held on to them.

They made a couple of stupid changes during the fourth, and final, season. They introduced a little boy who lived next door, Ricky, who’d sing a kid’s song in every episode he appeared in. Maybe that kid killed the show! Well, that, plus in the last season ABC moved The Partridge Family to a new time slot on Friday night, opposite the popular CBS show All in the Family.

The Brady Bunch

Somehow I don’t remember watching the first season of The Brady Bunch. Except in reruns! It must have already been airing before we got cablevision or I just didn’t notice it for awhile.

My Favorite TV Shows from the Seventies

The Brady Bunch grew wildly popular in reruns. I don’t think there’s been a time where this show hasn’t been off the air. Everyone still loves the Brady kids and they were just part of an HGTV show to remodel the house that was used for the Brady exterior shots.

And sure, I confess, I’ve seen every reboot of The Brady Bunch. They were a Saturday morning cartoon. A couple of years after the show ended they were resurrected as a variety show. A spin off called The Brady Brides featuring the actresses who played Jan and Marcia. Then a TV movie came out a few years later called A Very Brady Christmas. That one had a replacement Cindy. If I recall the gossip mags at the time, the original actress, Susan Olsen, was on her honeymoon. Like how long does a honeymoon last? If I was an out of work former kid actor, I think I’d reschedule that one. The movie was successful enough that The Bradys was the next incarnation. It was a one hour drama series. That format didn’t work too well for a former comedy and it was cancelled quickly.

My favorite actors in the show were Susan Olsen (Cindy) and Christopher Knight (Peter).

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Mary Tyler Moore Show had an amazing theme song. It was really all about empowering women. This was a funny show with an amazing cast of actors.

I loved the relationship between Mary and Rhoda. Who doesn’t want to have that kind of friendship in their lives?

I don’t remember watching it continuously during the first couple of years, but I tried not to miss the show once I got hooked on it.

My Favorite TV Shows from the Seventies

How do you pick a favorite out of that talented group?


Of course, when Rhoda spun off into her own series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was never the same. It was fun watching Rhoda’s new life in New York City and the relationships with her sister and parents. We can’t forget her boyfriend, Joe, who evolved into her husband. Rhoda’s wedding became TV history with 52 million viewers tuning in for this two parter episode. Most of the cast from The Mary Tyler Moore Show came to NYC to celebrate the big day. This was the second most watched TV shows in history up until that point. The first being when Lucy gave birth to Little Ricky.

Who could ever forget Carlton the Doorman? The popular never seen actor on the show!

Happy Days

Happy Days is one of my favorite TV shows ever. I still love watching reruns! I remember watching this show right from Day 1. It was very popular with my class, especially the fifties music like Splish Splash I was taking a Bath. I loved all the actors. Sure, I was a Fonzie fan, but my favorite was Donny Most who played Ralph Malph. Happy Days was on the air for 10 years and transitioned into the eighties, but some of the characters had moved on as their contracts expired. Donny Most being one of them – sob!

Interesting fact. The character of Fonzie was so small that the actor, Henry Winkler, wasn’t even in the opening credits in the first year. However, Fonzie/Winkler was one of the biggest break out stars of the decade.

Happy Days also had one of TV’s biggest mysteries. Richie and Joanie had a big brother, Chuck, who was played by two different actors in season one and then season two. Remember, only a hit TV could get away with switching out an actor! Chuck was a minor character, away at school and played basketball.

He was written out of the show. No explanation. The Cunningham’s never talked about it. The Chuck Cunningham Syndrome has since been used to describe characters who just disappear from TV shows without a trace.

However, Chuck shows up every year in a rerun of a Christmas episode that airs on METV in December. It has one of my absolute favorite scenes ever where the guys are trying to get the mechanical Santa to work. Enjoy!

Laverne & Shirley

The characters Laverne and Shirley first appeared on Happy Days and then got their own spin off TV show, which also lasted into the eighties. Many people were able to relate to the title characters, working women in a minimum wage unskilled labor job. The ladies were bottle cappers at a brewery in Milwaukee and shared an apartment. Lenny and Squiggy lived in the same building. Those guys were hysterical! After a few seasons, they all moved to Hollywood.

I just loved Laverne & Shirley. Don’t make me try to choose which one I liked the best!

My Favorite TV Shows from the Seventies

The actress who played Shirley, Cindy Williams, became pregnant after the show moved to the Hollywood location. I gather that was a violation of her contract. A pregnant single woman in a show that’s just entered the sixties was not the direction the producers wanted the Shirley character to go. She was married off to an air force man and joined him overseas. It’s kind of funny watching the show and seeing the actress wearing these oversized clothes while they tried to ignore her pregnancy. There was all kinds of legal action surrounding that one.

The title of the show changed to Laverne & Friends and the show ended its run later that season. Kind of hard to keep going on when one of the show’s title characters has left.

Welcome Back, Kotter

I’ve been a fan of Welcome Back, Kotter and John Travolta since Day 1. I’m not afraid to admit it. John Travolta has been my favorite actor for decades!

The show’s premise was about a high school teacher, Kotter, in Brooklyn and his students, better known as the Sweathogs. It was hilarious! The show rarely comes on reruns, but I’m all over it if it’s on TV.

Memo to METV – bring it back!

Gabriel Kaplan had the title role of Kotter, but an amazing thing happened with this show. John Travolta became the breakout star. His portrayal of Vinnie Barbarino was a runaway success.

I’d have loved to be one of the screaming women in the audience!

The show only lasted 4 years. Yeah I’m still brokenhearted about that! The last year John Travolta negotiated to come back for a few episodes. That was mainly because Travolta had just appeared in a hit movie called Saturday Night Fever, and was in demand for other projects. The Barbarino character dropped out of school and took a job as a hospital orderly. A new Sweathog, a Southern boy named Beau, joined the classroom.

Kaplan, involved in disputes with the producers, mainly due to his character taking a back seat to the boys, also took a powder and only appeared in a few episodes in the final season. ABC moved the show to a new night, usually the kiss of death for popular TV shows. The producers married off Arnold Horshack in one of the final episodes, planning to make a spin off series, but it didn’t happen.

The Honorable Mentions

There were a few other TV shows I liked in the seventies. If I was home, I’d watch them. I headed off to the University of Victoria in the late seventies, so watching TV wasn’t so easy. I lived in a dormitory the first year and there was a common TV room. Whoever got there first picked the show! I did bring a small portable black and white TV that picked up some stations late at night. More on that in a minute!

I was a big fan of Charlie’s Angles. I liked the premise of the female detectives and the mysterious, never seen Charlie. As popular as the series was, it never showed up in reruns over the years until recently on METV. I recently watched the entire series again! Now I can become more critical of it. Those women weren’t very good detectives at all! Ha ha! Every time they were being followed, they never noticed. They got grabbed a lot and taken down by the bad guys. In this day and age, female cops can really kick ass!

Another show produced by MTM Enterprises, Production (Mary Tyler Moore) was The Bob Newhart Show. I don’t remember watching this show in its early days, but the last few seasons it was on the air, I was definitely a fan.

I didn’t watch Starsky & Hutch in the beginning, but when I was at university, my little TV set with the rabbit ear antenna picked up TV signals from Seattle, but only at night. At 11:30pm the ABC station showed reruns of Starsky & Hutch, and I became hooked. In the last year it was on! Ha ha!

I also really liked The Love Boat where just about every actor past, present, and future showed up for a cruise. Who else remembers those sports specials hosted by Howard Cosell called The Battle of the Network Stars?

Does anyone else remember TV shows from the seventies? What were your favorites?

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