10 beloved TV series turning 50 years old in 2017
It's hard to believe Carol Burnett has been cracking us up for half a century.
Has it really been half a century? Time flies! So many television debuts of 1967 still feel fresh today. The mysterious grand plot of The Prisoner paved the way for series like Westworld. Carol Burnett broke new ground for sketch comedy. Mannix toughened up the detective genre. And we still have these cartoon theme songs stuck in our head…
Get 500 candles ready! It's time to celebrate the 50th birthday of these 10 classics.
1. The Carol Burnett Show
It's hard to fathom that The Carol Burnett Show (or Carol Burnett and Friends, as it's known in syndication) is half a century old. The comedy remains as fresh and funny as ever. Plus, Burnett is returning to television with a new sitcom in 2017! Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner and frequent guest Tim Conway were there at the beginning. You can laugh along with the cutting-edge sketch comedy each weeknight at 11PM | 10C on MeTV.
2. The Flying Nun
The name said it all. Sally Field played a nun in Puerto Rico who flies around and solves problems. This was all possible thanks to her small stature, and the ridiculously large cornette on top of her habit that looked like the wings of an airplane. The series went on to become a cult classic, thanks to Field's charm, but it was never a ratings juggernaut during its original run in the late '60s. It was canceled after three seasons.
Image: Sony Pictures Television
3. Gentle Ben
Young Clint Howard got cuddly and cozy with a 700-pound-ish black bear in this beloved show. Bruno the bear actor also appeared on an episode of Gunsmoke ("Tatum") and in several films. The series, which aired from 1967–69, was produced by Ivan Tors, who became the king of the family animal show with Daktari and Salty.
4. George of the Jungle
George, George, George of the Jungle… watch out for that tree! The classic Jay Ward cartoon only ran for a few months in the fall of '67, yet who doesn't know the words to that theme song? A live-action Hollywood movie starring Brendan Fraser hit theaters in '97, and a reboot cartoon swung into action a decade later. This Tarzan spoof had legs.
Image: Jay Ward Productions / ABC
5. The High Chapparel
The creator and music composer behind Bonanza struck gold again with this Western set in Arizona. Leif Erickson, Cameron Mitchell and Mark Slade starred as Big John, Buck and Billy Blue, and this rancher drama hung around for four seasons and nearly 100 episodes.
6. The Invaders
Quinn Martin was a titan of television, giving the medium action classics like The Fugitive, The F.B.I., The Streets of San Francisco, Cannon and Barnaby Jones. The Invaders was his leap into sci-fi, centering around an architect who stumbles upon an alien invasion plot. With its Cold War overtones and cool UFOs, the eerie thriller developed a cult following.
Image: CBS Television / Wikipedia
Andy Griffith became Matlock. Dick Van Dyke turned into Dr. Mark Sloane on Diagnosis: Murder. Several early TV stars found a second life solving crimes. In the case of Raymond Burr, the venerable actor was able to shake off the suits of Perry Mason and catch lightning again as Ironside. For eight seasons, from 1967–75, Burr portrayed the titular wheelchair-bound police consultant on Ironside. Now, Ironside is back on MeTV. Read 11 things you never knew about Ironside.
Image: The Everett Collection
Los Angeles private eye Joe Mannix (Mike Connors) is a dressed-down detective who plays by his own rules and isn't afraid of a whooping. He's a hard-living, hard-working man's man who never backs down and never loses. Loaded with plenty of brawling, shootouts and car chases, Mannix ran on CBS from 1967 to 1975 and was perhaps the most exciting and violent television series of its era. Mannix is coming to MeTV beginning January 2.
Image: The Everett Collection
9. The Prisoner
The brilliant blend of spy thriller and science-fiction became a cultural touchstone, despite lasting a mere 17 episodes. The premise — an agent being held on a mysterious resort island — has been repeated, parodied and referenced countless times over the last half century. Some fans theorized that McGoohan's character, No. 6, was in fact his earlier character John Drake of Secret Agent/Danger Man. The actor denied it, yet the debate rages on. The British series premiered in '67, and finally made to it the U.S. in '68.
Image: ITC / A&E Home Video
George of the Jungle was not the only swinging toon with an infectious theme song drilling into the head of every American child. Just five years after the character's debut in the pages of Amazing Fantasy, Spider-Man hit the small screen in a groundbreaking superhero show. The low-budget animation is best remembered for the refrain of "Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can," which was written by Academy Award winner Paul Francis Webster and Bob Harris.
Image: Disney-ABC Domestic Television
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