10 beloved TV shows turning 50 years old in 2018

Half a century later, Hawaii Five-O and The Mod Squad remain the epitome of cool.

Bob Dylan may have sang "The Times They Are a-Changin'" back in 1964, but the revolution did not hit television until 1968. That year, TV shows took a significant leap, as reality began to seep in. The new cop shows were grittier. The latest talk shows were deeper. The fresh batch of comedy shows pushed boundaries. We saw new locations, like Hawaii and fantastic planets where everything was massive.

Half a century later, these series still resonate and dazzle. Here are 10 TV shows turning 50 in 2018. Which was your favorite?

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1. Hawaii Five-O

"Book 'em, Danno!" That timeless theme song — buh-buh-buh-bah-bahm-bahm! The slang term "5-0." Hawaii Five-O has given pop culture quite a lot, from catchphrases to tunes to slang. The Honolulu-set detective series ran from 1968–80, setting some records along the way. Millions of Americans on the continent tuned in to see the gorgeous tropical locales of their newest state. Of course, palm trees, sand and surf music was not enough. None of this success would have been possible without some gripping mysteries and dazzling action. Jack Lord starred as the tough and cool Steve McGarrett, catching criminals before commanding his underling Daniel Williams (James MacArthur) to "book 'em." The concept proved so popular it returned to the airwaves as a reboot decades later. Here are 15 things you never knew about Hawaii Five-O.

Image: The Everett Collection

2. Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In

Goldie Hawn go-go dancing in a string bikini. Lily Tomlin swinging her legs on an oversized rocking chair. Arte Johnson proclaiming, "Verrry interesting!" Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In was more than a pioneering sketch comedy series — it was a pop-culture phenomenon. Long before Saturday Night Live and internet memes came along, this top-rated show fed a new generation's conversations with hip catchphrases and characters. Boomers everywhere were spouting Laugh-In lines like "Sock it to me," "You bet your sweet bippy!" and "Here come de judge!" Laugh-In ran for six seasons, from 1968–73, featuring cast members like Ruth Buzzi, Henry Gibson, Jo Anne Worley, Richard Dawson, Alan Sues and many, many more. Heck, head writer Paul W. Keyes, pictured above between Hawn and Buzzi, is credited for helping Richard Nixon get elected, thanks to V.P.'s comical cameo appearance.

Image: The Everett Collection

3. The Mod Squad

Few TV shows epitomized the late 1960s like The Mod Squad. At a time when Westerns, rural sitcoms and fantasy series reigned supreme, The Mod Squad pushed the boundaries to reflect the attitudes and trends of the times. It's the show that did the near impossible — successfully combine aspects of counterculture and law enforcement to create a critically acclaimed drama. Can you dig it?

Image: The Everett Collection

4. 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. It is fascinating to view The Prisoner as a Secret Agent sequel.

Image: CBS / ITV

5. Land of the Giants

Irwin Allen ruled 1960s science fiction on the small screen. The big-time TV producer is responsible for beloved series like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Time Tunnel and Lost in Space. He’s also the man behind Land of the Giants, the 1968 series about a crew of passengers aboard a sub-orbital transport spaceship who encounter a space storm and wind up on a planet where everything is twelve times the size of its counterpart on Earth. It was the most expensive TV show on the air at the time, with each episode carrying a price tag around $250,000. Dig deeper into this effects-filled wonder with 10 fascinating facts about Land of the Giants.

6. Adam-12

Television producer and creator Jack Webb strove for realism. Though fictional, his gripping shows documented the real day-to-day struggles and glories of Los Angeles law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs. Adam-12 and the subsequent Emergency! set the mold for modern procedurals like Law & Order and Chicago Fire. Webb would have been thrilled to know just how much his creations meant — and continue to mean — to the real men and women who serve and protect. When star Martin Milner, pictured on the right, passed in 2015, the LAPD paid tribute to the actor with a special ceremony.

Image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution

7. Here's Lucy

For good reason, Lucille Ball is most associated with I Love Lucy, arguably the greatest television comedy of all time. She invented the modern sitcom, in a way that will forever be relevent. She's like the Beatles of TV, basically. Because of that iconic 1951–57 series, people mostly think of her as a star of the 1950s. However, Ball remained a top star of the small screen in the 1960s and 1970s, as well. The Lucy Show continued to crack up audiences with its physical humor. Even more overlooked was her subsequent series, Here's Lucy, which aired from 1968 to 1974. Though it was set across the country in California, with entirely new characters, Here's Lucy was in some ways a continuation of The Lucy Show, as regular cast members Gale Gordon and Mary Jane Croft came along for the ride. Here are 12 more fascinating facts about Here's Lucy.

Image: The Everett Collection

8. Julia

Not only was Diahann Carroll's Julia one of the most prominent black women on television in the 1970s, she was also one of the first single mothers. After the death of her husband during the Vietnam War, Julia raises her son while working as a nurse. At the time, critics claimed the series was too unrealistic. But today, most people agree it was a big step forward in the portrayal of single mothers and black women on TV. In its original three-season run, Julia was one of the rare 1960s sitcoms to not use a laugh track. One was added later, when the series ran in syndication.

Image: 20th Century Fox

9. The Dick Cavett Show

For six decades, Dick Cavett has been one of the country's most expertly gifted interviewers. In its various forms, from 1968 to 2007, The Dick Cavett Show gave audiences insight on their celebrity idols, presenting fresh and thought-provoking interviews with the biggest stars of the day. These discussions were far deeper, and far longer than the average promotional chit-chat you get on today's late night shows. Cavett dug into the mind of everyone from Katharine Hepburn and David Bowie to Muhammad Ali and Henry Kissinger.

Image: The Everett Collection

10. Wacky Races

Of course, we can't forget Saturday morning cartoons. Hanna-Barbera gathered dozens of colorful characters for this blend of Cannonball Run and Mad Max. The original toon lasted a mere 17 episodes between 1968 and 1969, but the gloriously goofy grand prix ran for years in reruns.

Image: Warner Bros.


Speaking of cartoons, it's a big birthday for Yogi Bear next year, too. READ MORE

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