6 superior TV shows celebrating a 60th anniversary in 2020

Milestones… meet the milestones.

A fleet of fresh shows flooded the network television schedule in the fall of 1960. Harry Morgan continued to show off his comedy chops in the spin-off sitcom Pete and Gladys. Vivian Vance finally got her own spotlight in Guestward, Ho! A talented puppeteer brought Lamb Chop, Hush Puppie and Charlie Horse to life on The Shari Lewis Show. There was an adorable dachshund in the detective thriller Checkmate.

Those were all interesting series, for certain. Here, we are going to dig into the biggest, hippest hits from primetime television. 

Some of the greatest shows in TV history kicked off in 1960. Let's take a look — and wish them a Happy Anniversary in 2020!

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1. The Andy Griffith Show


What makes Mayberry so timeless? Andy Griffith and series creator Sheldon Leonard knew the magic formula. It was the same difference between handmade furniture and IKEA shelving. While most sitcoms of the era were churned out on a stage with multiple cameras, the makers of The Andy Griffith Show crafted each tale like a film, using a single camera. It took far more set-ups, far for time, but if Mayberry taught us anything, it's that taking things slow isn't always so bad. The fascinating, multitalented actors filled the cast down to the tiniest roles — from man-of-a-thousand-voices Howard Morris to oil baron Denver Pyle. We continue to discover things about this rich piece of Americana decades later.

2. The Flintstones


When The Flintstones premiered in the fall of 1960, it shook up television like a slab of dinosaur ribs slapped on the side of a car. Never before had there been a primetime cartoon sitcom. After six seasons, the show spawned spin-offs, movies, toys, comic books, merchandise and more. Dig into 15 yabba-dabba-true facts about The Flintstones.

3. My Three Sons


In 1943, Fred MacMurray was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood — and the fourth-highest-paid American. He could play the nice guy or brilliantly explore his dark side in classic film noir like Double Indemnity. By 1959, however, thanks to Disney's The Shaggy Dog, he had become the ultimate screen dad. No wonder that he was cast to lead the Douglas clan on My Three Sons — which also featured a shaggy dog. The sitcom became one of the biggest success stories in television history. Yet it remains somewhat underrated today. Chew on 13 fascinating facts about My Three Sons.

4. Route 66


Route 66 was a misleading name. Sure, there was a cool car — a Corvette — and the open American road, but main characters Tod and Buz traveled all of the United States, from Maine to Louisiana to Oregon. The TV show's original title, The Searchers, would have been more apt, if it wasn't confused with the John Wayne film. But just as the driving duo were not on Route 66, they were not searching for anything in particular. The series, which premiered on October 7, 1960, was about something bigger. Check out six episodes that showcase the hip, beatnik brilliance of Route 66.

5. Surfside 6


Well, you certainly weren't going to forget where this show was set. Not with its cheeky boy-girl intro. "Surfside 6… What's that?… Surfside 6… An address?…" That's "in Miami Beach!" The address was real, too, across from the Fontainebleau Hotel, which you might remember from the opening of Goldfinger. The song gave the detective show a lighter, sexier tone. This was Miami Vice for the tiki-bar era.

Image: The Everett Collection

6. Thriller


When it comes to horror, you can trust the opinion of Stephen King. In his non-fiction book Danse Macabre, the prolific author looked back at the classic anthology shows of the late 1950s and early 1960s. King singled "Pigeons from Hell" as "one of the finest horror stories of our century." No, that tale was not an episode of The Twilight Zone nor The Outer Limits. It was a 1961 episode of Thriller, the eerie and underrated anthology series hosted by Boris Karloff. Who better to host a spooky show? The Universal monster-movies legend had played both Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein and Imhotep in The Mummy — both of which can be seen on our own Svengoolie.

Image: The Everett Collection

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Stoney 51 months ago
Thriller is an underrated gem that I miss seeing on the MeTV schedule.
Robin 55 months ago
Pllllleaaaase take mash off.At least move it to right after midnight.Same with Columbo
daDoctah 55 months ago
Just went and checked out what other TV shows debuted in 1960, and found a few surprises, such as *two* series starring Jim Backus (a syndicated sitcom called "The Jim Backus Show", and "Mister Magoo"). Other shows for kids that started that year include "The Bugs Bunny Show", "Gumby", "Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse", "The Yogi Bear Show", "King Leonardo and His Short Subjects", "Hokey Wolf", and one I fondly remember, "Diver Dan" (fish as puppets!).

As for the prime-time stuff, it was also the year that "Daniel Boone" debuted.
Wiseguy daDoctah 55 months ago
If you're referring to the Fess Parker series, Daniel Boone premiered in 1964.
Wiseguy 55 months ago
Vivian Vance did not star in the Guestward, Ho! series. Actress Joanne Dru played the part. Vivian Vance starred in an earlier unsold pilot for the series.
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Pacificsun 55 months ago
Probably mentioned somewhere in MeTV's notes is the fact that Route 66 was the first recurring series to film entirely on location. That's what gave it it's special look and feel. And the people in those locations were frequently part of the backdrop. Before the miniaturization of technical equipment, setting up in all those places was no easy feat! And it should be mentioned, that the Stars were crazy popular among the fans, appearing in many a "Movie Rag" (magazine), especially (bad boy) George Maharis. When he left the show it was never quite the same with Glenn Corbett but today's fans would appreciate all the actors!!
Wiseguy Pacificsun 55 months ago
"...its special look..." It's is a contraction not a possessive.
Mark 55 months ago
I've only seen one episode of Route 66 and it was made in Maine, near where I now live. It featured Joan Crawford. I went to a showing of it at the resort that it centered around. When METV runs this show it's always in the middle of the night. I live the theme song.
MadMadMadWorld 55 months ago
I would also love to see Surfside 6! I was not old enough to see it from its 1960-62 (2) season run of 74 episodes then. A few years later, I lived in Miami Beach. I know the filming was always in L.A., and never in Miami Beach, except for the establishing shot of the water and the houseboat.
MrsPhilHarris 55 months ago
Me should take some of the shows mentioned in the intro and rotate them and toss in some Surfside 6.
Pacificsun MrsPhilHarris 55 months ago
I was thinking that exact same thing, so am glad you mentioned it. They could push Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock back a little. And run an anthology in that slot for older viewers to enjoy! They could rotate at least 6 of them for a real treat! And bet MeTV would get a lot of favorable responses!!
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