8 criminally underrated shows of the 1960s

We wish Gidget would have lasted more than one season.

Image: Everett Collection

The 1960s produced a lot of classic shows we know and love, but it also produced some great ones that don't get much recognition today. Whether it was because of low ratings or expensive production, these eight series were canceled in their prime. 

While they went on to become critical darlings and cult classics, in many cases not enough episodes were produced for syndication. So even if these shows don't have the legacy of Gilligan's Island and Star Trek, they have a place in our hearts and minds.

We'll always have the memories of Gidget hitting the beach, or Tony and Doug traveling through time. Were you a fan of these shows?

1. The Time Tunnel (1966-1967)


Why it was underrated: Unlike most shows at the time, there was a new set every week. We learned a lot by watching Tony and Doug jump from historic events like the sinking of the Titanic, the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the eruption of Krakatoa. It was a history lesson disguised as a TV show, but it was so fun to watch. 

2. Gidget (1965-1966)


Why it was underrated: It was like a teen beach movie we could watch every week on TV. Sally Field was so relatable as the boy-crazy Gidget, especially when breaking the fourth wall and talking to us directly. It's like we were her friends, which is why we're still mad this show was canceled after one season. 

Image: Sony Pictures Television

3. The Flying Nun (1967-1970)


Why it was underrated: Because Sally Field is awesome at everything she does. After Gidget, the network gave her a starring role on The Flying Nun, about a nun whose small stature and massive habit allow her to take flight and solve problems. It was campy and funny, which is everything we wanted out of a sitcom in the late '60s. 

Image: Sony Pictures Television

4. The Outer Limits (1963-1965)


Why it was underrated: A science fiction show that's better than The Twilight Zone? That's what fans of The Outer Limits claim. With more focus on science fiction stories rather than fantasy, this series attracted a large audience its first season. Star Trek even borrowed a few monsters and props from the series, too.  

Image: Wikipedia

5. Honey West (1965-1966)


Why it was underrated: Honey West was one the first female private detectives on TV, which was refreshing to see in the boys club of P.I. shows. The series also serves as the inspiration of Charlie's Angles, as both shows were produced by Aaron Spelling.  

6. It's About Time (1966-1967)


Why it was underrated: It's About Time had the dubious distinction of premiering two days after the other time-traveling show on this list. But unlike The Time Tunnel, this show had a goofy vibe to it, making it seem like a prehistoric Gilligan's Island. That wasn't a bad thing!

Image: YouTube

7. Flipper (1964-1967)


Why it was underrated: It was aquatic Lassie. We fell in love with Flipper, and secretly wanted a pet dolphin of our own. This show is all the more special today because there will probably never be another one like it. And even though it was pretty big in the ratings during its run, it hasn't had the same legacy as other shows. We weep for the kids today who won't know about the intelligent Flipper.

Image: Orion Television

8. The Green Hornet (1966-1967)


Why it was underrated: Bruce Lee! The popularity of Batman prompted TV networks to come up with more superhero programming. So, in the fall of 1966 The Green Hornet premiered, albeit with a far more serious tone, foreshadowing the modern superhero show. The series was a worthy companion to its campier counterpart, and the two even had a crossover episode. Who doesn't love those?!

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RedSamRackham 23 months ago
* Yet Sally Field is a serious actress who despised her cute sitcom image and was glad to move on to movies. Honey West's pet ocelot Bruce is coolest TV series pet ever. ☺
DeborahRoberts 25 months ago
As a five- six- seven-year-old, I was extremely taken with the flying sister, the comic heroes (Green Hornet and Batman), and the "talking" dolphin. Definitely not underrated with the grade-school set.
BruceBertrand 25 months ago
I recently acquired "It's About Time" from varying quality broadcast recordings on VHS to relive that part of my youth. They also ran it on AntennaTV or one of those channels not too long ago. It was great to see again, but it was clear why it lasted only one season. It basically was a rehash of "Gilligan's Island" in the stone age. Halfway through the one and only season, they bring the cave family back to modern times. That should have been "The Beverly Hillbillies" on steroids, but they just couldn't make it work in my opinion. One incorrect memory I had of the show: I thought the second half had them bouncing back and forth between the times (which might have been helpful). It turns out the last episode aired was a previously un-aired episode from the earlier stone-age episodes. Overall, it was hit and miss.
EarlKelley 28 months ago
Would love to see The Green Hornet on Me TV.
RedSamRackham EarlKelley 23 months ago
* Green Hornet way better than campy Batman! Kato way better than Robin. ☺
JohnTrembly 41 months ago
And if Gidget lasted, there could have been a crossover episode with the Monkees!
MirandaLindenRd 41 months ago
Flipper was OVER rated. A sickening show with a terrible theme song.

Here's two good under rated 60s shows:

He & She
* I saw Dick Kallman live in Chicago as J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in Spring 1964 & was thrilled to see him on his sitcom Hank! A great actor gone too soon. ♣
Stoney 41 months ago
I agree "The Outer Limits" is underrated, but better than "The Twilight Zone"? Close, but not quite. If TZ is a 10, OL is a 9.5.

I will say there are some individual OL episodes that are better than some individual TZ episodes, though.
Dario 41 months ago
I discovered Gidget in 1986 when L.A. TV station KTLA Ch. 5 showed over the weekends, along with The Monkees(1966-68). I thought it was cute. The Flying Nun(1967-70) I saw that during my preschool years in the early '70s when KCOP Ch. 13 showed in the early weekday afternoons.
LittleMissNoName 41 months ago
Add Gidget and bring back the Monkees for the next Summer of ME. They can temporarily replace Mama's Family at 5:00pm.
jeffy 41 months ago
Oh yes, the Time Tunnel, a precursor to Quantum Leap.
Delmo 41 months ago
While The Green Hornet & Batman did meet in the latter's tv series twice(first as a "window cameo", then the 2-parter), it wasn't a "crossover" as both episodes were Batman episodes. A crossover would've been one part Batman, the next part Green Hornet, or visa versa.
RJOwles 41 months ago
When I had Mono in high school in the 80s, the local UHF station showed Gidget every morning. I got to like the show and watched it every morning between naps.
forthekids 52 months ago
I loved "The Time Tunnel"and the many adventures that "Dr.Newman and Dr.Phillips"(Mr.Darren and Mr.Colbert)had..as"They stumbled thru the many corridors of time"..I just wished that it was developed and made more exciting..so that it could have continued for another season or two.
F5Twitster 52 months ago
“The Time Tunnel” was an excellent concept sabotaged by producer Irwin Allen’s incorrigibly juvenile sensibilities. Too bad. He made it a kiddie show when it could’ve been so much more. “The Outer Limits” was a far better show, and remains memorable, precisely because it took its concept and presentation seriously, and did not pander to children. It was made by adults for adults.

“It was a history lesson disguised as a TV show, but it was so fun to watch.“

You mean SUCH fun to watch. Fun is a noun, not an adjective.

“The Flying Nun [was] about a nun whose small stature and massive habit allow her to take flight and solve problems.”

No, it wasn’t her nun’s habit that allowed her to fly, but the winglike wimple she wore on her head.
Bob 52 months ago
I watched and liked all those shows as a kid. Especially The Time Tunnel and The Green Hornet.
HerbF 52 months ago
"The Green Hornet" was actually in development by producer William Dozier for a YEAR before "Batman" was offered to him. It started life as an hour show. ("Beautiful Dreamer", parts 1&2 was actually the original pilot spec script in hour format!)

What most people don't know, Bruce Lee was already under contract for ANOTHER William Dozier project - the Spy Series, "Number One Son" where Lee would play Lee Chan, The Son of Charlie Chan, who is now a Government Agent. The "Screen Test" going around for Decades Bruce did was for that, and not "The Green Hornet". When "Number One Son" was shelved due to Networks not wanting an Asian Lead, Dozier put Bruce in "The Green Hornet".

Ironically, Keye Luke who originated the role of Lee Chan in the 1930's "Charlie Chan" films at 20th and later the tail end of the monogram run, also played Kato in the two "Green Hornet" movie serials from Universal in the early 1940's! :)
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