These were viewers' favorite TV shows 50 years ago — do you still agree?

Pick your favorite series from 1971 and see how they compare!


Fifty years ago to the day — on Wednesday, May 19, 1971 — Chicago Tribune entertainment columnist Clarence Petersen asked readers to fill out a survey. It was far more than he bargained for.

Peterson promised to have the results in his next Wednesday column. It took a week longer than expected to count the votes, because he was inundated with ballots. To be exact, 897 of them. The poor guy had to do them all by hand. 

"Turns out there was no way to count all the votes," Petersen wrote as an apology. That's a lie, of course. There was indeed a way to do it; he just gave up. But he did count hundreds of them, enough to get a true read on TV viewing tastes of 1971.

The questions covered all of television — favorite actors, favorite shows, etc. He also asked for the "worst" of the airwaves.

So let's get to the results already, right?

Favorite Sitcom

1. All in the Family

2. The Odd Couple

3. The Mary Tyler Moore Show

4. The Courtship of Eddie's Father

Favorite Drama

1. Marcus Welby, M.D.

2. Ironside

3. Masterpiece Theater

4. The Senator

5. Four in One

6. Hawaii Five-O

7. Medical Center

Now, a couple of those might be unfamiliar to you. Four In One was an umbrella title for four different rotating programs — McCloud, Night GallerySan Francisco International Airport and The Psychiatrist

Likewise, The Senator was part of the rotating drama series The Bold Ones, starring Hal Holbrook as the senator.

Now for the haters. Here are their picks for "Worst":

Worst TV Series

1. Hee Haw

2. All in the Family / The Beverly Hillbillies (tie)

3. The Brady Bunch

Funny how time changes perspectives. In fact, we want to see exactly how tastes have changed with hindsight. So, let's ask the questions again! We'll give more options from the era.

Pick your favorites! Let's see who wins in 2021!

  1. Favorite 1971 Sitcom or Comedy
  2. Favorite 1971 Drama

These were viewers' favorite TV shows 50 years ago — do you still agree?

Your Result...

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RedSamRackham 20 months ago
* Why no mention of Columbo? ☺
MarianneCoon 34 months ago
50% similar I chose The Carol Burnet show and Marcus Welby MD.
denny 35 months ago
So the reporter couldn't count 900 votes?
35 months ago
I picked Mary Tyler Moore and Night Gallery.
Flash4001 36 months ago
Favourite Drama wasn't there. I love "EMERGENCY!"
JohnAustin779 36 months ago
I only got a 20% similarity to everyone else's answer😆😂! For favorite sitcom/comedy, I chose Bewitched which only got 7% of the vote. For drama, I chose Bonanza which got 1 point higher than Bewitched with 8% of the vote. Man, I did bad😆😂😆😄😄😄🤣🤣!!!
DonnaNMI 36 months ago
100%. Never done that before
Lillyrose 36 months ago
10% similar. My favorite comedies from 1971 are The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch. My favorite dramas from 1971 are Dragnet and Adam-12.
librarynerd 36 months ago
I was always interested in law enforcement, even as a kid. I preferred Dragnet and Adam 12 to Gilligans Island and The Brady Bunch. Also, Laugh In was silly and Hee Haw was corny. But Hee Haw did have some good musical talent. Even though, I'm not really a country music fan.
bigsquirrel 36 months ago
night gallery was so underrated
margiemyers 36 months ago
I watched The Waltons years ago when they were on t.v. Now I have been watching all the shows on Philo t.v. just about every day. Looking forward to this new special.
ETristanBooth 36 months ago
I'm zero percent similar. I chose My Three Sons and Masterpiece Theatre (spelled the British way).
JewelsChuck 36 months ago
I loved and still love “The Walton’s “! I thought it was on in that year. Guess I’m wrong…oh well.
willdo19 JewelsChuck 36 months ago
Think the Waltons started fall of 1972
Wiseguy JewelsChuck 36 months ago
Then you should know there's no apostrophe in the title. Family names are plurals not possessives.
willdo19 36 months ago
May 19, 1971 ... I took a look back at the 1970-1971 tv schedule and this is what I would have watched. Monday: Let's Make a Deal, Newlywed Game, Here's Lucy, Mayberry RFD, Doris Day, Carol Burnett. Tuesday: Mod Squad, ABC Movie of the Week ( never cared for Marcus Welby and didn't watch AITF year 1) Wednesday - Courtship of Eddies Father, Room 222, Smith Family ( guess I went to bed early that night. Thursday - Family Affair, Bewitched, Make Room for Grandaddy, Adam 12 ( Dean Martin til I'd doze off Friday -Brady Bunch, Nanny & Professor, Partridge Family, That Girl, Odd Couple, Love American Style Saturday -Lawrence Welk,( Mission Impossible sometimes)My Three Sons, Arnie, Mary Tyler Moore, Mannix Sunday - Lassie, Disney, Bill Cosby, Glen Campbell ( didn't watch Hogans Heroes til it was in reruns)
Sally 36 months ago
It says 44% similar. I enjoyed The Odd Couple and Carol Burnett so it was difficult to pick just one.
I always watched Marcus Welby and Bonanza. Never cared for All in the Family.
oobusdoobus 36 months ago
i hated all in the family when i was a kid, and i hate it now. CBS trashed it's whole lineup to make room for the norman lear army
moax429 oobusdoobus 36 months ago
Agreed, 150%. See my response to mojomoonjo below.
cowboydebbie 36 months ago
Best two shows EVER, anywhere, anytime - - - "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Mama's Family"
David cowboydebbie 36 months ago
ha ha ha ha ha . . . . um . . . WHAT?
Hollie cowboydebbie 36 months ago
were in the south ..its why we like and the rest dont get it
Wiseguy Hollie 36 months ago
What does being in the south have to do with anything?
mojomoonjo 36 months ago
Then-Brady Bunch. Now-Mannix!
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