As I’ve gone further back in time in these looks at TV landscapes of yore, I thought I might run into a rough year or two. Especially when I got back as far as 1965. There were only three channels in the United States. How much good stuff could be happening in TV? How much history could be happening? Well, in terms of shows ending it wasn’t a big year. The Jack Benny Show ended after 15 years. So did the first version of The Price is Right. In terms of shows debuting, though, 1965 was a gold mine.
I must start with the very ridiculous and wacky sitcom My Mother the Car. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it was one of the first infamously bad sitcoms that became a reference going forward. I never really watched the dramas The Big Valley or The F.B.I., but they were both successful. In fact, The F.B.I. was referenced in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. Gidget was at the forefront of sitcoms about teenagers, and it starred a young Sally Field before she was famous. The Wild Wild West spawned a bad movie, but it’s a pretty interesting sci-fi western. Speaking of sci-fi, Lost in Space debuted in 1965 as well. It was quite influential. I Spy made history, but the person who made history we no longer speak of. Hogan’s Heroes was a popular, successful sitcom about prisoners of war at a Nazi camp during World War II. Seriously.
However, there are three sitcoms I really want to shout out. Green Acres is a truly bizarre sitcom that started as a fish out of water comedy and then got weird. I admire its ambition, but I never really loved it. The score plays a big part in that, oddly enough. I Dream of Jeannie is a broad ‘60s sitcom. An astronaut rescues a genie, she always wants to help him, things go wrong and then she fixes it in the nick of time. It’s formulaic, but fun to watch. The best of the shows, though, is Get Smart. It’s a parody of spy stories like James Bonds movies created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry starring Don Adams as Maxwell Smart. It doesn’t all hold up, but it largely does. It’s a good bit of silly parody, and definitely the best show to come out of 1965 to me. Sorry, My Mother the Car.
After this, I’m really curious as to what 1960 will bring. That’s really early in the history of TV as a medium. Could it possibly be as eventful as 1965? I don’t know yet. I will find out next week. So will you.