Special Report

The Best TV Show Released the Year You Were Born

Source: Courtesy of A&E Home Video

1969: Monty Python’s Flying Circus
> IMDb rating: 8.8/10
> IMDb user votes: 71,800
> Series run: 1969-1974
> Cast: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle

Arguably the most influential comedy troupe of all time, Monty Python debuted on the BBC and proceeded to break every convention. Later airings on PBS helped expose the group’s particular brand of absurdity to American audiences. The legend would continue with a number of classic films, including the immortal “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Source: Courtesy of CBS

1970: The Mary Tyler Moore Show
> IMDb rating: 8.1/10
> IMDb user votes: 8,163
> Series run: 1970-1977
> Cast: Mary Tyler Moore, Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Valerie Harper

Mary Tyler Moore plays Mary Richards in this seminal comedy series, which broke ground for the depiction of women on television. Single and career-minded, Richards works as associate producer for a fledgling news program. The show won 29 Primetime Emmy Awards over the course of seven seasons.

Source: Courtesy of National Broadcasting Company

1971: Columbo
> IMDb rating: 8.3/10
> IMDb user votes: 32,679
> Series run: 1971-2003
> Cast: Peter Falk, Mike Lally, John Finnegan, Bruce Kirby

This celebrated series put a clever twist on the standard procedural, revealing the crime and often the perpetrators at the beginning of the story. It was then up to blue-collar homicide detective Columbo (Peter Falk) to crack the case. The season one episode “Murder by the Book” was directed by Steven Spielberg.

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

1972: MАSH
> IMDb rating: 8.4/10
> IMDb user votes: 54,428
> Series run: 1972-1983
> Cast: Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swit, Jamie Farr

An acclaimed Robert Altman film inspired this similarly iconic series about medical workers during the Korean War. Its legendary finale drew an estimated 125 million viewers and remained the most-watched TV broadcast in American history until 2010.

Source: Courtesy of National Broadcasting Company

1973: Star Trek: The Animated Series
> IMDb rating: 7.4/10
> IMDb user votes: 6,664
> Series run: 1973-1975
> Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei

This animated sci-fi series attempted to capitalize on the growing popularity of its live-action predecessor, lasting only two seasons. A number of original cast members returned to provide voice-overs for their respective characters.

Source: Courtesy of National Broadcasting Company

1974: The Rockford Files
> IMDb rating: 8.1/10
> IMDb user votes: 8,154
> Series run: 1974-1980
> Cast: James Garner, Noah Beery Jr., Joe Santos, Luis Delgado

This still-syndicated crime series chronicles the dangerous cases solved by a wrongfully convicted felon turned private investigator (James Garner). It was co-created by Roy Huggins, who’d previously created the hit show “Maverick” (also starring Garner). Ballooning expenses and a personal injury resulted in an abrupt mid-season cancellation in 1979.

Source: Courtesy of National Broadcasting Company

1975: Saturday Night Live
> IMDb rating: 8.0/10
> IMDb user votes: 46,904
> Series run: 1975-present
> Cast: The Saturday Night Live Band, Don Pardo, Darrell Hammond, Lenny Pickett

This sketch comedy series debuted under the name of “NBC’s Saturday Night” and struggled to gain enough ratings during its first season. Now a cultural institution, it’s helped launch countless high-profile careers. It’s currently in the midst of a 47th season.

Source: Courtesy of Syndicated

1976: The Muppet Show
> IMDb rating: 8.4/10
> IMDb user votes: 23,938
> Series run: 1976-1981
> Cast: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz

After the failure of two separate pilots, creator Jim Henson found a home for his muppets on British television and later in U.S. syndication. Presented as a variety show, the series also took viewers behind the curtain as assorted characters interacted backstage. A thriving franchise would follow.

Source: Courtesy of American Broadcasting Company

1977: Soap
> IMDb rating: 8.1/10
> IMDb user votes: 6,672
> Series run: 1977-1981
> Cast: Katherine Helmond, Rod Roddy, Richard Mulligan, Cathryn Damon

This serialized comedy received heated backlash over its tawdry depictions of sex and infidelity only to become a ratings smash. A send-up of soap operas, it follows the melodramatic escapades of two sisters and their respective families. Billy Crystal plays the openly gay Jodie Dallas in an early breakout role.

Source: Matthew Lewis / Getty Images

1978: Top Gear
> IMDb rating: 8.3/10
> IMDb user votes: 24,832
> Series run: 1978-2002
> Cast: Tiff Needell, Jeremy Clarkson, Quentin Willson, Chris Goffey

Modern fans of this British series might be surprised to discover that its origins date back to the late 1970s. Each episode features a handful of presenters and reporters, who review different cars and talk about all things automobile-related. A brief cancellation in the early aughts was followed by a series revival, which continues to this day.

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