Special Report

Best TV Shows of the 1960s

The 1960s was a groundbreaking decade in American television. Nearly 90% of households owned a TV by 1960, ushering in the end of the Golden Age of Radio. Instead, evening television programming became the center of home entertainment. (Radio, on the other hand, transitioned its offerings to music broadcasts. Here are the biggest pop hits of the 1960s.)

By 1966, color broadcasts had become the new norm. The three available networks — NBC, CBS, and ABC — wildly expanded their serialized offerings to include not only a plethora of comedies, but also fantasy and sci-fi, adventure, drama, and a whopping 18 variety shows that aired during the decade.

To determine the best TV shows of the 1960s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on audience rating from the Internet Movie Database. Television shows were ranked based on average IMDb user ratings. Only TV shows released between 1960 and 1967 that ran for at least two seasons were considered. Shows with fewer than 1,000 audience votes were excluded. Data is current as of September 2022.

Comedies abound on the list. Sketch comedy and variety shows are well represented, with “The Carol Burnett Show” topping the list as the best show of the decade. Another variety show, the “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” which reached no. 25, was eventually canceled after a series of controversies over its satirical political content.

Espionage proved to be a popular theme, as a large number of spy shows made this list, including “The Avengers,” “Secret Agent,” “The Wild Wild West,” “Get Smart,” and “Mission: Impossible.” Horror/suspense also made a good showing with three appearances: “Thriller,” “The Outer Limits,” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.”

One animated show appears on the list, as does a soccer commentary show, and a gothic soap opera. The original “Star Trek” reached the top 10, and also appears on our list of shows that were so popular, they were turned into movies.

Click here to see the best TV shows of the 1960s

To determine the best TV shows of the 1960s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on audience rating from the Internet Movie Database. Television shows were ranked based on average IMDb user ratings. Only TV shows released between 1960 and 1967 that ran for at least two seasons were considered. Shows with fewer than 1,000 audience votes were excluded. Data is current as of September 2022.

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