1960s TV Shows Baby Boomers Grew up On
TV Shows I Loved in the 1960s
These shows came along at a time in my life when I was graduating from the cartoons I had loved as a small child. These were stepping stones to a slightly more mature entertainment palate.
Some favorite topics for popular shows among pre-teens in the late 60s were superheroes, spies, and science fiction. It was an experimental time in television. TV was leaving behind the "Father Knows Best" and "Leave it to Beaver" innocence and addressing more edgy, current social concerns.
Holy flashback Batman! I was 10 years old when the Batman TV show, with Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin, debuted. This was must-see-TV for the 4th grade crowd. The sound of that theme music would bring us running, we loved the comic book sound effects, the over the top bat gadgets and the zany villains.
Millionaire Bruce Wayne, and his young ward Dick Grayson have no super powers. The Dynamic Duo must keep Gotham City safe with their superior powers of deduction and a wide array of bat-technology, made possible by Bruce Wayne's vast fortune.
It was quite common for Batman and Robin to walk up the side of a building with their bat-rope all the while carrying on with their corny banter and exchanging pleasantries with whoever popped his head out a nearby window.
It always ended too soon, with the inevitable cliffhanger, and the announcer urging us to tune in next time, "same bat time, same bat channel." You can bet that we always did.
Lost in Space
Danger Will Robinson!
Professor John Robinson (Guy Williams), his wife, Maureen (June Lockhart), their daughters Judy (Marta Kristen) and Penny (Angela Cartwright), and son Will (Billy Mumy) are chosen from among millions of volunteers to establish the first extra-terrestrial colony. Major Donald West (Mark Goddard) is the pilot of their spacecraft.
Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris) is a foreign agent bent on sabotage. After he has performed his evil task and damaged critical systems on the ship, he is trapped aboard and launched into space with the Robinsons. Smith's extra weight causes the craft to go off course, thus causing them all to become "Lost in Space."
Although Major West is distrustful of him, the Robinson's seem to feel that they have no choice but to accept Dr. Smith as one of the crew despite his devious and incompetent behavior. Befriended by Will Robinson, and often accompanied by the robot, the self-centered and cowardly villain becomes a comedic central character in the show.
Missed it by that much.
Who could ever forget agent 86, the bumbling spy Maxwell Smart (Don Adams). In this James Bond parody, Smart worked for the fictional spy agency CONTROL. Armed with an amazing array of goofy, high-tech gadgets, 86 always managed to foil the evil plots of arch enemy KAOS.
Under the supervision of the Chief (Edward Platt), Smart and his beautiful and competent love interest, agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), kept the world safe for democracy on a weekly basis.
A running gag on the show is Smart's by-the-book insistence on using the "cone of silence" whenever discussing sensitive information. The cone is a plastic bubble that comes down from the ceiling to cover the people who are speaking; it echos so badly that the people inside it cannot understand one another, yet it does nothing to prevent people outside the bubble from hearing the conversation.
The Mod Squad
One black, one white, one blond. The Mod Squad were the coolest cops on TV. Link Hayes (Clarence Williams III), Pete Cochran (Michael Cole) and Julie Barnes (Peggy Lipton) all became undercover detectives to avoid jail when they had their own run-ins with the law.
They were able to infiltrate where other cops couldn't go because of their hip appearances and their street savvy. Tough but fair, Captain Greer took the three under his wing and convinced them to team up.
This was a ground-breaking TV show that addressed many social issues that had not been covered on TV. Issues like the anti-war movement, spousal abuse, racial issues and drug use. The squad always had each other's back and they never carried or used guns.
The Man From UNCLE
UNCLE (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) was a fictional international intelligence organization. It was comprised of agents from many nations. American agent Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn), and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) from the USSR, were the main characters in the show.
The threat posed by the malevolent enemy agency THRUSH (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity) was dire enough to cause nations to set aside their differences and come together to defeat this common foe.
The goal of THRUSH was to conquer the world and enslave it's people, but battling this ominous foe did not prevent the Man from UNCLE from being lighthearted. As the show progressed it became more tongue in cheek finally becoming more of a spoof on a spy show than a real spy show.
The Avengers ran from 1961 to 1969. The main character, John Steed (Patrick Macnee), had a series of partners, but in the version of the show that I am most familiar with his partner is the lovely Mrs. Emma Peel (Diana Rigg).
It was a spy show with a light comedic touch, and science fiction elements. Steed behaved and dressed in a formal Edwardian style, even driving vintage automobiles. He consistently addressed his partner as Mrs. Peel, while she herself had an ultra-modern style which included mini-skirts, geometric patterns, and even a leather catsuit. Mrs. Peel's automotive choices were hip and modern as well.
The Time Tunnel
Project Tic-Toc is a top-secret government project aimed at exploring time travel. When the government considers shutting down the project, one of the scientists, Dr. Anthony Newman (James Darren), sends himself back in time in an effort to prove that the time machine works.
The staff back at Tic-Toc are able to see what's happening to Tony through the tunnel, and when they find out he's on the Titanic, Dr. Douglas Phillips (Robert Colbert) volunteers to go back with a newspaper showing the sinking of the ship, to convince the captain to change course.
Predictably, Doug only succeeds in becoming stuck in the past himself. The staff at Tic-Toc is not able to bring the two home, but does manage to send them swirling through time before the ship sinks.
Each week Tony and Doug find themselves at a new time, often at a pivotal moment in history. Even though there's the fear that they will change history, it appears that they are supposed to be wherever they go, as they seem to be instrumental in keeping history on the right track.