10 1960s TV Shows That Are Still Relevant Today

10 1960s TV Shows That Are Still Relevant Today

The Beatles, counterculture, Woodstock Festival, the assassination of J.F.K., The Great Leap Forward, the moon landing, the civil rights movement, and 1960s TV shows. The Sixties have fueled our imagination like no other decade before or after.

The Tardis
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1960s television shows were the real chewing gum for the eyes. The standards of television were set for years to come. To this day, we remember the hearty laugh track technique used in The Flintstones, the running gags of Gilligan’s Island, the sociological and psychological references of The Twilight Zone, Batman’s vigilante eye.

Nothing fades faster than a television series show, they say. So how come, 50 years into the future, we still quote, remember, turn to and re-engage with the best of the 1960s TV shows?

1960s TV Shows to Watch Today

The Flintstones, 1960-1966

Fred and Wilma
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It’s a Hanna-Barbera production, and I’m not talking about Scooby Doo. Originally aimed at an adult audience, The Flintstones became a cult children’s cartoon that thrived on slapstick comedy concerning American domestic issues, the characters’ implied self-awareness and recurrent Stone Age puns.

On the dawn of the sixties, the first episode aired. By nightfall, The Flintstones had become a TV hit. Running a full marathon of six seasons, this primetime sitcom turned into the bedrock of good family couch and TV bound fun.

The Flintstones was also the first of the 1960s TV shows to cut gender segregation from American animation by showing a scene of two people of opposite sex- Barney and Betty sleeping together in one bed.

Never mind Fred and Wilma advertised Winston cigarettes during the closing credits. Those were the times.

Gilligan’s Island, 1964- 1967

Gilligan's Island
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Out of the 1960’s TV shows that fall under the umbrella of slapstick comedies- a cultural necessity to take the edge off the Cold War, Gilligan’s Island remained by far the most influential. The sitcom followed seven castaways as they attempted to survive the dangers of the island, as well as Gilligan’s tomfooleries.

Gilligan, most of all, impressed the audience with his bumbling, accident-prone personality. Today, he’s widely seen as an American popular culture icon.

Batman, 1966-1968

Batman and Robin
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Based on the DC comic book eponymous character, this 1960’s TV show kicked the screens when it first introduced the two crime-fighting heroes who relied on infinite reserves of optimism and tools to defeat any variety of villain in Gotham City.

Adam West played a much lighter version of Batman than Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight. Among the gadgets attached to his utility belt, we give honorable mention to the corny moral lessons imparted to the children of the sixties. Do your homework, eat your vegetables and drink your milk!

Star Trek: The Original Series, 1966- 1969

Star Trek
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It’s still the sixties, only it’s the 2260s. The Starship Enterprise is ready to blast off beyond the Milky Way of the first three seasons and into the infinity of cult phenomenon.

One of the most glorious 1960s TV shows, Star Trek has boldly gone where no show has gone before. It spawned a media franchise comprising novels, toys, games, figurines, comics and a legion of Trekkies who, year by year, invaded sci-fi conventions America wide.

Dr. Who, 1963- 1989/2005- present

Dr. Who 1960s TV Shows
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The legendary character to put British 1960’s TV shows on this list is who? That’s right, Doctor Who.

Premiering on an ill-timed day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, this sitcom enjoyed a life expectancy to beat all other shows of the times, running all the way into 1989 to witness the fall of the Berlin Wall.

So why is Doctor Who, the eccentric, renegade Time Lord never growing old while crisscrossing galaxies and dimensions in his spaceship TARDIS? Can it be time dilation keeping Dr. Who ever young or the twelve actors who filled in his shoes, under the scripted concept of regeneration and incarnation?

Bewitched, 1964- 1972

Bewitched 1960s TV shows
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On this 1960’s TV shows list, Bewitched is here for a refill on our fantasy craving. This American sitcom popularized a character who combines the domestic quirky qualities of I love Lucy with a nose that twitches in anticipation of a routine-breaking spell.

Elizabeth Montgomery enchanted her audience as the bewitching Samantha, an extraordinary woman of supernatural abilities who flew on a broomstick, burnt dinner and seduced her husband while in cat form.

The Addams family, 1964- 1966

The Addams Family
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Often compared to its CBS rival, the Munsters, the first two black-and-white seasons of the ABC network show were enough to spur the macabre and darkly satirical New Yorker cartoon creations of Charles Addams to lasting fame.

Unraveling on a memorable theme song, the close-knit Addamses became trademark characters, and it would not be too far off to call them the first goths. If you want proof, just check Uncle Fester’s long black goat or Wednesday’s strange pleasure in beheading dolls and raising poisonous spiders.

Among the scenes that stuck to collective memory, we remember the Pepe le Pew kisses Gomez lavished on his wife, Morticia; Lurch, the Frankenstein butler of little words but a highly conscientious work ethics; and, last but not least- well, actually it is less than a body, it’s Thing T. Thing, a disembodied hand always perching on someone’s shoulder.

The Twilight Zone, 1969-1974

Twilight Zone
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We have now crossed into the Twilight Zone of legendary TV. A shot of Stephen Kings’ horror psychology combined with Kafkaesque disturbing events is the recipe for successful TV. Our champion choice of the 1960s TV shows that touched the dark depths of the imagination, and more than half a century after it first aired, The Twilight Zone still has what it takes to be revived as a binge-watching series for the 2000s.

Common themes in the show include the atomic war, government control, space exploration and fear of the unknown. It trapped the sixties in amber, and we’re lucky to have inherited such a detailed frame of the past on our TV screen.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus, 1969

Monty Python 1960s TV Shows
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Admittedly, this Monty Python sketch comedy show belongs more to the 1970s, since it was first aired on BBC on the 5th of October, 1969. Still, this is not the only boundary it pushed. Written, performed and conceived by a self-contained team of 6 brilliant writers dubbed as the Beatles of comedy, the 45 episodes approached the comedy genre with an innovative, experimental and absurdist hook.

‘Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition’ or ‘And now for something completely different’ are largely quoted to this day, while Terry Gilliam literally stumped on all conventional drawing techniques with its postmodernist, psychedelic-induced animations.

Columbo, 1968-2003

Columbo 1960s TV Shows
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Peter Falk made his movie career as a disheveled, seemingly absentminded, cigar-smoking, working-class detective of Italian descent. Columbo is the shrewd and rumpled pre-Monk of American TV series, and the growing popularity of the howcatchem murder series format is forever in his debt.

His trademark gesture of running a hand across his head to deceive murder suspects

The episodes have been broadcast in forty-four countries, and while Steven Spielberg took the director’s chair, ‘Murder by the Book’ was ranked no. 16 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.

Mangas, books, podcasts and spin-offs of Columbo still draw on the character to this day, while the 2014 unveiling of a statue portraying Peter Falk as the shabby lieutenant with his dog in Budapest is a testimony of the show’s lasting legacy.

Final Thoughts

The way we measure the significance of the sixties is by measuring the decade’s legacy and echoes in today’s world. No one could deny the value of 1960s TV shows. After all, it’s all good entertainment.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

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