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August 28, 2014

Best '70s TV Shows

by Kim Potts, posted Jun 22nd 2009 6:00AM
MASHIn AOL TV's continuing countdown of the best TV shows of each decade, we're back to break down the 1970s, a decade when the cop dramas were less gritty, the families were close-knit and the sitcoms were sprinkled with serious social commentary.

Our list of the best shows of the '70s features many of the best shows of all time (here's looking at you, 'Mary Tyler Moore Show,' 'M*A*S*H' and 'Taxi'). Take a gander and let us know if you agree.
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The Best Shows of the '70s
In AOL TV's continuing countdown of the best TV shows of each decade, we're back to break down the 1970s, a decade when the cop dramas were less gritty, the families were close-knit and the sitcoms were sprinkled with serious social commentary.

Our list of the best shows of the '70s features many of the best shows of all time (here's looking at you, 'Mary Tyler Moore Show,' 'M*A*S*H' and 'Taxi'). Take a gander and let us know if you agree. -- By Kimberly Potts
ABC Photo Archive / CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images
Phil Walter, Getty Images

The Best TV Shows of the 70s

    In AOL TV's continuing countdown of the best TV shows of each decade, we're back to break down the 1970s, a decade when the cop dramas were less gritty, the families were close-knit and the sitcoms were sprinkled with serious social commentary.

    Our list of the best shows of the '70s features many of the best shows of all time (here's looking at you, 'Mary Tyler Moore Show,' 'M*A*S*H' and 'Taxi'). Take a gander and let us know if you agree. -- By Kimberly Potts

    Retna / Getty Images

    40. 'Charlie's Angels'
    (1976-81)

    Dismissed by some critics as "jiggle TV," there's no denying that the 'Angels' made a huge impact on pop culture and made TV superstars (and future Lifetime movie fixtures) of original trio Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith. Fawcett's Jill bolted as a regular by season 2, but even a rotating cast couldn't diminish how cool it was to see such well-proportioned babes kicking baddie butt.



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    39. 'McMillan & Wife'
    (1971-77)

    Stewart MacMillan (Rock Hudson) had his hands full as San Francisco police commissioner, but his ditzy wife Sally (Susan Saint James) had a knack for getting them accidentally involved in solving even more crimes in this lighthearted, Nick-and-Nora-ish series. The duo's happy, snappy sleuthing lasted for five seasons, until a contract dispute with Saint James led producers to make Stewart a widower.



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    38. 'Laverne & Shirley'
    (1976-83)

    Milwaukee BFFs Laverne (Penny Marshall) and Shirley (Cindy Williams), who were introduced in an episode of 'Happy Days,' spent five seasons hilariously looking for love and drowning their sorrows in Laverne's milk and Pepsi cocktails, until a setting shift to California left the series in jump-the-shark territory. By the eighth and final season, Shirley married and moved away, leaving Laverne sans a roommate and a worthy comedic partner.



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    37. 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker'
    (1974-75)

    The show debuted on Friday the 13th and aired for one season, but its impact is long-lasting: It helped inspire 'The X-Files,' and its story editor, David Chase, went on to create 'The Sopranos.' 'Kolchak' was groundbreaking for its plotlines, too, which found reporter Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) following perps others wouldn't, involving werewolves, vampires, zombies and other supernatural types.



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    36. 'The Six Million Dollar Man'
    (1974-78)

    They rebuilt him. They made astronaut Steve Austin (Lee Majors) better, stronger, faster, after he barely survived a crash and was rebuilt with bionic parts. With his new cyborg bod (the novel 'Cyborg' led to the show), Austin went to work for the government, where he befriended Bigfoot, got bionic parts for girlfriend Jamie Sommers and became one of the coolest action figures of all time.



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    ABC Photo Archive

    35. 'Good Times'
    (1974-79)

    Comedian Jimmie Walker was the show's breakout as catchphrase-spoutin' J.J. "Dyno-o-mite!" Evans, but 'Good Times,' like other sitcoms from producer Norman Lear, liberally peppered its comedy with heavy doses of heavy topics, like the poverty-stricken Evans family's struggle to keep its head above water and the shocking death of patriarch James, who was killed after finally landing a good job.



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    CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images

    34. 'Night Gallery'
    (1970-73)

    Rod Serling's 'Twilight Zone' follow-up, another anthology series, began with a pilot that featured one of Oscar winner Joan Crawford's final performances, as well as future Oscar winner Steven Spielberg's directorial debut. The series, which mixed the macabre with dark humor, also featured Serling introducing each segment, from a creepy art gallery where paintings foretold the stories to come.



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    Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

    33. 'Harry O'
    (1973-76)

    Harry Orwell (David Janssen) was ahead of his time. Not only did the former Marine and ex-cop-turned-San Diego private eye use public transportation (the first green P.I.?), but his sometime girlfriend was played by a pre-'Charlie's Angels,' pre-that famous poster, Farrah Fawcett. Harry O sadly only lasted two seasons, and was the last regular drama series role for 'Fugitive' star Janssen.



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    ABC Photo Archive

    32. 'Welcome Back, Kotter'
    (1975-79)

    Based on star Gabe Kaplan's own past as a remedial student in Brooklyn, 'Kotter' found him playing the titular character, a remedial student who became a teacher and returned to his old high school to teach the unteachables. The show's corny jokes worked as Mr. Kotter's way of bonding with 'Sweathogs' Horshack, Epstein, Washington and Barbarino (John Travolta), whose potential he helped uncover.



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    ABC Photo Archive

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