5 Forgotten TV Shows from the 1970s You Need to Rewatch

Television in the 1970s was full of variety, with numerous shows that covered everything from drama to comedy.

Even though many iconic series from that era continue to be popular today, there are some gems that have slipped through the cracks and are rarely mentioned. Exploring these forgotten series opens a window to the past and gives you a chance to discover hidden treasures in television history.

While some shows left a lasting impact and remained in the public eye, others faded even though they had unique storylines and memorable characters.

Rediscovering these lost shows can be a fun trip down memory lane, offering a glimpse into the different trends and styles that marked TV programming in the 70s.

1) Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Kolchak: The Night Stalker is a hidden gem from the 1970s.

The series aired from 1974 to 1975 on ABC and starred Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak.

You follow Carl, a Chicago newspaper reporter, who often stumbles upon supernatural events.

The show had a unique mix of crime drama and horror.

Carl investigates bizarre crimes that seem impossible to solve.

These crimes often involve creatures or forces that are out of this world.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker also had two TV movies before the series started.

The first was The Night Stalker (1972), followed by The Night Strangler (1973).

These movies set the tone for the series.

While the show lasted only one season, it has a lasting impact.

Many fans of The X-Files might notice similarities.

Chris Carter, The X-Files creator, has cited Kolchak as a big influence on his work.

If you are a fan of supernatural thrillers, this is a must-watch.

You get to enjoy a show that paved the way for many series that came later.

2) The IT Crowd

The 1970s were a golden era for TV shows that explored various facets of modern life.

One such forgotten gem is “The IT Crowd.” This show delved into the quirky world of information technology way before it became mainstream.

Set in a bustling office environment, “The IT Crowd” focused on the daily shenanigans of a group of IT professionals.

Their unique, often misunderstood roles within the company provided plenty of comedic moments.

You could often find the characters dealing with absurd technical problems.

Even though “The IT Crowd” may not ring a bell for everyone, it had its moments of brilliance.

The casting choices, with actors who delivered humorous and relatable performances, made it stand out.

Sadly, despite its potential, the show couldn’t sustain itself for long.

One of the major issues was timing.

It aired during a period when not many people fully grasped the complexities and humor surrounding IT work.

This misunderstanding perhaps played a part in its short-lived run on television.

3) Quark

Quark aired from 1977 to 1978.

This show was a sci-fi comedy created by Buck Henry.

It featured the adventures of Adam Quark, an outer space garbage collector.

Adam Quark was played by Richard Benjamin.

His crew included quirky characters like clones Betty and Betty, a mechanical being named Andy, and Gene/Jean, who had both male and female traits.

The show satirized popular sci-fi of the time, especially Star Trek.

It used humor to explore space missions and the crew’s various troubles.

Despite its unique premise, it lasted only for one season.

Quark’s mix of humor and sci-fi made it different from other shows.

Its short run means many people may not remember it today.

If you enjoy fun, quirky takes on space adventures, Quark is worth checking out.

4) The Electric Company

“The Electric Company” was an educational children’s TV show that aired from 1971 to 1977.

It was created by the Children’s Television Workshop, now known as Sesame Workshop.

The show was designed to teach reading and grammar through comedy sketches, animated segments, songs, and even Spider-Man episodes.

You might remember Morgan Freeman as one of the cast members.

He, along with Jim Boyd and Judy Graubart, brought the show to life.

The series featured memorable segments focusing on phonetics and grammar basics, making learning fun for kids.

Episodes often included catchy songs and interactive skits.

One memorable episode involved Morgan Freeman and an assistant spelling out words with the short vowel “U,” like “fun,” “bun,” “bus,” and “tub.”

The program ran for six seasons, producing a total of 780 episodes.

Even after the original run ended in 1977, the show continued in reruns, helping new generations of children with their reading skills.

If you grew up in the ’70s, “The Electric Company” was likely a part of your after-school routine.

Its catchy tunes, playful sketches, and educational content made learning to read feel less like a chore and more like a joy.

5) Barney Miller

“Barney Miller” aired from 1975 to 1982.

This show focused on the detectives of the 12th Precinct in New York City.

It had a blend of humor and drama that worked well.

The characters were diverse and memorable.

Hal Linden played Captain Barney Miller, leading a team that included unique personalities like Wojo, Harris, and Fish.

Their interactions were a big part of the show’s charm.

Set mostly in the precinct’s squad room, the show tackled serious issues like crime and social justice.

It did so in a way that was both entertaining and thought-provoking.

The writing was smart and the acting solid.

This made “Barney Miller” stand out among other shows of its time.

Many fans still remember it fondly today.

The Impact of 1970s TV Shows

The 1970s changed television in many ways, influencing modern shows and shaping culture.

The following subsections explore these changes in detail.

Influence on Modern Television

TV shows from the 1970s set trends that continue today.

Sitcoms like All in the Family and MAS*H showed real-life issues and complicated characters, moving away from idealized stories.

These shows were some of the first to mix humor with serious themes.

Shows like The Bob Newhart Show brought unique characters and smart writing, helping to shape modern comedies.

Procedural dramas also saw changes. Emergency! added realism to police and rescue stories, influencing today’s shows like Law & Order and Chicago Fire.

Cultural Significance

1970s TV shows reflected and influenced culture.

Programs like Good Times and The Jeffersons offered diverse perspectives, broadening the types of stories seen on screen.

Cheers, which started in the late 1980s, built on the success of earlier sitcoms, creating a place for shows focusing on small community-based stories.

Sci-fi shows like Battlestar Galactica tapped into society’s interest in space and technology, inspiring future generations to explore these themes in both TV and movies.

These shows often mirrored societal changes, helping viewers understand and navigate issues of the time.

Production Techniques of the 1970s

Production techniques in the 1970s TV included special effects that were groundbreaking for their time and filming on practical locations to add authenticity.

Special Effects

In the 1970s, special effects in TV shows were often created manually.

Techniques like miniature models and practical effects were common.

Shows like Doctor Who used cheap but clever effects, like painted backgrounds and rubber masks, to bring sci-fi scenes to life.

Chroma keying, or green-screen technology, became more refined.

This allowed actors to appear in different settings without leaving the studio. Explosions, car chases, and stop-motion animation were also used to create action scenes, often invoking a sense of wonder despite their simplicity.

Filming Locations

Many TV shows in the 1970s opted for real-world locations.

This added a layer of realism that studio sets couldn’t match.

Popular series like The Rockford Files often featured outdoor locations around Los Angeles to make the storylines more believable.

City streets, rural areas, and local landmarks were frequently used as backdrops.

This approach demanded mobile camera units and lighting setups, increasing production complexity.

Filming on location was a trend that grew, appealing to viewers who enjoyed seeing familiar places on screen.

In summary, the combination of evolving special effects and the strategic use of authentic locations defined TV production techniques in the 1970s.

Themes and Genres

Forgotten TV shows from the 1970s explored a wide range of themes and genres.

They often tackled social issues, comedy, and drama blended with unique and niche storytelling.

Popular Themes

Many shows from the 1970s touched on social issues.

For instance, sitcoms often delved into workplace dynamics and gender roles.

Series like “Adam’s Rib” showcased the challenges faced by women in male-dominated spaces.

This era also saw programs addressing family relationships, with plots revolving around everyday struggles and triumphs.

Friendship and personal growth were also common.

Shows highlighted the growth of individual characters and their bonds with one another.

This allowed viewers to follow their development through various scenarios, making the characters feel more relatable and authentic.

Diverse Genres

The 1970s offered a rich variety of genres.

Sitcoms were popular, often featuring witty dialogues and humorous takes on daily life.

An example is “WKRP in Cincinnati,” which blended comedy with workplace antics in a radio station setting.

Drama series were equally prominent, often highlighting intense, character-driven stories.

Shows like “Emergency!” provided gripping tales of rescue operations and personal sacrifices made by first responders.

There were also unique genre blends.

Some shows mixed elements of comedy and drama to tackle serious subjects in a lighter way, providing balance and broadening their appeal.

This mix kept the content fresh and engaging, drawing viewers from different walks of life.

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