10. Leave It to Beaver
“Leave It to Beaver” is an excellent standard in the world of sitcom. The movie was hackneyed and incredibly unentertaining. Like most on this list, the movie adaptation was way too late to cash-in on any cross promotion, making the movie version both confusing and cringeworthy.
9. The Jack Benny Program
“The Jack Benny Program” was an early incarnation of sketch comedy and was a game-changer in the world of television. For those of you not familiar with the series, it was first an incredibly popular radio show that made the transition to the visual medium with amazing success.
8. Perry Mason
Raymond Burr played the title role, defending clients from various walks of life. “Perry Mason” was one of the first major court TV shows and influenced every other show on this list. The sheer longevity of the program is astounding, but the quality is also awfully high.
While not on the level of “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke” was an upper-echelon 1960’s/1970’s TV western. Harrison Ford getting a recurring role on a show like this was a major accomplishment, and one that might have directly related to some of his biggest jobs.
Aside from one of the most memorable theme songs in the history of TV, “Bonanza” was a fantastic and subtly complex series. Aside from that goodness, the characters were exceptional and the stories memorable. “Bonanza” pulled no punches…to our benefit.
5. Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alfred Hitchcock has been and will always be “the master of suspense.” Others believe they can take that mantle, but they eventually prove that they can never make it. The reason is because of Hitchcock’s amazing longevity. There is no better example than “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” While not horror, at least according to modern definitions, the show was perpetually unsettling and the yarns unravel masterfully.
The granddaddy of all TV cops, Joe Friday was a “by the book” sleuth. He was always at his best, but showing bits of vulnerability really made the character pop. Friday was one of our first looks at law enforcement on the small screen.
3. The Honeymooners
Sure, there were sitcoms before it and obviously sitcoms after it, but “The Honeymooners” and Jackie Gleason brought the genre into the mainstream and turned it into the quintessential TV experience. Watching it now, the show looks really, really old, but the the time-tested traditions of the sitcom are present.
2. The Twilight Zone
“The Twilight Zone” wasn’t always purely a horror show. Most of the time though, the stories were terrifying and thought-provoking. That’s what really makes the show stand apart from every other in the genre and every entry on this list, as the show had some serious brains behind it. At the end of the day, Twilight Zone is one of the great achievements in television.
- I Love Lucy
Big fans of Ricky Ricardo will love Club Babalu and all its extravagance. Just don’t be there on the same night as Lucy, and you’re going to get a heck of a show. Don’t tip well and you’ve got some serious ‘splaining to do.