1970's Television

1970's Television.mp4

1970's Television

Television in the 1970's pushed the envelope as to what was acceptable with a rise in sex and drugs on TV along with more adult topics - the general public was getting concerned with where television was headed.  The federal government held hearings about what was being broadcast in every genre of television from dramas to cartoons.  

Americans also wanted shows that explore genres like mysteries and crime, game shows that require real skills and knowledge rather than simple house party games, and news programs and talk shows continue to dominate morning and daytime television.  

Just as we had seen in other areas of Pop Culture in America during this decades we also see African Americans star on situational comedies like the Jeffersons and an increase in roles on other traditionally white programming.

Television was becoming more representative of the America that watched it and this trend would only continue as we head into the 1980's.


Task 1: Watch the Introductory Video to this Unit (5 minutes)

Task 2: Explore the provided video and attached links for Television during the 1970's (35 minutes)

Television had watched America grow up through the 1960's and the 1970's brought an era of exploration and pushing the envelope on what had once been considered scandalous just years before.  Shows became more sexualized, shows featuring African Americans rose to prominence  and the expansion on news programming was significant.  


The super 1970's were a groundbreaking time in television history. As social climates changed there was a decline in the more wholesome programming audiences were accustomed to. This led to a new generation of shows focused on issues of the day such as race, equality and politics. The 70's had an abundance of excellently written sitcoms like Laverne & Shirley and The Bob Newhart Show and dramas like The Waltons and Marcus Welby M.D. Variety shows such as The Carol Burnett Show and The Sonny and Cher Show became popular among TV viewers during the latter part of the decade.  (https://www.classic-tv.com/shows/decade/1970s )

Charlie's Angels

Original Release September 22, 1976 – June 24, 1981 

No. of Seasons 5

No. of Episodes 115

Stars Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack, Tanya Roberts, David Doyle

Network ABC

"A wealthy mystery man named Charlie runs a detective agency via a speakerphone and his personal assistant, John Bosley. His detectives are three beautiful women, who end up in a variety of difficult situations. " - IMDB


Original Release September 15, 1977 – May 1, 1983

No. of Seasons 6

No. of Episodes 139

Stars Larry Wilcox, Erik Estrada, Robert Pine, Tom Reilly

Network NBC

"CHiPs," which stood for California Highway Patrol, followed the daily beats of two state motorcycle patrolmen as they patrolled the freeway system in and around Los Angeles. Officer Jon Baker was the straight, serious officer while Frank "Ponch" Poncherello was the more free- wheeling member of the duo; both reported to Sgt. Joe Getraer, who gave out assignments and advice in handling the cases. Each episode saw a compilation of incidents, ranging from the humorous (e.g., a stranded motorist) to criminal investigations (such as hijackings) and tragic incidents (such as a fiery multi-car pile-up with multiple deaths. Other aspects of Ponch and Jon's daily work were highlighted as well; the social lives of both officers (they were both single) often provided the lighter moments. "  - IMDB

Happy Days

Original Release January 15, 1974 – July 19, 1984 

No. of Seasons 11

No. of Episodes 255

Stars Ron Howard, Marion Ross, Anson Williams, Tom Bosley, Henry Winkler, Donny Most, Erin Moran, Pat Morita, Al Molinaro, Scott Baio, Lynda Goodfriend, Cathy Silvers, Ted McGinley, Linda Purl, Heather O'Rourke

Network ABC

"The Cunningham family live through the 1950s with help and guidance from lovable and almost superhuman greaser Fonzie. " - IMDB

Game Shows

In the 1970's Game Shows became about skill and knowledge, viewers wanted to see real life people be challenged with questions that tested their skills and smarts.  You see the rise of shows like the $10,000 Pyramid where players race against the clock to answer questions and win money, shows like Family Feud placed families against one another to answer trivia questions and the Gong show let everyday people share their strange and sometimes amazing skills with the world in a comedic platform and walk away with some cash.  Television creators had learned from the earlier decades and moved beyond dressed up traditional household games and the magic of television began to take shape in the world of Game Shows.

Family Feud

Original Release July 12, 1976 – June 14th, 1985

No. of Seasons 9

No. of Episodes 2,311

Stars Richard Dawson


"Richard Dawson hosted this TV game-show, which pitted members of two families against each other. Each team tried to guess the results of survey questions faster and more accurately than the other team." - IMDB

$10,000 Pyramid 1978 (Didi Conn & Fred Grandy) 3 min.mp4

$10,000 Pyramid

Original Release March 26, 1973 – July 1, 1988

No. of Seasons 15

No. of Episodes 1,211

Stars Dick Clark, Bill Cullen, John Davidson

Network CBS, ABC

"The Object of the game is simple to get to the top of the Pyramid in the shortest time possible. But to do so, contestants must face celebrities (goes back and forth) by naming as many answers in a particular category within 30 seconds. If a contestant wins the game and they get the right to go to the Winner's Circle to try winning the grand cash prize in 60 Seconds (1 Minute) after they fail to do so, "The Cash Blocks: has ranged from 1973 to 1992 from $50 to $300 are too can be collected. " - IMDB

The game also evolved from the $10,000 pyramid to a $20,000, $25,000, $50,000 and then $100,000 pyramid in primetime episodes before its first run ended in 1988.

The Gong Show

Original Release June 14, 1976 – September 15, 1989 

No. of Seasons 13

No. of Episodes 501

Stars Chuck Barris, John Barbour, Gary Owens (1976-1977 nighttime season), Don Bleu

Network NBC

"Amateur talent contest judged by three celebrities." - IMDB


Television in the 1970s pushed what was considered acceptable to new limits. Many of the shows that came out challenged bigotry by making fun of it. Television entered a new age of candor. Its bold programming of ethnic humor and taboo “adult” themes finally began to mirror the increasing permissiveness of society, although it was only a pale reflection of the anything-goes spirit of movies. The trend was pioneered by “All in the Family,” a situation-comedy series that spoofs bigotry and dares to be funny about such touchy topics as homosexuality, impotence, and menopause.  (https://www.retrowaste.com/1970s/tv-shows-from-the-1970s/ )

The Brady Bunch

Original Release September 26, 1969 – March 8, 1974 

No. of Seasons 5

No. of Episodes 117

Stars Robert Reed, Florence Henderson, Ann B. Davis, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Susan Olsen, Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, Mike Lookinland

Network ABC

"The marriage of architect Mike Brady and homemaker Carol Martin née Tyler will be the second for both. They have the issue of blending their two already large families, Mike who has three children and Carol who has three children. One additional issue is that the Brady household was testosterone laden with Mike's children being three boys - Greg, Peter and Bobby - and the Martin household was estrogen laden with Carol's children being three girls - Marcia, Jan and Cindy. The six children not only have their usual issues in growing from children to teenagers, and in this situation in getting used to a new parent and new siblings, but also interacting with new siblings whose mentality generally reflects their specific gender, which more often than not is totally foreign to them. Mike and Carol also have the new roles of parent to daughters and sons respectively."  - IMDB

The Jeffersons

Original Release January 18, 1975 – July 2, 1985

No. of Seasons 11

No. of Episodes 253

Stars Isabel Sanford, Sherman Hemsley, Marla Gibbs, Roxie Roker, Franklin Cover, Paul Benedict, Mike Evans, Berlinda Tolbert, Zara Cully, Damon Evans, Jay Hammer

Network CBS

"The Jeffersons" was perhaps the most-successful spin-off series to "All in the Family." George Jefferson was the Black version of Archie Bunker in many respects: both were loud-mouthed, opinionated, and set in their bigoted ways. By 1975, Jefferson's fledgling dry-cleaning business, Jefferson Cleaners, had successfully grown into a small chain; his newfound wealth led to moving his family to a "deluxe apartment in the sky" in Manhattan. His family included his wife Louise, a level-headed and open-minded woman who often had to scold George when his mouth got him into trouble; and their son Lionel, an engineering major at a local college. George especially disliked Tom and Helen Willis, an interracial couple (he was white, she was Black) whose daughter Jenny was dating and later married Lionel; Florence, his sharp-tongued maid; and Harry Bentley, the esoteric Englishman who lived next door. George often flaunted his wealth and displayed rude, arrogant, bigoted behavior; however, he often found that money didn't open every door or win him favor with everyone. " - IMDB

The Muppet Show Opening and Closing Theme 1976 3 min.mp4

The Muppet Show

Original Release 5 September 1976 – 23 May 1981 

No. of Seasons 5

No. of Episodes 120

Stars Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson. Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Louise Gold, Kathryn Mullen, Eren Ozker, John Lovelady

Network ITV (UK) and Syndicated Nationally

"Kermit the Frog and his fellow Muppets put on a vaudeville show at their theatre, bringing in a famous celebrity to help out for each episode." - IMDB

*UK based production


Cartoons in the 1970's were beginning to take more chances and leverage success in other genres of television and making cartoon versions of the show.  You start to see spin-offs of other shows and an expansion on the type of cartoon that was produced.  Cartoons were no longer just for kids in the house, cartoons were becoming more popular with the older population as they were the first population to really experience the Saturday morning cartoon craze.  New cartoons took on issues that were more mature and in some cases began to insert more adult images as well.  This caused some issues with conservative Americans, but it was a hit with the viewing public and these types of shows continued to emerge and expand throughout the 1970's.

The Pink Panther Show

Original Release September 6, 1969 – August 30, 1980 

No. of Seasons 11

No. of Episodes 190

Stars Rich Little, Daws Butler, John Byner, Don Diamond, Pat Harrington, Jr., Paul Frees, Bob Holt, Arte Johnson, Diana Maddox, Larry D. Mann, Bob Ogle, Arnold Stang, Lennie Weinrib, Frank Welker, Paul Winchell, Mel Blanc, June Foray, Helen Gerald, Joan Gerber, Mark Skor

Network NBC, ABC

"A classy, resourceful panther has plenty of hilarious misadventures, outwitting those who annoy him with his clever tricks. " - IMDB

Schoolhouse Rock!

Original Release January 6, 1973 – March 31, 2009

No. of Seasons 7

No. of Episodes 65

Stars David McCall, George Newall, Radford Stone 

Network ABC

"A series of shorts illustrating various songs that teach multiplication tables, grammar, science, American history, computers, economics, and environmentalism. " - IMDB

Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo

Original Release September 22, 1979 –January 5, 1980

No. of Seasons 1

No. of Episodes 16

Stars Don Messick, Lennie Weinrib, Casey Kasem, Frank Welker, Heather North Kenney, Pat Stevens, Marla Frumkin

Network ABC

"The adventures of the mystery solving dog and his nephew." - IMDB

Talk Shows

Talk shows in the 1970s did a little bit of everything as they built on the concepts introduced in the 1960's you see many of the same stars and programs remain throughout the 1970's.  However, several new shows did emerge.  You see the birth of talk shows and variety shows that represent the African American community with shows like Soul Train, you see a rise in morning talk shows with show like Good Morning America starting in the mid-1970s and late night news programs that talk about national and international issues like 20/20 become increasingly popular.  It is a decade of pushing the envelope and you either had to be a part of it or report on it.  The talk show genre did a little bit of both.

Soul Train

Original Release August 17, 1970 – March 25, 2006

No. of Seasons N/A

No. of Episodes 1,117

Stars Don Cornelius (1970–1993; 734 episodes), Various celebrity hosts (1993–1997; 128 episodes), Mystro Clark (1997–1999; 76 episodes), Shemar Moore (2000–2003; 112 episodes), Dorian Gregory (2003–2006; 68 episodes)

Network WCIU-TV (1970–1971) Syndication (1971–2006) 

"Created by music impresario Don Cornelius, Soul Train is an African-American focused music-dance television program that aired 35 years, primarily featuring performances by R&B, soul, funk, pop, and hip hop artists. " - IMDB


Original Release June 6, 1978 – Present

No. of Seasons 45 (and counting)

No. of Episodes 500+ (and counting)

Stars Harold Hayes (1978), Robert Hughes (1978), Hugh Downs (1978–1999), Barbara Walters (1979–2004, 2013–2014), Diane Sawyer (1998–2000), Charles Gibson (1998–2000), Sam Donaldson (1998–2000), Connie Chung (1998–2000)

Network ABC

"ABC's original hour-long news magazine. " - IMDB

Good Morning America

Original Release November 3, 1975 – Present 

No. of Seasons 48 (and counting)

No. of Episodes

Stars David Hartman (1975 - 1987), Nancy Dussault (1975 - 1977) Sandy Hill (1977 - 1980), Joan Lunden (1980 - 1987), Charles Gibson (1987 - 2006),  Joan Lunden (1987 - 1997), Lisa McRee (1997 - 1999), Diane Sawyer (1999 - 2006)

Network ABC

"ABC's "Good Morning America" presents the News and Information Source of the day's topics and journalism. " - IMDB