On Tuesday, CBS will launch a new show, “Golden Boy,” on the heels of Fox’s “The Following” and ahead of NBC’s upcoming “Hannibal,” among others. While it is still too early to say whether these shows will be hits, some of TV’s most memorable series over the years have been launched midseason. The List this week examines the top 10 midseason replacements that have now become part of American culture.
- 10. “Married… with Children” (April 5, 1987 - June 9, 1997) - Controversial throughout its run for its sexual innuendo and raunchy humor, this comedy about the Bundys, a dysfunctional Chicago family, helped generate ratings — and buzz — for the fledgling FOX network.
- 9. “Grey's Anatomy” (March 27, 2005 - present) - This medical drama focused on the romantic and professional lives of the staff of a Seattle hospital. A hit from its inception, “Grey's Anatomy,” especially its season finales, has been one of the most talked-about television shows of the last decade.
- 8. “Sanford and Son” (Jan. 14, 1972 - March 25, 1977) - This sitcom revolved around Fred G. Sanford (Redd Foxx), an opinionated Los Angeles junk dealer who lived with his adult son, Lamont (Demond Wilson). Together, they ran their salvage business in Watts, getting on each other’s nerves, yet always making up in the end, due to the deep bond of love between them. “Sanford and Son” was in the top ten of the ratings for its entire six-season run, showing that black television shows could have a wide ranging appeal.
- 7. “Barnaby Jones” (Jan. 28, 1973 - April 3, 1980) - A 1970s drama from noted television producer Quinn Martin, “Barnaby Jones” featured Buddy Ebsen as a private eye who came out of retirement to take over the family detective agency after the death of his son. With help from his daughter in law, Barnaby eschewed brawn, solving cases with his brains, street smarts and forensic evidence instead. “Barnaby Jones” proved that a show whose lead was an older character could enjoy widespread success.
- 6. “Happy Days” (Jan. 15, 1974 - Sept. 24, 1984) - One of the most popular comedies of the 1970s, “Happy Days” was set in nostalgic 1950s Milwaukee and followed the adventures of the all-American Cunningham family and their friends. The Cunningham’s friend, motorcycle-riding ladies man Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, portrayed by Henry Winkler, was the show’s breakout star and became an instantly recognizable American icon.
- 5. “Laverne and Shirley” (Jan. 27, 1976 - May 10, 1983) - A spinoff of “Happy Days,” “Laverne and Shirley” revolved around two single blue-collar women who worked in a Milwaukee brewery and lived together in a basement apartment. This comedy was an instant hit and, in only its second season, became TV’s top-rated show.
- 4. “The Jeffersons” (Jan. 18, 1975 - July 2, 1985) - A spinoff of the popular “All in the Family,” this sitcom told the story of George and Louise Jefferson, an African American dry cleaner and his wife who moved from Queens to a luxury apartment on Manhattan’s east side. Its theme song “Movin’ on Up” is instantly recognizable to this day. “The Jeffersons” remains the longest-running show with a primarily black cast in the history of television.
- 3. “Three's Company” (March 15, 1977 - Sept. 18, 1984) - This sitcom revolved around Jack Tripper (John Ritter), a man who pretends to be gay so that the landlord will allow him to live platonically in a Santa Monica apartment with two female roommates. The frequent misunderstandings and sexual double entendres — risque for its time — made “Three's Company” an immediate hit. Despite several cast changes, “Three's Company” stayed near the top of the ratings for the majority of its run.
- 2. “All in the Family” (Jan. 12, 1971 - April 8, 1979) - Television producer Norman Lear’s sitcom “All in the Family” was one of the most groundbreaking shows in television history. It focused on prejudiced blue-collar worker Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) and the disagreements he had with his loving wife, Edith, his daughter, Gloria, and his son-in-law, Mike. “All in the Family” dealt with controversial topics that were rarely addressed on television, let alone sitcoms — racism, homosexuality, sexism, women’s rights, rape, impotence and menopause, to name a few. “All in the Family” soon became the top-ranked show on television, a distinction it held for five straight seasons.
- 1. “The Dukes of Hazzard” (Jan. 26, 1979 - Feb. 8, 1985) - This show told the story of Bo and Luke Duke, two cousins who spent most of their free time time riding around Hazzard County, Georgia, in the “General Lee,” their 1969 Dodge Charger. Bo and Luke, who lived on the family farm with their uncle Jesse and cousin Daisy, inevitably became entangled in the nefarious schemes of crooked county commissioner Boss Hogg and his corrupt sheriff, Roscoe P. Coltrane. The show, which featured non-stop action and car chases galore, became essential Friday night viewing for many families. “The Dukes of Hazzard” remains popular in syndication, continuing to generate a wide range of merchandise, as it did during its original run.
Compiled by John Sopko
Sources: TV Guide, Wikipedia, Huffington Post, imdb.com, classictvhits.com, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (Ninth Edition).
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