Theme Times – American Sitcoms 1970’s

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Following a Conversation Dawn of Proud Translady and l had the other day l have decided to dedicate British and American Sitcoms 1970’s Part 1 and 2 to her in celebration to our growing up years across the pond.

Part 2

A sitcom, clipping for situational comedy (situation comedy in the U.S.), is a genre of comedy centered on a fixed set of characters who carry over from episode to episode. Sitcoms can be contrasted with sketch comedy, where a troupe may use new characters in each sketch, and stand-up comedy, where a comedian tells jokes and stories to an audience. Sitcoms originated in radio, but today are found mostly on television as one of its dominant narrative forms. This form can also include mockumentaries.

A situational comedy television programme may be recorded in front of a studio audience, depending on the programme’s production format. The effect of a live studio audience can be imitated or enhanced by the use of a laugh track. During filming productions, the laugh track is usually pre-recorded.

Critics disagree over the utility of the term “sitcom” in classifying shows that have come into existence since the turn of the century. Many contemporary American sitcoms use the single-camera setup and do not feature a laugh track, thus often resembling the dramedy shows of the 1980s and 1990s rather than the traditional sitcom. Other topics of debate have included whether or not cartoons, such as The Simpsons or Family Guy, can be classified as sitcoms.



Whilst in Australia, l found l used to watch more American sitcoms  than l did either Australian ones of indeed British ones – so when l got back to the UK in 1977, l was already more favourable towards American TV shows than British ones which l considered many a time somewhat lame.

When l got back to the UK after years in Australia and Malaysia, l found to my delight that many of my favourite American sitcoms were on air here too ….phew!

Here are some of my all time favourites. So are any of these, your favourites too?


1 – 1972 – 1978 – The Bob Newhart Show

Not to be confused with Newhart’s eponymous 1961 variety show, “The Bob Newhart Show” finds the comic playing Bob Hartley, a Chicago psychologist living with wife Emily in a highrise. Bob is forced to deal with crazy patients, his wife and their friends.

2 – 1969 – 1974 – The Brady Bunch

Here’s the story … of a man named Brady, an architect widower with three sons: oldest Greg, middle son Peter and youngest Bobby. He meets and marries Carol, with three daughters of her own: oldest Marcia, middle girl Jan and little one Cindy. Tending to them is a wacky maid named Alice. They all live in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house in the Los Angeles suburbs. The story lines deal with boy problems, sharing bathrooms, lost hamsters, the occasional football to the nose, and attempts at pop music stardom.

3 – 1970 – 1977 – The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Mary Richards is a thirty-something single woman who settles in Minneapolis after breaking up with a boyfriend. She lands a job as an associate producer of the evening news at WJM-TV, which happens to be the area’s lowest-rated station. Her boss, Lou Grant, hates her spunk but often looks to her to solve newsroom (or even personal) problems. Mary’s other coworkers include news writer Murray Slaughter, egomaniacal anchorman Ted Baxter and “Happy Homemaker” Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White). Mary’s home is a modest studio apartment — and her upstairs neighbor, Rhoda Morgenstern, quickly becomes a good friend. Later in the series, Mary moves to a plush high-rise apartment before leaving Minneapolis and WJM for good.

4 – 1972 – 1983 – M*A*S*H

Members of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital care for the injured during the Korean War and use humor to escape from the horror and depression of the situation. Among the 4077’s people are Capts. Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce and “Trapper John” McIntire, Majs. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan and Frank Burns, and Cpl. Walter “Radar” O’Reilly.

5 – 1976 – 1983 – Laverne & Shirley

Best friends, roommates and polar opposites Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney work together at the Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee and keep each other’s spirits up at home for the show’s first several seasons. But after losing their jobs at Shotz, the pair moves to Burbank, Calif., in season six to get a fresh start and hope to break into the movie business. Many of their friends and family, inspired by the women, move to California with them, though they make some new friends as well, including Sonny the stuntman and Rhonda, a model.

6 – 1964 – 1977 – The Addams Family

Morticia and Gomez Addams head a perplexingly macabre family whose members include a giant named Lurch, who acts as doorman, a disembodied hand named Thing, not-quite-right son Pugsley and morose daughter Wednesday.

7 – 1974 – 1984 – Happy Days

Set in 1950s and 1960s Milwaukee, this series tells the story of the Cunningham family — father Howard, mother Marion, son Richie and daughter Joanie. Howard owns a hardware store, while Marion stays at home. Richie’s best friends are Potsie and Ralph. Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli is the local bad boy, riding a motorcycle and filling his days with fixing cars and dating girls. During the show’s run, Richie leaves home to join the U.S. Army.

8 – 1975 – 1979 – Welcome Back, Kotter

Gabe Kotter returns to his old high school — this time as a teacher. He’s put in charge of a class full of unruly remedial students called the Sweathogs. They’re a bunch of wisecracking, underachieving and incorrigible students, and it takes all of Mr. Kotter’s humor — and experience as a former Sweathog himself — to deal with his class.

9 – 1974 – 1978 – Rhoda

In this spin-off of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Rhoda Morgenstern leaves best pal Mary Richards and her other friends in Minneapolis, Minn., to try her luck in Manhattan. That means reconnecting with supportive sister Brenda and mom Ida, who constantly meddles in Rhoda’s personal affairs.

10 – 1977 – 1981 – Soap

This classic comedy series is a satire on all the daytime soaps out there. The stories revolve around a rich family, the Tates, and a blue-collar family, the Campbells. With stories mostly centered around crazy characters and sex, the escapades are as soapy as you can get: divorce, homosexuality, adultery, kidnapping, organized crime, war flashbacks, custody battles, murder and amnesia.


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16 thoughts on “Theme Times – American Sitcoms 1970’s

  1. Bob Newhart number 1, you bet ! you are after my heart ! Also, tie with #1 , (or close 2 )would be ‘Barney Miller” which started in late seventies. Barney Miller show talked about politics and issues, and gave both sides to the argument that are still pertinent today. This show would not be made in today’s world. After these, all others are far away behind. What about Sanford And Son ? w/ Redd Fox ? The Jefferson’s ? Good Times ? Chico And The Man ? Great theme songs , too ! Really great theme songs for those mentioned here.

    1. Hey, l also recognise a lot of those although some l saw purely as reruns once l got back to the Uk – Australia was in some ways years behind getting American and British sitcoms, a lot of the American stuff l used to see in the 70’s was initially and mostly American 60’s stuff like Get Smart an absolue favourite of mine 🙂

        1. Bob was and still is a classically funny guy l remember him doing the drunk guy scene and l was rolling on the floor – very, very funny guy.

          Original Get Smart was superb – l even found the 2009 film very funny – cleverly done, but GS original series classic stuff 🙂

        2. Me and my friends used to play ” Hi Bob ! “, where you watch the show, and every time somebody says ” Bob”, you would take a drink of your beer. When someone in the show said ” Hi Bob”, you would have to finish whatever beer was left in your can ,(for historic purposes: the beer brand was usually ” Old Stlyle ” beer from La Crosse, Wisconsin, official beer of the Chicago Cubs baseball team.Or Milwaulkee’s Best, or Meister Brau, Hamms We used to keep score with ” HI Bob”, and some shows had over 70 ” Bobs” ! ) I do not drink anymore, but it is nice to know it there for me, should I have the notion.

    1. Hey Beckie, good choices, of those three only one was from the 70’s [MASH] but l will be doing the 80’s soon of which those two will be included 🙂

  2. I’ll add WKRP in Cincinnati, One Day At A Time, and Alice (who could resist Flo and her “Kiss my grits” line?)

    Great list! MASH is still an all time favorite. There were some good dramas in the 70s too.

    1. Hey Grandma, yes very much so, all this week and next we will see a part 1 and part 2 style for the 60’s and the 80’s in Sitcoms, but next week we will look at UK?USA drama’s 🙂

  3. Great post Rory 😀.
    Ya Soap, Mash, Wkrp in Cincinnati, Alice, The Adams Family, Happy days, livern and surly, mork and Mendy, Three’s company and many others were very funny, I loved Get Smart and had a thing for cute little 99 😁.


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