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The Top 10 TV Shows for Baby Boomers

by Allen B. Ury

There are two kinds of TV series. I'm not talking about "drama" vs.  "comedy." Or "prestige" vs. "popular." Or even "good" vs. "crap." I'm talking about "Teflon" vs. "sticky."

Teflon series are those you watch -- and may even enjoy -- but their impact slides away like eggs off a greased skillet. Some Teflon series are highly rated. Some Teflon series even win prestigious awards. But in the end, Teflon series tend to fade into obscurity like some exotic avian species, what minor fossils they leave behind to be carefully picked over, studied and debated by small cadres of dedicated media historians, but otherwise forgotten by later generations.

And then there are "sticky" series. Sticky -- in the modern marketing vernacular -- refers to ideas or concepts that not only tap into the current cultural zeitgeist, but have true staying power. Many "sticky" TV series are low-rated. Some last only a few seasons. They may even be critical pariahs. But, even in cancellation, they refuse to go away. They become part of us. Part of our cultural DNA. And thus part of our shared memories. (As well as topics for endless Internet click-bait articles.)

The Baby Boomer era for popular culture -- roughly 1950-1975 -- was rife with both Teflon and sticky TV series. This was the era that critics called both "TV's Golden Age" and "a vast wasteland." It produced series that, at the time, won critical plaudits but which today are all but forgotten. (This is particularly true of 1950s era dramatic anthology series like Playhouse 90 and Studio One, prestige programs that were broadcast live and thus never syndicated.) It also produced shows that were critically reviled yet are still held warmly in the hearts of aging Boomers (e.g. My Favorite Martian, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Brady Bunch, Hogan's Heroes, etc.)

Here’s my list of the Top 10 TV Shows for Baby Boomers. Presented in chronological order, the list represents what I believe are the "stickiest" shows from this 25-year period. Like all lists, it's woefully incomplete and probably not reflective of everyone's tastes. But I suspect you'll find several of your favorites in this collection. And some wonderful memories as well.

Read more: The Top 10 TV Shows for Baby Boomers

A Museum Dedicated to The 3 Stooges

What do you give the Three Stooges fan who has everything?

How about a trip to the Stoogeum!

The world’s first and largest museum dedicated to Larry, More, Curly (and sometimes Shemp) is located in Amber, Pennsylvania. This is no “garage museum” at somebody’s home. This is a 3-story building that houses close to 100,000 pieces of Stooges memorabilia including costumes and props from the Stooges classic shorts and feature films.

It’s more fun that a poke in the eye! Nyuck! Nyuck! Nyuck!

But plan ahead. The Stoogeum is only open on Thursdays and it will be closed all of February for renovations.

The TV That Time Forgot: Toni Twin Time (1950)

Think there are some bad reality TV shows on the air now?

Back in the summer of 1950, Toni Home Permanents (remember those?) actually sponsored a 15-minute prime time show that featured twins with the audience having to guess which one had had her hair styled professionally and which had used Toni’s home hair care products. In other words.

The only reason anyone should remember this show is its host – a young guy named Jack Lemmon!

Forgotten Films of the 60’s: Gambit (1966)

Ah, how soon we forget!

Gambit was an A-list caper film that starred Michael Caine as the thief and Shirley MacLaine as his initially unwitting accomplice.

Caine is out to steal a priceless statue from the world’s richest man (Herbet Lom). MacLaine bears an uncanny resemblance to Lom’s dead wife, whom he adored. (Hey, if she looked like Shirley Maclaine, what’s not to adore?)

The film’s main gimmick is that we first see the caper play out flawlessly. In the film’s first of several twists, we then find out what we’ve been seeing is merely the way Caine has described his plan to his partner, an art forger (John Abbott).

Read more: Forgotten Films of the 60’s: Gambit (1966)

Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

What was the first made-for-TV animated holiday special? Oh, alright. The title of this post sort of gives it away.

Yes, before Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, before A Charlie Brown Christmas, there was Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol!

Magoo had made the jump from theatrical cartoons to his own TV series in 1960. The success of that show convinced UPA (owners of the character) to make a 60-minute adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic.

First broadcast on NBC in 1962 with the sponsorship of the Timex watch people, the special took on an unusual “show-within-a-show concept.” Magoo was a great actor, returning to his theatrical roots by appearing on Broadway as Ebenezer Scrooge in a musical version of the famous tale.

Read more: Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

Besides Diana Ross, what other two girls made up the original Supremes?

Flo Ballard and Mary Wilson
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