10 superb Seventies TV shows turning 50 years old in 2022

M*A*S*H, The Waltons, Newhart, Barker… best TV year ever??

History packed a lot of events into 1972. Vietnam, Watergate. The last American walked on the moon. The video game era began with the introduction of the first home console and Pong. The Godfather ushered in a new era of Hollywood. The Joy of Sex was published.

Television was no different. Iconic series were launched — some of which still carry on today. MeTV favorites, superlative spin-offs, sensational sitcoms… 1972 had it all. Let's take a look at 10 beloved shows that kicked off that year.

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1. The Bob Newhart Show


Newhart was no stranger to TV. Heck, this wasn't even the first series titled The Bob Newhart Show — there was a short-lived variety endeavor of the same name back in 1961. He won an Emmy for it. But this would be the comedians first (of several) hit sitcom — casting him as a Chicago psychologist. A killer supporting cast, including Suzanne Pleshette as his wife, helped make this one of the sharpest comedies of the era. Well, ever. It still feels modern. Maybe not those pants.

Image: The Everett Collection

2. Emergency!


Mantooth. Tighe. The guy who played firefighters Gage and DeSoto get most of the attention, but this realistic procedural shined a light on all aspects of emergencies, from the first responders to the hospital workers. It also helped promote the very concept and need of EMTs, which were not really a thing yet in America.

Image: The Everett Collection

3. Kung Fu


The notion of bald David Carradine dispensing martial arts might seem silly to modern folks, but Kung Fu helped popularize the art form in the West — not to mention the Tao Te Ching, Taoism and calling people "Grasshopper." Keye Luke (Master Po) and Philip Ahn (Master Kan) rounded out the cast. It worked — and clicked — because it was essentially a Western. Would we have The Karate Kid or The Wu-Tang Clan without it?

Image: The Everett Collection

4. M*A*S*H


What can we say that we haven't said in hundreds of articles and quizzes? Quite simply, M*A*S*H is arguably the greatest TV series of all time. It's hard to argue with the numbers from that finale.

Image: The Everett Collection

5. Maude


The first of many spin-offs from the radically popular All in the Family, Maude is the rare spin-off to spawn its own spin-off (Good Times). The boundary-pushing (and button-pushing) Norman Lear universe truly expanded in 1972. Bea Arthur burst from the screen as the opinionated Maude Findlay, pushing progressive ideas into the living room. Awesome theme song from Donny Hathaway, too. Yes, that's how good TV was then — they got Donny freakin' Hathaway to sing a theme song.

Image: The Everett Collection

6. The Price Is Right


Okay, technically, this was "The New Price Is Right," because a game show of the same name and concept aired in 1960s. And, technically, there were two versions of The Price Is Right to kick off in 1972, including a primetime edition hosted by Dennis James. But, let's be honest, this THE BOB BARKER SHOW we are really talking about, the daytime edition that spun its big wheel in 1972 and Plinko'ed its way into America's fabric.

Image: The Everett Collection

7. The Rookies


In hindsight, this police procedural is most remembered as the launchpad for Kate Jackson, who would become a television staple thanks to Charlie's Angels, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, etc. But like Adam-12, The Rookies helped to humanize police officers and show a more grounded approach to their work.

Image: The Everett Collection

8. Sanford and Son


"I'm coming, Elizabeth!" Redd Foxx was a comedy legend by this point, thanks to decades of "party records" and hair-raising stand-up routines. Millions had listened to him. Normal Lear gave him a brilliant vehicle for physical comedy, as Foxx clutched his chest and staggered around his junkyard home. This show — a remake of the British Steptoe and Son, remember — was massive, leading to spin-offs like Grady and Sanford Arms. Oh, and another awesome theme song. By Quincy Jones!

Image: The Everett Collection

9. The Streets of San Francisco


Michael Douglas — the only Marvel Cinematic Universe hero to be an action hero in 1972, too. Before he was Ant-Man, he was Steve Keller, young partner to Karl Malden. A classic rookie-veteran pairing that would lead to countless action pairings like Lethal Weapon.

Image: The Everett Collection

10. The Waltons


By now you're realizing how amazing 1972 was for television, right? Don't peg The Waltons as mere folksy warmth. It is that, yes, but the drama delivered romance, war stories, comedy, and even a little horror. It's an immersive world that keeps luring viewers back in. The fact that it was already nostalgia helps keep it fresh, in a way. It was looking back when it aired, so it only feels natural to keep looking back. Nostalgia would become a big industry (Clearly. Just look at, well, everything today.) and it kind of all started with The Waltons. Happy Days would follow… but that's for another list in a couple of years!

Image: The Everett Collection

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GEMof72 2 months ago
“Sanford & Son” was an important show for me. Seeing people who looked like me was amazing. I still watch the show today.
FrankBurnsEatsWorms 18 months ago
Please bring back Emergency and add Rockford Files
Rita6868 21 months ago
Happy 50th Anniversary to The Rookies! 9-11-1972 first episode aired.Still watching! The plots still hold my interest.They were different than all the other police procedurals.They showed compassion and caring.Love Sam Melville and Kate Jackson.Mike and Jill Danko will always be my favorite TV couple!❤
williamh5790 26 months ago
......thanks for no more...stooges....laurel & hardy....or cartoons.......
Mae65 29 months ago
Can you put mob squad and kojak please vegas matt houston on cable 1035 please
WhiteRook 29 months ago
Can MeTV please give two 70's shows a rest? Cannon and Barnaby Jones. They need to be replaced by The F.B.I. a QM production and 77 Sunset Strip a WB production. I would love to watch Efrem as FBI then Efrem as Gumshoe. A night of Efrem on MeTV OK
adora55 29 months ago
My best shows is Matlock, In the heat of the Night, Gun Smoke, Cannon, Bonanza, Barnabas Jones, Alfred Hitchcock and Twilight Zone
madmark1 29 months ago
They mentioned All In The Family but I would definitely have put it in the top 10 it was really better than Maude and it was a spinoff of All In The Family. Hard to believe a show started in the early 70s would probably be considered too controversial today but people back then people had thicker skin they weren’t so easily offended and the show really was sending a message to show how absurd social issues could really be and it made fun of it that was the beauty of that show.This was a time when Americans did have issues with one another much like they do now but we learned to live with one another and generally Americans weren’t so divided then and got along.
Pacificsun madmark1 21 months ago
The difference between "then" and "now" is that people holding a bias were corrected and shamed, and encouraged to be acceptable by general norms. Some in fact learned by example, while others would probably never.

With social media today, no one's thoughts are private any longer. Something unacceptable (by anyone's definition) said in the wrong place and the wrong time, can be reported. Possibly leading to loosing a job and their standing in the community.

It's the difference between free speech, the sovereignty of their home (i.e. privacy) and social pressure (the thought police). Not based on principle but the from the danger of incurring a consequence.
billtabor61 29 months ago
Wish tv shows were the same today. I liked them all in the seventies
mamaspapas 29 months ago
I still laugh watching Sanford and Son. Bubba is the best!
djw1120 mamaspapas 27 months ago
The last I looked, "Bubba" was on "In The Heat Of The Night", not "Sanford and Son".
GEMof72 djw1120 2 months ago
Bubba was Fred’s best friend. 😒🙄
klheath 29 months ago
What about Leave it to Beaver?
rstuv klheath 29 months ago
It wasn't from 1972.
BrianMoore 29 months ago
My mom bought the whole Waltons series on Amazon Prime last year. She loves it.
bukhrn BrianMoore 29 months ago
She wouldn't have to buy it around here, it's on my cable on at least 3 different channels every day all day, my wife loves it, I'm Waltoned out.
Snickers bukhrn 29 months ago
I feel the same way about M*A*S*H. Seems like my brother in law has every episode on the DVR and plays them over and over.
TownOfMayberry 29 months ago
I’m currently watching Sanford and Son on Amazon Prime.... classic!
Moverfan TownOfMayberry 29 months ago
Have you gotten to The Church Of The 7-Day Junkists yet? (You who are without sin...pick up some!)
Crystal 29 months ago
I clicked a link to shows turning 40 in 2022 and ended up here. I checked the link and it mentions "40, "1982", and Mike J Fox. It also mentioned talking car and Shatner's comeback. Seems something went wrong to end up here.
SteveBunke 29 months ago
what about Kojak, i liked that show

Hosea 29 months ago
1. The Bob Newhart Show - MEH
2. Emergency! - PASS
3. Kung Fu - PASS
5. Maude - ONE BIG PASS
6. The Price Is Right - ONLY IF NOTHING ELSE IS ON
7. The Rookies - PASS
8. Sanford and Son - WONDERFUL
9. The Streets of San Francisco - PASS
10. The Waltons - SERIOUSLY?
FestusFan2312 Hosea 29 months ago
I agree except for Sanford and Son. I a lot of profanity mixed in with “I’m coming to join you Elizabeth” and not much more. I have to pass on it as well.
Amalthea FestusFan2312 29 months ago
I agree with you. I found the show to be mean-spiritied, and even as a kid, their home gave me anxiety. I liked the Rookies, and my mom loved The Streets of San Francisco.
Rita6868 Amalthea 29 months ago
Love the Rookies!
ELEANOR Hosea 28 months ago
What about Match Game? Many of the well known stars of the 1970's appeared on this show. They have interesting repartee between Gene, the contestants and the stars.
GEMof72 Amalthea 2 months ago
mimisgkids 29 months ago
Out of the top 10 shows you said are coming back how many are you airing?
mimisgkids 29 months ago
Bring on Emergency! Now only is it educational but Gage and DeSoto work very well as a team and gorgeous to look at.
Keith mimisgkids 29 months ago
If you have this channel, you can catch "Emergency" on CoZi TV which was on in the afternoon but has been switched to mornings for the new year.
Keith mimisgkids 29 months ago
Can MeTV implement "new" cop/P.I shows on the overnight lineup? Starsky & Hutch, Baretta, The Rookies, Toma, (Toma has been LOST for over 3 decades) S.W.A.T, The F.B.I, and The Mod Squad
Rob Keith 29 months ago
I would prefer that the cop/p.I. Shows be moved to afternoon or evenings. I prefer them over westerns.
Rita6868 Keith 29 months ago
Yes!!! "THE ROOKIES PLEASE!!!???!!!
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