How many evenings are there with absolutely nothing suitable for the whole family to watch together on TV? Too many. Either the quality is not there or something is inappropriate for someone. Personally, I get tired of clicking through the menu. Don’t you?
Rather than depending on the channels on TV, or hoping that the various viewing services will offer what you really want your family to watch, take control. Get some box sets of the greatest, really fun TV shows that you can all enjoy together on those bleak viewing nights!
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Here is a list of 5 decades of the best family friendly shows that may help!
When I started this list, I thought back to the shows everyone loved to watch. A few things are dated but each one is still lots of fun. My goodness, we don’t tire of old cowboy movies with John Wayne, do we? Some stories are just timeless.
It seemed to me that the easiest way to categorize them was by decade. The true family-friendly selections were plentiful in the ’60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Sadly, since the turn of the century, they are few and far between So many of the more recent offerings are just not appropriate for young children to watch. That is why, instead of separate decades, I lumped 2000-2018 together.
So where were you when these shows were popular? Many of you may not have even been born! Thanks to re-runs, most will still be familiar. Owning your own DVD sets make it so convenient to fill in evenings with good family entertainment. Instead of clicking the remote in a hopeless quest for something to watch, just pop in a DVD.
Author’s note: the claim “good for the whole family” is open to interpretation. Certainly some shows, like Gilligan’s Island, will appeal to a wider range of ages than, let’s say, Magnum PI. You know your family so pick accordingly! The nice thing about these shows is that pretty much all of them are OK for younger children to be in the room, playing quietly with toys or coloring, if the subject matter doesn’t quite hold their attention. It is all about togetherness.
Andy Griffith Show – Sheriff Andy Taylor and his side-kick deputy, Barney Fife live in a world gone by that many of us would like to try on for a size! Gomer Pyle was introduced to the cast in their 3rd season and that character became the spin-off show “Gomer Pyle USMC”
Beverly Hillbillies – oh, to be that sweet hillbilly, Jed Clampett, who missed his target, shooting the ground instead, and up from the ground came oil – black gold, Texas tea! Instant millionaire! (Which would be a “zillionaire,” today, right?)
Dick VanDyke Show – this tv family features Rob Petrie (Dick VanDyke) and his lovely wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) plus their son Richie. Dad is a television writer for a variety show and there often are “shows within a show” to entertain the audience. Full of laughs.
Get SMART – secret agents were popular heroes in the 1960’s and this witty spoof, central character being Maxwell Smart, is loads of fun.
Gilligan’s Island – a simple 3-hour cruise catapulted into this highly successful sit com starring Bob Denver and Alan Hale Jr. The first few episodes were in black and white but most of the show was in color. Fun for the whole family!
Gomer Pyle USMC – very popular spinoff featuring Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle.
Green Acres – this show was not truly a spin-off but the characters do come from the big city to live in Hooterville, the hometown of the Beverly Hillbillies and their spinoff, Petticoat Junction. All three shows were excellent family fun. This one is particularly unique as the main characters are “city folk” – an attorney and his high-fashion wife, Oliver and Lisa Douglas – played by Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor.
McHale’s Navy – a World War II comedy starring Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway about a PT boat and the misfit crew that run it.
Petticoat Junction – that “other Hooterville spinoff” — just as fun as the other two!
Happy Days – featuring Fonzie and the whole 1950’s – 1960’s vintage Cunningham family. A fun look back at a more carefree time of life hanging out at the malt shop and going to sock hops!
M*A*S*H – starring Alan Alda. One of the longest running sit-coms ever, MASH is set in an American MASH medical unit during the Korean Conflict in the 1950’s. It is a comedy skillfully integrated with the truth of the horrors of war and the emotional battles the participants struggle through.
Mork & Mindy – Mork from the Planet Ork, played by Robin Williams. For many of us, this was our first introduction to this amazing comedian. We laughed till we cried when we first saw Mork, first introduced on a Happy Days episode. He was an immediate favorite!
The Brady Bunch – a blended dream-family whose greatest problems were, well, not much. A lovely departure from reality.
The Odd Couple – starring Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau. Their mismatched friendship is full of laughs.
Airwolf – action adventure with a really cool souped up helicopter!
ALF – the cutest alien you’ll ever see and hysterically funny, too. Even with his quirky personality, you could find yourself wishing he’d show up at your house!
Knight Rider – starring David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight and his turbo-boosting “talking” car Kitt!
Magnum PI – located in beautiful Hawaii, Magnum PI played by Tom Seleck in the starring role is a skillful detective show the whole family will enjoy.
Moonlighting – Bruce Willis in a television series? Oh yes!
Remington Steele – light-hearted romantic mystery detective series starring Pierce Brosnan.
Simon and Simon – two really cute detective brothers with very different personalities team up to solve mysteries. They even did a cross over episode or two with Magnum PI!
The A-Team – “I love it when a plan comes together!” Col. Hannibal Hayes And your family will love it, too. Mr. T became famous in his role as B.A. Baracus in this series! One of the jokes A Team lovers used to share was that no one ever was hurt in all the gun fights and crashes. They all came out virtually unscathed.
Early Edition – this guy wakes up every morning with a newspaper and a cat at his door. The paper predicts the future and he uses the information to come to the rescue.
Family Matters – Stevie Urkel! Need I say more? Great family fun.
Fresh Prince of Bel Air – starring Will Smith. Who doesn’t love this show!
Full House – one of the best! Everybody had somebody that was their favorite on this show. Perhaps it was Danny Tanner, or his best friend, standup comedian, Joey Gladstone. Of course, millions of girls were madly in love with dreamy Jesse with the gorgeous black hair (played by John Stamos.) The adorable children in the show were DJ, Stephanie and Michelle – just so cute!
Home Improvement – starring Tim Allen as “Tim the Toolman Taylor”!
Quantum Leap – Scott Bakula stars as a scientist whose experiment goes wrong, thrusting him into situations every week where he “leaps” into the body of a different person in time to solve their life’s problems before he can “leap” back out again.
2000 – 2018
Castle – bored, successful young mystery writer, Rick Castle, gets himself assigned to a not-so-willing NY City police homicide department as a consultant. He is looking for new material for his books. Castle and the lead homicide detective, the beautiful Kate Beckett, develop a romantic love-hate chemistry that makes this series so much fun.
Chuck – this show is a delight. I have to say it is one of my favorites. A geeky nerd working in the Nerd Herd at the local “Buy More” box store crosses paths with a gorgeous blonde spy. He is sent an email that he should never have. As he opens it, he “absorbs” a flash of every national top secret in the world and becomes a walking computer. Full of comical action and suspense, with a little bit of mild romantic overtones, you will love this innovative comedy.
Last Man Standing – this super popular sitcom is still in production, starring Tim Allen and Nancy Travis. Watch the Baxter family grow up and enjoy the antics of the Outdoor Man [sporting goods store] staff. Regular appearances by Jay Leno!
MONK – the quirky OCD detective Adrian Monk solves puzzling case after case.
So, what other family-friendly TV shows would you recommend?