TV Land shows were first brought to us in the form of an overnight programming block on the Nickelodeon network in the 1980s. Since then, TV Land has evolved into its own network powerhouse, where sitcoms and other favorites from all eras of television history are presented around the clock. From the “classic” era of the ’50s and ’60s, to more recent prime time offerings, now syndicated as “modern classics . ” The Viacom-owned network has even recently begun airing “TV Land originals,” content produced by and for the TV Land network .
As with any programming schedule, the rotation changes periodically, but these are just some of the TV Land shows you can catch if you’re feeling a bit nostalgic.
Classic TV Land Shows
Of course, the definition of “classic” will vary, but in terms of television, generally anything that was originally broadcast between the 1950s and the 1970s. These are usually part of TV Land’s daytime lineup.
I Love Lucy – The iconic comedy set the standard for before-a-studio-audience, three-camera sitcoms we still see today. In the show, Lucy is married to Cuban band leader/nightclub performer Ricky Ricardo. Most of the plots revolve around Lucy trying to perform in one of Ricky’s shows, something he routinely and adamantly forbids. Often, Lucy’s schemes involve the Ricardos’ best friends and neighbors, Fred and Ethel Mertz.
Leave it to Beaver – Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver is an average boy growing up in an ordinary town in the late ’50s and early ’60s. His older brother Wally and friends Eddie Haskell and Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford often give Beaver and his friends “the business.” His mother, June, bakes and keeps the house. Most of the plots center on Beaver or his brother learning to make good decisions and do the “right” thing, which is nearly always explained at the end of the episode via stern, but loving, fatherly advice from Ward Cleaver.
Gunsmoke – The western came directly from radio and is the longest continually running, live-action drama, running for 20 seasons. The show features the happenings in the Kansas town of Dodge City, which is overseen by marshal Matt Dillon. His friends and colleagues, Doc Adams and “Miss” Kitty Russell also feature prominently. Miss Kitty even serves as more or less the love interest for the marshal.
Green Acres – A “fish out of water” comedy, described in its own title theme song, about New York attorney Oliver Douglas, who suddenly decides to move to the town of Hooterville, and live out his dream of being a farmer, along with his glamorous wife. Most of the humor stems from Oliver’s expectations of what farm life should be, and the reality of the odd little town and its inhabitants. A similar show, with the concept reversed, is The Beverly Hillbillies.
The Dick Van Dyke Show – Rob Petrie is a New York comedy writer for “The Alan Brady Show.” Based on creator Carl Reiner’s real-life experiences writing for Your Show of Shows, the show balances Rob’s work life with colleagues Buddy, Sally and Mel, and his home life with wife Laura (played by Mary Tyler Moore), son Richie and best friends Milly and Jerry. Because several of the cast members came from a musical theater background, many of the episodes in some way feature song and dance numbers, as well as a great deal of physical humor that spotlights Van Dyke’s clowning abilities.
Bonanza – Ostensibly a western, but in reality a “family drama” about the Cartwright clan, who live on their half-million acre ranch, the Ponderosa. Thrice widowed patriarch Ben and his sons Adam, Hoss and “Little” Joe work the land, while dealing with some surprisingly relevant issues such as violence against women, addiction and racism.
I Dream of Jeannie – Astronaut Tony Nelson finds a fancy magic bottle on the beach, inside of which lives a beautiful genie. She not only grants his every wish, but this Jeannie also happens to fall in love with him at first sight and spends nearly every episode using her magic trying to get him to reciprocate her feelings. A similar show is Bewitched.
All in the Family – Groundbreaking for its time, the show is essentially an editorial commentary on American culture that uses the overt bigotry and ignorance of its main character, Archie Bunker, as a refutation point. Archie’s docile and rather dim-witted wife Edith often intervenes between Archie and their daughter Gloria or their son-in-law Mike, a liberal college student. Similar shows, with equally abrasive main characters are The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son.
Fantasy Island – Exactly what it says on the tin. People pay big bucks to Mr. Roarke and his assistant Tattoo to have their wildest — or most mundane — fantasies brought to life. Although, they usually end up having some haunting conflict resolved.
The Bob Newhart Show – A sitcom where Bob Hartley is a Chicago psychologist whose work and home lives are often intertwined. The deadpan delivery of the star only amplifies the absurdity of either the situation or the people around him. His wife Emily, a teacher, is often the only voice of reason and sanity.
A lot of sitcoms from the ’80s and ’90s are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, due to their rotation on the TV Land schedule. These shows include Rosanne, The Cosby Show, Married with Children, Home Improvement, Murder She Wrote, and The A-Team. Even recently, syndicated shows from the last decade can be found in the lineup, like Everybody Loves Raymond and King of Queens.
The current slogan for the TV Land network, which was at one time “Take me to TV Land,” is “Laugh more.” With this in mind, in recent years, the network as begun producing its own shows. These have done well with viewers and even garnered a certain amount of awards recognition. Sitcoms Hot in Cleveland, Happily Divorced, and The Soul Man have all placed well in the ratings and earned a strong following from viewers.
Whatever your nostalgic preference, TV Land shows the roots of our television heritage.
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