Hogan’s Heroes (1965-1971): You have to respect a sitcom that managed to wring laughs from a Nazi POW camp setting. Even more impressive: It was a one-note joke that kept viewers tuning in. What new ways would Col. Hogan and his clever crew find to trick bumbling Col. Klink and Schultz into giving up classified info to enemies?
The Golden Girls (1985-1992): Sex and the city? Before Carrie and pals were heating up NYC, Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia were painting the town red in Miami. Sure, viewers normally don’t want to think about their grannies getting their freak on, but the charm of these golden gals was that they didn’t act their ages.
Gilligan’s Island (1964-1967): For a three-hour tour, they sure had a lot of luggage. But hey, it’s not like coconut radios were realistic, either. Nor was the stream of visitors who never helped the gang get rescued. In fact, it’s Gilligan and company’s haplessness that kept them on the island and viewers hooked on the show.
Arrested Development (2003-2006): Bluths, we hardly knew ye. Three seasons of dysfunctional family hilarity and banana-stand shenanigans weren’t nearly enough. The show gave us GOB, Buster and Michael Cera — and, at last, a forum for Jason Bateman to showcase his comedy chops.
Family Ties (1982-1989): Ronald Reagan and economist Milton Freeman, sitcom fodder? They were when it came to rabid right-winger Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox, in a star-making role). Uptight Alex was the polar opposite of his hippie ‘rents, but the Keatons were a tight-knit clan despite, and because of, their differences.
Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979): One of the best theme songs ever was followed by the Sweathogs’ cornball quips and memorable catchphrases. The show also made a star of John Travolta, and if you don’t think that’s a good thing, well, up your nose with a rubber hose.
Happy Days (1974-1984): If not for ‘Happy Days,’ TV land wouldn’t have The Fonz, “jumping the shark,” ‘Laverne & Shirley’ or Jenny Piccolo. Okay, we forgive the show for that last one, but only because the retro sitcom was so filled with heart and humor that one little annoying character couldn’t bring it down. Aaaayy!