The Top...Um...4 (?) NBC Sitcoms of the 1970s

Categories: Film and TV

Two of the very few bright spots for '70s NBC comedy: Eddie Albert (left) and Freddie Prinze.
It's hard to imagine it now, with the relentless success and excellence consistently delivered from the National Broadcasting Network when it comes to sitcoms -- from The Cosby Show to Seinfeld to The Office, but there was a time when NBC's comedic television offerings were as unbelievably piss poor as they were limited in number. That era would be the 1970s, a decade when NBC was clearly not that interested in funny, 30-minute vehicles.

While I, admittedly, was too young to enjoy shows prior to 1975, I watched nearly every show on this list either during its run or in syndication, something that allowed many kids to grow up with shows that were on TV when their parents were young. But even with all the TV watching I did as a kid, I was hard pressed to find a list of 10 sitcoms from NBC during the '70s, so I gave up after four. I guess it's possible that The McLean Stevenson Show, a two-year bit for the guy who walked off M*A*S*H (he managed to make the list anyway), or a weak attempt at putting one of the greatest American actors of any era on TV with The Jimmy Stewart Show might make the list, but when you consider that NBC didn't deliver a successful comedy that lasted more than six seasons, what's the point.

Note that to qualify for the list, shows had to have spent the bulk of their lifespan in the decade of the '70s, but given the paltry list of shows to choose from, that wasn't a difficult task.

4. Hello, Larry (1979-1980)

Premise: One Day at at Time with a single dad.

After McLean Stevenson left the hyper successful M*A*S*H because he wanted a more prominent role in a show, it was natural that other networks would court him. His turn on the wartime comedy was brilliant. Unfortunately, he was never able to come close to his role as Henry Blake. In this, probably his most notable failure, he plays a dad/radio talk show host who moves to Portland from LA with his daughters after a divorce. Unlike One Day at a Time, he didn't have powerhouse creator Norman Lear backing him and the show died after two seasons. It did, however, Kim Richards of Escape to Witch Mountain fame -- the early '70s version, not the Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson reset. She became somewhat of a teen heartthrob in the '80s and now "stars" on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

3. The Bill Cosby Show (1969-1971)

Premise: Cool cat teaches LA high school PE class.

Before Cosby starred in one of the most successful TV series of all time, the comedian had another sitcom that ran for just three seasons. Something of a To Sir, With Love, but with more jokes and fewer tender moments (maybe a precursor to Welcome Back, Kotter and Head of the Class), it featured Cosby's signature coolness and wit. It also followed a trend big in a lot of 1970s television shows: themes performed by a famous musician. In this case, it was Quincy Jones who wrote and recorded the signature theme, one of two theme songs Q has on this rather short list.

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Julia was on in the 1970s as long as The Bill Cosby Show and is certainly more noteworthy than Hello, Larry. (The Bill Cosby Show was on for two seasons (1969-71), not three. Julia was on for three seasons (1968-71).)

Other notable series, if not long-running or well-remembered:

The Partners (1971-72), Don Adams' return to TV after Get Smart.

The Girl with Something Extra (1973-74), Sally Field's third and last sitcom.

Lotsa Luck (1973-74) starring Dom DeLuise, recently released on DVD (and like Sanford and Son, based on a British sitcom.) 


"It did, however, Kim Richards of Escape to Witch Mountain fame..."

NBC, the National Broadcasting Network?

Proofread much?



Good Times was on CBS.  The best sitcoms of the 1970s on CBS would be a much longer article.

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