1. The Time Tunnel (1966-1967) 30 episodes
This great lost classic was Irwin Allen's third science fiction contribution to American television. Already enjoying success with "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea" and "Lost In Space," Irwin, with the financial support of close friend Groucho Marx, launched "The Time Tunnel" on Friday, September 9, 1966 to generally positive reviews. Visually impressive, this imaginative series followed the adventures of two scientists who leapt into the not-yet-perfected time tunnel to save the project from losing government funding. Followed closely by a team of fellow scientists back home who view their adventures and frequently try to retrieve them, Tony Newman and Doug Phillips transported into and out of famous, and not so famous, moments in history -- at least until a new (and apparently mentally challenged) network president arrived and promptly cancelled the show in 1967 (to make room for "Custer," one of the worst shows in history.)
2. The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) 154 episodes
Often mentioned as the most intelligent and philosophical program in history, Rod Serling's brilliant anthology series set a standard that will probably never again be equalled. The program showcased consistently outstanding scripts, excellent production values, perfect casting and the amazing vision of Serling himself along with his distinguished staff of some of the finest writers the medium has ever known. Though he more than once received the criticism that his scripts were "too thoughtful" and was constantly fighting the network over story content, Serling's determination and talent prevailed and his show became and still remains a landmark television achievement. Focusing on science fiction, fantasy and supernatural elements, it explored nearly every corner of that vast, unknown region located just beyond the edge of everyday life. It also offered deep insight into the human condition while granting us access to Rod Serling's fascinating mind as well.
3. Star Trek (1966-1969) 79 episodes
This revolutionary, visionary program set new standards in television, science fiction and about a dozen other categories and is more widely watched and vasted appreciated today -- thirty years after its original network run -- than it was initially. Another brilliant show that, in addition to providing thoughtful, entertaining drama with a sense of humor, also dealt with a wide range of social, philosophical, psychological and emotional issues by placing them in the "safe" context of a starship in the distant future. It also presented excellent stories, impressive (at the time) special effects and the magic of the Kirk-Spock-McCoy interaction. Creator Gene Roddenberry succeeded in taking viewers "where no man has gone before." while also giving us something significant to consider. Interviewed just prior to the launching of "Next Generation," Leonard Nimoy accurately observed that "you can't catch lightning in a bottle twice!" Though "Next Generation" came the closest to the magic of the original, he was right.
4. The Avengers (1961-1969) 161 episodes
A worldwide favorite, this 60s classic offered the stylish, imaginative adventures of two top flight British secret agents, John Steed and Emma Peel. Though the series began with two male leads, changed to Steed and Cathy Gale, switched again for two seasons to Steed and Emma Peel and finished up with Steed and Tara King, it was the Peel episodes for which the show is most famous. Professional, sophisticated and the perfect team, Steed and Mrs. Peel (her husband Peter had died in a plane crash), broke new ground by presenting a male/female team as complete equals with mutual respect. The program paired their finely drawn and engaging characters with intelligent scripts and interesting stories creating an instant smash that would resonate for decades. With their personal relationship kept tantalizingly vague, all that was clear was that this was an exceptional duo, uniquely qualified to solve every case that came their way with a grace and wit never before or since seen on television. John Steed put it best at the beginning of most episodes: "Mrs. Peel, we're needed!"
5. Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974) 45
Considered by many to be the most brilliant and imaginative comedy series ever produced for television, the Pythons set a high standard. During their five-year run, they created some of the funniest and best loved comedy routines of the twentieth century. Many of the routines, such as "silly walks," "the parrot sketch," "the lumberjack song," or "Raymond Luxury Yacht," have become classics . Though produced in England, the program gained it's largest audience more than a year after it left British Television. America's PBS began running the series in 1975, word began to spread, and suddenly the network had the biggest smash in its history. Pythonmania swept the nation resulting in cult-like viewings of the show every week, discussions the following day about the program, and eager anticipation for the next episode. "Did you see "Python" last night?" is still considered by some to be one of the most representative high school yearbook quotes of the mid-70s. At worst, uneven, at best, comic brilliance, Monty Python has become the standard by which all intelligent, literate, eccentric comedy is judged.