The 100 Greatest Moments In Television: 1970s

Sept. 19, 1970
It was a simple little movement — Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat into the frigid Minneapolis air — but in addition to putting a perfect, um, cap on her signature show's opening credits, the gesture also spoke volumes about Moore's new-gal-in-town character, Mary Richards. ''Wasn't it great?'' says Moore. ''Freedom, exuberance, spontaneity, joy — all in that one gesture. It gave a hint at what you were going to see.'' Viewers responded to what they saw, and Richards became the archetype against whom all other successful single women would be measured (Ally who?). Sure, the Chuckles the Clown episode and the WJM-TV clan's group hug are classics, but for us, it's the image of that heaven-bound hat (''a knitted black and turquoise beret my aunt had given me,'' says Moore) that really sums up the creative spirit Mary brought to TV. Rank 2

Sept. 21, 1970
The brainchild of NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and ABC Sports chairman Roone Arledge (who chose Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson, and Don Meredith to be the inaugural commentators), ABC's ratings powerhouse has been crushing rivals for 18 years now. But before that first broadcast — a matchup between the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns — no one was sure how the nation's Sunday pastime would go over in prime time. ''It's an obvious idea now,'' says MNF play-by-play man Al Michaels, who just completed his 13th season. ''But back then you were taking one of only three networks and using up all its programming for a full evening. That was an unheard-of risk.'' The gamble paid off. Rank 43

Nov. 20, 1970
With its formula for finding a 22-minute solution to minuscule yet melodramatic problems, ABC's The Brady Bunch became the prototype for the fantasy-family sitcom genre (including Diff'rent Strokes, Who's The Boss?, anything involving an Olsen twin). In this state-of-the-art episode, perpetually insecure Jan (Eve Plumb) dreams up a boyfriend after her succubus sister Marcia (Maureen McCormick) steals the affections of Jan's cutie classmate Clark. ''The shows were driven by angst,'' says Brady creator Sherwood Schwartz, explaining why Brady reruns have struck such a chord for nearly 25 years. ''And Jan was the most angst-ridden of them all.'' Rank 58

Nov. 13, 1971
Before Duel, TV movies were largely considered two-hour filler barely worthy of the same term as big-screen cinema. But director Steven Spielberg took a Richard Matheson thriller — about a motorist (Dennis Weaver) pursued by a truck whose driver is never seen — and turned it into a little masterpiece of suspense montage. ''The studio asked me if I'd accept a young director they thought highly of, but who had little experience,'' says Weaver. ''I figured, the script was so good, how could he mess it up? In fact, of course, he made it even better. Steven told me just a few weeks ago that he watches Duel twice a year to remind himself of how he should make movies.'' Rank 59

Feb. 19, 1972
Pop pioneer Sammy Davis Jr. broke another boundary when he perpetrated the smooch heard round the world — on the cheek of America's favorite bigot, Archie Bunker. ''Sammy loved the show,'' says cocreator Norman Lear of the equally boundary-busting CBS sitcom's only celeb guest (Davis played himself). ''He was so passionate we worked like hell to find a way to get him into the Bunkers' lives.'' To wit, after Archie becomes a cabbie, passenger Davis leaves something behind and visits 704 Hauser St. to retrieve it. There, Sammy puts his hateful host on the spot, planting one on him just as a neighbor takes a snapshot. For a series used to controversy, Lear recalls, ''the feedback was wonderful. It was all 'Huzzah!''' Rank 7


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