We'll Give You Three Characters, You Give Us the '70s TV Show


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By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: ABC

About This Quiz

How you feel about 1970s television is going to have a lot to do with your tolerance for camp and cheesiness.  The decade in TV was marked by laugh tracks, scantily-clad women, unrealistic police shows in which cops drove their own muscle cars and characters who spoke endlessly-repeated catchphrases like "Dyn-O-Mite!" and "Kiss my grits!"

A few shows made shaky first attempts to deal with race and feminism; other social problems like divorce or anorexia were dealt with in "very special episodes."  American audiences weren't ready for serious, socially-relevant shows (or, at least, networks weren't ready to provide them) until the 1980s, with the advent of "Hill Street Blues," "St. Elsewhere" and the like. 

And yet, people have a great fondness for 70s television. Long-running shows like "Starsky & Hutch" have been recreated as modern movies, not to mention what Ron Moore and David Eick did with "Battlestar Galactica." 

If you've got a similar fondness for 70s TV, we've got a quiz for you! We'll give you three characters, and you tell us the TV show they starred in. Show off your vintage TV savvy now!

Richie, Potsie, Fonzie:

"Happy Days" was a dose of 1950s nostalgia for Americans struggling with the 1970s oil crisis, stagflation and post-Vietnam malaise. It focused on the Cunningham family, including teenager Richie, but the breakout star was Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli, a hip biker played by Henry Winkler.


Jill, Sabrina, Kelly:

"Charlie's Angels" is another example of 70s "jiggle TV," with the three original Angels listed above all being unusually attractive female PIs. However, we can't overlook the seed of feminism planted by the show's intro every week, which depicted the three women's skills going unused by the police department (they are directing traffic and reading parking meters,) until Charlie recruits them for investigative work.


Hawkeye, Radar, Hot Lips:

To this day, this show is considered an example of what television can do at its best. Surgeon Hawkeye Pierce, nurse Margaret Houlihan (the nickname "Hot Lips" didn't stick all that long) and sharp-eared Radar O'Reilly were part of a cast that made poignant commentary on war and its price, all with a great deal of humor and wit.


Mary, Lou, Rhoda:

Mary was Mary Richards, a single, successful TV journalist. Lou was Lou Grant, her boss and Rhoda, her friendly neighbor. The show was created by James L. Brooks, also the producer behind "Taxi."


Pa, Laura, Nellie Oleson:

This family-friendly show was based on memoirs by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her father was Charles "Pa" Ingalls, and Nellie Oleson was her snobby nemesis, the daughter of the mercantile owner.


Rhoda, Brenda, Joe:

The name was kind of a giveaway, right? This show was a spin-off from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," in which her neighbor, Rhoda Morgenstern, goes home to New York City, reconnects with her sister Brenda, and develops a romantic relationship with Joe, a divorced man with a son.


John, Olivia, John-Boy:

Surprised? Though set in the Depression and WWII years, "The Waltons" didn't air on TV until 1971. The central character is young John-Boy; John and Olivia are his parents.


McGarrett, Williams, Kalakaua:

You might know Williams better as "Danno," as in, "Book 'em, Danno!" This was the classic line of series lead, Detective McGarrett. Dan WIlliams and Kono Kalakaua were his colleagues.


Felix, Oscar, Miriam:

Oscar and Felix, the mismatched roommates, made their debut in a stage play. On the show, Miriam Welby was a long-running love interest for Felix, while "Rhoda," Oscar's goofy girlfriend, was referred to but never seen, much like Niles's wife on "Frasier."


Shirley, Reuben, Danny:

Shirley Jones played the family matriarch, and Danny Bonaduce was her precocious son. Both characters shared first names with the actors. Reuben was the musical family's manager, played by Dave Madden.


Florida, James, J.J.:

This was TV's first show to depict a black two-parent family: James and Florida. But J.J., played by Jimmie Walker, was America's favorite, thanks partly to his catchphrase, "Dyn-O-Mite!"


Stanley, Helen, Jeffrey:

Stanley Roper was the landlord on "Three's Company," and Helen his brassy, clingy wife. Jeffrey was a neighbor played by Jeffrey Tambor. This series barely squeezes into our roundup by virtue of a 1979 airdate, and yet it didn't last until 1981.


Barbarino, Horshak, Boom Boom:

These were all "sweathogs," or students in a remedial class at James Buchanan High School. Gabe Kotter (Gape Kaplan) is the former remedial student made good, who comes back to teach the "sweathogs." (Fun fact: Barbarino was John Travolta in one of his earliest roles.)


"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"

Okay, we're having fun with this one, but the line above (Jan Brady's complaint about her older sister Marcia getting all the attention) is a classic. It has to be said that Maureen "Marcia" McCormick, with her iconically long, straight, blonde 70s hair, did get an awful lot of attention on the show and from the show's fans.


Jack, Janet, Chrissy:

"Three's Company" is what people think of when they think of 1970s "jiggle television." Though the show gave John Ritter his breakout role, it was Suzanne Somers, whom the producers liked to costume as skimpily as possible, who drew a lot of eyeballs to this 70s hit.


Steve, Oscar, Dr. Wells:

Lee Majors played Steve Austin, a bionically-rebuilt astronaut. Oscar was his superior at the fictional "OSI" government agency, and Dr. Wells took care of Majors' newly-enhanced body and its medical issues.


Gopher, Isaac, Julie:

"The Love Boat" was a powerhouse show of the 1970s. Captain Stubing was in charge of the massive cruise ship, the Pacific Princess, while Gopher was its purser and Isaac its bartender. Julie McCoy was the cruise director.


George, Weezy, Florence:

"Weezy" was Louise, married to the hardheaded businessman, George Jefferson. Florence was their maid. The show's theme song, "Movin' On Up," was based on the premise that the Jeffersons had made it, becoming a prosperous East Side couple.


Jim, Dennis, Rocky:

Jim Rockford, a PI, was played by James Garner. Rocky was Rockford's father, and Dennis Becker was Jim's friend and source on the LAPD.


Archie, Edith, Meathead:

Archie was Archie Bunker, the "lovable" bigot, Edith was his sweet, almost childlike wife, and Michael "Meathead" Stivic was his liberal son-in-law. Stivic was married to the Bunkers' daughter, Gloria, and the close quarters (Michael and Gloria lived with the Bunkers) provided lots of opportunity for a clash of generations.


Mel, Flo, Vera:

"Alice" was developed from the movie, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore." In the show, Alice is a widow who goes to work at Mel's Diner, alongside waitresses Flo and Vera.


Robert, Emily, Carlin:

Bob Newhart, "unfunny" man extraordinaire, played Robert Hartley, a psychiatrist. Emily was his wife, and Carlin was a long-running patient.


Fish, Wojo, Soo:

"Barney Miller" was a comedy about the NYPD, but unlike police dramas, rarely showed life outside the squad room. Fish, Wojo and Soo were all colorful officers who backed up Captain Barney Miller.


Andy, Herb, Johnny Fever:

Andy Travis came to Cincinnati to revitalize the low-rated radio station. Herb Tarlek was its crass ad salesman and Johnny Fever was a perpetually tired-looking disc jockey.


Jaime, Oscar, Dr. Wells:

"The Six Million Dollar Man" was so successful the network decided to repeat the formula with a woman, Jamie Sommers. Oscar Goldman and Dr. Rudy Wells had the same duties in overseeing her missions and medical care that they did for Steve Austin, the "Six Million Dollar Man." "The Bionic Woman" was briefly rebooted in the late 2000s.


Pete, Jim, Mac:

This successor to "Dragnet" followed a pair of officers, Pete and Jim, around Los Angeles in their patrol car, 1-Adam-12. Their supervisor was William "Mac" MacDonald.


Elwood Blues, Roseanne Roseannadanna, Samurai Futaba:

Of course, it's "Saturday Night Live," which premiered in 1975. John Belushi was Samurai Futaba, Dan Aykroyd was Elwood Blues (alongside Belushi's Jake Blues,) and Gilda Radner created the character of Roseanne Roseannadanna.


Stavros, Crocker, McNeil:

These were all fellow cops, supporting Telly Savalas's character, Theo Kojak. Well, technically, McNeil was his superior. Fun fact: Stavros was played by Savalas's brother, George.


Billie Joe, Cindy, Stacks:

This show straddled the turn of the decade, running from 1979 to 1981. Billie Joe was the "B.J." of the title, and Cindy and Stacks were two of his truckers. Because of unethical business practices by a rival, B.J. had to hire inexperienced truckers (read: women) instead of experienced ones (men) as drivers.


Rooster, Shiller, Brubaker:

Tony Baretta was a cop who excelled at undercover work. "Rooster" was one of his informants, while Shiller and Brubaker were his supervisors. Not-so-fun fact: Robert Blake, who played Baretta, was strongly implicated in the death of his second wife. Though he was acquitted in a criminal trial, he was found liable for her wrongful death in a civil suit: the burden of proof is not as great in civil cases as criminal ones.


David, Kenneth, Huggy Bear:

David and Kenneth were Starsky and Hutch, respectively. Huggy Bear was a typically stereotypical informant. "Starsky & Hutch" was remade as a Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson collaboration in the early 2010s, with Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear.


Pete, Liz, Principal Kaufman:

"Room 222" was a high-school drama centered on Pete Dixon, an idealistic teacher. "Room 237" is a documentary about the conspiracy theories surrounding "The Shining," while "The Room" is the cult-classic film by Tommy Wiseau.


Sam, Dr. Asten, Lt. Monahan:

Jack Klugman played Dr. Quincy, the L.A. medical examiner. Sam was his assistant, Dr. Asten his supervisor, and Lt. Monahan was the LAPD detective that Quincy frequently disagreed with.


Joe, Peggy, Lt. Kramer:

Joe was Joe Mannix, an old-fashioned PI played by Mike Connors. Peggy was his secretary, and Lt. Kramer was his LAPD source. Kramer was played by Larry Linville, perhaps better known as Frank Burns on "M*A*S*H."


Apollo, Starbuck, Boomer:

Confused? The Peabody-winning "Battlestar Galactica" of 2003 was a reboot; it was so fresh and original that some viewers didn't realize they were watching a re-visioning of a 1978 series. In the original, Starbuck and Boomer were both men, and Boomer was 100 percent human, not a Cylon.


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