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Classic War and Military Television Hits: 4 TV Shows That Had the Highest Rating

By    |   Tuesday, 05 Apr 2016 06:44 PM

Classic TV's war and military shows were often comedies about wars that Americans won long before they were launched, often during times of peace.

These shows capitalized on the innumerable American veterans that made it home for ratings, and the strategy for these shows payed off.

1. "MASH" (1972-1983)

Depicting a fictional army hospital during the Korean War, "MASH" was probably one of the most, if not the most, popular classic TV series in this genre. While the show dealt with some obviously serious situations, due to the fact that it is based in the middle of a war in an Army hospital, it also offered viewers much more.

"MASH" provided a glimpse into the lives of the characters, including the humor, love, sorrow, and fear. Most of the dialogue was spun in a manner that made "MASH" more sitcom-like as opposed to some of the other TV shows in this genre during the time.

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For a show that lasted 11 seasons it naturally had many highs and lows in its ratings, but as a testament to how beloved "MASH" was in American households during its run, it brought the house down. The military dramedy's series finale was not only the most watched show the night it aired, but it stood as the most watched television event for 27 years.

2. "Hogan’s Heroes" (1965-1971)

Another favorite, classic military TV show was “Hogan’s Heroes,” a surprisingly funny television show that was set in a World War II POW camp. “Hogan’s Heroes” made spoof-like comedic hits toward Nazis, and when paired with the fact that American Col. Hogan always came out of every situation on top helped push the show toward high ratings during its inaugural season.

But, the WWII-set sitcom broke into the top 25 in Nielsen ratings only during its first season. According to The A.V. Club, "Hogan's Heroes" ended "unceremoniously" compared to the much celebrated finale of the Korean War-set sitcom "MASH."

3. "Gomer Pyle: USMC" (1964-1969)

The popularity of “Gomer Pyle: USMC” was indeed partly because of the fact it was a spinoff of “The Andy Griffith Show,” featuring Gomer Pyle the gas station attendant from Mayberry. However, with that said, the show earned its own identity by offering its viewers some comedic relief, and a good solid entertaining TV show.

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Unlike the other entries on this list, the setting of this classic military comedy never left stateside. Set at a fictional Marine camp, Pvt. Pyle's bumbling antics endlessly infuriated his immediate superior, the tighly wound Sgt. Carter.

"Gomer Pyle: USMC" finished its first season as the No. 3 show in the Nielsen ratings that year and finished surprisingly as the No. 2-rated show for its final season. Television Diary called "Gomer Pyle: USMC" a show killer for all the success it had against the network competition it faced during its run.

4. "McHale’s Navy" (1962-1966)

“McHale’s Navy” may sound like a TV show about an upstanding military group, however, it was about a misfit Navy boat crew that ended up in numerous scrapes in the Pacific during World War II.

Although the show starred Ernest Borgnine as Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale, it featured Tim Conway, and it is no wonder this show landed in the top ratings as it launched Conway’s popularity. Conway later appeared in "The Carol Burnett Show," and continued entertaining viewers everywhere in film and television and golf courses.

"McHale's Navy" breached the top 25 Nielsen-rated shows only once, in its second season.

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War and military shows were often comedies about wars that Americans won long before they were launched, often during times of peace. The shows capitalized on the innumerable American veterans that made it home for ratings, and the strategy for these shows payed off.
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2016-44-05
Tuesday, 05 Apr 2016 06:44 PM
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