At the start of the decade, long-standing trends in American television were finally reaching the end of the road. The Red Skelton Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, long-revered American institutions, were finally canceled after multi-decade spans. The “family sitcom”, popularized by the travails of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson in the 1950s and 1960s, saw its last breath at the start of the new decade with The Brady Bunch, which ran for five seasons. Although the show was never highly rated during its original run, it has been broadcast in syndication continuously since 1974, and many children have grown up with it, causing them to think of the Bradys as the quintessential family — not only in 1970s television, but quite possibly all of American television. In the early 1970s the high concept sitcoms like I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched began to lose American interest with I Dream of Jeannie ending its run in 1970 and Bewitched ending in 1972.
In 1976 Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America and Wheel of Fortune premiere; Sony introduces the Betamax, a home video tape recorder; Fawlty Towers premieres in Britain on BBC2.
The top ten highest-grossing films of the decade are (in order from highest to lowest grossing): Star Wars, Jaws, Grease, The Exorcist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, The Godfather, Saturday Night Fever, Rocky, and Jaws 2. Two of these movies came out on the same day, June 16, 1978.
In 1971 All in the Family premieres. Open University broadcasts begin on the BBC. John Chancellor becomes the sole anchor of the NBC Nightly News.
The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on July 1, 1971, lowering the voting age for all federal and state elections from 21 years to 18 years. The primary impetus for this change was the fact that young men were being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War before they were old enough to vote.
In 1978 Dallas paves the way for the return of prime time soaps in the United States. Abarembo Shogun begins 25-year run in Japan. Grange Hill premieres on BBC1 in the United Kingdom.
In 1973 Large-screen projection color TVs hit the market in the USA. The Young and the Restless, Match Game and Pyramid begin hugely successful daytime TV runs. Last of the Summer Wine premieres on BBC1.
In 1972 M*A*S*H and Bob Barker’s The Price Is Right debut; Home Box Office becomes first pay-TV channel. Emmerdale Farm (now just called Emmerdale) premieres on ITV in the UK.
Oscar winners of the decade were Patton (1970), The French Connection (1971), The Godfather (1972), The Sting (1973), The Godfather Part II (1974), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Rocky (1976), Annie Hall (1977), The Deer Hunter (1978), and Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).
On November 28, 1979, Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed on the flanks of Mount Erebus in Antarctica, killing all 257 people on board.