As many shows as I've seen, I am reminded that there are four basic groups into which TV shows fall:
1) Shows I remember
2) Shows I know I've seen but don't recall
3) Shows I have heard of but have never seen
4) What the hell was that?
The latter two categories are the most interesting to me, because it astounds me when you think of just how much stuff has been on TV, good, bad, and bizarre. Even with as much TV as I consumed as a kid, growing up with three solid independent stations that offered a cornucopia of TV shows, there's stuff that I just plain missed.
Here's an example of all four types of TV shows:
Fortunately, the Internet is chock full of people who share their memories of shows, which often times is the only resource for people like me who have yet to make the trip to the Paley Center for Media for research.
Someday I'll make it to the West Coast branch of the center, and I'll finally be able to see such lost shows as Turn-On, a Laugh-In-type show that was canceled after its first episode (and in some markets during the broadcast). Any time a book about TV referred to legendary flops, Turn-On was always at the top of the list.
In many cases, I'm sure there's a pretty logical reason why we don't see certain shows: they're abysmal. But I feel like there's a treasure trove of stuff out there that I have yet to see. It's sort of like archaeology, except with fewer degrees, less travel, and (in my case, at least), a developing pot belly.
Some shows defy belief that they managed to make it to air. But everything that did represents the fact that someone, somewhere, thought a program was worthy enough to spend money on and show to millions of people.
A great example of this is illustrated in an article on Television Obscurities that features 10 of the "most outlandish TV concepts ever."
And before you ask, yes, I've seen most of them. You can say many things about me, but you can't say I don't have a morbid sense of curiosity and a strong stomach for weird programming.
I think I'll work on a list of my must-see shows in the next day or so, and why I want to see them. Feel free to jog my memory in the comments.