Ash Wednesday: Bruce Campbell’s top 5 TV watchlist


Five years ago, TV Guide tasked Bruce Campbell with naming his favorite television shows. Get ready fans, his list may surprise you.

“Gilligan, little buddy, come with me.” – Skipper Jonas Grumby

The Golden Age of Television

When Bruce Campbell was asked five years ago by TV Guide to list his favorite television shows, he leaned heavily on his formative years. A man of eclectic interests, his tastes lean toward comedies and science-fiction.

Anyone who has read his book, Hail to the Chin, knows that he has a certain fondness for nostalgia preferring classic movies, soft Rock like the Carpenters and television shows from the 60s and 70s. So, some of the series that appear on his TV Watchlist are familiar, others not so much.

Grab your remote, settle in to your favorite chair and let’s go back to the golden age of television.

The Watchlist

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Bruce Campbell – Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea – Courtesy of ABC and Fox

Oddly enough, I loved this show when I was growing up. So much so that I wrote about it for Cult Faction. The master of disaster, producer Irwin Allen was the showrunner. Allen later became known for some of the biggest grossing catastrophe classics of the 1970s such as the Poseidon Adventure and the Towering Inferno.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was about the adventures of the crew onboard the submarine Seaview helmed by the capable Admiral Harriman Nelson (Richard Basehart). Their mission was to deal with all threats to the planet including extraterrestrial.

It wasn’t unusual for the Seaview squad to contend with monsters (like a giant octopus) and even aliens on a weekly basis. One of the reasons why this made Campbell’s list is because he loved the fact that it was “an underwater sea adventure with lots of cheesy special effects.” The show even had a flying sub, the FS1!

Gilligan’s Island

Bruce Campbell – Gilligan’s Island – Courtesy of Gladasya Productions and CBS

Who doesn’t remember the tale of these beloved castaways and the SS Minnow? This is a childhood staple brought to us from the mind of Sherwood Schwartz. He was also responsible for introducing us to the Brady Bunch.

Schwartz was a power producer in the 60s and 70s with many credits. Some fun behind the scenes facts, Richard Donner of Superman fame and the great Ida Lupino directed episodes. Basically, each week the Skipper, Gilligan, Professor, Mary Ann, Ginger and the Howells would all try some scheme to get off the island.

Of course, there was a weekly guest star but none of them managed to rescue the gang. Last year at the Saturn Awards, Bruce met Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann and he posted this picture on Twitter with the following caption:

“Totally jazzed to meet Dawn Wells from Gilligan’s Island at the Saturn Awards. Hotter than Ginger 5 ways come Sunday!”

Bruce Campbell – Dawn Wells – Mary Ann – Gilligan’s Island- Courtesy of Bruce Campbell Twitter

Here is what Campbell had to say about why this perennial favorite made his list, “I was a big Gilligan’s Island fan. I don’t know why. It’s like eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It just goes down easy.”

T.J. Hooker

Bruce Campbell – The Cast of TJ Hooker – Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Television, Spelling-Goldberg Productions

According to Bruce, this is one of his “guilty pleasures.” T.J. Hooker ran from 1982-1986 and I never missed an episode. Since this was another one of my favorite tv series during my formative years, I also wrote about this show for Cult Faction.

One of the interesting things about it is Aaron Spelling produced it. Yes, that Aaron Spelling of overblown night time soap opera fame (Dynasty). Starring television icon, William Shatner as the title character, Hooker was a former detective who went back to being a beat cop after his partner was murdered.

On the streets again, he trains and mentors rookie cop Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed). Shatner also directed the series and so did his close friend and former Star Trek co-star Leonard Nimoy.

Fans of Bruce Campbell know that William Shatner is one of his idols. They also know the infamous story about him learning the Shatner power slide from the master himself. This maneuver was later used in the first episode of Ash vs Evil Dead, ‘El Jefe.’

Why does Bruce dig this show so much? “Because when you record them, you can go back over the cheesiest of cheesy parts.”

Lawrence Welk

Bruce Campbell – Lawrence Welk Show – Courtesy of Synergy Entertainment

In Hail to the Chin, well, even before that book, we learn about Campbell’s affinity for the bandleader from North Dakota. For anyone who grew up in the 60s and 70s, this was the show that you watched with your grandparents. Lawrence Welk and the Carol Burnett Show were Saturday nights for me and the relatives.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Welk, this was a show that featured singers, dancers and big band music. Unlike America’s Got Talent, this was an actual variety show with professionals.

Not only is Bruce a fan but so is his former Burn Notice co-star, Coby Bell! On their downtime during the series, the pair would get together and watch episodes that Campbell had recorded. What was it about this program that floated his boat?

“It was so relentlessly square it was hip, so tragically unfunny it was hilarious. With hokey dance numbers, costumes from Planet Polyester and old-timey musical themes, the whole show was kind of a joke.”

Star Trek

Bruce Campbell – William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy – Courtesy of Desilu Productions, Norway Corporation, Paramount Television

It’s no secret that Star Trek was one of Bruce and his brother Don’s favorite shows as youngsters. As a matter of fact, Campbell has mentioned this in countless interviews. We all know that he and William Shatner are pals and have lively exchanges on Twitter.

In 2016, Bruce participated in a documentary on the History Channel called 50 Years of Star Trek. For New Year’s, he tweeted out the following picture of himself dressed as Captain James T. Kirk.

Bruce Campbell – Captain James T. Kirk – Courtesy of Bruce Campbell on Twitter

So even celebrities can be fans of other celebrities works!

What do you think about Bruce’s choices?  Feel free to share your opinions in the comment section below. We want to hear from you.

Next: Ash Wednesday: Top uncharacteristic Bruce Campbell cameos

Susan Leighton can be found on Twitter and Facebook @SusanontheLedge as well as Instagram @convirgin. She is also featured on Friday Night Tights, the ultimate pop culture wrap up show at Nerdrotic Podcast every Friday night at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT. You can catch her weekly coverage on IFC’s Brockmire at TV Series Hub.