Route 66 is an American television drama that premiered on CBS on October 7, 1960, and ran until March 20, 1964, for a total of 116 episodes. The series was created by Herbert B. Leonard and Stirling Silliphant, who were also responsible for the ABC drama Naked City, from which Route 66 was indirectly spun off. The series employed elements of both traditional drama and anthology drama, and its setting changed week to week, with each episode being shot on location in the area in which it was set.
Route 66 followed two young men traversing the United States in a Chevrolet Corvette convertible. Martin Milner starred as Tod Stiles, a recent college graduate with no future prospects due to circumstances beyond his control. He was originally joined by Buz Murdock, a friend and former employee of his father played by George Maharis, with Buz leaving midway through the third season. Near the end of the third season Tod met a recently discharged Vietnam veteran named Lincoln Case, played by Glenn Corbett, who decided to follow Tod on his travels and stayed with him until the final episode.
In the only fiction series written & shot all over North America, two young adventurers in a Corvette explore early 60's social problems and changing mores, looking for the right place to settle down while seeking themselves. Tod, an Ivy Leaguer, and Buz, an orphan from Hell's Kitchen, cruise the U.S.A. coping with shifting relationships and lifestyles.
Route 66 was one of the most vivid and important portrayals of American life in the early 1960s, yet, if anybody remembers Route 66 today, it’s because of the theme song or the car or the controversy over the exit of one of its two stars. The reasons for this are many, but foremost is simply that Route 66 represents something of an evolutionary dead end for the TV drama. It was an attempt to blend the closed-off, social-issues-based storytelling of the best anthology dramas with the recurring characters of a more traditional drama series. What gave all of this an even greater sense of verisimilitude was the fact that it was all shot on location across the United States. The series didn’t swap out Los Angeles for Butte, Montana -- it went to Butte, Montana. It was unprecedented, both for the period and even for today.