I think we'd all like to see our favorite TV shows as being timeless, but Prime-Time marches on for them all.
Mostly it's more to due with props and fashions to be seen in those shows, rather than being due to script restraints or directing styles.
For instance, my fifth favorite TV show - 'Columbo'. I never get tired of seeing the rumpled detective solving the various murders in each episode; the by-play with the suspects never gets old for me.
But the technology often roots the cases in the past:
- the answering machine tapes in "An Exercise In Fatality"
- the top-loading video player in "Fade In To Murder"
- airport security measures lacking in "Prescription Murder"
- the lack of basic CSI procedures in "Etude In Black"
Even a futuristic show like 'Star Trek' is now behind the times when it comes to hand-held communication devices.
Here's another way to get the approximate date of an episode if it contains a scene set in a government office - pictures of elected officials on the walls.
"GIVE MY REGRETS TO BROADWAY"
Here we can see the official portrait of John Lindsay in Chief Clifford's office at the Police Department. Lindsay was the mayor of New York City from January 1, 1966 to December 31, 1973. [He is not to be confused with Mayor Linseed of Gotham City!]
As it happens, this episode of 'McCloud' was broadcast in February of 1972, within the time frame of Lindsay's term as mayor. [However, it must have taken place back in the early Autumn, as the outside scenes suggest that it wasn't the cold weather to be expected in deep Winter.]
Unfortunately, Mayor Lindsay didn't make Toob-worthy appearances in TV shows as himself. There were quite a few guest spots on talk shows and a few variety shows, but how cool would it have been to see him playing himself in an episode of 'Kojak', 'All In The Family', 'The Odd Couple', or even in 'McCloud'?
John V. Lindsay was probably not the Mayor of New York City in the TV dimension which houses 'The West Wing'. And he'd be a lot different in a world like Doofus Toobworld!