Monday, August 4, 2014

The Great American Sitcom Post

The situation comedy. The greatest type of entertainment one can ever experience. Not falling for it? Yeah, yeah. Okay, so perhaps the sitcom is not the greatest form of entertainment known to humankind. Then again, I sure do like a lot of 'em. So much so, that this entire post is all about the American situation comedy. So maybe they are the greatest form of enterta...okay, okay, I know what you're thinking. That whole bullshit idea that is tossed about by all the snobs out there, that TV just rots your mind. I really can't stand those people that make it a point to bring up in conversation that they do not own a TV. Trying to make me feel as if I am somehow lower on the intellectual scale than they. Well, to put it rather bluntly (and in a low brow, lesser kind of way) fuck them!

Yeah yeah, I know, there is a hell of a lot of TV that will surely rot your mind, just the way that there are a hell of lot of movies and music and books and so and so, that will do the same. For all those reality shows and silly kidcoms out there, there are also things like Breaking bad, The Wire, Mad men, Modern Family, and Seinfeld. And these are just in recent days. But hey, I'm not here to defend television (those naysayers are just snobby dilettantes anyway) but instead to talk of my love for the situation comedy. And I do mean love. Like I said before, there is a lot of mind-numbingly bad TV out there, but when it comes to those bad sitcoms, I even love them for some reason as well. I would be expected to like shows such as I Love Lucy and Arrested Development (to toss in a pair not expected to be mentioned in the same sentence). As a TV & film critic and pop culture historian, such is to be expected. But ya know what? I like the so-called bad ones too. Granted, if I were compiling a list of the greatest, or even my favourite situation comedies (something I do happen to be doing, and to which there will be a link later on in this post), I would never class something like Charles in Charge with something like Seinfeld, but that doesn't mean I won't find myself quietly singing the Charles in Charge theme song (he's in charge of our days and nights, our wrongs and rights) while doing other things. In fact, I just now re-stuck the damn thing in my head. Oh well.

I remember, as a kid, after semi-graduating from the likes of H.R. Pufnstuf and Fat Albert (I'm still not completely graduated from such things), I moved onto the situation comedy. Sure I did sci-fi (Star Trek, Space 1999, Six Million Dollar Man) and I did action (Rockford Files, Starsky & Hutch, Emergency!) and I did drama (Fantasy Island, Eight is Enough, The Waltons) but my real love was the sitcom. Now you must remember that back in my relative youth, let's say from ages 8 to 15 (1975 to 1982), we did not have such an easy all-access availability to pretty much all matters of media. There was no internet, no Netflix or Hulu, no such thing as home video of any kind, though by the latter part of this time period, video stores were beginning to pop up. Hell, there really wasn't even any cable television til the late seventies, and even then it wasn't a common thing until the early eighties. What we got as Tv-reared children, were five or, if the wind was just right, six channels on our TV sets. A seventh would pop up after a while, but until my family took the plunge and got cable (which would have been around 1981 or so), this was what we got. Hell, most of these channels even went off the air at 1 or 2 in the morning, not to return until the morning shows hit the air. But this was more than enough for my TV watching desires. At least it seemed like enough at the time. Looking back, with what I know now? But I digress. Back to the sitcom.

The first of these comedies I remember watching were in the afternoon, when I would get home from school. These were mostly syndicated reruns at this hour. First was Batman, and maybe some Sid and Marty Krofft shows like H.R. Pufnstuf or Lidsville, and of course, those great after school specials, and then would come shows like Bewitched, Get Smart, Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch, The Addams Family, Hogan's Heroes, The Munsters, The Andy Griffith Show, Mr. Ed, My Favorite Martian, I Dream of Jeannie, F-Troop, Green Acres, Here's Lucy, The Partridge Family, and Love American Style. These were rich and fun after school times, indeed. At night, in primetime, there would be more shows, and more sitcoms. Sitcoms such as Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, M*A*S*H, The Odd Couple, All in the Family, What's happening, Chico and the Man, The Jeffersons, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and later, shows like Taxi, Welcome Back Kotter, Three's Company, Diff'rent Strokes, and when I was allowed to watch it, Soap. Along with the aforementioned sci-fi, action, and drama shows, as well as the infamous variety shows of the day (Donny & Marie, Sonny & Cher, Pink Lady & Jeff) and that always enjoyable annual Battle of the Network Stars, this was my childhood TV education. Of course, many great sitcoms have arisen since then (The Cosby Show, Night Court, Cheers, Roseanne, Seinfeld, Friends, Frasier, Will & Grace, 3rd Rock From the Sun, King of Queens, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Modern Family, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, to name but a few through the years) but there will always be something special about these earlier ones. Nostalgia, and all that, ya know.

But yeah, the situation comedy, even those shows like The Love Boat, Freaks and Geeks, Moonlighting, and Northern Exposure, which could or could not be classified in such a genre, are kind of my thing. Don't get me wrong, I'll watch the shit out of non comedy shows like The Walking Dead and Mad Men, but the sitcom is my baby...baby! And that being the case, and me being a rather obsessive list-maker, I took it upon myself to compile a list of my favourite sitcoms. This list of my fifty faves was posted on Facebook, one-a-day, for fifty days, and played as a countdown, going from fifty to the number one spot. And guess what? People kinda liked the whole shebang. Whoulda thunk it? Save for a few die hard regulars (and I love ya'll!!) there is never all that much feedback here at All Things Kevyn, so reading positive comments about my list/countdown (as well as "what the hell were you thinking" comments) was fun, indeed. And yeah, that's kind of a not-so-subtle hint to get all of you non-regular commenters, commenting here a bit more. But I digress. Anyway, I took these fifty sitcoms, rearranged them into a non-countdown, went and added fifty more, to make it a top 100 (and maybe did some rearranging of the original order), and posted 'em right here at All Things Kevyn. In fact, here is a link to that very same list. Have at it!


So there ya go, faithful readers and true believers, my thoughts on the great American situation comedy. Yeah, I have enjoyed a few Brit-coms as well (Fawlty Towers, Are You Being Served, Ab Fab) and one of 'em even made my list (go check out the list to see which one!) but my love is really for the American sitcom. Be it a forgotten classic like The Goldbergs (the original, of course) or Amos & Andy or The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, or one of the hits from my misbegotten television-obsessed youth, such as Barney Miller or The Bob Newhart Show or One Day at a Time (oh how I loved Valerie Bertinelli), or one of the sadly forgotten misses, such as Bridget Loves Bernie or The Associates, or some bit of situational obscura like Quark or Lotsa Luck, or something from the modern days of non-network fare, like Louie, Veep, Hot in Cleveland, Anger Management, and/or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Even an unheralded show like last season's unfairly maligned (and unfairly canceled) Trophy Wife. Seriously, I could go on forever. With both the good and the bad.

The Burns & Allen Show, My Little Margie, Our Miss Brooks, Father Knows Best, December Bride, Love That Bob, The Honeymooners, The Phil Silvers Show, Blondie, Leave it to Beaver, The Real McCoys, Hazel, The Hathaways, I'm Dickens...He's Fenster, Petticoat Junction, The Bailey's of Balboa, Gomer Pyle, Bachelor Father, Family Affair, The Monkees, He and She, The Doris Day Show, Captain Nice, Far Out Space Nuts, Sanford and Son, Maude, The Paul Lynde Show, Needles and Pins, Rhoda, Alice, Holmes and Yoyo, CPO Sharkey, Mork and Mindy, The Bad News Bears, The Facts of Life, House Calls, Too Close for Comfort, Private Benjamin, Daniel Boom, Family Ties, Kate and Allie, The Golden Girls, It's Garry Shandling's Show, My Two Dads, The Days & Nights of Molly Dodd, Blossom, Living Single, 704 Hauser, The Simpsons, Mad About You, Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Suddenly Susan, Sex in the City, Sports Night, Family Guy, Yes Dear, Grounded for Life, The League, Futurama, Rules of Engagement, 10 Items or Less, The Office, Willard, The Exes, Eastbound and Down, The Mindy Project, Mike and Molly, 2 Broke Girls, Mom, Sullivan and Son, Silicon Valley, and The Big Bang Theory. And these are just a few. And speaking of TV and the sitcom, I plan on writing more on sitcoms, and TV in general, in the future here at All Things Kevyn. Some TV reviews on various shows, and some TV-themed top tens, are surely coming soon. I am also currently working on a book, based on the aforementioned Forgotten TV series. I hope to have that done and ready to go sometime next year, for hopeful (eventual?) publication in the Fall (or early Winter) of 2015.  Woo hoo! For now though...that's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


3 comments:

  1. Sports Night and H.R. Pufnstuf in the same post - this makes me very happy!

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  2. Pufnstuf was just wild and rug induced which I loved. I bought that I Love Lucy magnet in the Warhol style you show here:) Love the list and we watched many of the same ones. Of course I watched Monty Python's Flying Circus, As Time Goes By and Spitting Image! OK all British but I also watched all the ones you mentioned including Bridget Loves Bernie. Gilligan's Island and Lost In Space were my after school shows. I miss Battle of The Network Stars-I would watch that now! I am a TV holic and proud of it!!

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  3. Being much much much younger than you (ha ha) I don't remember a lot of your fond memories. I have seen some of these on TV Land though. Patty Duke, Gidget, Donna Reed, and the like. Your list is like wowsville though. Such a knowledge in TV history. Did you ever take your face away from the TV screen as a child? Ha ha. Love ya!

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