Sitcoms are alive & well

I think most of you know that I watch a lot of television. Seriously, a lot. I love it. And increasingly over the years I’ve been drawn to these hour-long dramas with really complex story arcs. Started with "Homicide: Life on the Streets" (still among the best television shows of all time), went through things like "The West Wing" and now has ended up with all the *fantastic* HBO shows — in particular, "The Wire" and "Deadwood" (and hopefully "Rome," which starts this fall). Some great stuff lately on FX as well — "The Shield" and "Rescue Me".

[As an aside, it’s clear that I don’t like *all* television. Some new ABC show called "My Kind of Town" is on right now, and it is absolutely, 100% putrid. Makes me feel dumber for even watching it.]

Anyway, as much as I like this latest crop of dramas, I have to say that I think the sitcom, long given up for dead, especially against the crush of reality television, is rising from the dead. Not the mainline junk that’s mostly on the networks — Will & Grace, Joey, stuff like that. But more innovative, 1 camera shows like "Arrested Development" and "Scrubs". ("1 camera" is my new term of art for sitcoms that I learned from Bravo’s "Situation: Comedy," a sort of "Project Greenlight" for sitcoms instead of movies — means that the show is filmed with a single camera, but multiple takes, in lots of different locales that generally aren’t sets, as compared to a multi-camera setup that’s more traditional and shot with a few sets, multiple mostly fixed cameras.)

"Arrested Development" is about the funniest show I’ve ever seen. I’m watching the replays of the second season now on Fox, and they’re just amazing — the writing is so incredibly sharp. 3 or 4 times the jokes crammed in, and a very very fast pacing. Funny stuff. Kathy & I are also working through season two of "Scrubs" — like "Arrested," it manages to be wickedly funny, but sweet & poignant at the same time.

And there’s more to come, with "My Name is Earl" (NBC) and "Everybody Hates Chris" (WB) coming this fall.

I’m shocked, but there it is.

As always, important, hard hitting analysis from your friend John.

4 Replies to “Sitcoms are alive & well”

  1. I’m with you on the dramas, Arrested Development, and Scrubs. The problem is that I can’t seem to stick with comedies — even the really good ones — the way I do with dramas. We laughed until we drooled through the first few episodes of Arrested Development, but then we kind of forgot about it. Scrubs I always enjoy when I see it… but I have no idea when it’s on. The only comedy we’re watching regularly now is Entourage; perhaps it’s so appealing to us because it’s drama as well as comedy? It might also just be that we have a Tivo Season Pass for it, and not for the others. Would we watch Arrested Development regularly if we added it to Tivo? It’s possible. Possible.

  2. I’m with you on the dramas, Arrested Development, and Scrubs. The problem is that I can’t seem to stick with comedies — even the really good ones — the way I do with dramas. We laughed until we drooled through the first few episodes of Arrested Development, but then we kind of forgot about it. Scrubs I always enjoy when I see it… but I have no idea when it’s on. The only comedy we’re watching regularly now is Entourage; perhaps it’s so appealing to us because it’s drama as well as comedy? It might also just be that we have a Tivo Season Pass for it, and not for the others. Would we watch Arrested Development regularly if we added it to Tivo? It’s possible. Possible.

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