So, Tom made up a list. His Top 10 Sitcoms. I haven't talked much TV lately, and it got my brain going about a list of my own. He says no animation, so I'm going with that as well. So here goes...
10. That 70's Show
Probably a head-scratcher for most of you, but I love it. Now, I didn't watch the final season, but the first seven years, for my money, are great. Two words: Red Forman.
9. Sports Night
I'm fairly certain this was the first TV DVD set I ever bought. I never got to see the show in its original airing, catching it only when Comedy Central picked it up. But from episode one I was hooked. I wish Sorkin had continued with this show instead of West Wing (sue me, I hate it, it bores the hell out of me). I don't think I found a show I loved as much until Scrubs and Arrested came along.
I think part of the appeal for this show, for me, was the brother's aspect. Their relationship is so off and on, especially during the first few seasons, that it's sometimes like watching pieces of my life. Only without the airplane. It also introduced the world to two people who finally seem to be getting their due as actors; Tony Shaloub and thomas Hayden Church. I will always wonder how the hell someone living up north manged to have that thick of a southern accent (Helen). Yeah, I know it's not really thick, but it's still there.
7. All in the Family
Much like Andy Griffith (which I'll get to soon), it lost something after about five years. Only here it wasn't a character it was the situation. When Mike and Gloria moved out of the house the show really lost what made it so great. Even then it had its moments. But, yeah, those first five years or so are just great television. Who could ever forget Sammy Davis planting one on lovable bigot Archie Bunker's cheek? It'll always be one of the funniest moments in TV history.
"I'm the piece of chelief." Future WKRP chief, Gordon Jump said that in one of the first episodes I remember watching. I think it was around the middle of season one. But, for me, it stands as one of the funniest deliveries of any line in any show ever (oddly, he has another one of those to his credit, as Tom pointed out: "As God as my witness I thought tureys could fly"). And that doesn't even touch on the insane, goofy brilliance that was Soap. Mocking the daytime dramas, the show got away with things that few comedies could. Murders, prison sentences, alien abductions, demon posession, the first openly gay (regular) character ever on American television, cults...you name it they did it. And somehow it worked.
I remember when this show went off the air. I was only 14, but I still cried. It really was like saying goodbye to your friends of the last eleven years. It also produced the longest running character in TV history, Frasier Crane. And, as Tom also points out, it survived, no, thrived, even after a major casting change. Maybe one of the only shows to do so. Also, the episode where Sam loses his lucky bottle cap: maybe the greatest, tensest moment in any sitcom ever.
4. Arrested Development
Three years, 53 episodes. The funniest show since Seinfeld ended its run, it didn't get many (read: enough) episodes, so they had to make every one of them count. And they do. There isn't a single one that doesn't get me roaring with laughter.
This is a tough call. It's easily a top five on my list, I wasn't sure about top three. But here it is. And it deserves to be here. Very few shows have the ability to me me laugh and cry, but to be able to do it in a single episode, that takes some serious writing chops. I've admittedly fallen behind with watching the show in the last few years, mostly because of scheduling rotations, but the first three years are three of the best any show has ever had.
2. The Andy Griffith Show
Even the episodes without Barney, after the show went to color, have the occasional laugh. But, for the first five years Andy and Don are arguably the greatest comedy duo ever on television. It boasts some of the greatest, funniest TV moments of all time (Barney pretending to be a mannequin, Barney reciting the preamble, any damn time he locked himself in the cell, teaching Otis how to drive...), and the list of spin-offs as well as the number of careers it launched is just astounding.
It's simply the funniest show ever on television. Has any show EVER influenced culture as much as this one? Certainly no half hour comedy ever has. I can watch any episode and laugh, I don't think any other sitcom can do that. Not much I can say beyond that.
Yeah, there are probably a few that deserve mention, and there are definitely some that I haven't seen enough episodes to get them on the list. But, hey, that's where it stands.
And if I'd included animated programs? Well, that's be a different list altogether. Futurama, the Simpsons, Family Guy, King of the Hill, ATHF, Venture Bros. They might have knocked a few out of the top ten.