Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Results on Your Favorite Sitcom of All-Time

Thanks to the over 350 of you who shared your favorite sitcoms. Also, thanks to those who did mention shows I was associated with (even though you didn’t have to). It’s a great feeling to know something I did years ago is still being enjoyed today. And now if I ever write something that’s really a piece of shit I can always say, “Hey, at least I once wrote for CHEERS.”

I agree with most of your choices… although in a few cases I thought, “Are you kidding me??!” I won’t say which shows because I don’t want to embarrass the commenters. But holy shit! I’d put AfterMASH up against some of those clams.

Most of your choices were as I had imagined. But there were some surprises. The big one was THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. I think if I took a poll of all your entries, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW would finish first. Above SEINFELD, MASH, MTM, CHEERS, FRASIER, GOLDEN GIRLS, FRIENDS, even WHITNEY. Remarkable to think that a fifty-year-old sitcom would garner such respect today. Hey, it’s pretty remarkable that any fifty-year-old comedy is still remembered today. If you’re not familiar with THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, check out TV LAND or Hulu or come by my place. I watch it a lot. One commenter said it captured the Kennedy Era and I had never thought about that but I think he’s right. Rob Petrie looked a little like John Kennedy and Laura sure looked like Jackie. The young upscale couple raising a small child – it does sort of fit. Good observation. 

Lots of love for another old chestnut, THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. One commenter said that no other sitcom has ever created a world better than THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW and that’s true. Even Jews wanted to move to Mayberry.

Although classics like THE HONEYMOONERS, and THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW were acknowledged, the fact that they’re no longer shown regularly and they’re almost sixty-years-old makes it understandable that today they were getting the same number of votes as SABRINA THE TEEN WITCH.

Certain shows that were always considered second-class citizens in their day got lots of votes here. THE ODD COUPLE, WKRP IN CINCINNATI, both BOB NEWHART SHOWS, NIGHT COURT, MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, BUFFALO BILL, WINGS, BECKER, and NEWSRADIO are remembered more fondly now than when they were on.  And I had no idea SOAP was such a hit in Sweden! 

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT fans remain loyal and fervent. An ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT feature film and ten new TV episodes are in the works you’ll be happy to learn. Sorry I can’t say the same about PUNKY BREWSTER or WEBSTER. Alas, there are no major plans to turn those classics into major Hollywood movies.

MURPHY BROWN received very few votes, despite its series creator, Diane English saying the year it won an Emmy that it was the greatest situation comedy of all-time. Uh, maybe not… but points for humility. ROSEANNE also got merely a smattering of votes. That should result in a crazed tirade in her blog.

Some of you were very specific, breaking down series into seasons. I agree with all those who said the best years of MASH were the Larry Gelbart years. They were the best by light years. And there's a decided preference to the Diane years of CHEERS over Rebecca's. Each era had its pluses, but I do think the first season of CHEERS was extraordinary.

For those who listed animated shows, I found it interesting that practically everyone mentioned THE SIMPSONS while practically no one mentioned FAMILY GUY.  

Some of your choices were from out in left field. DOCTOR DOCTOR, ACTION!, FRANK’S PLACE, TEDDY Z., PARKER LEWIS CAN'T LOSE, SLAP MAXWELL. One person added GOODTIME HARRY – a lost gem created by the great Steve Gordon (who wrote the movie ARTHUR).

And other big shows sort of fell between the cracks. COSBY, TAXI, FAMILY TIES, LARRY SANDERS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND got a few mentions but not as many as I would have thought.

In the gone-but-not-forgotten category:  BETTER OFF TED, NEW CHRISTINE, and even a couple of votes for ALMOST PERFECT.  Thank you.  

It’s amazing how many truly exceptional sitcoms come from the UK and other foreign shores. THE OFFICE certainly, but also FAWLTY TOWERS, BLACK ADDER, FATHER TED, YES MINISTER, ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, COUPLING and at least five others. A few foreign sitcoms you mentioned I will be trying to track down. CORNER GAS, RED DWARF, and SPACED top the list.

Best sitcom title ever:  DROP THE DEAD DONKEY (from the UK). 

Saturday I list my top ten, which includes one that only a couple people mentioned and another that none of you brought up, and still a third that you probably never heard of. Thanks again to everyone for participating.  You'll know I've been doing this blog too long when I ask "What's your favorite PBS Pledge Break of All-Time?"

88 comments:

Steve said...

I would also like to go on record as stating that Everybody Loves Raymond is the last GREAT sitcom...

Anonymous said...

Sometimes shows are nowhere near as good as you remember them.

I was recently watching an episode of "The Young Ones"
It was a very popular and influential show in the UK and I loved it as a kid.
Now though, it seems almost totally unfunny. It was dreadful and seemed like it most have taken barely more time to write than it does to watch it.

Ray Barrington said...

The one thing - with all the talk about Dick Van Dyke this week, that theme song has been my earworm du jour.

Mike Barer said...

It's such an all emcompassing field for someone like me who is 54 and has seen TV evolved through so many different eras.

SkippyMom said...

Well, at least now I think I know how you feel about "Coach", and you confirmed my suspicions on "Will & Grace" and "Grace Under Fire."

Interesting.

iain said...

"Corner Gas" is definitely worth checking out, a quality comedy that's mostly gentle on the surface, but has a nice undertone of darkness, i.e., perfectly Canadian.

"Red Dwarf" is very funny, but loses its edge in episodes w/o Chris Barrie. Feel free to skip the latest 4 episodes entirely.

Kyle said...

"Best sitcom title ever: DROP THE DEAD DONKEY (from the UK)."

I've always thought the best title of a show was "Dick and the Duchess", which ran from 1957-58 on CBS. But maybe that's the 12 year old in me...

Dave Williams said...

No Lucy?? Jew got some 'splainin' to do!

Rinaldo said...

"An ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT feature film and ten new TV episodes are in the works you’ll be happy to learn."

Well, "in the works" in the sense of "Mitch Hurwitz says he wants it to happen, as he has for years now, while acknowledging that there's no financing or other practical underpinnings in place."

Bryan Dam said...

Friday question: Can you give a post-mortem on AfterMASH? You seem to pull that reference out when you need to refer to something truly horrible. I recently watched all of the episodes I could find and while it's no M*A*S*H, it didn't seem embarrassingly bad. It even appears that initial ratings were great and it was moving up against the A-Team that sunk it. You had Larry and Burt at the helms again so what went so horribly wrong in your opinion? What sort of impact did doing AfterMASH have on Frasier itself or you decision to try another spin-off?

Carol said...

You can see Red Dwarf on Netflix streaming, if you have it. The IT Crowd, too, which I think you would like.

I forgot to mention, much to my shame, The Monkees as my favourite sitcom of all time.

I watched that show faithfully every day at 5pm when I was growing up in the 70's. It's now on "Antenne TV" and, while I find it depressing they cut the heck out of it, not to mention the adverts are all for old people products, I DVR it, so I can relive those happy, if wasted times watching the 'Pre-Fab Four'. I think it holds up well, in its own way. (And I think some of the songs are still very good, thank you very much.)

Melissa Banczak said...

Rinaldo- Jason Bateman announced on twitter just a couple days ago that AD is finally happening.

Richard J. Marcej said...

How about sit-coms that we remember, but haven't seen since they were cancelled (and because they had such a short run, we never get a chance to see again)

I'd love to see "HOT L BALTIMORE" again, just to see if it stands up today or maybe I initially liked it because I was only 12 years old.

Mac said...

Family Guy is (usually) very funny, but The Simpsons (series 2 to 8-ish) is in another league. For appealing to every age, background, nationality etc without ever going crass or "lowest common denominator" - nothing touches it.

If the quality of "Roseanne," hadn't dropped so severely, I think it could have been one of the greats. Despite all the subsequent Looney-Tunes behaviour, it was an amazing, groundbreaking show.

I was amazed how good Becker was. I found it on at a weird time-slot on a not-very-popular UK channel. Seemed like it should have been much bigger.

Anyway, good post. Very interesting to see what the concensus is.

Jeff Clem said...

Well, I was probably the only one who picked Bakersfield, P.D. and I was a little disappointed that you didn't mention it, but then again, favorite sitcom is a lot of territory to cover. If I had to pick a second, fourth season Newsradio is a real killer, although I like the first three seasons too. That third season of Green Acres is truly surreal and interesting as well. I guess the reason I am commenting again is: are you aware of or have you ever seen any episodes of Bakersfield? I'm curious as to what you would think of it.

Anonymous said...

Iain must be on crack, for the Corner Gas support. The popularity of this show must be directly proportional to the support for the old Beachcombers show when people only had antennae for reception and couldn't get anything other than the local CBC feed.

It's hard to describe Corner Gas -- basically every character is a walking caricature, the type of one-note character you would cringe at as an extra in any other show. Except they're the main stars. Think Jar Jar Binks crossed with a live-action Flintstones, and you have Corner Gas plot lines, writing, and character development.

I'm embarrassed it is Canadian, that it had govt support for funding, that it even exists. So before you rush out to pick up the DVDs, note that there is a reason why none of the US stations picked up this "Canadian hit".

Poly

Anonymous said...

The problem with a poll like this, and thus with some of the surprising or unsurprising results, is that of course it isn't representative at all, but rather limited based on the prechosen sample. It doesn't tell you what "people" like to watch. It tells you what "people who like to read stuff in a style that a guy like Ken Levine writes" like to watch.

Anonymous said...

Give the britcom The IT Crowd a try, too. It's on Netflix watch instantly and has four solid seasons/series. It's a traditional sitcom approach, really tightly written, with great characters. Can't recommend it enough and I think you would appreciate it if you love Coupling.

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

I agree with most of your choices… although in a few cases I thought, “Are you kidding me??!”
I had the same thought and bit my virtual tongue-- as Norm once yelled as he marched off to a gladiator film festival to get out of a fishing trip with Woody and Cliff: De gustibus non est disputandem, with apologies to anyone who actually studies Latin for more than a semester.

As to the Petries' resemblance to the Kennedys, IIRC DVD said in an interview that they once had a line in a script commenting on it, but JFK was shot before filming and they cut it out.

BobMastro said...

"What's your favorite PBS Pledge Break of All-Time?"

Definitely Billy Joel - "The Stranger"

RCP said...

My only objection to living in Mayberry was Floyd the Barber - he gave me the creeps.

Anonymous said...

I was out of town when this topic came up and didn't get to vote, but did anyone mention
JACK BENNY?

Bob "Melon" Melonosky said...

At the gym, I heard that John August had signed on to write the Punky Brewster vs. Webster movie and that Jennifer Anniston and Will Smith were attached.

Get Smart BEFORE he married 99!

Roger Owen Green said...

While I voted for Dick van Dyke, I think your summary should have included Barney Miller, which received at least a dozen mentions, and was a fine show, especially after the first year, after they abandoned the home life (with Barbara Barrie as Barney's wife).

Oh, I came across this tribute to Laurie Petrie's, well to Laura Petrie.

pumpkinhead said...

Re the "are you kidding me" syndrome. Just a reminder. You didn't ask us what we thought were the greatest sitcoms of all time. You asked us what our favorites were. It's not the same question.

pumpkinhead said...

Friday question. As I write this, the episode of Frasier is on where he is speeding through city streets while Roz gets undressed in his backseat. It really looks like he's doing the driving, though I find it hard to imagine, given what I know about how shows are filmed. How was that scene filmed?

RyderDA said...

If you see only one Corner Gas episode, make it Episode 6 from Season 1: "Worlds Biggest Thing"

iain said...

Yeesh,"poly" what do you really think? As far as your "on crack" crack, as a fellow Canadian, I invite you, politely of course, to bite me.

I'd also invite you in French, but I'd undoubtedly screw up the verb tense.

btw, Corner Gas was broadcast nationally in the US on Chicago "Superstation" WGN, so you're wrong about that as well as everything else you dribbled out.

Sorry Ken, didn't mean to turn this into Canadian internet slap fight. delete away.

Anonymous said...

agree w/ Jeff Clem....really hoping you pick Bakersfield PD!

Ed Blonski said...

No one mentioned "I Love Lucy" in the original poll?

As for why AfterMASH didn't make it, I think it was view fatigue. While I, for one, didn't want MASH to end, I think that after 11 years (and no Hawkeye), the viewing public was simply tired of MASH (not in a negative way, thought).

I wonder if a couple of year's hiatus wouldn't have helped ratings?

Please Don't Eat Me said...

I should've listed: My Mother the Car, It's About Time, and He's Dickens, I'm Fenster...

and, of course, Fox News--some of the funniest crap I've ever heard.

cadavra said...

Mac: BECKER ran for six years, so it was hardly a flop.

Anonymous: I think we agreed that Jack Benny's show was not a traditional sitcom but more of a comedy-variety show: monologue; musical number; sketch; g'night, folks. But yes, it's definitely Top Ten.

Mac said...

@cadavra

I didn't say BECKER was a flop, just surprised that it wasn't bigger - given how good it was.

Jon88 said...

I wonder if "He & She" would seem anywhere near as funny today as it is in my memory.

DanTedson said...

Cheers is easily my favorite. I'll watch it all over again every couple years. Nothing's ever really come close except for The Mighty Boosh, but a show with 18 eps can't compare to one with 285.

And Family Guy >> The Simpsons. The Simpsons is too formulaic and predictable. Family Guy constantly surprises me, which is no easy task.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Anonymous' comment about Corner Gas. It's excruciatingly unwatchable "Good For You!" government mandated programming - (File Under "Comedy").

The two spinoffs from this hit-programming disaster, "Hiccups" and "Dan For Mayor" died mercifully quick deaths.

KXB said...

Family Guy is only "surprising" to anyone who's never seen or heard of the Simpsons and/or South Park, and needs to wear a helmet for medical reasons...

iain said...

So that makes 2 people who REALLY dislike Corner Gas, but chose to remain Anonymous. Does this mean Brent Butt has the power to ruin lives & careers?

Also, Anonymous II, I agree with you about "Hiccups" and "Dan For Mayor, fwiw.

benson said...

@pumpkinhead... Yes, but doesn't a personal favorites list have more validity? In theory, it represents what people really think rather than what they might think the answer should be.

Tom Quigley said...

I can't believe that in my list of favorites I had completely forgotten about BARNEY MILLER also. I guess it was a case of it's never gotten much syndicated airplay or promotion on DVD, so it just doesn't come to mind, but I always thought it was one of the best written and best acted sitcoms, right up there with the others I mentioned in my post on Monday.

gottacook said...

With respect to Bryan Dam's Friday question above: All I remember about AfterMASH (having seen a few episodes during its run) was that at the end of its first season, it was thought to be viable but not viable enough, hence the role of Potter's wife was recast. If you do discuss AfterMASH, please get into how that decision was made and whether it had anything to do with the quick demise of the show soon after season 2 began.

hollphoto said...

No love for "Get Smart"? Almost made the list. Missed by that much.

Anonymous said...

To Iain - Does Brent Butt have the power to ruin my life? No. But as a comedy writer working in Canada, I know that the mandarins at Telefilm Canada, The Ontario Media Development Corp. and other funding agencies do not take well to criticism. More than one career has been ended by ruffling feathers.

I'd normally be happy to sign my name, but I have children to feed.

thomas tucker said...

Hey how come nobody mentioned Amos and Andy, Hazel, and The Farmer's Daughter?
Actually, even though I mentioned and loved Love That Bob, Dick van Dyke truly is my favorite of all time.

pumpkinhead said...

Benson, I wasn't commenting on the validity of the list. My point was just that when questioning how someone could possibly have listed a particular sitcom, one should keep in mind that we were asked to state our FAVORITES, not necessarily the ones that we think were the best written, best acted, most innovative, and/or most artistically resonant. I would have included a number of shows that I didn't particularly enjoy and omitted several I included if those had been the standards.

But "favorites" was the standard.

Favorite shows can be listed for a variety of other reasons. There are several on my list that should certainly raise eyebrows if this were a best ever list, but, for reasons specific to each individual show, they are among my favorites. I listed Gidget, for example, because we've been watching the reruns on Antenna TV and can't believe how adorable and charming Sally Field was. She makes you smile regardless of the material she has, which really wasn't bad on Gidget anyway (in other words, we like her, we really like her).

I listed Gilligan's Island because it is one of the first TV shows of which I have any memory at all as a child, and just thinking of it makes me laugh, despite how inane it was. I have a special affection for it, so it's one of my favorites,

Some may even question my choice to add The Flintstones, but that show was my introduction as a child to a variety of adult themes, depicted in a way that was unthreatening to a child, and I have fond memories of it. If you look back at it, The Flintstones was really pretty sophistocated in its way, depicting fears of adultery, gambling addiction, career worries, and a variety of other grown up themes, which I assume is because it was intended for adults before it became a children's cartoon.

Since we're going there, let me add that I think it's actually kind of rude to ask people for their personal favorites then say "are you kidding me" and "I won't name specific shows on the kidding-me list so as not to embarrass the [morons] who listed them." You want the best shows artistically, then ask for that, not "favorites."

Someone else mentioned The Monkees. Probably no one is going to add that to a best of list, but it is one of my wife's favorites because of how it made her feel as a child and the hours of escape it gave her from a tough childhood. Should she be "embarrassed" for that?

Mike Schryver said...

I limited my post the other day to simply saying "The Odd Couple", becuase I wanted to stick to the rules and list only one.

Now I'd like to mention two very close second choices.
First, "The Good Life". Not the Larry Hagman vehicle, but the British show that was aired in the US as "Good Neighbors". Charming, funny, and superbly written and acted.

Also, I think "The Larry Sanders Show" may be the most perfect sitcom ever.

YEKIMI said...

WKRP is still one of my favorite sit-coms. Having worked in radio, I can identify a real life counterpart to Les Nessman, Herb Tarlek, etc. We had one newsman that came to work plastered all the time, so bad that when he spoke you thought he was speaking Gaelic but as soon as that mic switch was thrown you would have thought he was the soberest person on the planet. Everybody sort of looked the other way about his problem because he was so damn good!

Mike Barer said...

I would like to see a list of the bad sitcoms that were suggested, I imagine that Suddenly Susan and Caroline In the City were a couple.
I was 7 when "My Mother The Car" came out and I thought that it was a good show at the time. I even had a model of a 1928 Porter. I did not get the fact that it was a rip off of Mr. Ed.

iain said...

Anonymous,

Understood & fair enough.

I think we've reached our Canadian Content quota in this thread.

Harkaway said...

This has been a fascinating thread, especially looking at other choices.

I'd echo the thought that The Jack Benny Show was great; I just haven't seen them in decades until recently when I've managed to get access to a few. Although some have that variety aspect of performance (cue Giselle McKenzie), others are more straightforward sitcoms with Jack Christmas shopping, etc. They hold up pretty well.

I'd also like to speak up for Amos 'n' Andy. They ran in syndication when I was a kid in the South. Although they are accused of presenting demeaning stereotypes, to me they just presented another section of society I didn't know. And they seemed much nicer and funnier than The Honeymooners.

Finally The Andy Griffith Show has never dimmed as its small-town humor echoed my hometown. The b&w episodes still entertain me.

I think this should be an annual exercise for your blog. Or some other categories as mentioned above.

Looking forward to Saturday! Thanks for letting us share.

Unknown said...

Surprised no mention of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or the seminal classic Best of the West.

I forgot to mention The Venture Brothers, another favorite of mine and in my opinion the best animated show of the last 7 years. It's hilarious, intelligent and it looks great.

D. McEwan said...

You've never watched RED DWARF? I'm shocked. Yes, seek it out. I can be Netflixed. All 8 seasons and the reunion movie sit on my DVD shelves. It doesn't hit its stride until season 3, but seasons 1 & 2 are essential. The last two seasons are very poor. But seasons 3, 4, 5, & 6 are six gems each.

Gazzoo said...

...and while it wouldn't qualify as a sitcom, there's few shows funnier than "Batman".

HogsAteMySister said...

I hadn't thought of so MANY of these!.

Ken, it would be neat if you could list them all and then take another vote. I'd vote for some I had not thought of.

Nothing about All in the Family? Really, as funny and socially important as it was? Seriously?

HogsAteMySister said...

*snork* hollphoto about Get Smart.

Kirk said...

I actually do have a favorite PBS pledge break of all time. At least, I found it the most memorable. It was called Rock Stars on Ed Sullivan, or something like that, and was hosted by Michelle Phillips. Michelle also appeared in the pledge break, where she was interviewed by a PBS funtionary. This functionary somehow covinced Michelle Phillips to sing the Sesame Street song "Rubber Ducky". Michelle did seem somewhat reluctant to do this (it's not exactly the kind of music she's noted for), but must have figured it was for a worthy cause.

Anonymous said...

Uh, Ken... This post seems awfully familiar.

BrigittaV said...

Well, I'll stick my name on my poor opinion of Corner Gas. I actually spent money on the DVD set of the first season, based on rave reviews at Amazon. What a huge mistake. I thought the characters were sort of lame cliches, and the jokes were rather tired. It sure didn't feel original or funny or even quirky. I couldn't watch beyond the first episode. I think I was watching a very different show than what all those Amazon reviewers had seen. If anyone wants my unwatched first season set, I'll be happy to mail it off, just to get this stinker off my shelf.

Frank said...

I wouldn`t waste to much time tracking down Corner Gas eh.

Frank said...

ps- Ya what Brigitta said eh.

Paul Duca said...

RCP...did Floyd the Barber creep you out before or after Howard McNair had a stroke, leaving him with a speech impediment and trouble walking (which is why from then on he only appeared seated)?

Somersby said...

"Corner Gas" may not be in the same league as the U.S. sitcom greats, but it is undeniably fun, original, and peopled with good actors. And definitely a memorable Canadian sitcom, eh?

Yeah, the two follow-up series were pathetic, but I heard Kevin White (one of the head writers) speak at a seminar and he said that CTV (a Canadian broadcast network for all you non-Canucks out there), based on the success of Corner Gas, gave the CG writers carte blanche to create whatever they wanted.

Regrettably, these guys were so flushed from the success of CG, they figured any thing they proposed would suffice.

Wrong.

Hm. Yup, just another sound business CTV programming decision.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Ken, was this an attempt to determine the age and ethnicity of your readers without asking politically incorrect questions? I notice very few mentions of Cosby and none at all of the vast output of Tyler Perry (who must have many viewers). His stuff isn't really worse than "The Beverly Hillbillies," after all.

So now you know, approximately, who we are.

Pat Reeder said...

In Dick Van Dyke's recent autobiography, he recalls how Carl Reiner and the other writers very carefully avoided topical jokes and kept all the humor based on the characters. That might be one of the major reasons why "TDVDS" still seems so fresh after 55 years, while other sitcoms of the era are as moldy as a Bob Hope monologue.

One of the few that violated that edict is the "Twizzle" dance craze episode, and it probably feels the most dated of the series.

Tom Mason said...

Argh! Totally forgot about Get Smart and The Good Life/Good Neighbors (Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal make a believably goofy couple as written by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey).

xjill said...

I'm still curious as to whether you personally consider a show like "Sports Night" a sitcom?

Rich D said...

I also have to express surprise that you've never caught up with RED DWARF, especially because I read one reviewer describe it as a science-fiction variation on MASH.

Phillip B said...

Yes - I have a favorite PBS pledge break as well. Rita Rudner commenting on the work of Victor Borge.

Had never known the two of them were close personally or professionally. And as a matter of fact it seems a challenge to imagine they have both shared the same planet....

DanTedson said...

@KXB I must have missed the South Park and Simpsons where they killed Joan Cusack and stuffed her limpid corpse in a mailbox. I have a soft spot for The Simpsons and South Park, but the former tips its pitches, broadcasting its punchlines two sentences too early, and South Park has become Naked Gun 2½, insert new tv show/movie/personality to mock weekly.

Whereas Family Guy is just kick you in the balls funny. Keep your helmet - just hold it lower.

Dana Meijler said...

I am a little late to this party but cannot resist putting mine in the hat. It's too hard to come up with one, so here's a list, in no particular order and I list them because they also hold up particularly well.

1. All in the Family
2. Mary Tyler Moore
3. I love Lucy (the first and therefore has to be part of ANY list)
4. The Dick van Dyke Show
5. Bob Newhart (70's)
6. Seinfeld (although in my view it didn't hold up as well as Friends, but it was a groundbreaker)
7. Taxi
8. Barney Miller (still supremely funny)
9. MASH (although once Stevenson, Rogers and Linville left, no)
10. Cheers
11. Frasier
12. The Lucy Show
13. Everybody Loves Raymond (in my view the last sitcom)
14. And my guilty pleasures - Laverne and Shirley, Happy Days, The Patty Duke Show.

Neil D said...

I'll weigh in on Corner Gas as well and say that it's absolutely worth giving a try, but if it turns out that it isn't your cup of tea, that's understandable. Me, I enjoy watching it when I come across it, but it's not a show I'll go far out of my way for. (Mind you, that also sums up how I always felt about Cheers -- just sayin'. It's good, but the characters and setting just didn't resonate with me.)

I think the thing that makes Corner Gas work (for me), is that unlike most sitcoms that one would normally deem bad, on this one everyone carries the "Idiot Ball", in every episode. The people are so quirky and react in such bizarre, off-the-wall ways, that if you come in halfway through an episode you will likely have absolutely no idea why people are doing the weird things they're doing.

Bradley D. said...

Wow, who knew a low-key comedy like Corner Gas was capable of attracting so much scorn? For what it's worth, Ken, I think it's worth a look - as other commenters have made plain, it's not a gag-a-minute, laff-riot type of sitcom, but if you adjust your expectations to suit its style, it's very amusing in its own, understated way. (And you don't have to be Canadian to "get" the humor - I'm Australian, and it struck a chord with me nonetheless.)

(As an aside, to the person who was "embarrassed [Corner Gas] was Canadian… had gov't support… that it even exists": what a bizarre attitude. It's a certified Canadian success story - one of the most popular TV shows ever produced in Canada. I'd have thought that'd be something to be proud of.)

alvin alcibiades said...

I refuse to participate in your favorite sitcom survey. Because I'm embarrassed to be the only person in the world who remembers and enjoyed 3rd Rock From The Sun. Or my second favorite, Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.

DwWashburn said...

Best PBS pledge break? I worked the phones for our PBS station in 1992 when they were showing a documentary on Rocky and Bullwinkle. I brought in items from my collection to dress up the set and the manager forbade them. However the talent (local newscasters) loved them and they overruled her. That was the best pledge break I ever saw on PBS.

SkippyMom said...

@Alvin...we need to be friends. You have a memory better than mine. :)

Third Rock was great and just remembering Lancelot Secret Chimp makes me giggle.

Thank you. Thank you. [I am embarrassed I forgot 3rd Rock].

Cody said...

Ken,

Since you mentioned being turned onto some UK sitcoms, I thought I would mention one that didn't get on your radar. It's called 'The Young Ones." It ran for two seasons in the early 80s and I still consider it one of the funniest sitcoms off all time. Here's the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Young_Ones_(TV_series). Check it out, it really is worth it. The pilot is a little rough, but then you already knew that...

purplejilly said...

"For those who listed animated shows, I found it interesting that practically everyone mentioned THE SIMPSONS while practically no one mentioned FAMILY GUY."

When Family Guy started, I was a big fan. I love animated TV, I love comedy, and Family Guy was hilarious, without the offputting nastiness of South Park. But after it came back from cancellation, they got ruder, with more nasty jokes, esp. about abortion. I'm sorry, it's just very upsetting to me when males make jokes about abortion. That was the first thing that really bothered me. The second thing was taking the sort of English/Rex Harrison personality of Stewie, and turning him into a creepy predatory gay. There's one epsiode where Stewie and Brian are locked in a vault, and Stewie spends have the episode trying to convince Brian to lick his poo off his butt so he won't get a diaper rash. I'm sorry, but that's weird and creepy, and it's not comedy. Not to mention the pedophile old man always trying to get a piece of Chris. And it pains me to hate this show now, because some of the musical numbers done on this show are Broadway-worthy. I'm a huge fan of musical theater. Some of the Stewie/Brian songs, and Brian with an old lady song, are gorgeous.
But somewhere along the line when it revived, it became an ugly, disgusting mess, and now I can't stand to watch it.

BobinVT said...

Favorite TV sitcom: Frasier. Well drawn, likable characters superbly cast coupled with incredibly witty scripts. So many layers, the Martin/Frasier relationship, the Niles/Daphne romance, and of course the hysterical sibling rivalry of Frasier and Niles. Throw in a bit of naughtiness, always clever double entendres, not the rank crotch jokes of Two and a Half men or Family Guy and you have a masterpiece.

Honorable mention is Bilko, an individual tour de force by Phil Silvers, with Paul Ford as a great foil.

Favorite sitcom: The Jack Benny Radio program during the years of the classic cast (with Dennis Day and Phil Harris). Great chemistry and writing delivered by one of the great ensemble casts ever assembled for any purpose in show business. Over seventy years later this show is still laugh out loud funny. It is the template for shows like Seinfeld. Rodney Dangerfield payed homage to it by taking his stage name from an occasional character on the show. The tapes are readily available on the internet. Highly recommended.

RCP said...

Paul Duca said:

RCP...did Floyd the Barber creep you out before or after Howard McNair had a stroke, leaving him with a speech impediment and trouble walking (which is why from then on he only appeared seated)?

How charming to insinuate that I would be creeped out by someone because he or she were physically challenged. In fact, I have no memory of Floyd/Howard McNair with a speech impediment and with trouble walking - so in answer to your question: before.

thomas tucker said...

Okay, I figured out what Ken's going to pick: a surprise pick for Bridget Loves Bernie.
It's obvious, isn't it?

Johnny Walker said...

A quick note on RED DWARF: As others have stated, the show only really hit its stride in Season 3 (much like BLACKADDER only hit its stride with Season 2). There are some great episodes in Seasons 1 and 2, but I do wonder if they're too unpalatable for new viewers.

Seasons 3 - 6 are the best. After that, one of the co-creators left, and the series suffered massively.

I wonder how much its dated, too. The idea of a cool "slob" is very dated now (it's very 90s).

Still, it remains close to my heart, as I grew up loving it.

If I was going to recommend a more contemporary British show, I'd consider Peep Show, The Mighty Boosh or The Inbetweeners.

Also, I'm surprised to see there wasn't more love for The Venture Bros. An Adult Swim cartoon that actually focusses on characters, and not just gags. It's really quite wonderful.

I look forward to reading your top 10, Ken!

benson said...

Gotta chime in on Howard McNear. One of the funniest character actors of his era. Saw him in several roles, but he was especially brilliant as Floyd.

Favorite moments: When Floyd is berating himself in the mirror when he finds out his lonely hearts club pen pal is coming to visit.. Also, when in a lineup being recruited by Barney Fife to be a deputy.


also @johnny walker...
saw a story where Rowan Atkinson said his biggest regret is he never played Dr. Who.

D. McEwan said...

"Paul Duca said...
RCP...did Floyd the Barber creep you out before or after Howard McNair had a stroke, leaving him with a speech impediment and trouble walking"
?

Well I'm currently watching McNair in a recurring role on The Burns & Allen Show as a plumber/widower with 4 daughters (all about one year apart in age, all very pretty, all crazy for Ronnie Burns) who wants to remarry and is having Gracie fix him up with women (His yucky, makes-your-skin-crawl, catch-phrase is "Ooooooh. She's niiiice." Ew!), shot long before his stroke, and I assure you he is creeping me out! He is creepy, skin-crawly creepy.

Nontom said...

Kyle: "Dick and the Duchess" was not a sitcom (not that you claimed it was), but a detective show. It was a "Thin Man" imitation, about a private detective whose wife is (you guessed it) a duchess. One cannot think much of the concept, but it starred the usually interesting Patrick O'Neal and the always charming Hazel Court, so I have always wanted to see it.

On the subject of Howard McNear, we must not forget that he played Doc in the radio version of GUNSMOKE. He was quite good in that. He gave the character an undertone of dark humor that Milburn Stone's performance on TV lacked.

RCP said...

D. McEwan said...
"He [McNair] is creepy, skin-crawly creepy."

Exactly. And of course we're talking about his character(s), not the actor himself...

Nick said...

Oops I completely forgot to mention Red Dwarf - maybe because it's never on here anymore. A word of advice - seasons 1-4 of Red Dwarf are the classics. Then the show kind of lost it's reason for existence. Anyway do check it out and let us know what you think.

Steve said...

Barney Miller is hands down the most underrated sitcom of all time!

micncue said...

i guess i came too late to the party to add my votes for top sitcoms, but i can't resist throwing these into the ether. In no particular order: "Dick Van Dyke," "Cheers" (yes, the Diane years), "Larry Sanders," "Sons & Daughters" (never to be on DVD thanks to music rights issues. ugh!), "Curb Your Enthusiam," Scrubs," "Extras," "30 Rock" (w/ maybe the funniest line i've ever heard in a sitcom "never go with a hippie to a second location").