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The Art of the Sitcom
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 10-10-2013 22:35    Post subject: The Art of the Sitcom Reply with quote

Inspired by the return (sort of) of Open All Hours, what's your favourite sitcom? Years of Channel 4 and BBC Three's underwhelming efforts to keep it alive have harmed it in the UK, but there's a new one called Man Down starting next Friday on C4 which might turn that around, so there's hope for it yet.

I've been watching 30 Rock on DVD recently, and that's probably my favourite recent one, every episode is guaranteed at least a laugh every thirty seconds, sometimes even quicker, it's that rapid-fire, like His Girl Friday in a sitcom.

But going back a bit, or a lot, there's a rich history, some say the 1970s was the pinnacle of the great sitcom, though going back even further there was Hancock or Jack Benny. The 80s had The Young Ones and the 90s had Spaced (oh, and some other American phenomenon, I forget what it was called), but there are hundreds of the things now. Let's separate the wheat from the chaff, which are the best?
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JamesWhiteheadOffline
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PostPosted: 10-10-2013 23:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hancock certainly. I have a stack of Steptoe & Son episodes to revisit but the underlying misery of that relationship makes it depressing in a way which Hancock's combined egotism and self-loathing somehow avoided.

I'd generally steer well clear of the home as base for the underlying situation, much preferring the institution. Nothing better than the absurdities of the armed forces to supply that. There are bound to be lots of Dad's Army fans but I'm sure the underlying model for that awkward squad was Sgt. Bilko.

Given that he only seemed to have three expressions, Phil Silvers was one of the most magnetic of the early television stars. Like Lucille Ball, his earlier films rĂ´les seem rehearsals merely for the talent which would bloom on tv. It helps, I think, that the shows were recorded live - fluffs and all. Like Hitchcock's tv shows, they seem to be preserved on 35mm film so our fuzzy memories can be refreshed by some vivid recordings of those classic shows.

Time was they were deployed by the BBC as cheap fillers around the witching hour and were part of everyone's taken-for-granted comedic heritage. As with so much, those who missed them will probably never have cause to seek them out. Sad
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Pietro_Mercurios
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PostPosted: 11-10-2013 00:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, Father Ted and The Mighty Boosh, were just about the best sit coms, ever. If Father Ted channelled Flann O'Brien, then the Mighty Boosh channelled the Goons.

They both take the sitcom format and beat the living daylights out of it. And that's the way it should be. Very Happy
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SpookdaddyOffline
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PostPosted: 11-10-2013 07:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apart from the ones that first come to mind (Hancock, Rising Damp, Father Ted, Spaced, Black Books, Bottom, Phoenix Nights, The Office, I'm Alan Partridge) I'm going to put a bid in for the often forgotten, Nightingales - very surreal in places and somewhat ahead of it's time, to my mind. Well worth revisiting for those who'd forgotten all about it.

Also - slightly less well known names than those on that initial list: 15 Storeys High and Getting On. Both wonderful.

If we're including overeas stuff, then Community - at least seasons 1 and 2, which is all I've watched.
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PostPosted: 11-10-2013 12:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spookdaddy wrote:
Apart from the ones that first come to mind (Hancock, Rising Damp, Father Ted, Spaced, Black Books, Bottom, Phoenix Nights, The Office, I'm Alan Partridge) I'm going to put a bid in for the often forgotten, Nightingales - very surreal in places and somewhat ahead of it's time, to my mind. Well worth revisiting for those who'd forgotten all about it.

Also - slightly less well known names than those on that initial list: 15 Storeys High and Getting On. Both wonderful.

If we're including overeas stuff, then Community - at least seasons 1 and 2, which is all I've watched.


Erm.....are you me? Laughing

I was going to list.....

Father Ted
Black Books
Spaced
15 Storeys High
Getting On
I'm Alan Partridge

....and the first two series of Community cos that's all I've watched Shocked

However, top of my list is Red Dwarf.
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 11-10-2013 17:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

The third season of Community is hilarious as well, with special mention to the computer game episode, which is nothing to do with the overall storyline of that season but is nothing short of brilliant, no exaggeration. I have season 4 to watch, the one they made without creator Dan Harmon after he was sacked, but it doesn't have a good reputation. He's back now for season 5, though Chevy and Donald appear to have left.

Anyway, Nightingales, I revisited that on DVD a few years back and something about that late night atmosphere really made that series something special. And it's very funny, which helps. I heard all three stars are very proud and fond of this show, and rightly so.

Phil Silvers used to be on rotation for decades on the Beeb, and I always managed to miss the one with the chimp which is supposed to be sidesplitting. Seen most of the others, though. Producer/writer Nat Hiken's Car 54 Where Are You? is also very funny with much the same humour.
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 11-10-2013 19:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

Father Ted
Blackadder
Red Dwarf
Black Books
Peep Show
The IT Crowd

Not necessarily in that order, but ol' Father Ted is definitely right there at the top.
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stunevilleOffline
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PostPosted: 12-10-2013 03:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wot, no Fawlty? Despite the efforts of both the Beeb and Gold to repeat it into meaninglessness, it's still gloriously funny and possibly the best narratively-structured sitcom of all time (run close by One Foot in the Grave, every episode making absolutely perfect sense, so no matter how ridiculous the outcome the back story always justifies it.) Anyway, agree with all the main concensus titles, but would add the above two and The Thick of It.
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Recycled1Offline
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PostPosted: 12-10-2013 06:40    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like 'Outnumbered'.
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PostPosted: 12-10-2013 06:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whats got four legs, walks peculier
Talks with all the choicest words
What's got four arms, out to grab you
Answer is... Laughing

What about them, and The Likely Lads?

I'm old enough to remember Father, Dear Father and And Mother Makes Three.

Also, there's Some Mothers Do 'ave'em.

Did all his own stunts, y'know.
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Pietro_Mercurios
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PostPosted: 12-10-2013 06:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not forgetting, Rab C. Nesbitt and Still Game. Used to have me cracking up on a regular basis.

But then, I didn't need subtitles. Laughing
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 12-10-2013 08:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back in the 70s, my favourite was The Goodies.
Looking back at it now, it was pretty unsophisticated. It was raw and uncomplicated and also brilliant in its own way.
There is a DVD or two currently available.
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liveinabin1Offline
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PostPosted: 12-10-2013 13:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember Nightingales, very odd.

Of course I adore Father Ted, the IT Crowd and Black Books, which have been mentioned before.

I can't believe no one has mentioned Butterflies, The Good Life and the wonderful Ever Decreasing Circles.
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titchagainOffline
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PostPosted: 12-10-2013 14:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bottom is the best for me, then Father ted and Black adder 2 3 and goes forth if they count as sit coms
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 12-10-2013 14:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yes...another one I watched avidly back in the day was 'Sykes'.
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