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The return of the sitcom


Well I never thought I'd say this but there are actually good sitcoms on TV these days. My DVR has 5 series recordings for half-hr comedy shows. This is pretty surprising considering how much I've always hated the format.

Remember "must-see TV," when NBC would have Seinfeld, and 3 other sitcoms like Friends or Frasier and they'd squeeze in some shitty shows with like Brooke Shields or Kathy Griffin or Reba McEntire or whoever. Well I liked Seinfeld as much as anyone but the rest... blech.

Now, NBC actually does have a killer lineup on Thursday nights. From 8pm-10pm, EST, we have Community, Parks & Recreation, The Office, 30 Rock.

It seems like The Office pretty much redefined the modern sitcom, and while it should be disconcerting for it to be copied so much, it actually improves the quality of a format that's typically dreadful. The greatest change is the absence of laugh tracks. Those alone made all sitcoms (except Seinfeld) unbearable to me. Laugh tracks is to TV what lip-syncing and excessive auto-tune are to pop music.

The Office itself is on its 5th season and as much I loved it in its prime, its way past it by now. The main couple already got married and are having a baby and they're making the absurd aspects of its zany characters more ridiculous. I think it's time to wrap it up but there are no plans to. However, it still has enough good moments and great actors to make it enjoyable.

(And to the Brits who are thinking "wait the British version was first, and much funnier!"- I absolutely agree. As much as I loved the American Office in its prime, which was its 2nd season, nothing compares to the pure genius of Ricky Gervais' original.)

Parks & Recreation is there to pick up where The Office leaves off. Same kind of humor, even w/ the faux-documentary thing and Saturday Night Live's Amy Poehler playing the Michael Scott type role. I like that it plays with the idea of the futility and frustration of local governance. The supporting cast isn't as strong as The Office so the quality of each episode depends on the writing more. It started off kind of slow last yr but now it hit its stride. Also I'll cop to just enjoying watching the beautiful Rashida Jones on screen, and her now ex-bf steals every scene he's in.

30 Rock is a critic's favorite and self-consciously a show that appeals to us liberal elite snobs, which explains its billion Emmys and low ratings. But the dialogue is tremendously rich with killer one-liners- I find myself having to rewind scenes to catch it all sometimes. And one of the kings of liberal elite celebrities, Alec Baldwin, is an absolutely brilliant comic actor and the prime reason to watch this. Also the actress that plays Jenna, the "star" of the show-within-the-show.

But my favorite of the Thursday night lineup is the new show this year, Community. Set in a community college, starring Joel McHale (The Soup) as a disbarred lawyer, and a cast of aggressively and purposefully diverse caricatures, this show's humor is very self-referential and "meta," like 30 Rock. On the one hand, the whole "hipper-than-thou" attitude can get a bit smug and annoying, but it's way better than the cheesiness of the traditional sitcom and does make for great moments.


"I thought you were like Bill Murray in any of his movies but you're really Michael Douglas in any of his movies" lol

Community is the greatest thing on TV right now by far, IMO. South Park, Family Guy and The Office are past their prime and none of the dramas are interesting to me (though I think I've lost my attention span because I have no desire to watch movies anymore, which is why I'm checking out all this TV).

Modern Family was highly recommended to me so I checked it out and it's pretty good. It also uses that documentary style (what's up with that being everywhere?) and the situation is your standard family thing, but the show's strength lies in coming at some pretty typical stories from a unique angle, which can be more impressive than the pure zaniness of the above mentioned shows. Here you get three households: the "typical" suburban couple with the corny dad, a gay couple adopting a Vietnamese baby, and the patriarch (Al Bundy from Married w/ Children) taking a younger Columbian bride with child.

Oddly enough, the best characters so far are the ones that would seem like cliches. The corny dad with his "peeranting" (talking like a peer, acting like a parent) is irritating at first, which is the point, but he has the Michael Scott (The Office, again) quality of making you cringe and laugh.

The gay couple are the best and most realistic gay people I've ever seen portrayed on mainstream TV, with one being hyper self-conscious about it, the other more grounded and very likable. And yes, better than Will & Grace, which I tried watching once or twice but turned me homophobic temporarily each time.

Ed O'Neil is just great, of course, and his Columbian wife steals every scene.

Lots of great subtle moments here, both visually and in dialogue, you have to watch/listen carefully to get it all. This show has been compared to Arrested Development, a show I liked but don't have that insane fanboy love for that so many seem to. I think this has the potential to be better.

So 5 sitcoms I watch, surprisingly enough. One of which is gut-bustingly hilarious (Community), two of which are surprisingly good even though their formats dictate they shouldn't be (Modern Family and Parks & Rec), and two getting past their prime but still have their moments (Office, 30 Rock). Good timing, too, now that the Judd Apatow movie factory is worn out and there are no good comedy movies, TV is there to pick up the slack.

Wow, you named every sitcom I follow. I had been out of the game as well. I just wasn't home reliably from 8-10 to watch anything. Thanks to Hulu I now get to enjoy all of those sitcoms whenever I have free time. Community is my personal favorite at the moment but I still love 30 Rock. One you didn't mention but I sorta like (yes i'm ashamed) is Couger Town. At first I thought it would be quite awful but I was surprised that I actually liked most of the characters and their dialog doesn't suck.
The last episode of Parks & Rec was the funniest shit I've seen all year. Had the actress from Will & Grace, the friend not the main one. This is, surprisingly, the best show on TV right now.
The last episode of Parks & Rec was the funniest shit I've seen all year. Had the actress from Will & Grace, the friend not the main one. This is, surprisingly, the best show on TV right now.

better than the clone wars? because that is some top drawer adventure shit.
The last episode of Parks & Rec was the funniest shit I've seen all year. Had the actress from Will & Grace, the friend not the main one. This is, surprisingly, the best show on TV right now.
I watched Will and Grace, not as good as expected. Still worth watching.:rommie:

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