Saturday, 5 December 2009

Comedy Capers

OK, so the perceived wisdom is that the sitcom is kaput. Finished. Dying. Dead...

Too costly to make, little chance of success, big risk when reality shit rates better and is much cheaper.


Er, well... no, not really. Let's ignore that new sitcom on BBC One about a circus. What do you mean, you haven't heard of it? It's in that prestigious comedy slot, um... ah... 7:30pm on Wednesday. Up against Corrie or the Eurofooty, so plenty of viewers around wanting a nice, wholesome comedy show about clowns and that.

Anyhoo, back to my thesis, the one not totally disproved by the paragraph above. There are some great sitcoms on the telly, some of them even British-made.

Modern Family, screened here on Sky 1, is my favourite of the lot. Get episode one downloadifying or streamerized to your fridge, or wherever people watch tv nowadays (anywhere but on a telly). I'm sure the ABC1 trendy readers of this blog have ways or means to see a show not currently on air. Although, bless Sky, they do repeat it on a loop so it'll be on at some point.

It's one of the best first eps of any sitcom I've ever seen, seamlessly introducing every (well-drawn) character and actually having a surprise at the end. Try and see this before watching the others. Acting is superb, really superb performances throughout, and a great, proper funny script - it's superb. And it gets better - as sitcoms do, as you get to know the characters. The gay couple are the funniest twosome for a long time on telly.

OK, so it's done psuedo-documentary style and there's no laugh track, but - hey, sue me - it's still funny ha-ha not funny cringe-no-don't-do-that-oh-that's-so-embarrassing.

Its on ABC in the States and they've got a couple of other new sitcoms that are apparently really good (and a crap one with Her With The Squarest Head Off of Friends called Cougar Town about old ladies shagging young blokes - shudder). And on NBC, there's...

30 Rock. Do I need to rave more about this? It can be patchy to be frank, but it never fails to amuse, even if it is just Fat Baldwin mugging away, or Campy Kenneth, or Liz Lemon's rubbishness. The great Elaine Stritch as Jack's mother was utterly superb. And it's about the telly, so how can it fail?

Looking forward to seeing Community, the new sitcom with Joel McHale Off Of The Soup in it - the clips I've seen look very funny. And apparently Parks & Recreation, which started last year and almost got cancelled for shitness, has reinvented itself and is actually really funny. Thursday night on NBC in the US is back to their old slogan of must see tv, with Community, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock and The Office in a row.

(Small note - I'm the only person who works in tv who doesn't say how great the original Office series was. I'm sure a lot of other people, like me, didn't laugh, or got bored with the concept, but no-one admits it now. I just can't do cringey comedy - oddly I can do US stuff like that... I like the US version of The Office a lot. Oh well. End of note)

And when it comes to UK comedy, there's Misfits, which everyone is raving about, even non-teens. That probably annoys E4 - if anyone over 25 likes it, they've failed or something. I will comment further when I've actually seen more than one ep. I quite liked it but sense it could build a bit, the high concept stuff normally takes a bit of time to get going.

They're making more IT Crowd, aren't they, and that's even got a laugh track on it. Joy. The blank patch is actually the Beeb at the minute. Name their funny sitcoms. That one with Boycey in it, off of Only Fools? Er, no. My Family? Not my bag. That one on BBC Two about the thirtysomething woman going back to live with her parents? Um, didn't manage to see it - sounded a bit saddo to me. Gavin & Stacey? Passed me by, I'm afraid, I thought it was nice and pleasant and smiley and that, but didn't actually laugh once. And this was on a plane with shedloads of booze. I howled at some dreadful film with Him Off Of The American Office in it, the spy remakey one I can't even remember 'cos was that merry and happy. And then Gavin & Stacey came on, all working class and stuff, and I smiled at 32% or so of the level needed to produce a guffaw.

Oh, and there was some sketch show on Beeb Three that was one of the oddest things I've ever seen. Several ugly middle-class middle-aged men running a council or something. They sang a song with the studio audience at the end, with a bouncing ball on the lyrics so we could sing along at home. As they say on t'internet WTF?!?!???!?!!1!!!!

(Look at how lazy I am, not even putting a link in. Tsch. Sure it's on their website or sommit.)

So with new eps of Family Guy and South Park on my iPhone (watch the one about The Smurfs, where Cartman becomes a right-wing school announcer/DJ, it's got one of the funniest topicalist punchlines ever), stacks of comedies on my Sky+, The Sitcom Is Back: It's Official.