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The Greatest TV Shows of All Time Part 2: HA HA! Comedy Illustrated

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
If you haven't seen it yet, then here is Part 1 - the Dramas. Oh, the DRAMA! You'd think that people would be understanding if you create a list of shows and put forth reasons for having the list exclusive (such as American shows, and no Comedies) given that you were only doing 10, but, of course, WHAT ABOUT THE COMEDIES!??!! And did you know that there are shows that aren't American?


The internet. So good!

Anyway, this was the planned part 2 (part 3 is sci fi, part 4 is a set of dinner knives and part 5 is you're fired). The comedies.

Since no one bothers reading the criteria I use, or the explanations I give, I'm just going to rush through them. Feel free to refer back to the prior post where I go in more detail.

Judging Criteria
A. Must be complete, and have lasted at least two full seasons. If the show has already gone on "forever," then that counts as complete enough.
B. Must be American.
C. Must be a comedy or mainly a comedy.
D. The show will be judged overall, and holistically. Unlike dramas, "sticking the landing" tends to matter less for comedies.
E. The show will not be given a special bonus for being "ahead of its time" - this tends to hurt comedies, as humor doesn't age quite as well (usually).
F. No hipstering. Being obscure doesn't give you a bonus.
G. Funny is the main criterion. But meaningful, thoughtful, and good? That's what makes something great.
H. I have to have watched the show- I don't rate things I haven't seen.
I. No animation. This was particularly hard given such sure-fire winners like The Simpsons and Bojack Horseman, but so be it. I would have to animated separately.

So here's my list, subject to the above judging criteria:

1. Community. POP POP! The departures of Donald Glover and Chevy Chase began the decline from the peak of this show, but very few shows have reached the peaks of hilarity, reference, self-reference, and fourth-wall breaking as did Community in its prime.

2. The Good Place. MAXIMUM DEREK! Have philosophical concepts ever been presented in such an easy-to-swallow, funny manner? No, no they haven't.

3. Seinfeld/Curb Your Enthusiasm. BUT ARE YOU STILL MASTER OF YOUR DOMAIN? I cheated by including both of them as a single entry. Technically Curb isn't over, but it's been airing since before 9/11. That's right. Curb started before 2001. The shows are different, obviously, with Seinfeld being the scripted, three-camera sitcom, and Curb the improv, single-camera comedy that has become more common, but the common thread of misanthropy and peeling away the absurdities of social norms unites them.

4. The Larry Sanders Shows. HEY NOW! As I will describe in the coda, it's hard to properly rate older comedies other than to state their importance. But this show was not just important, it was vital and it was funny. Garry Shandling put forth his best performances, and the celebrity cameos were to die for.

5. Cheers. NORM! The height of the three-camera sitcom. A murderer's row of talent.

6. Arrested Development. THERE'S ALWAYS MONEY IN THE BANANA STAND. While the resurrection on Netflix was not everything that was desired, the original run of Arrested Development shows that narration and gags that ran between and through multiple episodes worked. One of the comedies that rewards multiple viewings.

7. Review. THIS CERTAINLY IS AN UPSETTING AMOUNT OF PANCAKES. For those of you are demanding foreign TV, this is an adaptation of an Australian show (Review with Myles Barrow). This is not a hipster pick; instead, this is the weirdest, funniest, and strangely .. most tragic comedy (tragicom) that can be imagined. I give Review ... 5 stars.

8. Veep. IT WAS AN ACCIDENT, OK? MUCH LIKE WHEN BIGFOOT GOT YOUR MOM PREGNANT, RESULTING IN YOU. I know what some of you might say- it's no In the Loop. It's no The Thick of It. But this creation of Armando Ianucci, with Julia Louis Dreyfuss in the titular role, perfectly translates not just the Ianucci rapid-fire vulgarity, but also the particular banality and venality of American politics. It's funny because it's stupid, and it's stupid because it's true.

9. The Office. THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID! A show that just seems to keep on givin'. I can't explain it, I don't always understand it, but this show just keeps on truckin' with successive generations. One of the few shows that seems to be quoted more by people that weren't watching TV when it originally aired.

10. 30 Rock. NEVER FOLLOW A HIPPIE TO A SECOND LOCATION. What if you treated a sitcom like a Zucker movie (Airplane!) and ignored pesky issues like consistency or characterization or plot and just focused on making as many jokes as quickly as possible, knowing that some would land? Then you'd end up with 30 Rock.

Toughest omission: All in the Family.

Honorable mentions:
Louie- I just couldn't. Nope.
The Cosby Show- Nonononononononon. I do not want that pudding pop.
Barney Miller
Good Times
The Golden Girls (shockingly good writing)
Roseanne
Taxi
The Honeymooners
The Lucille Ball Show
Happy Days
Friends
Frasier (Cheers instead)
Mary Tyler Moore Show

Brief note- There are a lot of truly great historical sitcoms that I just find difficult to rank in the top 10. A show like the Honeymooners was a great show, and one of the most important shows in television history. And, while some of the jokes still land, others aren't as funny as they used to be (for example, the joking banter between Ralph and Alice, to the moon, is not quite the laugh riot in modern times). In addition, I often find that three-camera sitcoms tend to feel overly artificial, especially when there is a laugh track involved.
 
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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
The Kids In The Hall
Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Tenacious D
Cheers
Mr. Show
Seinfeld
All in the Family
The Office (British)
Upright Citizens Brigade

Honorable Mention:
Look Around You
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Oh! I forgot --

Spitting Image
Absolutely Fabulous
Have I Got News For You (but only pre-2005)
The Two Ronnies
A Bit of Fry & Laurie
Spaced
The IT Crowd
The Inbetweeners
Fleabag
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The Kids In The Hall
Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Tenacious D
Cheers
Mr. Show
Seinfeld
All in the Family
The Office (British)
Upright Citizens Brigade

Honorable Mention:
Look Around You

I choose not to include sketch comedy; but Mr. Show and UCB were amazing. Then again, so is Key & Peele. Or Chappelle Show. No love for the State or any of its derivatives (Stella!)?

Always Sunny is still running; although I think it's under the Curb "ran long enough" category.
Kids in the Hall is Canadian (CBC), same reason I didn't list Fleabag.

Look Around You Maths might be one of my favorite bits. ;)
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Okay if I’m limited to American Comedies this is going to be a short and dated list. I much prefer British Humour anyway and dont watch mush television anymore but:

Sledgehammer
Night Court
Different Strokes
Community
Fox News
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Okay if I’m limited to American Comedies this is going to be a short and dated list. I much prefer British Humour anyway and dont watch mush television anymore but:

Sledgehammer

Okay, I had to look this one up.

Sledge Hammer!
is a 1986 comedy that I was unaware of, apparently running for two seasons. Like Action (an unfortunately cancelled Fox series lampooning Hollywood), it looks like a short-live satire.

Have to admit, not many things are named I've never heard of, so ... to quote Abed, "Cool Cool."
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Okay if I’m limited to American Comedies this is going to be a short and dated list. I much prefer British Humour anyway and dont watch mush television anymore but:

Sledgehammer
Night Court
Different Strokes
Community
Fox News
Sledgehammer was hilarious. I should have put Police Squad in my list too.
 

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