Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Funny? I Nearly Laughed

It's been some time since my last post - a long time by my usual standards, but I seem to have a bit of writer's block and can't think of anything to say.

Recently I wrote two half-songs (sadly they can't be combined into one), half a speech and half an introduction to a chapter before getting bogged down - so just because sometimes you have to just plunge in and write something I'm going to do a post i've been putting off for a while.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will be familiar with, and no doubt shriek with fear at the mention of, my ongoing List-O-Fives.  We've had concept albums, movies, books, sci-fi - and a while ago I threatened to do one on sit-coms. 

Problem is that there's too many for just a basic list of five - so i thought what i'd do is a list of all the sit-coms i like, in alphabetical order - and only pick out a few for more than a brief description.

Here we go:

The Big Bang Theory - despite playing to the stereotype that all scientists and clever people are, therefore, total nerds this is sharply funny and Sheldon Cooper is surely a classic creation.  I'm quite enjoying the ongoing joke about Sheldon's deadly rivalry with Wil Wheaton as well

Blackadder - starting at the time of Richard 3rd and ending up in the 1st world war several generations of Edmund Blackadder strove to do dastardly deeds and generally failed.  My personal favourite will always be Blackadder II with the genius casting of Miranda Richardson as Queenie (Queen Elisabeth 1st) - favourite quotes include:
Queenie: They've completely vanished
Lord Percy: an old oak table (and so forth)

Dad's Army - 60s-70s show about the British Home Guard - don't tell him Pike!!  A very rare combination of 100% perfect casting, very distinctive characters and top quality one liners

Father Ted - enjoyably daft comedy about three Irish priests sent to a small island essentially to keep them out of harm's way.  I had the pleasure of attending the filming of an episode in series two and got to meet Fathers Ted and Dougall afterwards.  Top episode has to be the Eurovision one

Fawlty Towers - more farce than sit-com this John Cleese vehicle is one of the most infamous sit coms and is second to none in terms of tight writing, characterisation and cringe-enducing moments

Frazier - one of the best from across the pond, right up to the point they introduced Daphne's family - but often very hard to watch because of the stupid, down-right pompous things the main character did.  Home of one of my favourite quotes: "If we were looking through the world's most powerful microscope right now I still couldn't locate my interest in your problem"

The Good Life - 70s sit-com starring Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall as two surburbanites who turn self-sufficient, to the horror of their posh neighbours.  It has been said that no truly british man can think of Felicity Kendall in The Good Life without a sigh.

One Foot In The Grave - Richard Wilson as grumpy pensioner Victor Meldrew with his long suffering wife Margaret - endlessly ranting at the world.  Last series wasn't as good, but still very funny at its best

Porridge - Ronnie Barker's shining moment and one of the best written comedies of all time about serial offender Fletcher and his fellow inmates at Slade Prison as they try and outwit the guards

Red Dwarf - 3,000,000 light years from Earth a slob, a career-no-hoper, a cat, a mechanoid and a senile computer are trying to find their way home.  First two series were actually very clever sci-fi ideas with humour, then descended into a monster-of-the-week format (though still funny for another four years) - until finally took it a series or two too far.  Best lines increasingly went to the mechanoid Kryten, including when they had to go from blue to red alert and Kryten says, "are you sure sir, it does mean changing the bulb?"

The Simpsons - does this count as a sit-com?  Maybe not - once great, not as funny as it was, but still worth watching we are all familiar with the story of America's No1 family

Still Game - shamefully overlooked Scottish sit-com about a group of pensioners living on a rough estate.

Still - i couldn't leave you withouy a chance to watch at least a bit of one of these shows - so here's that Eurovision song from Father Ted - and if you don't smile there's something wrong with you!


Argent said...

I pretty much agree with these, although I have not seen Big Bang and never saw Frasier. Just bought Still Game box set, btw. I would add Scrubs and Black Books to the list.

Titus said...

Some yes (Father Ted! Dad's Army! Red Dwarf!), some no (Fawlty Towers always made me want to bang my head on the table) and some I've never seen (Frazier - oops).
The IT Crowd? I love The IT Crowd. Rather like Black Books too.

pohanginapete said...

I remember most of these from my younger days, and agree with most of your assessments; the list would get a big thumbs up from a lot of my friends too. However, because my TV's off most of the time, I've only ever seen one episode of The Big Bang Theory. I did watch a few episodes of Black Books while visiting friends, and I'll second Argent and Titus on that.

Ah, writer's block... given my record, I won't even consider offering advice. But I always enjoy what you've written.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Argent, i know you're a big fan of Scrubs but it doesn't do a great deal for me - Black Books was amusing, but again i could take it or leave it

Titus - yes Fawlty Towers (and Frazier) do make you want to bang your head. Never seen The IT Crowd

Pete - Douglas Adams used to say that writing was like staring at a piece of paper until your head bleeds

The Bug said...

LOVE Blackadder! But for some reason it just makes me sad because the last season we watched all the way through was WWI - and that scene of all those guys getting ready to charge makes me cry. See, I'm crying now! Gah!

I liked Frazier too, but I did want to bang those two brothers' heads together on a regular basis...

And that's it - I've never watched any of the others (except the Simpsons sometimes). I think the only other British sitcom I've ever watched regularly was Are you Being Served, which I enjoyed in SMALL doses.

Peter Goulding said...

I always maintained the German / Moose / Hospital episode of Fawlty Towers was the funniest half hour ever.
Can't fault any of the choices. I would possibly suggest the Office (cringeing but so true to life) and Yes Minister / Prime Minister.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

bug - the final episode of Blackadder was genius writing

Pete - I deliberately left out The Office for two reasons: firstly because i think it breaks quite a few of the sit-com rules/format (so although its a comedy i'm not sure its a traditional sit-com) and secondly because Ricky Gervais has one joke and has been doing it repeatedly ever since

I never really watched Yes Minister et al

Michael said...

As the inter-world gets smaller, I look forward to watching these some day. I've got many hours to waste!

Lydia said...

So many of these we don't get here. But I sure feel deprived that we do not get Father Ted! It looks great, just the kind of show that we need in stressful times. Frasier is one of my all-time favorites, a real classic and I watch the syndications while wishing it were still on the air giving us new material weekly. I just have not gotten into Big Bang, in part because my husband does not like it. The bits I've seen tickled me, though.
I like 30 Rock a lot as it always brings a big laugh. But my favorite new sitcom is Modern Family. Do you get it over there? It keeps me in stitches and I just roar!