Monday, 31 December 2001

The Top 10 American Sitcoms

In response to Darryl Stewart's column last week, giving a North American view on British situation comedies (great column by the way Darryl), I thought I would offer an English view on American sitcoms. Like Darryl I am only including sitcoms, and not shows like Saturday Night Live, In Living Colour and Kids in the Hall. Great shows, but they don't fit the category.

I have ranked these shows in no particular order, so please, do not e-mail me complaining that I've ranked show "a" higher than show "b"!

1)SEINFELD - Well, what can I say about this show apart from bloody brilliant! For a show which is basically about nothing to become a massive hit is nothing short of, well, remarkable. A strong ensemble cast, with Michael Richards as Kramer standing out. A shame that it's no longer running.

2)THE SIMPSONS - The show that started as a fill-in for Tracey Ullman became a world-wide smash. Each Simpson fan has their own favourite - mine being Homer. Some of may balk at their inclusion here, but this is by far one of the funniest shows to come out of any country.

3)FRASIER - Some have said that this comedy appeals to the intellectuals. Well, I hardly count myself among their number. One of the funniest shows ever is still growing strong. A great cast is well served by great writers and great production.

4)MARRIED WITH CHILDREN - If Frasier is highbrow, then MWC is distinctly lowbrow. Al Bundy is perhaps one of the greatest sitcom characters to come out of the US. Suppliment him with perennial virgin Bud, perennial slut Kelly, and lazy housewife Peg, it made for some great laughs. The addition of Jefferson, replacing the rather straight-laced Steve, made things even better.

5)THE ADDAMS FAMILY - Probably the oldest show on my list. While The Munsters seemed to appeal to the kids, The Addams appealed to those with a more darker sense of humour. Besides, I am apparently distantly related to one of the show's stars. I won't say which one. I'll keep you guessing!

6)SOUTH PARK - I'm expecting people to say that, like The Simpsons, this shouldn't be included here. But the antics of the four foul mouthed kids is one of the funniest things I have seen in years. Trey Parker and his cohorts should be given honorary knighthoods for their efforts, and if you don't agree, all I will say is shut your ....well, you get the drift.

7)CHEERS - To be honest, I didn't really like Cheers that much when I first saw it. But like many things, over the years, it has grown on me, and I rather enjoy watching the repeats over here on the Paramount Comedy Channel. I didn't really like Shelley Long that much. In my opinion, things only really got better when Kirstie Alley joined the cast.

8)WKRP IN CINCINATTI - Some of those close to me will probably wonder why I have included this here. The happenings of the aforementioned radio station made for compelling viewing in the early 1980's. The revival didn't really live up to the original product, sadly.

9)TAXI - Another gem from the early 80's. I didn't get round to watching it much the first time around, because here in Britain, the BBC always seemed to run it opposite soap opera favourite Coronation Street. Still, the reruns seen over here on various channels always bring back memories of a wasted childhood. Danny DeVito really stood out as the short, annoying boss, Louie (I expect my work colleagues will laugh out upon reading this bit).

10)THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW - As a big fan of David Letterman, and to a lesser extent, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, I heartily enjoy this sitcom about the goings on at the aforementioned late-night talk show. Garry Shandling is perfect as the neurotic Sanders, and the always watchable Rip Torn is brilliant as the show's producer, Arty. And let's not forget Jeffrey Tambor as everyone's favourite sidekick, old Hank Kingsley - hey now!

Well, that's my top 10. There were a few, Friends,Family Ties, King of the Hill, The Munsters, that didn't make the final cut. Perhaps someone will send me a column with their Top 10 Korean Sitcoms next!