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Diatribe: Sadly Overlooked Television Comedies.

03/25/2013

ComedyTelevisionThey say that Seinfeld took a few seasons to find an audience … but that was a long time ago.  After its initial premier in 1989 it was doubtful that NBC would pick it up, the show was offered to FOX which declined.  NBC ultimately found the money to record four additional episodes and the series was eventually picked up for renewal.  While critics enjoyed it in its early seasons it struggled to find a loyal audience.  It rapidly grew in popularity, ruled the prime time airwaves for nine seasons, and continues to entertain audiences in syndication.

Nowadays, television networks don’t have the luxury of time to invest in new programming.  It seems that, if a show is not a hit right out of the starting gate, it won’t have much of a chance at longevity.  This appears to be particularly true for comedies.  Just this season sitcoms like Partners and The B—- In Apt. 23 were cancelled before airing all the episodes that had been filmed.

There are several comedies that I consistently enjoy yet don’t regularly draw a sizeable audience.  I’ve been told that my sense of humor is unique and these shows seem to have a few things in common.

CougarTownCougar Town.  This series features an extraordinary cast of characters and fast-paced wit.  Courtney Cox stars as a recently re-married woman in her forties, her son, ex-husband, and her wine-loving.  Cougar Town premiered on ABC but was cancelled after three seasons.  TBS picked it up for a fourth season and fans like me are very grateful.

Happy_Endings_Season_3_PosterHappy Endings.  Another struggling ensemble comedy from ABC is Happy Endings.  Similar to the successful Friends and How I Met Your Mother, this show follows the wacky adventures of six friends living in Chicago.  I think the writing on this show is extraordinarily and the characters are fresh and new.  ABC is giving viewers the opportunity to save the show from cancellation and there’s already a Save Happy Endings Facebook page.

hot_in_cleveland01Hot In Cleveland.  This series, starring Valerie Bertinelli, Jane leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White, is the first original scripted series for the TV Land network.  When it debuted in the summer of 2010, celebrating the follies of three divorcees and their sassy senior citizen landlady, it was the highest rated telecast in the cable network’s history.  Potentially the Golden Girls for a new generation, it was announced earlier this month that Hot in Cleveland has been renewed for a fifth season.

rulesofengagementRules of Engagement.  Now in its seventh season on CBS, Rules of Engagement has come and gone from the networks prime time schedule, moving from night to night, regular and mid-season yet never comes out near the top of the ratings heap.  Similar, again, to the interactions of a small group of New York City friends, Patrick Warburton and David Spade head a talented cast that deserves more recognition.

For me, it’s the inclusion of fast-paced, quick-witted and double entendre humor that leads me to enjoy these programs while others don’t watch.  I’m hopeful that viewing audiences will find these programs and enjoy them as much as I do before it’s too late.  Nowadays, the networks can’t wait as long as they did for Seinfeld to catch on.  If a program doesn’t make money from the very beginning its future will be bleak.

Are there any television comedies that you wish more people would watch so they won’t get cancelled?

UPDATE 03/25/13: Cougar Town renewed for a 5th season on TBS.

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11 Comments
  1. I love Cougar Town and enjoy Hot in Cleveland (I enjoy all the guest stars). Partners was awful but I think The New Normal has become one of the best shows in years – funny, outrageous ang talk about family values! The young girl is amazing!!!!!

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    • I agree! The New Normal is another fast-paced comedy. I love it when you really have to pay attention to “get it”!

      I’m glad that they toned down the hatefulness of Ellen Barkin’s character since the pilot. I don’t think bigotry is particularly funny.

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  2. I boarded the Seinfeld train in episode one and rode it all the way to the end.
    I love love LOVE Happy Endings because it doesn’t take itself seriously at all and, really, makes no sense.
    Partners was cute once.
    The New Normal has changed and I agree with Sean: that girl is amazing. Her Little Edie still slays me.

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    • I, too, was a dedicated Seinfeld viewer. Back then, “must see tv” was really “must see”. If you wanted to see it, you had to tune in on Thursday nights or you wouldn’t know what anyone was talking about around the water cooler the next morning. There was no “on demand”, etc. so if you missed it, you missed it! So I never did!

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  3. Parks and Recreation! TV networks have conditioned viewers not to watch new shows. I figure that if a show lasts, I’ll just watch season one on DVD and catch up. But why get invested in a new show that may not even last a full season?

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    • Parks and Recreation, along with Community, is another that I think deserves more recognition. They’re just as good, if not better, than The Office.

      Sadly, I agree, it’s hard to get invested. It seems that network executives have made up their minds before the first episode airs.

      Another contributing factor that didn’t exist in the days of Seinfeld is the DVR. I know that, in my house, a majority of the network prime time programs that we watch are seen on a delayed basis. I don’t really understand how they include this in their “ratings calculations”.

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  4. Rick permalink

    Don’t trust the B was hilarious. It didn’t take itself seriously & JVB was funny when he was spoofing himself. I found it much more interesting than The New Normal, & NEVER enjoyed Partners.

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  5. It took me awhile to warm up to Seinfeld, but now I have several seasons on DVD. No one can enter a room like Kramer. Some of the old classics, may have never of made it if they came out today Bob Newhart had two successful shows, but they were not rip-roaringly funny. Yet, the end to the second Newhart was the most clever series ending ever. I have seen all of the above except “Hot in Cleveland.” Yet anything with Betty White has to be funny.

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    • That WAS the most clever ending ever!

      Currently, it appears to me that the most successful comedies rely heavily on shock value … dirty jokes and bathroom humor. Today’s audiences aren’t amused by conveyor belts that move too quickly or by horses that talk. We need more observational humor! Who’s the next Erma Bombeck?!

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  6. Love Hot in Cleveland & used to watch Cougar Town (found the jokes got old as the wing glasses got bigger). Never got into Seinfeld. But I think DVR’s & seasons on DVD have changed the way networks view new series (not just comedies) altogether.
    Today’s people don’t have time for commercials & sitting around the TV, watching commercials. If they would let some of these series go for a whole season, then check out the sales on DVD maybe they would see what people actually want to watch.

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