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Songfactor's Top 10 Television {Comedy Sitcom}

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In this Top 10 special, we will be doing a non-music theme.

We ask you to nominate two Comedy television shows from the past or present that you feel were great for the quality of written plot and characteristic portrayal.

*Note: Late night comedic shows, sketch series, animated comedy are all acceptable nominations

The same regular rules that go with the top 10s applies here. First week is for nominations, then the regular top 10 voting will go on for another week or until everybody has their votes in.

Please let us have your nominations now

(I had to stick to the choices that were actual SITCOMS, as the title suggests. Therefore, I had to eliminate some of my favorite variety and/or skit comedy shows, like Laugh-In, SNL, Mr. Show, and, of course, Monty Python.)

Why limit yourself to just sitcoms when all branches of comedy are represented. This is a work in progress. Maybe the subject title could have been refined.


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Oh pshaw, this was fine. I'd say you could easily do a vatriety/sketch/latenight category as well, because the emphasis here ended up being so much about sitcom (wrong or right). Also, in the variety category, you could include shows that often were almost entirely music; Ed Sullivan, and The Midnight Special for example. (seriously we gotta have a category for those).

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1) Fawlty Towers

2) Frasier

3) Office (U.K.)

4) Addams Family

5) Cheers

6) Simpsons

7) Monty Python

8) Mork & Mindy

9) Taxi

10) Home Improvement

Interesting there were no nominations for "Roseanne", (staple Friday night viewing in the pre-kids Fitter household), or, perhaps more astoundingly, "Friends", which was, as I recall, a global comedy phenomenon. Never a huge "Friends" fan myself, though I laughed along occasionally. It certainly had a huge and devoted fan-base. Where are they now?

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Interesting there were no nominations for "Roseanne", (staple Friday night viewing int he pre-kids Fitter household), or, perhaps more astoundingly, "Friends", which was, as I recall, a global comedy phenomenon. Never a huge "Friends" fan myself, though I laughed along occasionally. It certainly had a huge and devoted fan-base. Where are they now?

Rosanne and Friends were both under consideration for my 2nd nom, as were several other worthy choices, but I had to give that to Cheers when it was un-nominated.

I've so far identified 28 of this week's nominees that are under consideration for my vote, so it may take a little while.

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Roseanne would have recieved a very high vote from me. I hate to say it, but the Connor household mirrored my own for a long time, right down to the business of the man of the house. We all loved it.

Friends is great, and in another 10 years when it syndication has dwindled a bit, I will probably consider it one of the best all time comedic shows. But right now, it's too soon, I know that I for one am completely burnt out on Friends.

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1. Seinfeld 91

2. Monty Python's Flying Circus 89

3. The Simpsons 78

4. All in the Family 71

5. I Love Lucy 63

6. Saturday Night Live 58

7. Cheers 54

8. The Carol Burnett Show 45

9. M*A*S*H 43

10. Second City Television 41

11. Get Smart 36

12. Rowen & Martin's Laugh-In 33

13. The Daily Show 32

14. Family Guy 30

15. Soap 30

16. Married with Children 28

17. The Office (U.K.) 28

18. Three's Company 27

19. Taxi 25

20. Frasier 23

21. Fawlty Towers 22

22. The Addams Family 21

23. The Cosby Show 20

24. The Honeymooners 20

25. The Bob Newhart Show 18

26. Home Improvement 18

27. The Colbert Report 17

28. Green Acres 16

29. ALF 15

30. Beavis & Butthead 14

31. WKRP in Cincinnati 14

32. Mr. Bean 13

33. Dinosaurs 12

34. Mork & Mindy 12

35. Arrested Development 10

36. Happy Days 10

37. Mr. Show 9

38. Sanford & Son 9

39. The Mary Tyler Moore Show 5

40. Murphy Brown 4

41. Pee-Wee's Playhouse 4

42. Malcolm in the Middle 2

Thank you everyone who participated :thumbsup:

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SCTV was more cutting edge, but SNL had the bigger budget. It's like comparing apples to oranges.

from wiki...


SCTV initially adapted its comedy from existing sketches and improvisation from the Second City stage show. However, especially after expanding to a ninety minute format, SCTV quickly pushed the envelope on television sketch comedy. While showing some influence from Monty Python's Flying Circus and Saturday Night Live, SCTV eschewed both the live television format and even filming before a live studio audience. This was mostly to save money, but it also allowed more attention and care to be taken in building a premise and supporting it.

Having a moderately low budget and limited resources, SCTV got a reputation for making the most out of what it had, reusing sets and particularly taking advantage of expert makeup and hairstyling. With the luxury of being able to take long periods of time in the makeup chair, elaborate characters could be built. Not being bound by expensive and elaborate prosthetics, cast members and makeup artists worked together to create their characters, referring to the process in interviews as, "Improvisation in the chair."

To add to the feel of the show — that of a low-budget local television station that went national — the SCTV crew recruited their dance troupe from the writers on the show, led by costumer Juul Haalmeyer. The "Juul Haalmeyer Dancers" were spectacularly maladroit, parodying dance teams on variety shows through their sheer ineptness, and ultimately attracting a cult fandom of their own. (Juul Haalmeyer himself reports still being asked for autographs years later.)

The core premise of the show allowed for tremendous variety in presentation, but unlike Monty Python, which often would cut from one sketch to another without any resolution, the SCTV format required television style bridges. One technique they used was to build premises into "promos" for shows that would never run (such as "Melvin and Howards", a parody of the movie Melvin and Howard which featured Melvin Dummar, Howard Hughes, Howard Cosell, Curly Howard and Senator Howard Baker on a road trip singing old tunes). Another was to take longer pieces that failed and cut them into promos or trailers. These short elements wound up being the equivalent of "blackout" pieces on the Second City stage. However, the internal logic of the series — that this actually was a television station producing low-budget programming — was never lost. SCTV's techniques helped inform and influence later shows, with clear influence on The State, the Upright Citizen's Brigade, and The Kids in the Hall.

Later shows built a tight theme, sometimes acting as a metaparody — such as the Emmy-winning "Moral Majority" episode where advertisers and special interest groups forced significant changes to SCTV's programming; "Zontar", a parody of the Larry Buchanan film Zontar, The Thing from Venus which featured an alien race seeking to kidnap SCTV's on-air talent for "a nine-show cycle plus three best-ofs" (which was the actual deal NBC worked out with SCTV that season); and an ambitious parody of The Godfather featuring an all-out network war over pay television between SCTV, CBS, NBC, ABC, and PBS - the last featured mafia-style hits on the sets of The Today Show, Three's Company, and The NFL Today as well as an extended sequence with guest star John Marley as an off-beat Leonard Bernstein, spoofing his Godfather role of Hollywood mogul Jack Woltz.

In another such episode, a janitorial union went on strike, forcing the station to broadcast the network feed from CBC Television. Parodies of Canadian television ensued, such as Hinterland Who's Who, Front Page Challenge and It's a Fact, as well as promos for Monday Night Curling, hosted by two orange-jacketed sportscasters who were both named Gord, and Magnum, P.E.I., with John Candy as a private detective chasing his quarry through the scenic potato patches of Prince Edward Island. Meanwhile, in behind-the-scenes labour negotiations, Eugene Levy's Sid Dithers played the union president, barely able to see over the conference table as he detailed the progress of the strike-talks ("Fifteen minutes for lunsch? Ye can't even blow on your shoop!")

While these shows continued to incorporate the broad range of television parodies the show was known for, they also had a strong narrative thread which set the show apart from other sketch comedy shows of the time.

The show would also have a huge influence on The Simpsons. In the DVD commentary for "Homer vs. The Eighteenth Amendment" (in which Dave Thomas guest stars), everyone says how much they loved the show and how influential it was because "it was so funny". Matt Groening goes on to say that he was specifically inspired by the town of Melonville, its own little universe with many recurring characters, and that that was the type of universe he wanted for The Simpsons. Both Dave Thomas and Andrea Martin have guest starred on The Simpsons.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (another program that also enjoyed a "cult" following like that of SCTV) at times featured references to the show and its characters; for example, during the film Space Mutiny, a character with an outrageous hairdo is said to resemble Martin Short's Ed Grimley and prompted numerous impersonations of said character. In another example, near the end of the film Danger! Death Ray a character throws a watch out of a window, prompting Crow T. Robot to cry "SCTV is on the air!"

The entire troupe was given a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2002. John Candy, Martin Short, Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara also have individual stars."


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