I Need More Sitcoms

The Big Bang Theory

I’ve been a TiVo owner for almost a year now, and before that I’ve had a generic Time Warner DVR for years. Over time some watching habits have become clear. I might rave about Lost or Battlestar Galactica or any number of other dark and challenging series, but inevitably those are the shows that end up piling up on my DVR. I love all of those shows unreservedly, but at the same time I am rarely in just the right mood to watch them.

On the other hand, I am always in the mood to watch a good sitcom. For example, this weekend Netflix shipped the first disc of Big Bang Theory, a CBS sitcom about a group of nerdy academics who live next door to a cute blonde. It’s a silly show, but it’s a lot of fun, and I ended up popping it in my DVD player as soon as I received it and didn’t stop watching until all six episodes on the disc had played out. Once I was done with that, I wanted to watch more, so I went out on a quest to buy the first season on DVD (I didn’t know it was going to be a quest at first, but it was sold out at the first four places I went).

I just got done watching the remaining 11 episodes from the first season in basically one sitting. Sure, every episode was only about 22 minutes long, but I haven’t had a TV marathon like that in years. I used to be the guy who would finish an entire season of Buffy in one weekend, but I don’t quite have the stamina for that anymore… except when it comes to sitcoms, apparently.

The problem, however, is that there aren’t many new sitcoms being made these days, and there are only so many really strong shows out there worth following. NBC’s lineup is the strongest – 30 Rock, The Office, and to a lesser degree My Name is Earl. CBS has How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory, ABC has Samantha Who and Scrubs, and TBS has My Boys. I love all of those shows, but I’m basically current on almost all of them (except for Big Bang Theory).

The number of times I am in the mood to sit down and watch a good sitcom far outweighs the number of worthwhile sitcoms available for me to watch. I’m in no mood to start watching any of the “Stupid Husband Annoys Pretty Wife” shows that make up the entire rest of the sitcom landscape, but I need more things to watch. I’ve definitely searched out as many good British sitcoms as are available, but this is definitely a case where the British tradition of “6 episodes a season for 2 seasons total” gets on my nerves. I’ve already watched every episode of Spaced, Extras, The Office UK, Black Books, and The IT Crowd ever produced.

I suppose what this really comes down to is a call for more new shows and maybe a few good suggestions for existing shows I may have missed. I’m firmly convinced that there are still worthwhile things to be done in the world of sitcoms, even in multi-camera shows with a laugh track, so I just wish the networks were more willing to produce new sitcom pilots. I don’t necessarily mind the move towards hour-long comedies like Chuck, Ugly Betty, and others, but there’s something to be said for shows that can be consumed in 22 minutes while I eat my dinner. It’s great that there has been an amazing renaissance in the general quality of television today, but it seems like it has come at the expense of the good old fashioned American sitcom. It’s a shame, really.

At least I have another season of Big Bang Theory to keep me busy for a little while…

TV Upfront Week: Like Christmas for TV Addicts

Michelle Ryan, Bionic WomanAll of the networks ran through their “TV Upfront” presentations this past week. This is the time of year where they all announce next season’s new shows and let us know which of their current shows are on the chopping block.

As far as cancellations go for shows I’ve been watching (or, well, recording and not watching), there weren’t any huge surprises… Studio 60 is officially dead, Veronica Mars is as good as dead (although various pundits and execs keep dangling the vague possibility of hope for that one, I sincerely doubt it), and Jericho is toast.

I suppose I was mildly surprised about Jericho, but it didn’t really affect me because I never ended up watching the second half of the season. The first two eps after it returned were pretty damn awful, and I never worked up the desire to give it another chance.

As for the pick-ups, I was most worried about How I Met Your Mother (I accepted long ago that things were dire for Veronica Mars), but CBS thankfully picked that one up for another season. It’s easily the best traditional (three-camera, laugh track) sitcom on air, and I’d argue that it’s just as good as my favorite single-camera sitcoms on NBC.

Speaking of which, NBC has picked up their entire Thursday night sitcom line up for another year, which makes me plenty happy, as you might imagine. ABC also made an awesome decision and worked out a three-year plan for Lost so that the writers can actually start working towards the ending of their story.

The real treat for me, however, is always the new shows. I love nothing better than priming my DVR to record a bunch of brand-new shows that may or may not stick around. The following are the shows I’m looking forward to:

Of the five networks, NBC and ABC clearly have more shows that I’m interested in, but of the two networks, NBC’s shows look the most interesting. Out of everything coming out next year, I’m most excited about Bionic Woman and Chuck. Bionic Woman is obviously a remake of the 1970s show about a woman who is injured in a terrible accident and has parts of her body replaced with bionic limbs.

I think it’s kind of interesting that NBC has a “re-imagining” of a spin-off show, but the creative team behind the remake are the same folks who modernized Battlestar Galactica, which is one of my most favorite shows on TV right now. They’ve got quite the quality pedigree, and the cheesiness of the source material does not seem to affect how well the modern version turns out. Also, as you can see from the picture above, they’ve picked a gorgeous (British!) actress named Michelle Ryan to play the new Jaime Sommers.

ABC has a lot of shows that seem like they’ll have potential, but could go either way. From what Mike Ausellio says, Pushing Daisies is the next big ABC hit, so I’m looking forward to that the most. All of the other ABC shows look like they could go either way… except for Cavemen. Cavemen looks like a crime against television (if such a thing is possible), and I want to be there to see how things go down.

It’ll be fascinating to see which of these shows make it through the year… It’s a safe bet, however, that FOX will cancel something that will have its fans up in arms. This year it was Drive, which I never even bothered to watch because it was canceled after two weeks.