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…