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The 25 Funniest TV Shows of All Time

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Scott Roberts
The 25 Funniest TV Shows of All Time
on Aug 26, 2011 at 7:17:08 pm

IGN created a list of the top 25 funniest shows to ever grace the small screen. It's not a list that particularly caters to folk who like REALLY classic television, though:

http://tv.ign.com/articles/118/1189799p1.html

I found myself maybe not agreeing with the order, but certainly agree with most of the choices in general. Though, I would have taken off The State, and replaced it with Upright Citizens Brigade. Extras is a superior Ricky Gervais comedy over The Office as well (but not as influential, at all). And I like The Ben Stiller Show, in its 13 episode glory, but the fact that it's on here instead of Mr. Show is deeply disturbing to me. I don't know what else I'd get rid of (Family Guy maybe?), but I feel like Always Sunny should be in the 20-25 range somewhere.

I never got into Friends, but I actually watched an episode 2 days ago, and found it to be cheap, non-offensive network humor. Obviously, I'm not the best judge as to whether or not the whole series was funny, but I assume it was more or less the best possible crap available on network TV at the time. The king of the crap! I struggle to think of a 90s-or-later, non-Seinfeld sitcom that used multiple cameras that was actually really good. I used to watch Frasier, I found it more entertaining than actually funny, but I thought it was better than the small taste of Friends I've seen. But they were both still average at best. Best (again, non-Seinfeld) 90s sitcom on that list? The Larry Sanders Show. By far. BY FAR. Hey now!

I could never fully get into All in the Family, seemed too repetitive, but I understand why it's on there. I'd replace this with The Cosby Show... Wait, wtf, I just realized The Cosby Show isn't on this list!

I also like the fact that they put Simpsons at #2 BECAUSE of the lameness of the last 10 seasons. It would be my #1 too if the last 10-12 seasons didn't exist. It's a once brilliant, now nearly tarnished legacy. So Arrested Development at #1...? I can live with that. Us never-nudes must unite.


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Tim Wilson
Re: The 25 Funniest TV Shows of All Time
on Aug 26, 2011 at 9:01:00 pm

No use for Arrested Development, loved Friends. So there you go.

Cheers belongs on the list, but, wow, has it aged poorly. Always worth remembering that Season 1 was DEAD LAST in the ratings, almost impossible to believe now.

But it was part of a Thursday night line-up that included Cosby (great), Family Ties (almost as good), and Night Court (odd but some of the biggest laughs in my TV history), all of which have aged much better.

INEXCUSABLE, though, to include only one show from the all-time Murderer's Row, CBS Saturday nights starting in 1971: in order, All in the Family, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart and Carol Burnett. Amazing, amazing night. I remember watching every week and not being able to believe how good they were. Definitely holding up well.

Laugh-In, another of the casualties of the >90s focus of the article. You can't say "All Time" and get away with this crap, obviously a regular pet peeve of mine.

For example, Sid Caesar, Your Show of Shows, whose writers included Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Neil Simon -- and it was even funnier than you'd think. Sid was no slouch as a writer himself. Unbelievably insane to leave this off.

(People erroneously recall that Woody Allen wrote for Your Show of Shows. He wrote for Sid in later years, but an idea of Sid's eye for talent.)

Speaking of Reiner, The Dick Van Dyke Show (which he created) is still way ahead of half this list. In fact, TV Guide has it at #13 all-time, including drama.

It's impossible to overstate the importance of Ernie Kovacs to the history of TV comedy. I have no idea if he ever did drugs, but his hazy psychedlic absurdity was a decade or more ahead of its time. No way you could get away with this today. To give you an idea of his sensibility, he was a frequent contributor to Mad Magazine. Yes, very 50s, but seriously, seriously enduring, and HAS to be on this list.

NO HONEYMOONERS?!?!

I'm going to pretend that an all-time list didn't leave off Milton Berle. Absolutely does NOT hold up, but that's not the criterion we're using right? There might not be television at all today if people weren't buying them solely to watch him. It would have been a fad, like 3D. :-)

Too often gets left off the list because people don't like her personally, but did they seriously leave off Roseanne? She gets on there by hard, shut yer yap and write it down default as much as Lucy and Mary (oops).

The Office and Fawlty Towers ahead of Monty Python's Flying Circus? That alone shreds the credibility of the list. At least Fawlty belongs there at all. Put Extras ahead of The Office, and we can talk....but I'd kill every British show on the list in favor of Monty. (Maybe also throw Little Britain into the debate: certainly ahead of The Office.)

I'm bouncing all over the place because so, so much about this list needs fixing.

And I need to get back to work. Stop posting lists! (Kidding....mostly)


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Scott Roberts
Re: The 25 Funniest TV Shows of All Time
on Aug 26, 2011 at 10:35:26 pm

[Tim Wilson] "Absolutely does NOT hold up, but that's not the criterion we're using right?"

I don't know, some of the explanations are about how great the legacy of the show is, others are about how great they were at the time. I agree it's kind of sloppily thought out list.

If it was about how great things were simply at the time of its original airing, then yes, the list would be flush with 50s/60s shows. In terms of holding up... I think in 30 years a smartly written, flowing storyline like that of Arrested Development would hold up better than dated sketch comedy shows like Carole Burnett and such. Quite in fact, my prediction for the future, the concept of multi-camera sitcoms will be something of a joke to look back upon (they are basically a plague upon modern television as we speak). Single camera comedy will become 95% of all *scripted* comedy programming. Yet the 5% of multi-camera sitcoms on CBS will still be #1 in ratings, because America, for the most part, watches garbage. Wait, I take that back, Law and Order: Robot Crimes Unit will be the #1 show in 2040. (clings desperately onto The Wire DVD box set, continues to doubt humanity's taste in crime shows)

I don't know, I'm a huge fan of really darkly humored television, which the last 10 years has been full of. It's hard to compare modern television to classic television, because classic television is already all out there. It's been replayed and regurgitated for decades. In addition to modern television, we are still watching classic television... on new channels! In 30 years, modern television will be considered classic to the new generation, and what's now classic television will only be watched by next generation's version of hipsters, in attempts to be cool. Nickelodeon has already started replaying early 90s children's programming at midnight, because that's already considered classic children's television to people my age! Everything just needs a chance to soak in for a LONG time, and the dated shows will sink to the bottom, and the great shows will stay floating at the top.

I'll admit, I'm a bit of a 1970s and later television watcher. I love old movies, but I'm definitely more in tune with modern TV. Older television was great at the time, and groundbreaking, but struggles to hold my attention. I can watch Double Indemnity just fine (great old movie), but I do have trouble getting through a season of Dragnet.

BUT if you studied my TV watching you'd find a lot of Three Stooges marathons sprinkled in there, so I have that going for me.

[Tim Wilson] "The Office and Fawlty Towers ahead of Monty Python's Flying Circus? That alone shreds the credibility of the list. At least Fawlty belongs there at all. Put Extras ahead of The Office, and we can talk....but I'd kill every British show on the list in favor of Monty."

Flying Circus is #5. I agree that The Office is probably the most overrated modern British shows of the last decade or so. I said it in my original post as well; Extras > The Office. I'd put Spaced > Office, too.


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Alex Hawkins
Re: The 25 Funniest TV Shows of All Time
on Aug 27, 2011 at 4:15:36 pm

It's interesting to see a list like this as it just goes to show how localised television is. I grew up in England then Australia (from age 10) and I have never seen most of the shows in that list. We had alot of American TV but I watched mostly British sitcoms and comedy sketch shows.

I grew up on shows like Dad's Army, Yes (Prime) Minister, Porridge, Blackadder, Only Fools and Horses, The Two Ronnies, The Young Ones, Absolutely Fabulous, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, Mr. Bean, Monty Python and of course Fawlty Towers.

The funniest American shows I remember watching were MASH - (the early eps before it went all navel gazing on us - plus it didn't even make the list?? What's with that??), Cosby Show and Barney Miller.

The Office? Overrated I reckon, but still funny.

South Park? Never got into it.

Seinfeld and The Simpsons? Yep. Great shows.

Arrested Development!? Never seen it.

Lists really are so subjective aren't they.

Alex Hawkins
Canberra, Australia


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Jeff Breuer
Re: The 25 Funniest TV Shows of All Time
on Aug 29, 2011 at 3:49:45 pm

Obviously these things are subjective, we all respond differently. But for the most part I thought it was a decent list. I was surprised to see Arrested Development at the top, but pleasantly.

Tim, Alex, I agree with you guys, I would have like to have seen Your Show of Shows, Mr. Bean, and The Carol Burnett show on the list. And I suppose the are focusing on narratives, which is the only one could explain this list missing Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. The only possible explanation.


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Stephen Smith
Re: The 25 Funniest TV Shows of All Time
on Aug 30, 2011 at 3:48:08 pm

No Mary Tyler Moore? That is a great show! I think they understood the phrase Quite While You Are Ahead.

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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Alex Hawkins
Re: The 25 Funniest TV Shows of All Time
on Sep 4, 2011 at 1:18:45 pm

Sorry I forgot "The Goodies". Absolutely classic British comedy.

Alex Hawkins
Canberra, Australia


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