Thursday, October 12, 2006

No More Sitcoms

Have you noticed how few good situation comedies are left on TV? It has always been my favorite type of show, but these days the new sitcoms don't seem to be funny like they used to be. According to Entertainment Weekly magazine, the last 35 years have seen a wide swing from few sitcoms on broadcast TV to many, and back to few of them currently. The 1970-71 season saw 6 sitcoms in the top 30. By 1990-91, there were a plethora of successful sitcoms with 20 in the top 30. The 2005-06 season saw only 2 sitcoms in the top 30, both on CBS. 2 and 1/2 Men and The New Adventure of Old Christine are the only current sitcom success stories. I enjoy NBC's My Name is Earl, The Simpsons on Fox, and HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, but other than those, these are hard times for a fan of comedies.

I miss shows like Family Ties, All in the Family, The Jeffersons and The Cosby Show. Some sitcoms like Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley and The Wonder Years focused on a nostalgic, simpler time. There was a time when it seemed like every stand up comedian got a shot at a sitcom. Some examples were Roseanne, Seinfeld, The Drew Carey show and Home Improvement. Some actors were lucky enough to be in 2 different hit sitcoms. Ted Danson had success with Cheers and Becker, and Tony Danza had Taxi and Who's the Boss. Kelsey Grammer played Frazier Crane in 2 different shows spanning almost 20 years. Bob Newhart played a Chicago psychologist in the Bob Newhart Show and a Vermont innkeeper in Newhart.

Hopefully sitcoms will make a comeback. I for one am tired of all the reality shows and the CSI shows and their endless amount of clones.

Pee Wee's Playhouse is Back!

We haven't seen much of Paul Reubens a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman since his incident in an adult movie theatre in the early 1990s. 20 years ago in 1986 his innovative children's program Pee Wee's Playhouse premiered on CBS Saturday mornings. The show is now airing on Cartoon Network during their Adult Swim lineup. I always got a kick out of the show and I think Pee Wee is a unique, comical alter ego for Reubens. The show had a 5 year run and won 22 Emmy awards. The wacky theme song was performed by Cyndi Lauper and it was written by Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo. Laurence Fishburne played a character named Cowboy Curtis and Phil Hartman played Captain Carl. Reubens and Hartman had worked together at the L.A. improv group The Groundlings, the equivalent of Chicago's Second City. Pee Wee shared his playhouse with many odd characters, like Jambi the genie, Globey the globe and Conky the robot. Conky would give Pee Wee the day's secret word. Whenever anyone uttered the word, everyone would scream. Reubens made 2 films featuring Pee Wee, including Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Big Top Pee Wee. His 3rd film is now in the works.