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Friday, August 24, 2007

Great 90's TV Sitcoms

With the advent of file-sharing and Bittorent, i guess less and less young people are watching TV. I myself get impatient at the first sight of advertisement breaks, not to mention waiting one week for the next episode to be shown, or in the case the Hong Kong TV serials, the next day.

Astro has introduced their AstroMAX device, although i haven't seen it, it sounds a bit like a TiVo but with much less features. Anyway, broadband internet connectivity really just took off here in Malaysia in the last few years (although one can argue Screamyx isn't really giving you 'broad'-band all the time...).

So in that sense i suppose the 90' s was the last great decade for the traditional medium of television. As most of you know, i am a fervent child of the 80's (proof is here and here...), with that decade coincidentally being the golden decade of American (and consequently, local) TV, the highwater mark that indelibly influenced the children of that generation. look at all the TV shows from that era that have been made into Hollywood movies.

TV producers make shows that they feel the audience can connect with, what better way than to make a series (most of the time it'll be a comedy) that is straight right out the biggest demagogue's growing up years? Case in point - in the 70's there was a hit series about life in the 50's ([tag]Happy Days[/tag]). Then in the 80's there was another successful show about life two decades before in the [tag]60's[/tag] (The Wonder Years). In the recent 90's, it was another show (That 70's Show) with the same pattern. Okay, you can argue that Ashton Kutcher and that Fez kid shouting about isn't really a hit show.

Just that now in the new millennium there hasn't been an out and out hit about life in the 80's, and 'That 80's Show' doesn't count.

Which brings me to the topic of what i wanted initially to blog about - great TV shows in the 90's. Specifically, the sitcoms. As much as i love the 80's, i'll have to say the 90's ones were absolutely killer ones. In the 80's it was always happy families with the canned laughter (The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Growing Pains, etc), memorable, but kind of in a non-threatening way. All very nice and good. Then the networks up the ante to capitalize of viewer's increasing sophistication.

Off the cuff, i'm thinking the 2 greatest comedies that truly defined the 90's were, of course, Friends and Seinfeld. Friends was a more traditional set-up of a comedy, although in its inception, it broached a few subjects that in its day was considered less than acceptable. Seinfeld, well, i can hardly disagree when people mention it as the greatest television series of all time. It's a different kind of show - a mixture of sharp verbal gags and physical comedy (mostly by Kramer), interwining storylines that strangely yet nicely collide at the end, and basically a show 'about nothing' (as cliched as that sounds...!)

With the end of the 2 shows, the US networks never really found a replacement for them, signally what is called the slow death of sitcoms on [tag]TV[/tag] recently.

But of course there were other good sitcoms - let me see... Frasier was alright, but i never really found his brand of uptight humor all that appealing. His brother was way funnier, but Kelsey Grammer really raked in the millions on this spin-off. Tim Allen's 'Home Improvement' had this rivalry thing going on in the beginning, but now in retrospect it's all too easy to see who's the big winner and who isn't. Watching reruns of that show is always painful for me, it passes off as one-dimensional and repetitive. Besides, which one of us can't see his Al Borland gag coming from a mile off? but in its defence, there was Pamela Anderson...

What else is there? There was Wings, which i kinda like, Carol in the City (bleargh...), not forgetting the Simpsons (still going strong today, a fav of mine...), The Nanny (my God! that voice!), Third Rock from the Sun...

What else? hmmm...


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