Top Ten Sitcoms
1) CHEERS - Managed to have characters we cared about and yet remain very funny. Classic one liners (What's up Norm? My nipples, it's freezing out there.), slap stick and subtle character based comedy.
Also survived and thrived with character changes (Coach to Woody, Diane to Rebecca) which killed shows like M*A*S*H and News Radio. Also was able to spin off an excellent show when it left the air (Frasier). Good guest characters like Harry the Hat and Andy, Andy.
As a conservative, I love that writer Rob Long and Cliff the postman have gone on as advocates of conservative institutions and causes.
It even managed a decent final episode (though not as great as the final episode of "Newhart". But of course, "Newhart" is not making the list.)
Everyone join in on the "Kelly, Kelly" song.
2) ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT - In an interview, show creator, Mitchell Hurwitz. recently admitted that he set such a high standard of cramming jokes, plot lines and characters into a small period of time in this classic that he was having a hard time reaching his own standards in his new sitcom.
Yeah, it could have raunchy jokes, but they were funny and they flew by fast. Most of the characters were morally repugnant, but they were so personally unselfaware that you forgave them. Briliant use of Charlie Brown theme songs and "Afternoon Delight".
Before the phrase "Jumping the Shark" jumped the shark, they had Henry Winkler acutally jump a shark in the most casual manner possible.
David Cross was hysterical with his thoughtless double entendre and his business card for himself as an analyst and therapist was awful and awesome.
Everyone join in on their own chicken dance.
3) SEINFELD - I didn't appreciate this show until I realized you weren't supposed to like the characters. This show has added an amazing number of catch phrases to the culture ("Yadda, Yadda, Yadda", "Not that there's anything wrong with that", etc.).
It was great to have Jerry's best stand up bits committed to film (I love the one about sports fans really rooting for laundry.)
It was never really about Nothing, but it cleverly set up situations where very little happened in a Chinese Resteraunt or a parking lot.
And I met Julia Louise Dreyfuss and she was very nice. (Though the final episode was not as great as "Newhart"'s or "Cheers"'s or probably even "Bossom Buddies"'s.)
Everyone join in on the Elaine dance.
4) THE OFFICE - The BBC version. The American version has had great moments, but also such lows that it doesn't make it.
But Ricky Gervais' two seasons and a special are such artful pain that it has never been matched. (Though Ricky came close with the wonderful Extras.)
It captures the most awkward moments that have ever taken place in the workplace.
Everyone eat some stapler jello in this show's honor.
5) MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE - The best family sitcom of all time. This show was willing to have great absurdist touches (such as the hamster in a hamster ball that roamed the country throughout a season) but it also had real touches such as deciding which bills to pay based on the color of the paper (obviously red is more urgent than white.)
Bryan Cranston has gone on to win Emmys for his work in Breaking Bad, but he was brilliant in this show as well. Jane Kaczmarek was also great capturing both the nuture and the neurotic nature of motherhood.
Malcolm was the narator and the title character, but I always was rooting for the fourth born, Dewey and his special ed class was one of the bolder and funniest of sitcom inventions.
Everyone sing along Meow Mix song.
6) THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW - Pioneer in meta comedy, being a comedy show about the making of a comedy show (while also a domestic comedy.) Van Dyke was one of the great slapstick comics but he also came across as a real person. You really believed he was in love with the graceful and lovely Mary Tyler Moore.
The Walnut Alien Invasion show was a great science fiction spoof and yet also really scared me as a kid.
Carl Reiner was originally supposed to star in the show, and kudos to him for recognizing that DVD would do a better job. And Reiner was great as ego mad TV star Alan Brady. Also wonderful was Richard Deacon as Mel (whose great work on Leave It To Beaver was sadly never recognized with an Emmy.)
The only real weakness in the show was Larry Mathers as one of the most annoying child stars in sitcom history (and that competition is fierce.)
Everyone trip over the ottoman (or not.)
7) THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW - If only for the single episode,"Chucles Bites the Dust" which had Mary laughing at a funeral, this show might have made the list. A great cast of characters that were lovable and yet very funny.
Lou Grant drank too much and was gruff, but someone you would like to work for ("You've got spunk. I hate spunk.")
Ted Baxter was an dim, ego driven newscaster that one believes can easily be found on the local news.
Georgette was one of the sweetest characters ever, and Sussanne was one of sluttiest and they got along in this universe.
Sadly, its spinoffs (Rhoda and Phylis) were not that great and just deprived the show of great characters.
Everyone join that show ending hug.
8) THE BOB NEWHART SHOW - No one did a drunk, let alone a one way telephone call, as well as Bob. Great supporting characters and wonderful writing made this a classic.
Newhart managed two other decent shows ("Newhart" and the sadly unappreciated "Bob".)
Everyone join in on some Mu Gu Guy Pan.
9) 30 ROCK - The one current sitcom that makes the list (Community and Modern Family might make the list if this was made in the future.) Great balance of the absurd and sly satire. Though made by political liberals, they really do take on targets from both sides of the political spectrum.
Everyone agree we are tired of this bit of using "Everyone".
10) NEWS RADIO - Barely bits out WKRP as one of the great workplace comedies. But this one makes the list for the wonderful out of not where season ending episodes such as News Radio in Space and News Radio on the Titanic.
(The Simpsons is arguably one of the great sitcoms, but I'm saving it for a favorite animated shows list.)