So Casey has once again turned the reigns over to me, and boy do I have a feeling he won't like this choice. Do I know he won't like it? No. But tell me this: Does Casey and his guitar playing, mountain biking, rock-nerding self come across as someone who spends a lot of time front of a television? Exactly - but I figure there is some chance that the younger version of Casey watched at least a little bit of television.
This week we are talking about the five best sitcoms from the 1980s (EVER!). During the 1980s there were many sitcoms that had people glued to their TVs. They were so popular that the mere mention of some of the titles will have more than a few people I know humming/singing the theme song. Cases and points - Silver Spoons (Here we are, face to face...), Family Ties (Sha na na naaaa), Full House (Whatever happened to predictability...).
Fast forward to 2007. The reality shows, the crime scene investigators, and the survivors of a plane crash are currently dominating television. While I am admittedly hooked into some of these shows, the sitcom as a genre has very quietly gone to shit. With the exceptions of a few notable shows (How I Met Your Mother, The Office, and 30 Rock), sitcoms are just plain bad. More noticeably, there aren't that many to choose from. With all this said, my first pick is:
1) The Cosby Show
This show is an all time favorite of mine, my wife, and my immediately family. It was funny, smart, and it managed to deal with both real life and family issues. Reruns of the show come on some late night cable station (Wife - which channel are you always watching?), and I am amazed at how just a few minutes of an episode will instantly trigger my memories of the entire show.
To break it down even further, Bill Cosby (possibly a less funny curmudgeon these days) was hilarious. Phylicia Rashad was great (reminded me a lot of my mom). All of the kid-actors were awesome (and my wife contends that Raven Simone was the best child-actor ever. EVER! Seriously). From the crazy intros, to the obscure jazz references, to the heavy-handed/heart-warming life lessons - this show was great.
-Um. I spent the '80s in a cultish. We never watched TV much unless the Broncos were playing. See, we only had the one TV and it was about the size of a tasteful microwave. And we had bikes, pellet guns, and, you know, activities. I did watch the occasional show, but I think whatever knowledge I have on this subject comes from some sort of generational mob memory. This statement will probably drive our readership into the negative integers tomorrow, but 99% of anything from the '80s is crap.
I remember this show, but I don't think I'm in near the danger of a steamy makeout session with Theo(?) Hucstable that you are. A lot of the show was just jokes lifted from Cosby's standup brilliance watered down for primetime. The show was OK. I remember stripey clothing and a lot of sweaters. I also think, in retrospect, that this was the first of a goofy genre of comedy.
Well...in lieu of any actual knowledge on the issue, I will nominate:
2) G.I. Joe
This counts, right? I mean, they had drama and comedy and more intelligent dialogue than I remember on any live-action '80s show. You had goofy in-the-closet man friendships, you had the obligatory ball-busting feminist types with the shoulder pads in their suits, you had helicopters doing unrealistic things, and you had copious amounts of bright colors. This was like any '80s sitcom, only cool. It seems to me like there has been a steady campaign to remove testosterone from television that more or less started with shows like Full House. G.I. Joe tried to fight them off, but he just couldn't fight a tidal wave of crap. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
-Nice pull with G.I. Joe. It used to amuse me that in my part of the country G.I. Joe was followed by Ducktales. Talk about opposite cartoons. My strongest memory is of the character named Snake-eyes. He didn't speak, but was a pure badass when it came to bringing the pain. To go in a completely different direction....
3) The Wonder Years
This is a show that I didn't like nearly as much as a kid as now do as an adult. For anyone who may be unfamiliar, this show followed little Kevin Arnold as he dealt with growing up in the 70's. The show has some classic voice over narration, and it didn't back away from making you uncomfortable with some real life family issues/drama. It was a unique "sitcom," but often the show was intended to make you laugh.
What is funny is that now that I am older the show has as much potential to make my wife (and by "my wife" I mean me) get a little misty eyed. The relationships between the mom and the dad, the dad and the sons, as well as all of the supporting cast/neighborhood friends are solid. At least once a week while flipping through the stations my wife and I will settle on The Wonder Years and watch two back to back episodes.
-Interesting choice. I remember it now, the little kid from The Princess Bride grew up in this one. I remember he had a pretty hot girlfriend, and the show seemed real enough. Wasn't there an episode where he crashed his bike and put himself in a coma? I could have swore there was, but I just can't remember much.
Thank you, Wikipedia.
Right, so the show had a huge influence on my development. I can't overstate how much the Arnolds and their whimsical neighborhood brought into my adolescence. Remember the episode where Norma takes the pottery class? Magical.
4) Doogie Howser, M.D.
I like this one. This show occurred after our family had purchased a color TV set and we had sufficient antenna power to pull in stations from Albuquerque. In other words, I have at least some fucking clue what this one's about. There was a kid. He was a doctor. Hilarity ensues.
I mean, sure, you could ask, Wait, how the fuck is a 14 year old a doctor? You could indeed ask what hospital in its right mind would open itself up to so much negligence related litigation. Intelligent questions have no place in sitcoms. So stop it.
Anyway, the guy had a dumb friend. He also had a computer in his own room! By '80s standards, the kid was a freakin' pimp. The computer also added a nice little place for the writers to tie up loose ends and close the show with a handy PSA about some emotional crap or another.
-Casey, you forgot one of the most fundamental points of this show - Wanda (the object of Doogie's affection) was hot. HOT!
So now it is your turn 8 faithful readers. I want to know what you would add to the list of best sitcoms from the 1980s....just don't knock the Cosby show.