I’m beginning to regret the low placing of The US Office on my list even further now, having battered through the whole of Season 7 in short order and laughed at every single episode.
Anyway, back to the list.
#15 Red Dwarf
This is a bit of a nostalgia pick, considering some of it doesn’t really hold up so well now, but as a child of the 80s and 90s who was into science fiction, there was a time when Red Dwarf was pretty much the only show from the genre being produced in the UK. As a result, I would watch the videos of it again and again.
Red Dwarf was at its best in Season 2, a season where pretty much every episode was brilliant. Fast forward to Season 8 and the show had lost its way completely.
24 years after Red Dwarf first hit the screens though, the show came back for another full season on Dave. With limited resources, Doug Naylor had to go back to basics, with a small cast stuck on a mining ship in deep space. I have to say that despite mixed reviews, I enjoyed it and I look forward to seeing more in the future.
Best Episode: Thanks For The Memory
A solid, well executed idea, good acting and a quality script, as the crew of Red Dwarf wake up to find they’ve lost their memory from the past few days, only to discover that they had done it intentionally
#14 Still Game
But the sitcom about two old men and their pals in a Glasgow scheme is excellent.
While the plots are never particularly ground breaking, the humour derives – for me at least – from the dialogue within them.
The relationships between the characters are the key, and – shallow as it may be – watching a sitcom where the characters use the same sort of swear words that most Scots use is just…well…funny.
What also works in Still Game’s favour is the consistency of it. There were six seasons and four specials and there wasn’t a bad episode among them.
Best Episode: Faimly
I’ll admit I haven’t seen some of the episodes in a while, but one that sticks out is the second episode of Season 1, with the storylines of Victor waiting for his family to visit him while they are back in the UK and Winston feuding with a fat thumper of a woman over gigot chops.
#13 Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads
But what I found interesting was that when I asked people on Twitter and Facebook what their top three sitcoms were, Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads got the most votes.
It’s amazing when you think that a show that until last month had not been repeated on British TV for god knows how long was enduring enough to attract so much love.
Here’s a show that differs from almost every other one on the list in that it’s one long narrative. Every episode follows directly into the next one, and that includes the gap between Seasons 1 and 2.
Another thing about it – and it’s something that I don’t think many comedy writers or actors can manage now – is that it’s very heavily based upon conversation between the two lead characters. There’s very little in the way of slapstick or visual humour and yet it works so well.
The show tailed off a little towards the end, but it’s mostly very consistent.
Best Episode: One For The Road
The episode where Bob is arrested for drink driving while Terry is also locked up for football hooliganism (read that back and you wouldn’t think it was a sitcom) is a terrific example of the show with a brilliant punchline.
#12 The Inbetweeners
Four distinct characters who any viewer could identify from his or her time at school, it figures so high because every episode is top notch.
The movie version wasn’t as funny as the TV show, but the news of a sequel in the making is still very welcome for me.
Best Episode: The Field Trip
Simon and Will vie for the affections of a new girl, Jay goes looking for a local woman who supposedly sleeps with school students whenever there’s a field trip down that next of the woods, Neil is lusted after by the Paedo Geography teacher and later in the episode punches a fish to death.
#11 The Simpsons
I’ve written about my feelings on the Simpsons before. You can check out an article I did at time of it’s 500th episode here
For me, despite there being now north of 500 episodes, the last good one I saw was the 197th one back in 1998. I’d stopped watching new episodes of the show altogether before the turn of the new millenium.
So they still make it, and it’s almost universally accepted that it’s pretty crap now, but you have to look at that episode number above. The last good one was #197, and up to that point it was mostly consistent and often times excellent. That’s good going for any show and well worthy of inclusion on this list.
If they’d stopped around the 200 mark it would have been a strong contender for the top 5.
Best Episode: Homer at the Bat
I’ve said that this is my favourite before, and I had plenty of people disagreeing with me.
Sure there are some other great ones like Cape Fear and Rosebud, but this is one episode I could watch every day and enjoy.
Proper use of celebrities (which is rare for the show), a fun plot and a great song to finish,
“We’re talking Hoooomer…Ossie and the Straw”
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