So we’ve reached the final five of my Top 30 Sitcoms of All Time.
The key to cracking the top five is consistency.
These sitcoms are the ones that – as far as I’m concerned – are quality all the way through.
From Blackadder 2 to Blackadder Goes Forth, the quality of cast and scripts is excellent.
It even manages to make repetition work, with the multiple appearances of the likes of “Bob” and Lord Flashheart.
People still talk about bringing Blackadder back, but I think that would ruin it.
Best Episode: Goodbyeeee
Could it be anything else?
The final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth might not be the funniest one, but it was the best written and acted. As Blackadder and his fellow troops are at last told they’ll be going over the top, it becomes more of a poignant drama about the realities of life in the trenches in World War One.
And after so many “Cunning Plans” that never worked, you got the feeling that Baldrick’s last one – the only one he didn’t have time to explain – was going to be one that would work (that Blackadder should step on the giant splinter to avoid combat).
The ending is as sad a moment as you’ll ever find in a comedy.
4. The Big Bang Theory
It remains consistently “laugh out loud” funny every week, it has strong characters played by mostly good actors (I’ve never been fond of Raj) and it does what so few sitcoms do – it allows room for character development.
Compare an episode from the first season to the latest one and you’ll see the likes of Sheldon, Howard, Leonard and Penny have all changed over the years.
With my love of everything from Doctor Who to Nintendo gaming, I can’t deny I find the humour somewhat relateable as well, even if that is slightly worrying.
I would say the Big Bang Theory works best though when it focuses on the relationship between Sheldon and Penny. They are absolute polar opposites and yet often find common ground.
It’s great stuff.
Best Episode: The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis
In terms of a specific episode of BBT being considerably funnier than the rest, I think it’s difficult to pick one.
So I’ve picked the episode where Sheldon isn’t quite sure what he should buy Penny for Christmas because he doesn’t know how much she’s spent on him. So he buys multiple gifts with the plan of giving her the price appropriate one and returning the rest. When he finds out what his gift from her is, he gives her them all and – in a touching moment of character progression – a hug.
3. Fawlty Towers
It’s the ultimate example of a show that kept it short in terms of the amount of episodes, but retained the highest standard throughout.
Having said that, and what drops it down to #3 is that there are plenty of other series’ where the quality remains examplary for more than 12 episodes.
Best Episode: The Builders
For a lot of people, the best one is The Germans, but I think the dynamic of Fawlty Towers is at its very best in The Builders.
It’s the one where Basil doesn’t want to hire the more expensive builders and instead brings in the less than competent Irishman, O’Reilly to do the job.
The scene where Cybil attacks them both with her handbag remains one of my favourite sitcom moments.
2. One Foot In The Grave
I read a comment on a forum recently from someone who said that it’s a show built around one joke. What nonsense.
One Foot In The Grave is possibly the most deeply written sitcom there’s ever been.
Everything links up, comments made offhand at the start of episodes are really seeds planted for jokes to blossom at the end, and there’s just so much going on in every half hour.
I don’t believe any other comedy on this list could have done what this series did – had an episode with one single character for the whole 30 minutes and be funny.
You’ve just got to take your hat off to the ability of David Renwick.
Built around one joke? Presumably that criticism is directed at the “I Don’t Believe” style punchline, but again that couldn’t be further from the truth.
People assume it’s a show about a miserable git, but it’s not. In almost every instance, Victor is the innocent party, and it’s often the case that it’s his wife who is the difficult one.
Slyly, One Foot In The Grave manages to be more chaotic than shows that supposedly thrive on that, like The Young Ones, and furthermore, in amongst the comedy, it manages to sneak in quite a lot of serious drama too.
The only bad thing about One Foot In The Grave was the final episode, which was dreadful. They did not need to kill off Victor.
Best Episode: The Worst Horror Of All
The Mini in the skip, the Mattress in the mini, Victor’s new job, the trip to the BBC with the wrong guy and of course the visit of Ronnie and Mildred.
One Foot In The Grave doesn’t get any better.
1. Arrested Development
It’s that good.
Unlike many of the sitcoms on this list, you can’t just watch a random episode and expect to get it – you really have to start with the first episode and go all the way through.
The amount of linked jokes, the depth of the characters, the addition of a narrator…everything you could want from a comedy you’d get in Arrested Development.
If I was to criticise if for one thing, I found the storyline with Rita pretty tiresome.
The show returns to NetFlix later this month and I just hope they can do it justice.
Best Episode: Amigos
It’s difficult to pick one in particular, and I had considered the likes of Good Grief, Pier Pressure and Making A Stand, but Amigos wins for me because there’s so much going on.
Gene Parseman, Ice, the trip to Mexico, Gob’s insecurities about friendship, Michael’s dislike of Anne.
It’s brilliant, but then they almost all are.
So There We Have It…
So that’s the countdown.
The Stuart Reviews Stuff Top 30 Sitcoms of All Time are…
30. Only Fools & Horses
28. Black Books
27. The Goodies
26. The Office (UK)
25. The Office (US) (Which retrospectively should be a lot higher than I originally ranked it)
23. Modern Family
22. Parks & Recreation
20. Family Guy
19. Gavin & Stacey
18. How I Met Your Mother
15. Red Dwarf
14. Still Game
13. Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads
12. The Inbetweeners
11. The Simpsons
08. The Thick of It
07. Men Behaving Badly
06. Dad’s Army
04. The Big Bang Theory
03. Fawlty Towers
02. One Foot In The Grave
01. Arrested Development
So dear reader, in your opinions what have I missed? What have I got wrong? What’s too high? What’s too low?
Let me know.
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