Here's my list.
1. The Honeymooners
2. All In The Family
5. Night Court
6. Big Bang Theory
7. Mary Tyler Moore
8. Barney Miller
9. The Odd Couple
A few notes.
As few episodes as there were of the classic Honeymooners series (39)
you could watch them over and over and still laugh your tail off at the
jokes. "Hello Ball", "There ain't no other side", "Just go for the gold...you've
already got the pot" and so many others. The timing of Gleason, Carney
and Meadows was truly one of a kind. There has never been anything
as good on TV since.
All In The Family was groundbreaking, saying things on TV that you just
didn't ever hear before. But it wasn't just shock value. The delivery of
Carol O' Connor was priceless and Archie Bunker, love him or hate him, will
be one of the most identifiable characters of all time. And then there was
Edith, who in my opinion, was the heart and soul of that show and turned
a great show into a classic.
MASH did things that were also never done before, such as the real time
episode and the POV episode. Plus, never had a show undergone so many
cast changes and actually got better as it went along. By the time the
show went off, it turned from a comedy into a very serious show that
had us crying as much as it had us laughing. You can thank Alan Alda for
the direction the show took as he refused to make light of war and
insisted that the ugly side be shown.
What can you say about Soap? It was probably the most unusual show
on TV ever. The way it went off was horrible (all those cliff hangers) but
it left a legacy (Chuck and Bob, Billy Crystal's ground breaking character,
a non celibite priest, and so much more) that will forever be ingrained in
our hearts and minds. The cast was flawless. The stories were off the wall.
There wasn't a week that went by that we didn't wait for the next episode.
That to me is the definition of a great comedy.
Night Court was just flat out off the wall. John Larroquette, who won
several Emmies for his role as Dan Fielding, probably made the show what
it was. His character was one of the best supporting character roles in
TV history. Many times, Harry Anderson took a back seat to him because
the creators knew what a great character they had in Fielding. I have
probably laughed harder at this show than any other I've ever watched
because of him.
It remains to be seen if Big Bang Theory will stand the test of time, but
right now, it is the funniest thing on TV with the funniest character I
have ever seen in my life. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon Cooper is your
stereotypical genius nerd, but he plays the part so well and the writing is
so good that you can't help but laugh at him...especially if you're a nerd
yourself. I have yet to see one of the 40 episodes aired so far that I didn't
get at least one or two incredible laughs out of. That's not easy to pull off
week after week. As I said, it still remains to be seen if this show stands
the test of time, but my money says it will.
Mary Tyler Moore had 3 characters that made this show what it was...Lou
Grant, Mary and Ted Baxter. Mary wasn't the funny one, but she played
off the others so well. The final episode, there wasn't a dry eye in my
house. That's a great show.
Barney Miller. With the exception of just a few early episodes, this show
took place on one set. It tackled just about every social problem you
could think of. It also had some of the funniest people on TV including
the late Jack Soo who's dead pan delivery was just to die for. I'm waiting
for them to finally come out with season 4 on DVD. I hope they do it
before I'm food for the fishes.
The Odd Couple. As great as the movie was, Tony Randall and Jack
Klugman, IMO, topped it. These two great actors played off each other
perfectly. Another show that I never missed an episode and could watch
over and over in reruns.
Seinfeld. What can you say? The show about nothing was pure genius
because it truly was about something. That something was about how
our lives could be so meaningless and filled with trivial nonsense if we let it
and the consequence of that, their jail sentence, a fitting conclusion.
They were the most despicable characters on TV and yet we loved them.
At the very least, we laughed with (at?) them.
"The Bet" and "Soup Nazi" were probably two of the most hysterical
episodes in the history of TV and we got so much added language (yada
yada yada, etc.) from this show. That's the mark of a great one.
Okay, why don't I have "I Love Lucy" on this list?
Honestly, I never thought that Lucille Ball was all that funny. Desi, I
thought was a scream, but she just never did it for me. Plus, the plots (I
realize it was 50 something years ago) just didn't interest me. Where The
Honeymooners sometimes went to the absurd (Chef Of The Future, Man
From Space, etc.) Lucy show plots were pretty ordinary. I just never got
into that show, though my wife loves it.
I know I've left out some classics or at the very least some very funny
shows. So please feel free to add your favorites and tell why you liked
them so much.