Which sitcoms have lost their humor?
Does anyone talk about their favorite sitcoms anymore? Between reality-TV overload and ongoing debates about one-hour dramas — you defend ”West Wing,” I’m starting to get addicted to ”Without a Trace” — the sitcom format seems more ignored than ever. So let’s revive the genre: I’ll do a quick rundown of a half-dozen laffers that run from fab to blechhh, and you chime in with your opinions. But before we begin: START WATCHING ”ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE,” YOU SILLIES! Here we go:
”Friends” They’re back for another year, but I’m not feelin’ the love for this season’s so-so, baby’s-here run of episodes — are you? The performances are fine, jokes are solid, but ”Friends” is lacking that something extra, like last season’s unexpected expansion of Joey’s role. B
”Everybody Loves Raymond” It’s constantly near or at the top of the ratings chart, so am I alone in thinking this show has become an uncomfortable viewing experience? The Barone clan’s neuroses and inter-irritations have turned them kinda sour and mean. But still pretty funny; it’s just that wincing is not a reaction I associate with amusement. B-
”Frasier” When Niles went under the knife earlier this season, it confirmed the suspicion that the writers had run out of comedic plots and were now relying on heartstring-tugging. Leave my heart alone, ”Frasier” scribes! I want more heartlessly humorous badinage between Frasier and a healthy, snippy Niles! C+
”Girlfriends” I’ve been watching the UPN’s only decent sitcom for its snappy byplay and for its welcome view of black women as people other than jive-talking clichés. But what the producers needed to do this season was move these galpals into new situations in which their social circle could expand; otherwise, the patter turns into shtick. Or jive. B-
”Just Shoot Me” This show is still on? D-
”Becker” Sorry, I know Ted Danson is giving a good performance every week, and he’s successfully created a fresh sitcom persona post-”Cheers,” an almost unheard-of achievement for anyone except Bob Newhart and… well, the post-”Cheers” Kelsey Grammer. But ”Becker” is just a flat little thing, airless and drab. C
So what sitcoms are your favorites or your LEAST favorite?