Thursday, June 03, 2004

The Death of the Sitcom, Book 2

After my previous post about the future of the sitcom being in one-camera, '60s style sitcoms, I find this new article in the New York Times about how HBO, purveyor of TV shows for people who don't want to admit they watch TV, is planning to step into the breach by creating new multi-camera, live-audience sitcoms. While I haven't been all that impressed with HBO's comedies in the past (Sex and the City is like The Golden Girls except not funny; Curb Your Enthusiasm is funny, but it's really just a '60s type stupid-com where the same thing happens every week, and lack of character development is elevated to a virtue; nobody likes Arli$$), it's a promising idea. A lot of HBO's successes have come from attracting talented writer/producers who can't get the networks to produce their stuff any more; the most obvious example is David Chase, a veteran of Rockford Files who couldn't sell the broadcast networks on The Sopranos. With the broadcast networks turning away from multi-camera sitcoms, HBO might become the place to go for that kind of show.

Which would mean, ironically, that the studio-audience sitcom, which was the bread and butter of the mainstream networks from the '70s through the '90s, might wind up as something you see mostly on "prestige" networks. It could happen. Though it's an open question whether TV critics (many of whom are terrible at judging traditional sitcoms; hence the condescending reviews Roseanne used to get) would accept them that way.

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