Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Wed 16th Aug, 2006

The new modern comedy

It seems to me that the current 'sitcom' is mutating like a cancer. It's growing from focussing on people we can relate to (e.g. Captain Tony Nelson in I Dream Of Jeannie, who is trying to be a fairly normal person in a respectable job) to people who we actually despise (e.g. Stephen J. Fry in Futurama, who has no ambitions, no hope, no clue, and no self-control and is still, nominally, the star). While the humour itself can be sophisticated, the characters are on a downward slide - the only thing compensating for their neuroses and stupidities are the neuroses and stupidities of every other character. Family Guy is my current personal low tide mark: even Stewie, nominally way smarter than the rest of them, never actually succeeds at anything, often having overlooked something completely obvious. I just can't find any humour value in something that values dysfunction so highly.

What I hunger for is a comedy that has a fairly normal family, for example, handling the usual routine of hardships and triumphs that constitutes an ordinary life. They're smart, witty and have all the modern comebacks. They have jobs and problems we can all relate to and solve them in ways that make us think "Gee, I wish I thought of that." They feel like friends that we'd like to have, rather than people we'd rather avoid.

No character stranger than Joey from Friends or Kramer from Seinfeld need apply.

Sure it can be done. Just don't think "Selling a half hour TV segment to a major channel" because they'll never take it - the current mindless drivel already suffices. Think "Quality IPTV". Think "Youtube" and "Democracy Player". Think "Get a bunch of three minute clips together and become the next internet meme". Hell, if "Tripping The Rift" can get signed up as a TV broadcast show years after the three-minute one-joke ramble disappeared into internet obscurity, then sooner or later the TV stations will come begging. At that point, if I was responsible for the show in question, I'd point to the Black Mountain Tower and claim it as a new installation artwork entitled "F**K YOU TV EXECUTIVES". Because it would seem that any idea that TV stations get their hands gets buggered into a grisly, ugly shade of its former self.

Actually planning and writing anything for this "Ordinary World" sitcom is there somewhere on my list of things to do, between "convert the home network to IPv6" and "install an Asterisk server and invest in VOIP."

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