Craving those old-fashioned sitcoms

The new fall broadcast TV season is finally here. I told you a while ago about the many shows which will be canceled by this time next year. Most of those are crime dramas of some sort. It seems like sitcoms have just gone out of style, at least on broadcast TV.

I don’t blame the writers or the networks. I think that you have to look at the last 75+ years of sitcom content. There are so many good ones, from I Love Lucy to much more recent fare like Schitt’s Creek. It’s really hard to make a sitcom without realizing that someone else did it better. This particular issue doesn’t seem to afflict the makers of crime or medical shows, for some reason. But when it comes to sitcoms, it’s hard to avoid feeling like Sam and Diane, Ross and Rachel, or even Bridget and Bernie did it better.

Seeking out something to watch

And yet folks, I like sitcoms. Especially lately, where (and I quote) making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got, it’s nice to settle into a brainless situation comedy where life’s problems get solved in 22 minutes. It may not be realistic, but that’s not what I’m shooting for here. I’m shooting for a familiar, fun time with folks in my living room who can be there without the fear of infection.

And for me, that means fictional characters on a screen.

Here’s where you find it

Because there are so few sitcoms on broadcast TV today, and because most of those feel like they have to be “relevant,” I tend to search obscure streaming services for my fix. I’ve stumbled upon Crackle. Crackle is a weird little service. It spent most of its life as an outlet for old Sony entertainment, but it’s now owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul, which seems to have collected a lot of second, third, and nineteeth-tier content on a variety of apps.

Crackle’s your home for old episodes of Barney MillerBenson, and a lot of other classic sitcoms. It has commercials you can’t skip, but that’s ok with me. That’s how these shows were intended anyway. It’s a bummer that in most cases you don’t get the full series, but remember these shows were episodic. For the most part you don’t miss anything if you miss a week or two. That’s how they were designed.

Even bad sitcoms are good sometimes

You’ll find a lot of sitcoms you never heard of, too. For example, I happened upon Bad Teacher, a 2014 re-imagining of the 2011 Cameron Diaz film of the same name. It’s produced by two of the minds behind the US version of The Office, and it probably should have been a hit. For whatever reason it was canceled after 14 episodes, but honestly those 14 are pretty decent. I can only guess that the show collapsed under the weight of its “usual suspects” casting.  Look at its IMDB page and you’ll find literally everyone you expect would be in this show at this moment. I have nothing against David Alan Grier, Brett Gelman, Richard Kind, or Andrew Daly. Not at all. But these are literally the exact people you would cast in these roles and it’s just a bit too on-the-nose.

It seems that even cameos from The Office alums like Paul Lieberstein and Brian Baumgartner couldn’t save this show, and it disappeared off CBS’ fall schedule quickly. But honestly I’ve watched about half of it, and it’s just fine. Not earth-shattering but fine. And honestly, that’s pretty much what I want right now. I’m not in the mood for my earth to be shattered any more than it is.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.