Monday, May 25, 2009

Sitcom Evolution

I was just sitting and watching a re-run of Two and a Half Men. Charlie Sheen was a womanizer and a drinker... just like he is now... and the episode was about four years ago. The show hasn't shown a great deal of evolution, as it was pointed out to me. At one point, Alan (the father, Sheen's brother) had a steady girlfriend who turned into a wife, and then a new divorce. It was an extended story arc that provided a slight amount of evolution to the show, but for the most part, everything remains predictable... and I actually enjoy that. King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, Cheers, these were great shows that had very little change during their run, and they continued to be funny. Sometimes they were smart, sometimes they were mindless, but they were always funny. I like that. It's nice to have a little predictability.

Listen, every episode of Family Ties, Growing Pains and Different Strokes ended in half an hour, no bleed over unless you used a "To Be Continued" - which was fairly rare - you could tune in at any particular week and not need massive back story, and just about anything could be fixed with a hug or a dad talk. Hey, I still think that level of predictability is great, and a non-evolving set of characters is just fine with me.

I mention this, because, before prior to watching Two and a Half Men, I saw an episode of Friends. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out at what point in the show I was watching. Friends, you see, was never an actual Sit-Com, it was an ever evolving soap opera staged as a comedy. Hey, I liked it - quite honestly did, and still can generally enjoy an episode. I just don't pretend to have any clue as to what generally has happened up to the point of the episode that I'm watching, and I sometimes I don't like the characters, because they were different depending on the period of time (I intensely dislike the neurotic Monica towards the end of the show's run). Hey, it's a good show... but sometimes, if you're just looking for some good comedy without needing to remember everything, it's not the way to go - especially if you aren't a television addict.

At the end of the day, I see a fantastic reason for why shows like Two and a Half Men continue to be popular, and hope that a few more crop up. It's that, or we're just doomed to more reality shows. That, of course, would be a tragedy!

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