2Sitcom vs. Drama Conventions Characters1 star with small supporting castA large ensemble castNo character developmentCharacters evolve based on experiencesPlot½ hour– main plot with 1 sub-plot.1 hour–main plot with 3 or more subplots.Very little carry over from episode to episode.On-going events from week to week. Often season ending cliff-hanger.Setting3 or 4 sets reused each week.5 or more studio sets with some location shooting.
3Traditional Sitcom Plot TeaserA setup for a joke that’s not always connected to the main plot of the episode.Act 1The SITUATION (problem) the main character faces in this week is established.Act 2A solution to the SITUATION is proposed that is absurdly complicated.Act 3The solution backfires and the problem is made worse.EpilogueThe problem is suddenly solved and nothing changes.
4I Love Lucy 1951-1957 (#1 show for 4 of its 6 seasons); “Lucy” was not the first TV sitcom, but it became the model for the shows that would follow;Based on Lucille Ball’s CBS Radio comedy “My Favorite Husband”;1951’s top-rated series, and in reruns, probably the most successful program of all time;Behind the scenes, “Lucy” was one of the first shows to be filmed using three cameras before a live studio audience .
5I Love Lucy Teaser: Lucy’s obsessed with a murder mystery. Act 1: Lucy voices her fears to Ethel.Act 2: Lucy plans to catch Ricky planning.Act 3: Lucy ruins Ricky’s act.Epilogue: All is forgiven.
6I Love Lucy Teaser: Lucy’s obsessed with a murder mystery. Act 1: Lucy voices her fears to Ethel.Act 2: Lucy plans to catch Ricky planning.Act 3: Lucy ruins Ricky’s act.Epilogue: All is forgiven.
7The Dick Van Dyke Show 1961-1965 (top 10 show for 4 seasons); Unlike most '60s sitcoms, The Dick Van Dyke Show allows the viewer to spend an equal amount of time with the father at home and at work. (The show was created at a time when it was often unclear what many TV dads did for a living.);The plots problems were more realistic than the I Love Lucy, but the solutions were often equally ridiculous.The show and its team won 15 Emmy Awards;
8The Dick Van Dyke Show “Give Me Your Walls” gs: Vito Scotti (Vito Giotto)Rob and Laura hire a painter that once came by looking for work to fix a blotch on the wall. Laura gets out her endless pile of cards until they find Vito Giotto's card. There is a little problem Vito likes to get started at 5:30 am! Rob and Laura don’t know how to get rid of Vito who seems to have moved in.
9Gilligan’s Island Gilligan’s Island aired from 1964-1967 on CBS. The San Francisco Chronicle proclaimed: “It (Gilligan's Island) marks a new low in the networks' estimate of public intelligence.”The show followed the traditional sitcom pattern;By the end of its third year it was almost a self-parody.
10Gilligan’s Island Standard Plot: Teaser: The week’s guest star arrives on the island.Act 1: Gilligan discovers the visitor.Act 2: The visitor must be convinced to help the castaways return to civilization.Act 3: Gilligan says or does something to make the guest leave the castaways behind when he leaves.Epilogue: All is forgiven.
11Mary Tyler Moore Show 1970-1977 (4 years in the top 10); The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered on CBS in September 1970;The program represented a significant change in the situation comedy, quickly distinguishing itself from typical plot-driven sitcom;Storylines were character-based and the ensemble cast used this approach to develop relationships which changed over time.
12Mary Tyler Moore “The Snow Must Go On” Broadcast: Nov. 1970 Storyline: It's mayoral election night in Minneapolis. Lou puts Mary in charge of the election night coverage by Ted. After receiving the first tally of 'Turner - 85, Mitchell - 23', WJM's teletype machine goes out due to a blizzard. Therefore, they can't receive any of the vote tallies from election headquarters. Ted is forced to ad-lib and wing it.
13Three’s CompanyBased upon a popular British sitcom: Man About the House ( );The show had a simple premise - Jack Tripper (John Ritter, a student at a local cooking college, wanted to move in with two girls, Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers);The only problem - the building's landlord, Mr. Roper (Norman Fell), who lives in the apartment. In order for him to stay, he would have to pretend to be gay.
14Three’s CompanyIn its first full year on ABC, Three's Company moved to Tuesdays behind ABC powerhouses Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, which it also followed that year as number three in the ratings.In , Three's Company nudged out Happy Days for the number two spot,Three’s Company reflected a new more risqué style of sitcom –especially compared to the family friendly Happy Days;Double entendres and provocative plots were much more adult than anything previously presented in primetime.Though the characters talked about sex and dressed provocatively, none of the characters ever seemed to engage in any improper behaviour.
15Three’s CompanyIn the tradition of I Love Lucy, Three’s Company made use of a great deal of slapstick humour, and ridiculous misunderstanding to drive its plots.Typical Plot: Chrissy misunderstands something she overhears and over reacts.
16Fawlty TowersThe genesis of Fawlty Towers came when John Cleese was filming with Monty Python in the Southwest of England in May 1971.They were scheduled to spend two weeks at the Gleneagles in Torquay, but cut their stay to one night. They checked out due to the "wonderfully rude" hotel manager, the late Donald Sinclair.Sinclair found all of the guests in his hotel a terrible inconvenience, unappreciative of just how hard he worked, and amazingly stupid.Sinclair was 5'4" and was married to a large, domineering wife. The 6’4” Cleese reversed the size discrepancy for his show casting the short actress Prunella Scales as Fawlty’s wife.
17Fawlty TowersOnly 12 episodes were ever produced. 6 in 1975 & 6 in 1979.While most sitcom writers spend two weeks turning out an episode, John Cleese and Connie Booth spent six weeks writing each episode of Fawlty Towers.Cleese said each program started with two or three plot threads, which start parallel, but begin to intertwine. The best shows, of course, are those in which the plot threads touch at the end.
18Fawlty Towers “The Kipper and the Corpse” 1979 A guest at the hotel dies in the night, and Basil believes it to be the cause of out-of-date kippers in his breakfast.A doctor at the hotel says that he has been dead for hours, the kipper theory is dropped.Basil and Manuel try desperately to keep the dead guest out of sight of the others, with the body ending up in the kitchen, office, and another couple's bedroom.When the dead man's colleagues show up for a meeting, Sybil must explain what had happened.
19BlackadderIn Blackadder II, we encounter Lord Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson).He plots and schemes in the court of Queen Elizabeth I (Miranda Richardson), aided by his friend Lord Percy (Tim McInnerny) and his servant Baldrick (Tony Robinson).In 1984 Richard Curtis and Ben Elton wrote a series based upon Rowan Atkinson’s talent with cutting humour.They described the main character as a “clever fellow continually cursing the fact that he was surrounded by idiots, and with a rapier put-down or dose of sarcasm to suit every occasion.”Like John Cleese’s Fawlty character, Blackadder is an anti-hero.
20BlackadderPotato (1986)After Sir Walter Raleigh takes the Queen's fancy by bringing her a potato, Blackadder decides to become an explorer with the aid of a legless sea captain.Blackadder is a traditional sitcom in its plot structure. It is more joke based than character or theme based.
21The NewsroomGeorge Findlay is the News Director for the local CBC news in Toronto.His life is complicated by three factors:He is completely self absorbed;His news anchor hasn’t a clue;And most of the news stories don't happen the way or when he wishes they would.The Newsroom’s satire of broadcasting and office politics is more biting than previous sit-coms.The humour is crueler and the sit-com “happy ever after” resolutions.The Newsroom series 3 cast
22The Newsroom CAST: George Findlay, a news director--Ken Finkleman Jim Walcott, a anchorman--Peter KeleghanSydney Dernhoff, a network VP--Julie KhanerMark, a producer--Mark FarrellJeremy, another producer--Jeremy HotzAudrey, a long-suffering intern--Tanya AllenKris, a buxom "research assistant"--Lisa Ryder“The Walking Shoe Incident”from Oct
23Seinfeld “The show about nothing” 1990-1998 The show was not really about nothing it was about a group of self-obsessed characters finding ever increasingly unusual reasons the world was driving them crazy.Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld developed followed a pattern similar to John Cleese and Connie Boothe’s with their scripts.The show was a classic sitcom with its characters never learning anything from their experiences.
24Seinfeld“The classic Seinfeld script structure involves multiple subplots orbiting one another erratically before crashing together at the end. Along the way, some vintage phrases take life: Low-talker. Hand model. Puffy shirt!”Joel Achenbach, Washington Post
25Seinfeld “The Good Samaritan” 1992 Jerry tracks down a hit-and-run driver, then he wants to date her, after dating her he finds out she hit another woman he's always wanted to date.George has an affair with Elaine's friend.Kramer has violent reactions to Mary Hart's voice.
27Popularity of Sitcoms All in the Family Lavern & Shirley Top Ten TV ShowsAll in the FamilyLavern & ShirleyRich Man Poor ManMaudeBionic WomanPhyllisSix Million Dollar ManSanford and SonRhodaHappy Days*Sitcoms in Green
28Popularity of Sitcoms1986 Most Popular TV shows: 1. The Cosby Show (NBC) 2. Family Ties (NBC) 3. Cheers (NBC) 4. Murder She Wrote (NBC) 5. The Golden Girls (NBC) Minutes (CBS) 7. Night Court (NBC) 8. Growing Pains (ABC) 9. Moonlighting (ABC) 10. Who's the Boss? ( ABC)*Sitcoms in Green
29Popularity of Sitcoms1993 Most Popular TV shows: Minutes (CBS) 2. Home Improvement (ABC) 3. Seinfeld (NBC) 4. Roseanne (ABC) 5. Grace Under Fire (ABC) 6. Coach (ABC) 7. Frasier (NBC) 8. Murphy Brown (CBS) 9. Murder, She Wrote (CBS) 10. Thunder Alley (ABC)*Sitcoms in Green
30Popularity of Sitcoms 1 CSI CBS 2 AMERICAN IDOL-TUESDAY (FOX) US TV Ratings week of 03/28/ /03/051 CSI CBS2 AMERICAN IDOL-TUESDAY (FOX)3 AMERICAN IDOL-WEDNESDAY (FOX)3 DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC)5 WITHOUT A TRACE (CBS)6 SURVIVOR: PALAU (CBS)7 HOUSE (FOX)8 GREY'S ANATOMY (ABC)9 NCAA BSKBL (CBS)