In the past few years, there has been an unusually large number of new sitcoms that have more hype than quality and usually end up disappearing quickly - NBC's "Coupling" is probably the reigning titleholder there, even the company's president said it sucked - and consequently a very low numbers of good shows. Seems like the networks have less faith in their new shows than ever, as well as no idea what to do with them much less how to nurture good shows into long-running successes, and you'll notice that by the fact that 3 of the 4 shows I listed below have had serious programming problems for no good reason except network nincompoopery.
When I think about what's on the air right now, the only new sitcoms of any merit that come to my mind are:
- Scrubs - clever, hilarious show, brilliantly written, no laugh track and consistantly funny, the internal monologue style is enhanced by some inspired quicky dream sequence bits. NBC has monkeyed with its timeslot too many times already but it hopefully will hold its own through that (NBC should certainly have left this on Thursday instead of thinking "The Apprentice" will hold their Thursday night together after it got obliterated on Wednesday);
- Arrested Development - Fox finally has a worthy new sitcom on its hands, another laugh-track-free show often with painfully funny writing, creatively-different foundation ("situation"), and a great ensemble cast led by Jason Bateman, plus the fantastic touch of having Ron Howard narrate each episode. Fox already pulling some scheduling shenanigans, which usually causes them to prematurely cancel good programming for poor reasons;
- Two and a Half Men - fairly schticky, overly-well-trodden sitcom fare from the creator of "Dharma & Greg" but with 2 great actors as the leads, Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer (who unfortunately gets the short end of the writing stick most of the time) that have good chemistry and seem to be having fun with it. Not a "favorite" of mine by any stretch, but easily watchable in comparison to most of the new sitcoms put out in the 2003/2004 season.
- Good Morning Miami - Premise and surface features made this show seem unwatchable to me at first, but strong writing and a solid-if-somewhat-unknown cast actually keep it funny. The longer the show ran, the looser it got with the plotlines which worked to its advantage. Possibly the smartest thing about this series is that most of the background characters and even extras are given plum lines and shining comedy moments adding dimension and flavor without subtracting from main characters and situations - many other sitcoms should learn that lesson. NBC has never been kind to this show's scheduling and has been bouncing it between cancelled and surviving while keeping it on hiatus, thus guaranteeing it no chance to build an audience.