Hardly a surprise.....

happyjack

Dedicated Member
I've read this article on BBC News tonight, it confirms what most people on this forum have been saying for ages, newer is clearly not better....

I don`t know what age group you are Barry:eyesroll: But I grew up watching all the Classic Comedies, which is why we watch a lot of UK Gold
 

Eithne

Dedicated Member
Thank you for posting this article. I thought it was interesting the reasons they came up with for the failure of modern comedy. The idea that people are so diverse that you can’t “make all people laugh all of the time” seems especially ludicrous. The concept that different people find different things funny didn’t just happen in the last 30 years. “Lack of talk about ability” is an interesting view. It indicates that drama is doing better overall because of peer pressure to fit in and not get left out of the discussion. They say there is an overload of choices, especially from America. I don’t know, I live here, and I can tell you there is very little currently airing that speaks to me.

I don’t think the suggestion to make a show go on for more episodes makes it better, unless you are an American show hoping for syndication. In a time when the concept of families seems more likely to create conflict, calling for more sitcoms based around families seems an odd request.

In the end they never answered the question, where are the new classic sitcoms? Or, to put it another way, why won’t most of the sitcoms today be remembered 30 years from now?

I suspect each one of us has an answer to that. For me it’s the human element. Maybe we don’t all laugh at the same things, but we all can identify with the common human experience. What may be the big buzz around the watercooler today will be forgotten tomorrow, touching no one more deeply than for the moment, until the next big thing.

They say that the best lie holds a grain of truth. The same is true for comedy. Modern comedy seeks to maintain a level of excessive hilarity for hilarity’s sake that is exhausting and hollow. We need those sudden moments of lucidity, Clegg’s poignant allusions to brightly colored birds gone before their time, a quiet moment in a chilly alley (I never saw Love Story either), Foggy’s real desire to feel useful. We need those bits of truth, that connection to the common experience, because really, the joke is on us. The characters may be exaggerated, the situations absurd but those are OUR poignant truths, half regrets, and need for acknowledgement cleverly, and safely disguised. A show can have great writing, the best actors, and inspired direction, but what makes it memorable is how it touches us, allows us to lower our guard, and lets us laugh at ourselves.
 

Barrychuckle

Dedicated Member
@Eithne thank you for posting that really interesting view which makes some very salient points. Years ago many comedies were trialed with pilots, this is certainly how many of the classics such as Porridge & AYBS started. The reception of these would determine which ones were made into full series, so they already had a captive audience when they started. I think one of the many problems today is TV producers want to decide what we should find funny and what we should be offended by. Also the fact that television has become so diluted with all the different channels means that there isn't the budgets or appetite to produce quality comedies which will stand the test of time...
 

wstol

Dedicated Member
People seem to avoid making comedies now, for fear of not coming up with a classic.

If we made more comedies without them trying to be too clever or foul mouthed, we would eventually come up with a good one.

As for classics, it all depends on good writing and good acting - and it seems most writers and actors are either inexperienced or lazy.

In the golden age (60s-80s) there was a sitcom (good or bad) on TV virtually if not every night before 9pm, and though many weren't exactly brilliant, they were often entertaining enough.

It's interesting how even the worst programmes of that era are better than most programmes made today, it's also interesting how much value those 'bad' programmes have today, as people still watch them.

Some of the ITV sitcoms that aren't regarded as true classics but still quite good, even some that did appallingly badly yet 'have something about them' are regularly being reshown on the Forces channel - showing that flops can become minor classics.
 

captain clutterbuck

LOTSW Fanatic
There were recent shows that had potential but were killed off before they got started . I enjoyed Warren [one series starring Martin Clunes as a Driving instructor then binned by the BBC , its on Britbox currently] and Boomers which had some really experienced actors and actresses in it our very own Hobbo, Alison Steadman, Phil Jackson , Stephanie Beecham , Paula Wilcox but the content had a target audience who were likely to be more mature people so maybe that's why it was cancelled . The article states that Ghosts is the biggest hit of the old style modern era series which keeps being recommissioned I tried one episode may try again but I don't think it deserved that accolade , in the end there are very few shows which draw 100% adoration from everyone who watches them .
 

Barrychuckle

Dedicated Member
Citizen Khan absolutely sums this up to me, I watched a few episodes and felt it was utter dross. It was also pretty much universally slammed by the critics, and at it's peak it was only getting 75% of the viewing figures which LOTSW was getting at it's lowest point. Yet the BBC saw fit to allow it to run at a prime spot on BBC1 for 5 whole series.
 

Eithne

Dedicated Member
I’ll try not to drone on, but this is a pet subject.

Barry is right, the powers that be do steer us in the direction of what we should find entertaining and what we should be offended by. The purpose of traditional storytelling is to establish social mores and norms. The social mores and norms presented to us by modern entertainment as acceptable has a lot to do with the disintegrating conditions of the world around us today.

I also agree with Wstol about lazy writers and actors. Everyone goes for the big boffo laugh. There is no subtlety. We get eccentricities, not characters. No one is content to be a supporting actor, everyone wants to be a star. Even non-actors, I can’t tell you how many people I see walking around in public clutching their phones playing music as if they have their own personal theme tune. When everyone is out to advance themselves above all else the communal project is going to suffer, be it a tv program or society at large.

For a moment though, I’ll play devil’s advocate for the writers. It’s not easy. I think Captain brought up a few months ago that ITV was passing a requirement that all writing teams have at least one woman in them. That in itself is challenge enough. The next goes back to the first point. In writing books, especially children’s books, if you make it through the slush pile and the process of proposing a book or story, the powers that be will send you a list of words you may or may not use, a very strange age-appropriate vocabulary list, a list of inclusions YOU MUST make in your characters and subject manner, and a format of expected story development. Script writing is no doubt similar. There is very little leeway for original creativity. We were talking about cartoons the other day, anyone who has seen The Magic School Bus knows exactly what I mean. Obviously, inclusion and equality are good things, but at a certain point once you plug in all these requirements there isn’t room for a decent story to breathe.
 

Adanor

Dedicated Member
I’ll try not to drone on, but this is a pet subject.

Barry is right, the powers that be do steer us in the direction of what we should find entertaining and what we should be offended by. The purpose of traditional storytelling is to establish social mores and norms. The social mores and norms presented to us by modern entertainment as acceptable has a lot to do with the disintegrating conditions of the world around us today.

I also agree with Wstol about lazy writers and actors. Everyone goes for the big boffo laugh. There is no subtlety. We get eccentricities, not characters. No one is content to be a supporting actor, everyone wants to be a star. Even non-actors, I can’t tell you how many people I see walking around in public clutching their phones playing music as if they have their own personal theme tune. When everyone is out to advance themselves above all else the communal project is going to suffer, be it a tv program or society at large.

For a moment though, I’ll play devil’s advocate for the writers. It’s not easy. I think Captain brought up a few months ago that ITV was passing a requirement that all writing teams have at least one woman in them. That in itself is challenge enough. The next goes back to the first point. In writing books, especially children’s books, if you make it through the slush pile and the process of proposing a book or story, the powers that be will send you a list of words you may or may not use, a very strange age-appropriate vocabulary list, a list of inclusions YOU MUST make in your characters and subject manner, and a format of expected story development. Script writing is no doubt similar. There is very little leeway for original creativity. We were talking about cartoons the other day, anyone who has seen The Magic School Bus knows exactly what I mean. Obviously, inclusion and equality are good things, but at a certain point once you plug in all these requirements there isn’t room for a decent story to breathe.
That's exactly why it is so refreshing to see and appreciate the older comedies including LOTSW BECAUSE there was no required vocabulary list, list of inclusions, and/or expected story development.
 

wstol

Dedicated Member
I’ll try not to drone on, but this is a pet subject.

Barry is right, the powers that be do steer us in the direction of what we should find entertaining and what we should be offended by. The purpose of traditional storytelling is to establish social mores and norms. The social mores and norms presented to us by modern entertainment as acceptable has a lot to do with the disintegrating conditions of the world around us today.

I also agree with Wstol about lazy writers and actors. Everyone goes for the big boffo laugh. There is no subtlety. We get eccentricities, not characters. No one is content to be a supporting actor, everyone wants to be a star. Even non-actors, I can’t tell you how many people I see walking around in public clutching their phones playing music as if they have their own personal theme tune. When everyone is out to advance themselves above all else the communal project is going to suffer, be it a tv program or society at large.

For a moment though, I’ll play devil’s advocate for the writers. It’s not easy. I think Captain brought up a few months ago that ITV was passing a requirement that all writing teams have at least one woman in them. That in itself is challenge enough. The next goes back to the first point. In writing books, especially children’s books, if you make it through the slush pile and the process of proposing a book or story, the powers that be will send you a list of words you may or may not use, a very strange age-appropriate vocabulary list, a list of inclusions YOU MUST make in your characters and subject manner, and a format of expected story development. Script writing is no doubt similar. There is very little leeway for original creativity. We were talking about cartoons the other day, anyone who has seen The Magic School Bus knows exactly what I mean. Obviously, inclusion and equality are good things, but at a certain point once you plug in all these requirements there isn’t room for a decent story to breathe.
Very good points made.

I had forgotten the idea about each writing team must have at least one woman in it. I'm sorry, but a 'writing team' must consist of whoever the team is comfortable with, and whatever comes up with the goods. To me, such an idea seems invertedly sexist.

It is also a requirement for each programme to have a certain percentage of certain so-called ethnic minorities, another added pressure on people trying to create a simple show.

The best writing, surely, has to come from writing what you want to write, and I think all the box ticking impedes the nature flow of good writing.

As far as new sitcoms go, I quite liked that programme starring Brenda Blethyn as a cafe owner. Very simple, very basic, nothing wrong with that.

Was it a classic. No. Not really. But it was a comedy, and it was mildly entertaining, and wih the state of British sitcom at the moment, you cannot ask for more than that.

I also thought The Rebel with Simon Callow a few years back had enormous potential - but the constant bad language ruined it. So if a family can't enjoy it comfortably, it's not going to be a classic in the same league as LOTSW or Keeping Up Appearances, is it?
 
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