Ageless And Funny Sitcoms

By Hank Evans

Barney Miller (1975-1982): A precursor to NYC workplace shows like ‘The Job’ and ‘Rescue Me,’ ‘Barney’ starred Hal Linden as a police captain who shepherded a lineup of quirky suspects through the precinct and mentored his detectives, from grumpy Fish (Abe Vigoda — still alive!) to aspiring novelist Harris (Ron Glass).

Good Times (1974-1979): ‘Maude’ spin-off ‘Good Times’ was another seminal series, tackling issues of race, sex and class with pointed wisecracks. Jimmie Walker’s became a star as J.J. ‘Dyn-o-mite!’ Walker, but it was the Walker parents (Esther Rolle and John Amos) who infused heart into the show’s sillier antics.

The Odd Couple (1970-1975): The show that asked if “two divorced men (could) share an apartment without driving each other crazy” answered the question with as much hilarity as the preceding play and movie, earning Emmys for stars Tony Randall as neat freak Felix Unger and Jack Klugman as proud slob Oscar Madison.

South Park (1997-present): If you’ve never been offended by a pop culture-skewering episode of this delightfully subversive cartoon, you haven’t been paying enough attention. Tackling everything from Scientology and Catholicism to Christmas poo, the filthiest grade schoolers in TV history have also proved to be the most astute.

The Office (2005-present): Some argue the original series is better, but for our Schrute Bucks, it’s the Dunder Mifflin gang that most hilariously captures the monotony of ‘Office’ life. Michael Scott over David Brent? Yep. Dwight over Gareth? Indeed. And not since Sam & Diane have we been treated to a sitcom couple as hot as Jim & Pam.

I Love Lucy (1951-1957): A comedy so classic it still goes down as smoothly as a bottle of Vitameatavegamin, the first major TV ratings hit owed its success to Lucille Ball’s gift for physical comedy, whether re-enacting the Marx Brothers’ mirror scene with Harpo, wrapping candy with Ethel or selling that “health” tonic.

The Cosby Show (1984-1992): It was the family we all wanted to be a part of: the Huxtables, led by Cliff and Clair, two professional, in-love parents who ruled with a firm hand and lots of humor, whether buying Theo a Gordon Gartrell shirt, planning the classic anniversary performances for the grandparents or throwing a funeral for a pet fish.

Seinfeld (1990-1998): A show about nothing? Nah, it was about everything in the lives of four self-involved New Yorkers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, because no one but Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer — and show co-creator Larry David — could have turned minutiae into nine seasons of comedic brilliance.

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