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Top 10 TV Programs You May Have Missed

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The term sitcom is short for situational comedy.  It is a genre of comedy
programming that originated over the radio and since the 1950’s has become a
dominant form of television medium.  Sitcoms are traditionally shown in 30 minute
episodes.  A highly successful sitcom can generate tens of millions of weekly
viewers.  From the time of I Love Lucy to The Brady Bunch, MASH, The Cosby
Show, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, and Friends, some great sitcoms have entertained
the world.  Any one of these shows will show up on a list of the Top 10 greatest
situational comedies.  I have decided to discuss 10 great television programs that
you might not have seen.

10. Still Standing

Aired: 2002-2006

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Still Standing follows a working class couple in Chicago and their three kids, Brian,
Lauren, and Tina.  Bill and Judy Miller are good parents, but their own past
experiences often conflict with the lessons they try to teach to their children.  The
entire ensemble cast is great.  Ever episode of this show is entertaining and it often
uses crude and sexual humor, as most shows do.  Still Standing was relatively
popular for CBS in its first few seasons, but gradually lost viewership and was
canceled after 4 seasons.  It had some serious competition in its time slot.  The
show has been picked up for syndication by various networks, including Lifetime
in the U.S.

9. My So-Called Life

Aired: 1994-1995

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My So-Called Life was an American television teen drama series created by
Winnie Holzman.  The show followed a group of teenage students at the fictional
Liberty High School.  Many episodes of the program dealt with a variety of
serious issues, including child abuse, homophobia, teenage alcoholism,
homelessness, adultery, school violence, same sex parenting, censorship, and drug
use.  It was a critically acclaimed program, but was canceled after only 19
episodes.  The final episode of My So-Called Life ended in a cliffhanger, as
producers expected the program to be picked up for another season.

It was officially canceled on May 15, 1995. My So-Called Life stars a young
Claire Danes and Jared Leto.  For its original run in the United States, it aired on
Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET against four top-10 hit sitcoms including Mad About
You, Friends, Martin, and Living Single.  This undoubtedly contributed to the
series' low ratings.  As of August 10, 2009, Hulu.com has the complete series on
their site to view for free. 

8. Duckman

Aired: 1994-1997

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Duckman is an animated sitcom that was based on characters developed by Everett
Peck in his Dark Horse comic.  The series consists of 70 episodes that aired on
USA's Up All Night on Saturday nights on the USA Network.  It is difficult to get
noticed at this time slot, but the show made an impact on cartoon animation and
writing.  It soon gained a cult following.  The series follows the adventures of a
private detective duck that lives with his family and sister-in-law Bernice (his late
wife's identical twin).

The tagline of the show, seen in the opening credits, is Private Dick/Family Man,
Dick being sort for detective.  The show featured a long list of guest stars,
including Lisa Kudrow, Burt Reynolds, Brendan Fraser, and Ice T. 
The title
character is voiced by Jason Alexander. 
It is one of the best animated series ever
developed and helped pave the way for the more edgy sitcoms we see today.  The
show was one of the first animated sitcoms to incorporate popular culture.  The
entire series of Duckman has been released on DVD, but can’t be seen on network
television.
              

7. Sports Night

Aired: 1998-2000

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Sports Night was a sitcom that followed a fictional sports news show and the
people who worked there.  The business was similar to ESPN’s Sportscenter.  The
characters of the show worked in various positions at the studio, including anchor,
managing editor, executive producer, and associate producers.  The show has some
star power, including Robert Guillaume, Peter Krause, and Felicity Huffman.  The
episodes followed the friendships, pitfalls, and ethical issues that the workers
faced while trying to produce a good show under constant network pressure.

It was a funny show with some in depth and interesting content.  The ensemble cast
is great and the program is considered a comedy-drama, as it does contain some
serious issues.  Sports Night will appeal to those interested in sports or business.
I was surprised when it was cancelled by ABC.  The show has been purchased for
syndication by various television companies around the world.  It can be seen on
Comedy Central in the U.S. and aired on ABC1 in the United Kingdom.  Sports
Night has also been shown in Latin America and on Australia’s Channel 7.  The
complete series can be purchased on DVD.
        

6. Yes, Dear

Aired: 2000-2006

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Yes, Dear is a show that follows Greg Warner, his wife Kim, and their two
children. 
Kim's sister Christine Hughes and her husband Jimmy, along with their
two sons, Dominic and Logan live in the Warners' guest house.  Jimmy has an easy
going approach to life, while Greg is extremely uptight.  The acting in this show is
great and Anthony Clark’s portrayal of Greg is hilarious.  Mike O'Malley is also
good, but the best part of the show is the writing and usual production.  It doesn’t
rely on wave of bad sex jokes to get by.

The sitcom is noted for representing an average American family.  During the
shows run it received surprisingly solid rating for CBS in spite of little to no
promotion and a number of timeslot changes.  Since the end of Yes, Dear, the
program has been purchased for syndication by various networks.  Today, it can
be seen on TBS in America and the complete series has been released on DVD.
 

5. Fawlty Towers

Aired: 1975 & 1979

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Fawlty Towers is a sitcom that was produced by BBC Television and first
broadcast on BBC2 in 1975, although only 12 episodes were ever made, the show
has had a lasting impact in Great Britain. 
The program is set in the fictional hotel
of Fawlty Towers located in the seaside town of Torquay on the English Riviera.
The series focuses on the exploits and misadventures of short-fused hotelier Basil
Fawlty, his wife Sybil, and their employees, Porter and waiter Manuel, maid Polly,
and (in the second series) chef Terry.  The episodes typically revolve around
Basil's efforts to succeed in raising the tone of his hotel and his increasing
frustration at the numerous complications and mistakes.

It is really a funny and well written show.  Fawlty Towers helped launch the career
of English actor John Cleese, who wrote and acted in the show.  It is rare when a
show with so few episodes has such large cultural impact.  You can purchase the
complete series on DVD for a good price.  This show is widely unknown in
America and I had to purchase the series in order to view it.
 

4. Quantum Leap

Aired: 1989-1993

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Quantum Leap is an American television series that starred Scott Bakula as Dr.
Sam Beckett, a scientist who becomes lost in time following a botched experiment.
In the series' first episode, Sam appears in the past with no memory of who he is
or how he got there.  Referred to frequently throughout the series as a "swiss-
cheesed brain," Sam's partial amnesia prevents him from remembering most of the
details of his own life; all he knows is that he's not who everyone in the past seems
to think he is.  Fortunately Admiral Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), a former
astronaut and Sam's best friend, appears to him as a hologram and explains that
Sam is the victim of a time travel experiment that went "a little caca.”

Sam is now lost in time, and his colleagues are having difficulty retrieving him and
bringing him back to his own time.  In the first episode, Sam soon realizes that he
has assumed the identity of a man that he is meant to save.  In each episode, Sam
leaps into a new host body, often finding himself in dangerous, embarrassing, or
otherwise compromising positions, and with Al's help he tries to right some wrong
or misfortune in the life of that person or someone close to them.  It is a unique
show with a good final episode. 

3. Bill Nye the Science Guy

Aired: 1993-1997

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Bill Nye the Science Guy is an educational program that aired on PBS.  It is a 30
minute show that was hosted by Bill Nye and each episode is designed to teach a
specific topic in science to a preteen audience.  The show does a great job
explaining each topic fully and has great learning visuals, charts, experiments, and
descriptions.  Bill Nye the Science Guy is one of the most viewed educational
videos in the U.S.  Thousands of teachers use the series to explain various
scientific topics to their classes.

Bill Nye recorded 100 episodes and he covers one topic in each show.  Some
examples include
Dinosaurs, Gravity, Digestion, The Moon, Cells, Heat, Brain,
Reptiles, the Water Cycle, and many others.  The complete series of episodes has
been released on DVD, but it is expensive and costs a couple hundred dollars.
Bill Nye Videos are always being sold on e-bay.
 

2. Jericho

Aired: 2006-2008

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Jericho is an American action series that centers on the residents of the fictional
town of Jericho, Kansas in the aftermath of nuclear attacks on 23 major U.S. cities.
The show was broadcast in more than 30 countries and was initially canceled in
the United States after its first season.  However, a fan campaign was able to
convince the network to bring the show back for a seven-episode second season.
In 2009, plans were announced for both a feature film version of the series and a
continuation of the Jericho storylines in a comic book series.  The show remains
cancelled.

The pivotal character in the story is Jake Green, who is a 32-year-old son of Mayor
Johnston Green.  Jake Green fled to the town of Jericho five years earlier when he
became mixed up with the wrong people and involved in questionable activity.
Jake briefly returns home to claim his inheritance before becoming stranded as a
result of the nuclear catastrophe.

1. The Wonder Years

Aired: 1988-1993

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The Wonder Years is a sitcom that ran on ABC for six seasons, from 1988 to1993.
The show was set in the time period of 1968-1973 and portrays many historic
events and social issues.  It is filmed through the eyes of main character Kevin
Arnold and his family.  The Wonder Years also deals with many teenage social
problems.  The great thing about this show is that it can be enjoyed by both
children and adults.  The show did a great job explaining what it was like to grow
up in the late 1960’s.

The Wonder Years launched the career of the lovable Fred Savage (Kevin) and
Danica McKellar (Winnie).  The voice over work of Kevin’s thoughts was done by
popular actor Daniel Stern.  The show was successful and achieved a spot in the
Nielsen Top Ten for two of its six seasons, but was by no means a #1 hit.  The
Wonder Years also won many awards during its six year run and Fred Savage
became the youngest actor ever nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a
Comedy Series.
 

One More

Futurama

Aired: 1999-2003

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Futurama is an animated sitcom that was created by Matt Groening, who also
developed The Simpsons.  The series follows the adventures of a late 20th-century
New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J. Fry, who after being "cryogenically"
frozen for a thousand years, finds employment at Planet Express, an interplanetary
delivery company in the 31st century.  The episodes revolve around the Planet
Express interplanetary delivery company and its employees.  Futurama is set in
New York at the turn of the 31st century, in a time filled with technological
wonders.

It is a funny show and the first science fiction cartoon series.  Futurama has gained
an extensive following over the years and even has its own language, which appears
in the background of episodes.  The show received good ratings and managed 19
million viewers for its premiere episode.  Today, it can be seen on Comedy
Central in the U.S. and was revived in 2007 as four straight-to-DVD films; the last
of the four was released in early 2009.

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Eric - January 27, 2011

Arrested Development was one of the funniest shows ever that no one ever
watched.



Copyright The List Blog - Top 10, All Rights Reserved, Posted Sept. 3, 2009