Sitcoms and Graham Linehan
Another day spent doing nothing. I finally got rid of some of the stuff on the Sky+ box which has filled up alarmingly quickly in the two weeks I’ve had it.
Top of the list was the couple of Father Ted documentaries that were shown around Christmas time (I’m being deliberately vague as I really have no idea when they were screened.)
The program was never one that I was especially keen on when it was first out though I had a couple of friends who raved about it. Having watched it since, though, I’ve grown more fond of the characters and the way all the series are written.
In the past couple of years, I’ve been following one of the main writers, Graham Linehan, on Twitter and although he tweets a lot about stuff that doesn’t really interest me, there is still a sizeable chunk of information that seems to flow from him enough to make him interesting.
I find that being on Twitter can either really help me feel like I am connecting with - or at least ‘getting’ - someone, which has been the case with Linehan and Richard Herring, or help me rail against someone, such as Duncan Bannatyne (@DuncanBannatyne) who just comes across as arrogant and rude.
Linehan didn’t really touch on Twitter in the documentary, though he spoke at length about his feelings when he was writing the comedy, and on visiting the sets and locations that they’d used a decade and a half before, he was quick to admit to being so tied up in the filming that he’d failed to notice the beauty around him, and also gave suggestions as to what he felt made a good sitcom and what should be considered when writing one.
The one glaring thing that stuck out for me was that his advice seemed to centre around what should be done when a sitcom has been commissioned and is being filmed, rather than anything in the lead up to, or the course of writing it.
For me, the best sitcom ever written was Friends. Smooth, funny, six equally-important characters, each with their own quirky traits, but each of whom was equally attractive to a viewer.
Friends is the holy grail in my eyes, and though I enjoy Father Ted, it’s still far below my idea of supreme comedy writing. In fact, the only other contender I can think of right now is Blackadder, and even that had some serious flaws (I write this having seen the 1999 Back and Forth episode earlier today, and having seen the first series many years ago.)
There are plenty examples of what I believe to be terrible sitcoms out there. Dozens and dozens, some of which have gone of for years. There’s hope for all of us yet.
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