I was going to take the liberty of assuming that everyone who read this was aware of what a Sitcom (Situation Comedy) was, but then I figured it wouldn't cost me that much to link to wiki for those who are a bit shaky.
Anyway, the United Kingdom has a history of turning out entertaining sitcoms that often lean towards the satirical. They usually are written by just one or two writers which tends to lead to a bit more structured character and plot development. Humour is often derived from a sharp sense of wit and wordplay (blackadder is a prime example here)
For the purposes of this introductory blog I figured I'd cover a few different classic sitcoms; two that started their runs back in the 80's and two more recent outings.
It should probably be noted that in the UK a sitcom seasons standard length is a 6 episode run
The Young Ones
The Young ones spanned 12 episodes from 1982 - 1984 and centered around a group of misfit university students (Neil, Rick, Vyvyan and Mike). Its humour was derived from extreme (and regularly rather violent) slapstick and surrealism.
Another noteable and rather odd trait of the show was its tendancy to have for no obvious reason a musical guest involved playing a song in the students house or out on the street for one reason or another (acts included madness and motorhead)
Spoiler: the young ones clips
Vyvyan loses his head
Applying for an Overdraught
and since I ponder whether anyone will really dig deep and watch these rather than use this blog to kill time....here's a compilation of some young ones mindless violence
Well where to start with blackadder? It wouldn't surprise me at all if it needs no introduction to most people since its arguably one of the greatest and most well known sitcoms around.
Anyway Blackadder started in 1983 and ran for 24 episodes (thats 4 seasons) till 1989. It starred the almighty Rowan Atkinson (perhaps more famous for his role as Mr Bean) as the main character, Edmund Blackadder with Tony Robinson as his sidekick Baldrick. Other noteable cast members were Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (yes that is the guy who plays House to those of you who aren't quite sure).
Each season was set in a different era but all followed the main character Edmund (each incarnation of Edmund is hinted at as being a direct descendant of the last) and his servant Baldrick. The series relied heavily on sharp witticisms especially as it progressed later (the first season has blackadder as a far more incompetent character than the later ones) for a lot of its jokes as well as utilising various improbable circumstances.
Spoiler: blackadder clips
Black Books is a more sitcom (18 eps, 2000-2004) set within a small book shop of the same name owned by an Irish drunkard named Bernard Black (played by Dylan Moran). Its based around Bernard, his assistant Manny (played by the same Bill Bailey I blogged 2 days ago) and their friend Fran (played by Tamsin Greig).
All of the main cast have various issues in actually dealing with the world around them, perhaps none more so than Bernard who seems to loathe just about everything, especially his customers. Regular plot lines involve Maddy and Fran trying to get Bernard to actually do something outside of moaning with various chaotic consequences.
The shows humour can be rather surreal but regularly delivers straight up humour as well which strikes a rather nice balance overall.
Spoiler: black books clips
"evading tax returns"
"manny and the piano"
Peep Show is perhaps one of the most succesful modern British sitcoms having run 24 episodes from 2003 to the present. It follows two men in their late twenties named Mark (played by David Mitchell) and Jeremy (played by Robert Webb). They fill out what seems like a fairly odd couple type relationship with the rather unique twist of having their thoughts voiced aloud to the viewer.
David is a very formal and socially inept loan manager who makes money but has problems with relationships, Jeremy is far more happy go lucky but doesn't really seem to succeed at anything.
The two characters are at their best when interacting with each other but a wide range of enjoyable supporting cast members means there's a lot of amusing plotlines.
Spoiler: peep show clips
"the bad thing"
my apologies if the coherency of this has slipped downhill, it actually took longer to piece everything all together than I expected and I've ended up finishing it up at midnight!
Obviously for all these series I've only linked some sample clips but with a little digging on sites like youtube, dailymotion etc you can find links to full episodes and the like.
Enjoy them hopefully.
P.S. 4 image per blog limit, what the hell?