in Television

Situation Comedy

I don’t watch much television.

But I’ve found that I love to watch television shows on DVD (or via download). Kris and I have watched The Office, Arrested Development, Homicide: Life on the Streets, and more.

Recently Sabino loaned me some Seinfeld DVDs. I loved the show during its first few seasons. It gave me some big laughs. But I haven’t actually seen the show since it went off the air.

Over the weekend, instead of doing the writing I had planned, I watched the first nineteen episodes of Seinfeld. The early episodes aren’t as funny as those from the middle of the run. The writers and cast are still finding their way. But there are glimmers of the hilarity to come.

I especially like the DVD’s included “notes about nothing”, captions used to annotate each episode as it progresses. These “notes about nothing” include information on guest stars, behind-the-scenes info, trivia, and — best-of-all — explanations of some of the jokes. I’m surprised at just how smart this show is. Head writer Larry David — the inspiration for the character of George, and the force behind the current HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm — was a history major. There are many literary and historical jokes in the show, and the “notes about nothing” explain them. (Which is nice, because about half of them make no sense to me otherwise.)

I’ve also enjoyed the emphasis the special features place on the show’s writing. The bonus interviews and the “notes about nothing” provide glimpses into the writing process, especially how scenes were developed and revised. As a writer, I’m fascinated to see just what gets cut and why.

Meanwhile, Kris has spent the last several months watching every episode of M*A*S*H. She’s almost finished with the tenth season, just in time for the eleventh (and final) season, which will be released on DVD early in November. The show seems strident to me — lots and lots of yelling — but Kris says it’s still funny after all these years.

Meanwhile, we’ve continued to explore films that people recommended to make me laugh. That isn’t going so well. Galaxy Quest? Lame. Just dumb. Makes no sense at all. Bowfinger? It had promise (and I love Mindhead), but ultimately very average and not so funny. Still, I’ll continue to explore the list of potential funniness.

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  1. How do you feel about the old Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers? I have to be in the right mood, but they can be pretty funny. I love the old It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Great cast.

    As for newer movies, I love Office Space.

  2. Hmm, no accounting for taste: I loved “Debt”, and I found “Galaxy Quest” laugh-out-loud funny… Maybe I take my Trek less seriously, or just had lower expectations?

    Then again, many movies I found hilarious years ago I couldn’t sit through today. A few enduring recommendations: Young Frankenstein, The Apartment, Hear My Song, Time Bandits. Heh.