23 of the best sitcoms

by revpetebrazier | created - 26 Mar 2016 | updated - 25 Feb 2017 | Public

Sitcoms that are truly original, that manage to have lasting depth (though very different kinds of depth) and not at the expense of the funny. In alphabetical order - not order of funny.

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1. 30 Rock (2006–2013)

TV-14 | 22 min | Comedy

Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), head writer of the sketch comedy show "TGS with Tracy Jordan", must deal with an arrogant new boss and a crazy new star, all while trying to run a successful television show without losing her mind.

Stars: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jack McBrayer

Votes: 105,284

The comedy writing and performing genius of Tina Fey at its best. Plus great comic performances from the Likes of Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan.

2. 'Allo 'Allo (1982–1992)

45 min | Comedy, History, War

In France during World War II, Rene Artois runs a small café where Resistance fighters, Gestapo men, German Army officers and escaped Allied POWs interact daily, ignorant of one another's true identity or presence, exasperating Rene.

Stars: Gorden Kaye, Carmen Silvera, Vicki Michelle, Richard Marner

Votes: 22,261

What could be funnier than Nazi occupied France during WWII? Yet the cast and writers manage to pull this off as an old school English farce of awkward circumstances and saucy innuendo.

3. The Big Bang Theory (2007–2019)

TV-14 | 22 min | Comedy, Romance

A woman who moves into an apartment across the hall from two brilliant but socially awkward physicists shows them how little they know about life outside of the laboratory.

Stars: Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg

Votes: 663,077

Geek-chic brought into the mainstream by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady. Many great performances here but Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco are the gems that really make this comedy shine. Watch these all once then watch them again just looking for Kaley's reactions - it's worth it just for those.

4. Blackadder II (1986)

TV-PG | 176 min | Comedy

In the Tudor court of Elizabeth I, Lord Edmund Blackadder strives to win Her Majesty's favour while attempting to avoid a grisly fate should he offend her.

Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Tim McInnerny, Miranda Richardson

Votes: 39,622

From writing team Richard Curtis and Ben Elton. Rowan Atkinson and a team of great British comic actors are joined by the normally quite serious Miranda Richardson - who delivers a gloriously silly, but also somehow slightly disturbing performance as Queen Elizabeth I.

5. Blackadder the Third (1987)

TV-PG | 180 min | Comedy

In the Regency era, Mr E. Blackadder serves as butler to the foppish numskull Prince George amidst the fads and crazes of the time.

Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Hugh Laurie, Helen Atkinson Wood

Votes: 37,876

From writing team Richard Curtis and Ben Elton. Rowan Atkinson and a team of great British comic actors give us an alternative insight into the life of the Prince Regent before his ascension to the throne as George IV.

6. Blackadder Goes Forth (1989)

TV-PG | 175 min | Comedy, War

Stuck in the middle of World War I, Captain Edmund Blackadder does his best to escape the banality of the war.

Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie

Votes: 44,434

From writing team Richard Curtis and Ben Elton. Rowan Atkinson and a team of great British comic actors give us a funny but occasionally deeply poignant look into the events of WWI

7. Black Books (2000–2004)

TV-PG | 25 min | Comedy

Bernard Black runs a book shop, though his customer service skills leave something to be desired. He hires Manny as an employee. Fran runs the shop next door. Between the three of them many adventures ensue.

Stars: Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey, Tamsin Greig, Paul Beech

Votes: 50,262

Hilarious, grumpy and drunk. Dylan Moran is basically himself as Bernard Black.

8. Bluestone 42 (2013–2015)

30 min | Comedy, War

The lives of a group of soldiers serving in a bomb disposal detachment in Afghanistan

Stars: Tony Gardner, Scott Hoatson, Jamie Quinn, Stephen Wight

Votes: 1,987

The funniest comedy ever made about bomb disposal in war torn Afghanistan. A surprising comedy gem that could have gone very wrong in many directions yet managed to hold the balance between the camaraderie, the comedy and the difficult honesty of telling funny stories in one of the toughest situations in the world.

9. Dad's Army (1968–1977)

30 min | Comedy, War

A ragtag group of Home Guard volunteers prepare for an imminent German invasion during World War II.

Stars: Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn, John Laurie

Votes: 5,032

Croft and Perry's comedy masterpiece. The situation is WWII and the home guard are those who weren't fit for the front line, but still wanted to contribute. A magnificent ensemble of comic performances led by Arthur Lowe and the wonderfully understated John Le Mesurier.

10. Detectorists (2014–2017)

Not Rated | 30 min | Comedy

The lives of two eccentric metal detectorists, who spend their days plodding along ploughed tracks and open fields, hoping to disturb the tedium by unearthing the fortune of a lifetime.

Stars: Mackenzie Crook, Toby Jones, Rachael Stirling, Gerard Horan

Votes: 8,524

A gentle and understated comedy written by and starring Mackenzie Crook, co starring the wonderful Toby Jones. This is not a comedy of jokes but of the unseen wonder in life's mundane absurdity. The beauty of the cinematography and the soundtrack are doubly unexpected bonuses in this already unexpected masterpiece.

11. Dinnerladies (1998–2000)

34 min | Comedy

Comedy about the workers in a factory canteen.

Stars: Victoria Wood, Thelma Barlow, Andrew Dunn, Shobna Gulati

Votes: 1,541

The observational comedy genius of Victoria Wood finds a perfect outlet in this series. It's all about relationships and the comedy in the rich details of day to day life in the refectory of a northern factory. It is the sparking dialogue that really makes this one of the best.

12. Father Ted (1995–1998)

TV-14 | 25 min | Comedy

Three misfit priests and their housekeeper live on Craggy Island, not the peaceful and quiet part of Ireland that it seems to be.

Stars: Dermot Morgan, Ardal O'Hanlon, Frank Kelly, Pauline McLynn

Votes: 33,606

A daft rendition of priestly life in rural Ireland from the pens of Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews. Though I am reliably informed by some colleagues that this is far closer to a true rendition than perhaps we might hope it ought to be.

13. Frasier (1993–2004)

TV-PG | 22 min | Comedy

Dr. Frasier Crane moves back to his hometown of Seattle, where he lives with his father, and works as a radio psychiatrist.

Stars: Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin

Votes: 67,920

Erudite and aloof. Who would have thought that the barely tolerable character who frequented the bar at Cheers in Boston, would move to Seattle and give us one of the best situation comedies that America has ever offered.

14. Gavin & Stacey (2007– )

TV-14 | 29 min | Comedy, Romance

Gavin and Stacey have been continuing their romance on-line and by telephone for the last six months. Now they want to be together but will their friends and family let them?

Stars: Joanna Page, Mathew Horne, Alison Steadman, Ruth Jones

Votes: 13,578

Two worlds collide - Barrie Island in South Wales and Billericay in Essex. Beautifully observed comedy about all aspects of human relationships with just the perfect dusting of the surreal from the pens of James Corden and Ruth Jones

15. How I Met Your Mother (2005–2014)

TV-14 | 22 min | Comedy, Romance

A father recounts to his children, through a series of flashbacks, the journey he and his four best friends took leading up to him meeting their mother.

Stars: Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris

Votes: 551,928

Through it's long run it managed to hold the balance between character plot and comedy - a thing rarely achieved with sitcoms. The surprise of this show was that on more occasions than might have been expected, the perfectly crafted plotlines added a depth to the humour that went far deeper than all the one liners innuendos and puns.

16. The Inbetweeners (2008–2010)

TV-14 | 25 min | Comedy

Follows four friends and their antics during their final years of school.

Stars: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas

Votes: 73,492

The social implosion of teenage males has never been so accurately or hilariously portrayed as in this series which never pulls its punches.

17. The IT Crowd (2006–2013)

TV-14 | 25 min | Comedy

The comedic misadventures of Roy, Moss and their grifting supervisor Jen, a rag-tag team of IT support workers at a large corporation headed by a hotheaded yuppie.

Stars: Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkinson, Matt Berry

Votes: 120,525

Graham Linehan gives us what the Big Bang Theory sometimes fails to achieve; the true persistent awkwardness of geekdom and the eternal outsiderness of the people who underpin the work of the rest of the company.

18. M*A*S*H (1972–1983)

TV-PG | 25 min | Comedy, Drama, War

The staff of an Army hospital in the Korean War find that laughter is the best way to deal with their situation.

Stars: Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swit, Jamie Farr

Votes: 47,305

War, surgery and dark comedy with a warm heart - plus Alan Alda. What more can you ask for?

19. The Mighty Boosh (2003–2007)

30 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Musical

Vince Noir and Howard Moon have surreal adventures while working at a Zoo run by the deranged Bob Fossil (in series 1) and pursuing a career as musicians and living with the mystic Naboo ... See full summary »

Stars: Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Michael Fielding, Rich Fulcher

Votes: 19,131

Deeply surreal, highly original, musically complex

20. Rev. (2010–2014)

30 min | Comedy

The misadventures of an Anglican vicar, his wife, and a small but odd group of parishioners in London.

Stars: Tom Hollander, Olivia Colman, Steve Evets, Miles Jupp

Votes: 1,840

For most people this is great gentle poignant comedy, ministers this is as near to a documentary as you can get.

21. Sports Night (1998–2000)

30 min | Comedy, Drama, Sport

Casey McCall and Dan Rydell are sports anchors and best friends. On "Sports Night," their nightly cable program.

Stars: Josh Charles, Peter Krause, Felicity Huffman, Joshua Malina

Votes: 6,769

Aaron Sorkin's first excursion into television and closer to a pure comedy than the West Wing or Studio 60 - which have been known to confuse those who like clear delineation between comedy and drama. Yet, even with this it is the drama and the almost perfectly crafted dialogue which drives the comedy and not the other way around.

22. Yes Minister (1980–1984)

TV-PG | 60 min | Comedy

The Right Honorable James Hacker has landed the plum job of Cabinet Minister to the Department of Administration. At last he is in a position of power and can carry out some long-needed reforms, or so he thinks.

Stars: Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne, Derek Fowlds, Diana Hoddinott

Votes: 11,053

The quagmire of British politics and the endless circles of compromise perfectly portrayed. Complex intelligent humour, but never patronising to the audience (only the minister).

23. Yes, Prime Minister (1986–1987)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy

James Hacker was propelled along the corridors of power to the very pinnacle of politics - Number 10.

Stars: Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne, Derek Fowlds, Diana Hoddinott

Votes: 8,401

The quagmire of British politics and the endless circles of compromise perfectly portrayed again. This Time he's the Prime Minister.

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