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Michael Penn
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 11:30am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

What sitcoms had the best first season?

I'm asking this in two ways -- (1) what sitcom simply had a great first season, compared to other sitcoms, and (2) what sitcom had its best season in its debut.

Please, only live-action, not animated.

Also, please, to give everybody a chance to ponder and post with their thoughts, just limit yourself to TWO sitcoms per question above.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 11:51am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT for both.
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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 2:15pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

The first question, I have to say FRASIER. It really started on a high note. 
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James Johnson
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 3:57pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

SOAP!

For me, hands down the best. The controversy that came along with it forced many ABC affiliates to not broadcast it during the 1977-78 TV season. But it hung in there.

The first season just recently ran on Antenna TV. I haven't laughed so hard at a sitcom in a long time.


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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 5:44pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

RED DWARF is definitely one, I am not sure I enjoyed subsequent seasons as much.

So it's RED DWARF for both.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 6:36pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

1.) COMMUNITY came roaring out of the gate strong.

2.) Many will disagree with me on this one, but I enjoyed CHEERS' first season far more than I did any of the subsequent ones. Although Lilith and Frasier were excellent additions to the later cast, the show simply did not spark for me the way it did in Sam and Diane's earliest days.

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 8:20pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Brian, I actually had CHEERS in mind myself from the get-go.
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 9:21pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Definitely FRASIER; that 'first-year high' lasted for at least the first half of the show's 11-year run.
CHEERS got better when it began to include the rest of the cast, and developed good secondary stories, starting in season 2. Season 1 just didn't do it for me, as there wasn't a lot to the show aside from the Sam-Diane relationship, a lot of 'Coach is stupid', and hints of development from the ensemble cast(early in the first year, Cliff was 'just another guy', who gradually became joined at the hip with Norm).
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 9:49pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Cheers almost flopped in it's first season -- for me it's a 'grower' not a 'shower'.  It's pretty rare for a sitcom to knock it out of the park in the first season, most need a year or two to gel.   A lot of times the characters the writers want to be the 'break outs' turn out to be turkeys and the minor characters written to be window dressing end up coming to the fore.

Speaking of 'off' first seasons, that first shot-on-videotape season of NEWHART just grates on me.   I'm curious to see if they 'filmized' it for the syndicated repeats.

My two picks... hmmm

1) WKRP, though you can see where they did some retooling in the first few episodes.  

2) I agree with Robbie about RED DWARF.  The Odd-Couple-In-Space first season is the best.   After that, the show seemed to not know what it was about, meandering between a sitcom and semi-serious sci-fi but never actually succeeding at either.



Edited by Rob Ocelot on 13 February 2018 at 9:50pm
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Kevin Brown
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 10:19pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

M*A*S*H

CHEERS
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 14 February 2018 at 12:04am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Michael, that's good to hear. Rob, it's nice to see a shout out to the Mighty KRP. Kevin, I like your selections as well, sir.

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 14 February 2018 at 6:23am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

 Rob Ocelot wrote:
The Odd-Couple-In-Space first season is the best.   After that, the show seemed to not know what it was about, meandering between a sitcom and semi-serious sci-fi but never actually succeeding at either.

That's a good way of putting it, Rob.
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 14 February 2018 at 8:47am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

My favorite sticoms were "Police Squad" and "When Things Were Rotten." Since neither went past one season, I guess it's pretty obvious which season was their strongest...
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 14 February 2018 at 10:04am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

There was a sitcom in the UK in the 90s called Game On. I like the first season, but then they replaced the lead actor for the subsequent two seasons and the show went downhill fast, in my opinion. So that would be my choice for 'had its best season in its debut'.

I'm going to say the original version of The Office for a sitcom that simply had a great first season.


Edited by Peter Martin on 14 February 2018 at 10:04am
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 14 February 2018 at 4:17pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Rob Ocelot:
Cheers almost flopped in it's first season -- for me it's a 'grower' not a 'shower'.  It's pretty rare for a sitcom to knock it out of the park in the first season, most need a year or two to gel.   A lot of times the characters the writers want to be the 'break outs' turn out to be turkeys and the minor characters written to be window dressing end up coming to the fore.

Speaking of 'off' first seasons, that first shot-on-videotape season of NEWHART just grates on me.   I'm curious to see if they 'filmized' it for the syndicated repeats.
****************************
The bar lighting was kind of drab in season 1 of CHEERS. It all looked abit 'fresher' after that...although it was around 1987(post-Diane, and with the change of ownership written in as Rebecca arrived) that the set really 'brghtened up'.

As for NEWHART..no, the videotaped episodes were not altered to match the film look of later seasons. They looked much cheaper and more low-rent than most videotaped shoes of that era.
The most irritating thing about 'early NEWHART' for me was Kirk, by the end of season 2. Even when he got a girlfriend, and they tried having a few episodes revolve around them, it didn't work. He stopped being a one-note jerky character, but was too bland as a 'nice guy'.
Having already dropped the even more bland Leslie, the writers soon moved on to the better possibilities of Steph and (nervous laughter) Michael.
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 14 February 2018 at 5:49pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

1. COMMUNITY- It felt like it had already been on for a season. The show was in that kind of groove.

2. MORK & MINDY- Really lost it's luster to me after the first season.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 14 February 2018 at 9:10pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

It felt like it had already been on for a season. The show was in that kind of groove.

-----

Don't get me wrong, I love COMMUNITY and I do agree that the first season was extremely strong, but it felt very experimental (in good ways!) through most of the first season as they were trying to figure out what it was. I think it took them up to "Contemporary American Poultry" to find its specific voice.

Other than Jeff and Britta, the characters took a while to form, and in the case of Britta, they dumped the original version of Britta, who was more the generic love interest, the "normal" person in the group, and someone who could match wits with Jeff; and they well... Britta'd her. Dan Harmon was open about responding to focus groups that said they didn't like Britta because she was so judgmental and really leaning into that to make the character more funny by making her even more unlikeable.

They also moved away from the initial incarnation of Troy, who was an archetypal dumb, cool jock trying to find his place in college, and turned him into Donald Glover, or at least Donald Glover's stand-up persona. I keep forgetting that Troy was supposed to be the high school football star that Annie was semi-stalking, because I always think of him as the goofy nerd he later became.


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Neil Lindholm
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Posted: 14 February 2018 at 10:02pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

NORTHERN EXPOSURE

FRIENDS
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 15 February 2018 at 1:32pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

WKRP In Cincinnati

Mork & MIndy - Doug has it right. It went all downhill from there. (I like to pretend the final season didn't happen.)
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 15 February 2018 at 5:12pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

To me, the only good thing about the second season of MORK AND MINDY was that first-season guest star Tom Poston appeared more frequently(and would also do so in season 3).  The other additions to the cast, especially Jay Thomas, were useless.
I can't fully condemn season 4, since it WAS 'Robin Williams teamed with Jonathan Winters'...and even if it was bad material...it's like bad pizza...you don't just throw it away.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 15 February 2018 at 7:32pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

That final season of MORK AND MINDY depresses me just to think that every single moment the cameras were off was funnier than when they were on... 

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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 15 February 2018 at 7:41pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

M*A*S*H

WKRP




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Steven Myers
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Posted: 15 February 2018 at 10:48pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

It's true that many shows take a season or two to find their legs, and I haven't watched many shows from the very beginning. But Arrested Development was about perfect in every season, though you can tell the ending of 3 was crunched.

I really enjoyed the Cosby Show in the beginning. The best jokes then were based on Cosby's standup routines, and the show got stale after a couple seasons.

Malcolm in the Middle is another that I really enjoyed at first. It suffered when the characters aged and the focus shifted from Malcolm.
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Christopher Frost
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Posted: 16 February 2018 at 9:28am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

The Golden Girls. They seemed to have their formula/chemistry worked out pretty early on.  
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 16 February 2018 at 5:29pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

For GOLDEN GIRLS, once they figured out that the 'recurring' Sophia was just as suited to the role of the sarcastic character as 'Coco', the intended housekeeper, was, it was an easy change.
M*A*S*H had some early  hiccups from trying to retain much of the huge ensemble cast of the movie. Once they pared it down, it started to 'click'.
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