Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Descending Into Madness

I recall reading a while ago that almost all the great situation comedies had a single and almost unique defining characteristic. A bold claim but I sort of half-heartedly started watching out for it. The basic premise is that they portray a descent into madness. The central character, usually male, usually middle aged, is going quietly - or loudly - mad. He is usually convinced he is but a small island of sanity surrounded by an ocean of fools, incapable of seeing his brilliance. The reality is usually exactly the opposite, and therein lies the comedy.

Sounds implausible doesn't here we go with a top ten list - in no particular order - of descents into madness as portrayed in sitcom form - apologies for the mostly anglocentric nature of this list....

  • Dad's Army
  • Fawlty Towers
  • The Office
  • I'm Alan Partridge
  • Bilko
  • Frasier
  • Father Ted
  • The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Steptoe and Son

There are more when you start thinking about it. Blackadder, Porridge, Rising Damp, Seinfeld, Phoenix Nights. Some are better than others. There is the execrable One Foot in the Grave which is pretty piss-poor if you ask me, but it definitely fits the formula.

Any more....?


sabrina said...

LOL! You know now that u point it out i have to actually agree with you!

Can the Simpson be considered a situational comedy cos i think Homer is definitely goin off the rocks! :p

Ms Robinson said...

A brilliant piece of very Anglo as you say

King of Scurf said...

Saby: I think Homer has already gone. He has descended and is on the way up the other side.

ms robinson: Aren't there any Australian sitcoms that fit the criteria? And whatever happened to Norman Gunston?