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Home Improvement creators hoping to revitalize the family sitcom

by Jason Hughes, posted Aug 31st 2009 9:05AM
Home ImprovementMatt Williams has an impressive sitcom pedigree. He created the quintessential '90s sitcom with Roseanne. Then, with Carmen Finestra and David McFadzean alongside, he struck gold again with Tim Allen's Home Improvement. Now they're hoping lightning can strike twice (thrice?) with another take on the traditional family sitcom for ABC.

Once a television staple, the family sitcom has probably never seen leaner days than right now. But with the multi-camera format making a comeback, there's no better time to test the waters. This time, the family will be a sports psychologist who works out of his home, along with his three kids and presumably a wife.

The big difference between this project and Williams' other two successes is the lack of an established comedian at the center of it. One could easily argue that both Roseanne and Home Improvement were just expansions of the stage acts of their respective stars. That was kind of a trend back then. Are you ready for a family sitcom in the vein of these classics, or has their time come and gone?

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March 28 2011 at 6:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The family sitcom has migrated to the cable networks, and is alive and well. We really enjoy the Bill Engvall Show, if you want you can consider that an expansion of his comedy act.
I'd like soemthing more than CSI and Law and Order as choices at night.

August 31 2009 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I welcome the return of the family sitcom. I would also like to see the return of the serial western.

August 31 2009 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that things are cyclical, but it makes me worry that a previous creator is at the wheel again. Look at Ruby and the Rockits--family sitcom that belongs way back when. I'm not saying they'd all fall prey to that, but I think we need a fresh perspective on the family sitcom, and while I enjoyed Home Improvement, I just wonder whether they would have the fresh angle.

August 31 2009 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This genre of "family entertainment" was fine when there were few TV channels. Advertisers had to target children AND their parents. As cable became widespread, TV shows have started targeting smaller and smaller niches.

For example, Disney Channel has had huge success with Hannah Montana, Suite Life and Wizards or Waverly Place. What's the big secret? These shows are run by a lot of the team behind ABC's TGIF sitcoms in the 1990s.

Instead of having sitcoms aimed for children to be passed off as "family entertainment", the producers are producing series aimed just for kids. Since these shows are on cable, they have a smaller budget than broadcast, and have been highly successful.

ABC is being quite ambitious with their programming of a 2 hour sitcom block on Wednesday nights this fall. If any of them make it to 100 episodes, there is big money to be made.

However, this is what I propose. These major studios should launch sitcoms on their cable properties, letting them grow an audience. Once they hit 100 episodes, package them for syndication on over the air broadcast stations. It has worked for Sex and the City and South Park. However, these shows weren't designed to be stripped like Two and a Half Men was.

August 31 2009 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Come and gone. It's a victim of very weak writing when modern day television audiences expect characters and stories with depth. If someone could write a funny weekly series (I won't use the word "sitcom"; the "situation comedy" is an underwhelming idea, I think) with depth, it could be successful.

Or something like Chuck, an hour-long farce that combines drama and comedy elements, all in the name of having a good time. (The really, really hot babes help, too!)

Then again, Two and a Half Men has stuck around for quite a while. But perhaps it's because the acting troupe is so strong.

August 31 2009 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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