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Top 10 TV Comedies (as of 13/01/2013)

Specifically these are scripted comedy shows with fictional characters - mostly sit-coms I guess. I was tempted to include a larger variety of shows as wanted to include things like QI, Have I Got News For You and Screenwipe / Newswipe etc., but they were quite difficult to compare and seemed like they should really be in their own category (although it's not a category I've created or written a list for!).

10. Flight Of The Conchords (2007 - 2009)

There are only 2 seasons of 'Flight Of The Conchords', but that means it's consistently great and doesn't get to a point where you think "yeah, they should have stopped this a couple of years ago". The songs, of course, are a particular strength and novelty of the show.

9. Parks And Recreation (2009 - present)

This is a show that I've only discovered recently; watching all of the episodes so far within the space of about a month! It's incredibly funny and quirky, with great characters. It can also be incredibly sweet, but not in a sickly way - a zinging line is always just around the corner, no doubt along with some really great waffles (did I really just use the word 'zinging'?). It's quite possible that this show will climb even higher in my list of favourites, but as it's a newcomer and I've only watched the episodes once, I've placed it in a modest 9th place for now.

8. The IT Crowd (2006 - 2010)

As a Computing graduate, I like the geeky element to this show, as well as the fact it's just very very funny of course. Graham Linehan does strange and slightly-surreal comedy just perfectly.

7. Friends (1994 - 2004)

I really struggled with where to place 'Friends' in this chart. It was so huge and the episodes have been broadcast to death, but it was huge for a reason and there were some brilliant episodes and I was somewhat slightly obsessed with it in the '90s. I kept a diary during a trip to America in 1997 and it was just full of silly Friends references. The first 4 seasons are probably my favourites still, but I enjoyed it right through to the end (despite the occasional dodgy episode - these things are somewhat inevitable with such a long running show).

6. Coupling (2000 - 2004)

Often described as a British version of 'Friends', but really very different. There are 3 women and 3 men, but that's really the extent of the similarity I'd say. The 4th season is definitely the weakest, with the loss of Jeff and the acquisition of Oliver (who's not as funny), but it still has its moments of brilliance. The 3rd season is definitely my favourite though, with 'Remember This' probably being my favourite episode. All of the first 3 seasons are very funny infact, particularly for Jeff's theories and concepts (such as The Giggle Loop and Captain Subtext) and Steve's rants about topics as diverse as potpourri and masturbation.

5. South Park (1997 - present)

I can't believe there've already been 16 seasons of South Park - it's pretty amazing. Of course there's the occasional duff episode, but they're far overshadowed by the total gems. The thing that South Park does peerlessly well is its mocking and parodying of current events and crazes. It's an incredibly clever show, wrapped up in a childish humour and crudely drawn cartoons. I love it!

4. Father Ted (1995 - 1998)

It took me a while to get into 'Father Ted' as I'd see the adverts for it and not really find them funny. Brief snippets of it don't really work unless you already know and get the characters. You really need to watch a couple of episodes (or at least 1) to actually 'get' the show and really enjoy it. I think the first one I properly watched and really found funny was the Christmas episode - the combination of a load of priests lost in a lingerie department, plus the brief dream cameos from Stephen Tompkinson and Dervla Kirwan just did it for me (I really loved 'Ballykissangel' at the time!). I've watched all of the episodes multiple times since then and it's just brilliant.

3. Red Dwarf (1988 - present)

This was another difficult show to rank. It's a show I've literally grown up with - I remember watching series 3 with my parents when it was broadcast in 1989. At some point I also got to see the first 2 series on video and then watched series 4 to 8 as they were broadcast between 1991 and 1999. I love the early series so much that I felt it deserved this top 3 placing. Series 7 and 8 are nowhere near as good, however, and the 'Back To Earth' three part special in 2009 was just awful. When I heard a new series was coming out in 2012, I wasn't excited at all - I feared they were just flogging a dead horse now - but I did watch it (eventually) and was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't as good as the early series of course, but it was better than series 7 to 9. It seems quite strange that it's still going after 25 years when there've only been 10 series, but there is a reason why it has such a strong following and enduring appeal.

2. The Young Ones (1982 - 1984)

Another show that I first watched with my parents in the '80s, though probably mostly on video or repeat I guess, seeing as I was rather young when it was first broadcast. There are only 12 episodes (spread over 2 series), which does mean you're left wanting more, but that's a positive thing. I've always loved the surreal elements of it, plus there are so many great people in it, which I've only fully appreciated as I've gotten older and re-watched it. Plus you'd get bands just popping up and playing a song as well - Madness, Motorhead, The Damned... Apparently it's so that the show was classified as 'variety' rather than 'light entertainment' by the BBC and was entitled to a larger budget - pretty surreal in itself. All in all it led to a very unique and memorable show that I still love watching 30 years later.

1. Peep Show (2003 - present)

I can't remember when I started watching 'Peep Show', but I know it wasn't until it was a few series in. Once I did, I kicked myself for not having watched it sooner! So much of the dialogue is incredibly funny, regardless of how many times you hear it, but I think my favourite element of it is how you hear the characters' inner thoughts - it's disturbing just how often you can find yourself identifying with some of them! It's wonderfully observed and it's always a pleasure to watch David Mitchell and Robert Webb together.

 
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