By Saul Austerlitz
A gently curated travel via television comedy sequence, this mixtape of fondly remembered indicates surveys the family tree of the shape, the bigger traits in its heritage, the simplest of what the style has complete, and the main general of its works. From I Love Lucy, The Phil Silvers Show, and M*A*S*H to Taxi, The Larry Sanders Show, and 30 Rock, this consultant provides the sitcom as a pill model of the 20th-century arts—realism giving method to modernism after which to postmodernism, all among the hours of eight and 10pm on weeknights. every one bankruptcy springs from anyone consultant entity, together with The Simpsons' "22 brief motion pictures approximately Springfield," The Mary Tyler Moore Show's "Chuckles Bites the Dust," Seinfeld's "The Pitch," and Freaks and Geeks' "Dead canines and gymnasium Teachers," the place Martin Starr's nerdy invoice takes convenience in—what else—the pleasures of giggling at television.
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Additional resources for Sitcom: A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community
In the episode “Harpo Marx,” Lucy poses as a series of Hollywood leading men to impress a visiting friend. After dressing as Gary Cooper and Clark Gable, she returns as Harpo—or so Ethel thinks. It is, of course, Harpo himself, handing Fred his leg to hold and playing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” on the harp. When Lucy shows up in her own Harpo costume, the real Harpo reaches for his chest, as if to assure himself of his own continued existence. Lucy steps into the Harpo role from Duck Soup, and Harpo assumes the Groucho role, trying to catch his imitator in a false step.
In “Job Switching,” one of the series’ most beloved episodes, Lucy and Ethel agree to switch responsibilities with their husbands to test Ricky and Fred’s assertion that housework is easier than earning a living. The women are hired at a candy factory, where they struggle to keep up with the chocolates skittering off the assembly line. Gamely attempting to wrap each chocolate, Ethel eventually begins gobbling whole fistfuls to keep up, while Lucy stuffs them down her shirt and into her hat. The entire sequence is lifted wholesale from Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936), and yet Ball makes it her own, domesticating Chaplin’s bittersweet grandeur for a smaller format.
Bilko can bilk his men with even the gentlest whiff of intrigue. He rents a store and has soldiers throwing money in his direction, certain he has a killer racket cooked up, even when he has absolutely nothing more than an empty storefront. Even when Bilko’s mostly hapless nemesis, Colonel Hall (Paul Ford), puts an end to his illegal gaming, Bilko and his men find a way. They turn a dry talk on Beethoven into an opportunity to place bets on the number of times a visiting lecturer twitches during her speech.
Sitcom: A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community by Saul Austerlitz