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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » What's the greatest TV comedy show? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: What's the greatest TV comedy show?
Jeff C.
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I just finished watching How I Met Your Mother and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by its well-written jokes and well-acted characters. It is probably the best TV sitcom I've ever seen.

What about the rest of you? Any sitcoms you think deserve to be rated as the best? I ask because I'm constantly looking for new shows to check out (right now I'm watching the Big Bang Theory).

So...thoughts?

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SteveRogers
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Arrested Development
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Jon Boy
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Second Arrested Development. My other nominations would be The Office and Community. Honorable mentions for Newsradio and Parks and Recreation.
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SteveRogers
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I also really enjoy The Office, Community, Spaced, Psych, Scrubs, Parks and Recreation. Among others.
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Aros
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Current: Modern Family (30 Rock runner Up)
All Time: The Black Adder (Spaced runner Up)

Honorable Mention: Monty Python's Flying Circus, Arrested Development, Weeds, How I Met Your Mother, The IT Crowd, Red Dwarf, The Young Ones, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Extras.

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Samprimary
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quote:
(right now I'm watching the Big Bang Theory)
Like others, I couldn't even get to the point where I could properly dislike BBT for what it's about. I was too focused on disliking the "tell a joke, pause for excruciating, BRITISH TV POWERLEVEL laughtrack, carry on" terrible acting.

But if you really get past that and analyze the show on a less superficial level, it's still terrible, so

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SteveRogers
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I keep forgetting Modern Family because it's a newer show, and I've only seen the first season. But it's definitely a standout so far.
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Mucus
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Futurama
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Strider
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
Arrested Development

Game Over.
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Lyrhawn
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I love the Big Bang Theory. I tend to agree that they really overdo the audience participation, but I still think it's hilarious. The only thing I'd chance other than the laugh track is to either delete or downplay Howard a lot more.

How I Met Your Mother is hilarious as well.

I still like Friends and Frasier a lot. Sitcoms have gotten a lot more sophisticated since then (though frankly I think Frasier was as smart as anything). Scrubs was pretty good too, though they certainly hit the "lesson of the week" stuff pretty damned hard.

I also like Psych, though it has gotten more and more zany as time has gone on. Do we even count it as a straight up comedy? If we're counting that, I'd add Chuck to the list, and also to my overall list of favorite shows in general.

Stuff like The Office and similar shows like Parks and Rec are funny, but personally they wouldn't be at the top of my list since I can's stand to watch about half of the show on a weekly basis because it's just too awkward, to the point where I'm physically uncomfortable and have to change the channel or pause it.

I thought Eight Simple Rules was really good as well until Ritter died.

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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by Strider:
quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
Arrested Development

Game Over.
This is probably the right answer for American tv shows. But I'd be hard pressed to say that it was better than The Black Adder or Spaced.
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SteveRogers
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I love Spaced too, but I still think Arrested Development is a better show. I think it better developed the supporting characters and had a stronger recurring supporting cast. I cared about and found all of the Bluth family and the recurring guests more than I did about supporting characters in Spaced like Twist or Mike.
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Samprimary
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quote:
I love the Big Bang Theory. I tend to agree that they really overdo the audience participation, but I still think it's hilarious. The only thing I'd chance other than the laugh track is to either delete or downplay Howard a lot more.
I cannot for the life of me understand how people enjoy it even beyond the stilting laughtrack pacing. It is a nerd minstral show. They dress them up in nerd face and throw them up on stage to sing songs of the long forgotten days of toiling in the nerd fields. If you're an actual academic nerd or whatever the sensation of watching it is usually analogous to being a computer sciences major watching CSI:Enhance.

I also probably hate on BBT more than I usually would hate it just for being bad, because I can't stand that it's successful at the expense of things that aren't bad pump'n'dump joke comedy based on formula generalization mockery. BBT being bad in a vacuum, I don't care much about, I just don't watch it. But when someone reminds me that ten times as many people prefer BAZINGA to "You are the AT&T of people." I just want to call for a tv crusades, spearheaded by the segway Gob cavalry.

Anyway, I'm not prepared to put an Ace High on anything on this list, but at least in terms of contemporary tv comedy, it's Arrested Development, Community, Parks and Recreation. If you can't stand the sensation of verguenza ajena (I wish there was an english version of this word; it's basically that cringing ugh feeling you get when you watch characters like the Bluths act completely shameful and inflict cascading dysfunction on their own life due to their own stupidity, ignorance, and striking lack of composure, decency, and good sense) then strike Arrested Development, as genius as it is, from this list and avoid it like the plague (or, I guess, like the american Office)

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
I love the Big Bang Theory. I tend to agree that they really overdo the audience participation, but I still think it's hilarious. The only thing I'd chance other than the laugh track is to either delete or downplay Howard a lot more.
I cannot for the life of me understand how people enjoy it even beyond the stilting laughtrack pacing. It is a nerd minstral show. They dress them up in nerd face and throw them up on stage to sing songs of the long forgotten days of toiling in the nerd fields. If you're an actual academic nerd or whatever the sensation of watching it is usually analogous to being a computer sciences major watching CSI:Enhance.

I also probably hate on BBT more than I usually would hate it just for being bad, because I can't stand that it's successful at the expense of things that aren't bad pump'n'dump joke comedy based on formula generalization mockery. BBT being bad in a vacuum, I don't care much about, I just don't watch it. But when someone reminds me that ten times as many people prefer BAZINGA to "You are the AT&T of people." I just want to call for a tv crusades, spearheaded by the segway Gob cavalry.

It's not like it's a zero sum game. You can't look at Big Bang Theory and be like "it's cost a better show a chance!" What better show? And better how? I mean reality TV is still dominant in prime time programming, and it's pretty much 100% useless. Ragging on TBBT seems a little silly for that reason in the grand scheme of things.

I think the show is as much parody as anything. The characters on the show are by and large outlandish stereotypes, like a LOT of people are in comedies. It's the same with Barney on How I met your mother, Frasier and Niles on Frasier, Joey or Phoebe on Friends, or even Michael Scott on the American Office. They aren't meant to be real life depictions of what they claim to represent. EVERYONE on that show is over the top, even Penny the supposed "normal" character is an over the top moron. The family members are over the top ridiculous as well. If it had some semblance of pretending to depict reality, then I'd be all for your complaint. And that's where the minstrel show comparison falls apart.

I think Chuck does it much better. There's a show where the main character is incredibly smart, and a total geek, and they make hundreds of references that only geeks are going to get, but they do with with more of a wink than TBBT does, and for that matter, the geek gets to be a badass hero who gets the girl as opposed to the stilted lack of personal and social skills like Leonard and the gang.

But let's also stop and recognize that people like that DO exist. For every kid that grew up a geek but isn't socially stunted there are plenty still closeted from the outside world that live in a realm of fantasy. At least these guys are incredibly successful professionally as well and not living in their parents' basement. Also, I don't know how you can say Jim Parsons is a bad actor. Maybe the guys who play Howard and Raj are a little so-so, but Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons are brilliantly funny.

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SteveRogers
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I just enjoy The Big Bang Theory because I appreciate the references within a comedic context.
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Lyrhawn
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So do I.

And I don't even get a fifth of the science stuff.

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SteveRogers
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I was a psychology major, so I definitely don't get any of the chemistry, physics, or engineering jokes either. But the references to comics, TV, film, and what not are the main draw for me to the show.
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BlackBlade
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My all time favorite comedy is Malcolm in the Middle (It had seven seasons, and they somehow all manage to be just as awesome, but for different reasons because the characters are getting older throughout the show). It's got a handful of boring episodes, but in SEVEN seasons that astounds me.

It's so strangely re-watchable too.

I just finished watching King of the Hill, seasons 1 and 2, and I am astounded I didn't pay more attention to this show when it was first broadcast. I always assumed, "Mike Judge = Beavis and Butthead = not interested" but then it suddenly occurred to me I really like Office Space so I gave it another shot (I'd seen some random episodes here and there). It's a recent falling in love so I *might* cool towards it with time, but I can't believe how fast I have started loving this show. I only hope seasons 3 and up get better. I'd still say that Hank Hill, Peggy Hill, Bobby Hill as a family are the most interesting comedic characters I have ever seen.

Futurama is always funny in general, but there are a few episodes that enter some new level of comedy I didn't realize existed until I watched 'em.

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Aros
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I'm an electrical engineer and IT hobbyist. I think from an actual geek's perspective, the IT Crowd is far superior than Big Bang Theory. But it might be the British thing too.

Mentioning Chuck, I wanted to include it, Misfits, and Firefly. But they're more dramedys, where I think we're talking about sitcoms here. Right?

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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
I love Spaced too, but I still think Arrested Development is a better show. I think it better developed the supporting characters and had a stronger recurring supporting cast. I cared about and found all of the Bluth family and the recurring guests more than I did about supporting characters in Spaced like Twist or Mike.

I feel like the episodes of Spaced were more entertaining and told a stronger story. The main characters were FAR better developed than in Arrested Development, and I cared more about them. Arrested Development wins on the talent side, but there were some stand alone episodes of Spaced (the zombie episode that was recycled into Shaun of the Dead) that were stronger than any individual episode of Arrested Development.
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SteveRogers
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I just finished watching King of the Hill, seasons 1 and 2, and I am astounded I didn't pay more attention to this show when it was first broadcast.

I actually just finished watching seasons 1-4 of King of the Hill via Instant Play on Netflix, and I agree with you. It's much better than I'd always assumed it was. And even just the few sparse episodes I'd seen didn't really do it justice. It's closer to a sitcom than most of its animated peers, and I think it's the true-to-life believability of the Hill family and the rest of Arlen which makes it such a compelling and funny show.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I always assumed, "Mike Judge = Beavis and Butthead = not interested"

what

what

i'll just quote to you from my facebook feed:

quote:
When I first watched Beavis and Butthead in the 90's, I thought it was stupid, but now that I have my PhD, I think it's brilliant.

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SteveRogers
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I also feel another moderately offensive but also brilliantly hilarious program which deserves mention is It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
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Strider
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Steve, I think you would enjoy The League. It's offensive and funny in a similar way to It's Always Sunny, and you and I seem to have similar tastes in general.

[ January 17, 2012, 12:36 AM: Message edited by: Strider ]

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SteveRogers
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I actually just finished watching The League on Netflix and also enjoyed it quite a bit, but I still think it's still too soon to really consider that show "great." I do appreciate how it tackles daily life issues from the perspective of the fantasy football "bro." I know guys like that, and that's what makes the show so funny.
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Foust
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Strange that The Simpsons, an animated series that ran from 1990 to 1996 (SHUT UP), has not been mentioned. Maybe only Arrested Development has a chance at topping it.

Also, if you really enjoyed AD and are not watching Archer, you are failing at life. It is gut busting funny.

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Strider
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
I actually just finished watching The League on Netflix and also enjoyed it quite a bit, but I still think it's still too soon to really consider that show "great."

I actually didn't intend for it to be considered a nomination for the thread. I'm in the middle of watching it right now, and have been recommending it to people who don't know about it.
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Dan_Frank
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Oh hey this is a good opportunity to tell everyone who I talked to about this previously that I am now on board with Arrested Development. As Raymond (and maybe Sam, I don't remember) predicted, it took about six or seven episodes, but now we love it. So far (1 season in) it's still not Community, but then, nothing is.
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EarlNMeyer-Flask
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Parks and Recreation is funny, but the first season is slow. It gets better after that. The part where Ron explains government to a 4th grade girl is hilarious.
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EarlNMeyer-Flask
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The British show Peep Show is pretty raunchy, if you like that kind of thing, and it's sort of like the Office and like the Odd Couple.

[ January 17, 2012, 05:51 AM: Message edited by: EarlNMeyer-Flask ]

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rollainm
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Scrubs. Hands down.
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Stephan
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How I met your Mother took my wife and I by surprise to. When I first heard about it, I assumed it was a Friends rip-off and ignored it.

We caught a random episode last year, then caught every episode in about a 2 month period.

A UK sitcom is the best, Coupling.

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Selran
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quote:
Originally posted by Stephan:


A UK sitcom is the best, Coupling.

I'm sorry, I was expecting Shadayim.
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mr_porteiro_head
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I found Arrested Development mildly amusing, but largely forgettable. :shrug:

---

One of my big beefs with BBT is that the geeks on it are purely mass market, popular culture geeks. They geek out about comic books, video games, TV, and movies, but as far as I can tell, not a single one of them has ever read a fantasy or science fiction novel. If LotR is mentioned, it's in relation to the Peter Jackson movies. If SoIaF is mentioned, it's in relation to the HBO show.

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SteveRogers
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My inner pop culture geek appreciates the references to mainstream geekery. I turn to other sources for fantasy knowledge.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Stephan:
How I met your Mother took my wife and I by surprise to. When I first heard about it, I assumed it was a Friends rip-off and ignored it.

We caught a random episode last year, then caught every episode in about a 2 month period.

A UK sitcom is the best, Coupling.

I think the Friends rip-off you're looking for is Happy Endings, which is at once a rebooted 21st Century Friends for a new generation, and also nothing like Friends at all except for the fact that it has six main characters.

It's also hilarious. I like that they both feed into and overturn a lot of popular stereotypes. And the actors have remarkable chemistry.

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Foust
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Ah, Peep Show, yeah. Fantastic.

The best of the best:

The Simpsons. Brilliant, such a shame it was cancelled after only 7 seasons.

Peep Show. Richard Dawkins talks the talk, but has he ever peed on a church?

Arrested Development. I've made a huge mistake.

Louie. Another show that if you are not watching, you are failing at life.

Honorable mentions:

Community
Archer

The classics:

Seinfeld
Frasier
Cheers

Shows that make me long for the apocalypse, especially when I read forum threads in which they are consider legitimate comedy:

The Big Bang Theory

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LargeTuna
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I admit there are a lot smarter shows around, and I like a lot of shows mentioned earlier, but It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia is the most laugh out loud show I've ever seen.
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SteveRogers
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I've never really seen the appeal of Cheers.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
I've never really seen the appeal of Cheers.

Philistine.

BBT has gotten every single detail about Caltech wrong except the city it's in. But I love it anyway.

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SteveRogers
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Why does not seeing the appeal of Cheers make me a philistine?
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Phillyn
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This is a list of shows in no particular order that have made me laugh to the point where I would happily watch again and again:

Seinfeld
Everybody Loves Raymond
Modern Family
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (English)
Barney Miller
Not Only But Also (English sketch show with comic genius Peter Cook and Dudley Moore)
Monty Python
Absolutely Fabulous (English)
MASH
Green Acres
Blackadder
The Bob Newhart Show (the 70s version)
The Young Ones (English)
Dad's Army (English)
Father Ted (pure Irish lunacy)
Home Improvement
Fawlty Towers
The Vicar of Dibley
Steptoe and Son (the English precursor to Sanford and Son)
The Office (US)
One Foot in the Grave (English)

It's long, sorry, but I go back a long way...

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SteveRogers
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I was hesitant to include older shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show or The Dick Van Dyke Show, which I also felt to be of note and also hilarious. Many more modern audiences view such shows with an unhealthy amount of disdain.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
Why does not seeing the appeal of Cheers make me a philistine?

If you don't understand, I can't explain.
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Dan_Frank
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It's okay, Steve, I'm a Philistine too.
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SteveRogers
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I'm glad I'm not alone. We should get jackets.
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Dobbie
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quote:
Originally posted by SteveRogers:
Why does not seeing the appeal of Cheers make me a philistine?

It doesn't. Worshipping the deities Baal, Astarte, and Dagon, and capturing the Ark of the Covenant, make you a philistine.
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Dobbie
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Actually Philistines would probably have liked Cheers (but not "liked" on Facebook because they did not have the time for such nonsense).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philistines

quote:
The Philistines were also renowned for both their production and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Numerous finds have exposed a well-managed spirits industry, from breweries and wineries to retail outlets that advertised beer, wine, and strong drink. Among the most numerous artifacts unearthed from Philistine ruins are beer mugs and wine craters (large drinking bowls).

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SteveRogers
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I'm already being charged for being a Philistine due to a disliking Cheers, so you can't charge me for those things too. That's double jeopardy since you're charging me for the same status (regardless of differing evidence). You've got to pick one.
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Dobbie
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Charging? Those things are awesome, especially the Ark. It's like being Indiana Jones, except Shia LaBeouf isn't your son.
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