A blissful return to the good old days

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By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer

For a long time, TV was stuck in a strange version of hell. Something named Snooki became a national treasure and some no-talent hack named Kardashian got her even less-talented family a TV deal.

All the while shows like the 20 years strong “Law and Order,” and the disgustingly underrated “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” were biting the dust. That show was just too smart. Who did Aaron Sorkin think he was, making us think? We might as well have forgotten sitcoms.

Bye Bye “Friends.”

Sayonara “Seinfeld.”

Ciao “Cheers.”

“Mad About You,” a show I grew up on, wouldn’t stand a chance in Snooki-land. Two smart New Yorkers navigating newlywed life, written by that smart aleck actor from “Diner?” Are you kidding? It would be dead on arrival. You can almost hear the complaints now. Where’s the drinking and promiscuous sex?  

People are, thank heavens, getting smart again. We’re starting to wise up to the ploys of “reality” TV. We now know that most of the situations are staged, most of the roses that are handed out on “The Bachelor,” already have a name stamped on them for the girl that the producers like and we know that the wives on “Real Housewives,” aren’t all that real.

By the time ABC rolled out their Wednesday night line up, people were clamoring for something fresh. They hit the jackpot with “Modern Family,” easily one of the funniest shows on TV. Before that airs the underrated, none-the-less funny, “The Middle,” the wildly bizarre “Happy Endings,” follows. And this season ABC’s added “Suburgatory,” an unusual little program with a lot of promise.

Then of course there’s “Community,” the most brazen, bizarre and freakishly hilarious show around. This season Fox gave us “New Girl,” a quirky comedy staring film actress Zooey Deschanel, while CBS keeps getting better with “The Big Bang Theory,” which this season began pounding the nail into the coffin of “American Idol.”

It hasn’t been all great though. The return of the sitcom has given us shows like NBC’s loathsome NBC “Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea,” based on the autobiography of Chelsea Handler and easily one of the most offensive, crudely written and acted programs ever allowed on TV. NBC also makes us suffer through the hell that is “Whitney,” a show that’s almost as stupid as the entire cast of “Jersey Shore.”  

Poor Paul Rudd got stuck in the transition from reality to sitcom. His unfortunate “The Paul Rudd Show,” debuted not long after sitcoms began their march back from the TV graveyard. It just wasn’t very good and wasn’t able to reclaim the glory that “Mad About You,” once had.

So why has the shift? My guess is that it’s because people are just tired of the same old same old. “Two and a Half Men,” succeeded in the dark days of reality TV because it was different. “How I Met Your Mother,” succeeded because it is a unique, wonderfully inventive show, full of fun characters.

Frankly, I’d take Paul Rudd and Larry David over one of those greasy underachievers from reality TV any day. Let’s just hope people can let Snookie and the Kardashian clan slip back into obscurity where they belong.

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