#1 The Office [US] vs. #16 The Young Ones
This one was over before it began as while the cringe-happy show can be polarizing, it still has had about as much influence over the current TV landscape as any comedy released in the 21st Century. Also, it had what turned out to be a lay-up against the mostly forgotten cult classic BBC show that marked the beginning of the end for music on Music Television which got one vote. In any case, the Offices are 2-for-2, Mike Schur is 2-for-2 and the Dunder-Mifflin clan may be a chic upset pick depending on who it faces in round two between…
#8 Martin vs. #9 Barney Miller
Cue one of the greatest pieces of ’70s theme music as it joins Taxi in the second round of our tournament. The boys of Precinct 12 in Greenwich Village, New York City, score a comeback victory over Martin Lawrence and his cast of characters, many played by Martin himself. So, it’s The Office vs. one of the old G’s of office-based sitcoms. As author/Detective Harris expresses above, that’s a lot to think about.
#2 30 Rock vs. #15 Full House
Full House is cut out of our tournament as 30 Rock shuts it down in a 20-1 romp over a show that holds nostalgia for some and clearly raw contempt for many, many more. Any questions people had about Fey’s occasional mining cultural differences for a lazy laugh were out the window–at least for this round–as the world of absurdity she created behind the scenes of TGS, a stand-in for SNL–the show on which she was head writer for a long time was one of the funniest comedy circuses of all time. And few shows did show-within-a-show as well as 30 Rock. It sets up a gem of a second round match of delirious satires as its next opponent is…
#7 Soap vs. #10 Girlfriends
There has never quite been a show like Soap before or since. What started off as a simple spoof blossomed into something special and despite its short stint and perennial low ratings its cult status lives 40 years later and the unique universe it created zooms by Tracee Ellis Ross, who earns a split decision in this round. The battle of meta warriors 30 Rock and Soap should be ferocious in the next round.
#3 The Honeymooners vs. #14 What’s Happening!!
It’s Watts in L.A. taking down NYC’s Bensonhurst in the upset of the tournament so far as the l’il late 1970s show that could takes on one of television’s icons. There will be crying around the Ralph Kramden statue in front of the Port Authority as Raj, Dwayne and Rerun carry the dancing into the next round. This might be my personal favorite result so far. It will have a tall order though as it’s up against a prestige journey of a TV show that dubs itself a “tragicomedy.”
#6 Fleabag vs. #11 Better Off Ted
We’s be lying if we said we did see this one coming actually [knowing wink at the reader]. Phobe Waller-Bridge’s cerebral comedy looked inside the brain of a woman trapped in a spiral. No names were used and not even is the title of the show uttered at any time, yet it’s one of the most relatable programs of recent time. Even against the smartly written corporate spoof Better Off Ted, it was clearly destined to win and while that show had a lot of similarities, it now goes up against a totally different kind of monster… take it away, Rerun!
#4 Veep vs. #13 Night Court
Armando Iannucci’s skewering of American politics may be our dark horse of this section, if not the tourney as I could easily see it getting through its next two rounds. The show where everyone is awful except (maybe) Richard Splett (man, I love his arc on this show) moves past a late magician and the (mostly) affable kooks populating a Manhattan courtroom to go to the next round where it meets another affable, if super grumpy, competitor…
#5 Newhart vs. #12 The Conners/Roseanne (Minus Roseanne)
Both shows in this match-up took a chance with endings that rendered a good portion (if not all) of the earlier series meaningless, and unsurprisingly it’s the one with the finale everyone loved taking this match. It’s also the one with the still beloved by all legendary comedian over the tarnished Ambien racist, although in fairness, we technically left her out of this match, and the show was revived in a way that ignored its initial despised ending where Dan Conner had died the previous season and we had just been seeing Roseanne’s life the way she wished it had played out that last year. Full disclosure: I loved that ending and thought it was a terrific, if bleak, look at the lengths we’ll go to give our life meaning. Anyway, one Newhart goes on to the final round and we have our Scrumtrulescent 64! An overview of all those shows is on the way this weekend, and voting in the 64 starts next Monday. Thanks all for voting so far!