December 13, 2007

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Sitcoms: The 101 Greatest TV Comedies of All Time, by Ken Bloom & Frank Vlastnik, foreword by John Lithgow (2007, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishing, 335 pages)
Reviewed by Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com

Nobody really needs this book.

With its school textbook-like layout (sneaking asides, quotes and fun facts on the page) and its beautiful pictures of TV stars past, Sitcoms is like the supercharged version of one of those TV Guide “Greatest Whatevers of All Time” lists that you’ll find in the magazine when the news gets slow.

But just because you’ve read all of this before doesn’t mean that you won’t be dazzled by this new packaging of an oft-made list. Turn to page 70 for the Curb Your Enthusiasm and you get the standard explanation of the show (plus a picture from my all-time favorite episode, the one wherein Larry David becomes the most hated man in Los Angeles after accidentally tripping Shaquille O’Neal) along with a mini-bio on David and a fun little story about how footage the show shot at a Dodgers game helped prove a man innocent of murder. Flip to page 233 for the three-page spread on Murphy Brown, which, naturally, almost immediately mentions the Dan Quayle incident but then goes on to give a mini-bio on Joe Regalbuto (Frank Fontana) and some fun inside information on the running joke of Murphy’s ever-changing secretary.

The book includes all the shows you’d expect — I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best — and some fun features on pets, sitcoms from radio shows and character actors. Lovely looking and fun to meander through, Sitcoms is the rare coffee table book that’s actually likely to be read. B+Amy Diaz