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2007 TV Year In Review: Top 5 Comedies

Andrew Payne Andrew Payne
December 27th, 2007 12:00pm EST
How I Met Your MotherLong gone are the days of NBC's "Must See TV," which consisted of classics such as The Cosby Show, Cheers, Seinfeld, and Friends. Although today's comedic offerings aren't as legendary as those in the past, there are still a few gems that shone slightly brighter in '07.

Top 5 Comedies:

The Simpsons5. "The Simpsons" - It's still one of the best shows on TV after all this time, and it managed to avoid the lull suffered by "South Park" following the release of its first film. This year Homer was allowed to be a bit smarter than in seasons past, and it returned to more of the satirical humor that made "The Simpsons" one of the best in the history of television in its heyday. It's hard to think the show will ever return to the form of its golden years, but this year proved it is still a comedy force which to be reckoned.

Curb Your Enthusiasm4. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" - Larry David mined humor from a place that we're sure was quite painful for him - his divorce - and pulled it off magnificently. This season featured much more of the same exploits viewers are accustomed to seeing from David and his usual cast of characters with several large twists thrown in: Cheryl and Larry adopting a family of Katrina Victims and Cheryl's leaving Larry after he fails to comfort her during a scary flight.

David pushed the envelope with the same regularity as previous seasons with a new screwball element: his attempt to win back his wife. This was a much different season of "Curb," but an extremely funny one nonetheless.

How I Met Your Mother3. "How I Met Your Mother" - Perhaps the only show on CBS geared towards an audience that still has their original teeth, "Mother" has managed to become a self-referential gem, and a much smarter version of shows like "Friends" and its clones. This show mimics the comedic formula of Judd Apatow's work, relying mostly on chemistry between its characters for much of its humor.

This is one of the least-jokey shows ever to use a laugh track, something that becomes barely noticeable under the laughs it gleans from the viewers at home. In its third season, "Mother" has really hit its stride, as we've now become completely familiar with all its characters and can almost sense what they are going to say next. And for some reason, that makes it all the more humorous.

30 Rock2. "30 Rock" - This is undoubtedly the finest sitcom on network television and one of the best ever to be broadcast over-the-air. "30 Rock" started slowly but quickly developed into a wily and satirical show that attempts to follow the model of "Arrested Development.. "Rock" is so broad that its characters and situations seem almost cartoonish at times, but are always quick to remind the audience of the subjects they are lampooning, grounding the show in a sort of alternate reality that seems entirely plausible in the world created by its head writer and star, Tina Fey. While the series may only have "dozens of viewers," as Fey put it, it's certain that they are all doubled over in laughter every Thursday night.

Extras1. "Extras" - The first season of "Extras" was very funny as we followed the travails of luckless Andy Millman (co-creator Ricky Gervais) and his dim friend Maggie (a sublime Ashley Jensen) as they toiled as extras in a variety of glamorous films. Most of the humor in the first season of the show was built around its guest stars' (Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson, and Ben Stiller to name a few) lampooning of themselves.

2007 saw the debut of the second season and a much higher concept for the show. The basic elements still remained: Maggie's dimness and easy datablity, Andy's ineptitude and big stars coming on to make fools of themselves, but an entire new twist was added: Andy became famous. Gervais and co-creator Stephen Merchant turned "Extras" into a sort of anti-"Entourage," skewering fame and all the ugliness of celebrity as seen through the eyes of a character who though all his dreams had come true, only to realize that success in show business is not all it's made out to be. The stunning 90-minute finale, in which laughs were at times put away in favor of poignancy, only further cemented that Gervais and Merchant are working on an entirely different plane from everybody else who puts comedy on televison.

Honorable Mentions: "Flight of the Conchords", "The Office", "Entourage", "My Name is Earl"

Story by Andrew Payne
Starpulse contributing writer

Related story: 2007 Year In Review: Great Performances

Stay tuned for TV's Top 5 Dramas and The Worst Of '07.