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New TV season bets on the funny

Stacey Vanek Smith Sep 23, 2009
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TV remote iStockPhoto

New TV season bets on the funny

Stacey Vanek Smith Sep 23, 2009
TV remote iStockPhoto
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TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Ah Fall. Leaves change colors, things get cooler — and television networks bombard us with new fare. Two big comedies premier tonight on ABC. Former Friend Courtney Cox stars in Cougar-town, about a dating divorcee, and there’s another show, Modern Family. In fact, there are a whole lot of sitcoms on the roster this season. We give it a little fine-tune with Marketplace’s Stacey Vanek-Smith.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: NBC, Fox and ABC are all betting big on funny. There’s Hank, about a Wall Street exec who loses his job, The Cleveland Show, an offshoot of animated hit, Family Guy. And Modern Family, about kids and parents trying to keep up with them.

Savvy teen: I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL, laugh out loud, OMG, Oh my God. WTF, why the face.

Robert Thompson: Compared to the last several years, this is a bumper crop for new comedies.

Robert Thompson is a professor of TV and pop culture at Syracuse University. He says the last few years have been all about the hour-long dramas — Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Mad Men. Now, he says, networks are rediscovering the advantages of lighter fare.

Thompson: When a sitcom becomes a big hit, it is so incredibly versatile. Not only are they highly rerun-able, they’re also so much easier to adapt to online multi-platforming programming than the drama is.

That’s TV speak for things like webisodes and online spin-offs. Comedies are also usually much cheaper to produce than dramas. And Thompson says in this economy, that’s got all the networks smiling.

I’m Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

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