But every few years since "Seinfeld" went off the air in 1998, there have been new claims of the death of the sitcom -- especially since the rise of cheaper "reality" shows.
Well, this new TV season is proof that the half-hour comedy is alive and well on the traditional broadcast networks, with ABC giving early pickups to three of its Wednesday night comedies, with one real keeper in the bunch: "Modern Family."
NBC offers a new Thursday night entry, "Community," which deserves a full-season pickup. It's the best use of Chevy Chase's talents in decades.
The new comedies join a list of mature sitcoms that still provide laughs. NBC's "30 Rock" makes its long-awaited return at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on Channel 4 . CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" and "Big Bang Theory" have both developed nicely over the seasons.
Not all the new comedies are gems. CBS has brought back Jenna Elfman as a 30-something newspaper movie critic (now, there's a job with a future) who gets pregnant after a one-night-stand with a younger guy on Monday night's "Accidentally on Purpose."
Hilarity always follows an unplanned pregnancy.
Speaking of hilarity, what's making you laugh this season? And what comedies just aren't working for you?
ON TV: In addition to the digital channel shuffle that hit today, Time Warner is adding some channels. Channel 4's digital subchannel 4.3, TheCoolTV, is available at Channel 994 for digital subscribers.
- While we're on the subject, Time Warner has added rebroadcasts of Channel 12 newscasts to its Wisconsin On-Demand Channel 411. They'll be posted a couple hours after airing and be available or a week. Rebroadcasts of Channel 4 newscasts are also available on Channel 411.
- ABC has ordered a full-season of its Thursday night "FlashForward," which has been doing well against CBS' latest run of "Survivor."
- The Hollywood Reporter says that despite low rating, high DVR numbers for Fox's "Dollhouse" assure that the entire 13-episode second season will run. Thanks to baseball, it's back Oct. 23.
TV NEWS' TOUGHEST CRITIC: Regular viewers of Comedy Central's "Daily Show" now that faux anchor Jon Stewart is as harsh a critic of TV news as you'll find.
On Monday's show, Stewart took off after CNN for fact-checking a "Saturday Night Live" skit on the president's accomplishments -- or lack of them. That led into a rip on CNN for failing to use its 24-hour-a-day schedule to actually fact check the facts offered by some of the folks it interviews.
The funny -- and pointed -- bit follows below.
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.