I just finished watching the first and second complete season of the BBC show As Time Goes By. A show that would be referred to today as a "brit-com", a term derived from the American neologism "sitcom" ... which is anachronistric, actually, because BBC was making comedies long before the American networks came up with the idea of a "situational comedy".
Anyway, back to the outstanding comedy of As Time Goes By ... that show has something that I think almost all modern day sitcoms and their trans-atlantic counterparts lack. The humor in this show is rooted in wit - actual honest-to-god wit ! It does not have to resort to buffoonery with props, inane gestures and facial expressions or even lewd and suggestive double entendres, all of which seems disguised as humor these days*. I am talking about the sort of wit that I witnessed dripping from the dialogue in Charade (to name one such masterpiece), or coming out of the mouth of the inimitable John Cleese as Basil Fawlty in the hilarious Fawlty Towers. Refreshing to say the least. Dame Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer are absolutely brilliant, and so is the supporting cast.
I first TiVoed this entire series from PBS and fell in love with it. Just recently bought the first 2 complete seasons and I am almost on the verge of shelling out the $100 and buy the rest of the series all at once (all seasons except the last 2 are available). This is the only TV show other than M*A*S*H for which I have felt the desire to own.
*Note: For all those who think, upon reading this post, that I am trying to put down the art of physical comedy, please rest assured. Even a dolt like me would not dare to compare the mediocrity that is today's sitcom with the genius of Chaplin , Laurel & Hardy or The Three Stooges.