The Great Comedy Drought of 2010

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In the Dust Bowl TV comedy landspace, 2008-2009 will be remembered as a plentiful season for network sitcoms. It was the season when laugh rustlers could turn on the TV and harvest a bellyload of chuckles thanks to two strong new entrants in the genre: Modern Family and Community. Heck, they could even round up laughs from Better off Ted, Cougar Town, and The Middle. (We're leaving Glee out of this as it's not really a sitcom.)

It's stars-aligned rare that two comedies as delicious as Community and Modern Family are birthed in the same season in this Era of the Dead Comedy. But their success gave us hope that the grand old days of the hilarious '80s--when you could flip on the tube and be treated to Cheers, The Cosby Show, and, uhhh, Night Court?--were back.

Looking out on the 2010 crop of shows, all I see is tumbleweeds. A year ago, I wrote a piece asking what the best new comedy of the season was: Modern Family or Community? It was a rare instance to have two to choose from. I thought about writing a 2010 version of the same article, but couldn't come up with one, let alone two.

So far there seem to be three potential candidates (based on ratings and full-season orders) for this year's best new comedy. CBS has Mike & Molly, Fox has Raising Hope, and NBC has Outsourced. Only Mike & Molly hasn't been given a full-season order, but that's coming up really soon (UPDATE: CBS has given Mike & Molly a full season).

Sadly, none of those shows even comes close to the guaranteed laughs of Modern Family or Community. Last season was obviously an aberration. Even with newfound interest from networks looking to tap that comedy vein this season, all we've got this season is a mediocre crop at best.

So I ask you, dear reader. What do you think is the season's best new network comedy, or do you think there is even one worthy of wearing the crown at all?

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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