Television said goodbye to an important part of its essence last week, when Fox confirmed that Til Death will be laid to rest after four seasons.
Til Death was that show, the comedy that somehow found its way onto the schedule each season despite poor ratings and non-existent critical acclaim (in fact, those two items were the only funny things about it). It starred a guy (Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett) who was famous from another project, it was done on a cheap budget and strictly for business reasons, and it didn't exactly push the envelope in terms of creative comedy writing.
Til Death took the crown from According to Jim, another network comedy that elicited groans each year it was renewed (it lasted eight painful seasons before finally being mercy-killed in 2009). Now, I'll be the first to admit that the disdain for both of those shows may be unwarrantedI've seen clips from both and thought they were horrible, but haven't sat through any full episodes to see if they got any better. That said, I haven't seen a Carrot Top stand-up special either, but I feel pretty safe mocking him. Am I comparing Til Death to Carrot Top? Yes, yes I am. They're the punching bags of their respective fields, but they at least know it.
The importance of a bad sitcom is especially weighty for us TV journalists or columnists or bloggers or whatever we're called these days, because the reigning "worst show" provides that all-important measure by which we can say "at least it's not as bad as [According to Jim/Til Death]."
So with Til Death wrapping up permanently this year, what show will next wear the crown etched with the words "Why the heck is this still on?"
Scanning the comedy landscape for disasters reveals a group of candidates that's slimmer than it's ever been. The proliferation of single-camera comedies and higher concepts leaves the field slightly barren, with few easy targets. (The usual suspects are multi-camera family comedies, which are easier to loathe than a Jay Leno monologue.)
But there is one show that fits nearly all the criteria and is my candidate to become TV's new Carrot Top: Rules of Engagement. It's got the laugh track, the low-hanging-fruit jokes, and actors mailing it in for a paycheck. It's a poor man's How I Met Your Mother, and I don't even like How I Met Your Mother. We need a new champion of ineptitude, a universally frowned-upon show that we can all point and laugh at. I humbly submit Rules of Engagement to be our new Til Death.
P.S. I hope I don't get fired for this article.
What s*itcom do you think will take over for Til Death and According to Jim?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom