Lose the laugh tracks, forever
Two original shows I really enjoyed recently retooled or rebooted, not sure what the proper term is. That ’70s Show and Night Court are back as That ’90s Show and Night Court (again). I get the appeal and motivation of retooling old favorites, and bringing back original cast members with new folks in the hope of re-creating popular franchises. I do not understand why they’ve decided to bring the laugh track with them.
Laugh tracks are like smoking areas in restaurants. When I was a kid, it just was the way the world was. I didn’t know there could be a world without a blue haze of cigarette smoke fouling the air.
Likewise, every sitcom had a laugh track. First it was because shows were filmed “in front of a live studio audience.” And then they stopped doing that but kept adding laugh tracks. If you’ve watched enough 70s and 80s sitcoms (hello) you can even recognize some of the canned laughter from episode to episode or show to show. Kind of like the Wilhelm Scream but with giggles.
And then it faded. Not sure which sitcom was the brave front-runner to dump the laugh track, but it seems to have tapered off in the 2000s.
But these retooled sitcoms are using them again, and it’s awful. I tried out 90s Show and Night Court (the reboot) and it’s like somebody recreated a favorite childhood recipe, but added cigarette butts to it.
In the few episodes I’ve watched, neither show has quite lived up to the originals. Night Court has come closer than 90s Show, but to be fair to the reboot the original Night Court took a season or two to really hit its stride.
No matter how good the food, I wouldn’t eat at a restaurant that allows smoking today. And I’m not keen on trying to fight through the distraction of a laugh track to give a new show a chance.
Kill the laugh tracks, please. For good. Nuke them from orbit and scatter the ashes. If a show is funny, it’ll do just fine. If not, a laugh track isn’t going to save it and is likely to make it even less popular.