I’ve been watching Cheers on Netflix and it struck me as how there’s never a bad episode. This is in stark contrast to other shows I love such as the various Star Treks and Doctor Who, who have horrible stinkers as well as mind blowing excellent episodes.
The only other show I can think of that was reliably consistent is Murder She Wrote, that show went on forever but I can watch any episode and enjoy it.
**Columbo **and Law & Order (the original series) spring to mind. Columbo was such an enjoyable character that if you enjoy the character, you always enjoy watching him work. Law & Order had a very strict episode outline so it was predictable yet still enjoyable to see how they worked within the outline each week.
Ha, just kiddin’ around. Because I’ve got you beat age-wise, and my example is even older: The Dick Van Dyke Show. Granted, my enjoyment meter flops to zero whenever Richie (the whiny, wooden son) is on camera, but redlines again as soon as he’s out of frame.
The only bad Seinfeld episodes I can think of was that crazy backwards thing they did for the wedding one. Was that a 2 season final final episode for that show? And there was the clips show that wasn’t very good, but I don’t think of that as a regular part of the series.
Other than that, I’d say Breaking Bad and Rome. But the latter was only 2 seasons.
Not picking on any one here, but I think “consistent” needs to be defined.
For instance, L&O had a lot of clunker episodes. Some of the first and second season ones were so annoying I won’t rewatch them. Same with the entire Fontana season. And there are a couple later ones where Jack need to be reined in, probably with a crane he’s so far out there.
MASH was also all over the place, mostly dependent on how much control Alda had in the specific episode. For one handy example, compare and contrast season 3 White Gold with season 7 Preventative Medicine. Both revolve around the same plot - removing a healthy appendix of an officer to hinder their conduct. But the tone is different. And it isn’t like one is an answer to the other - with MASH’s famous lack of continuity, it isn’t like the second episode acknowledged the first existed.
Not that I don’t like either show - I do. But no show is immune to a clunker. It’s the nature of series TV and deadlines. MASH even had a clip show.
Barney Miller was consistently good. *Columbo *was mentioned already, but I’ll second it. Odd Couple was pretty consistent, sadly if you watch too many episodes Felix gets too annoying, but it was consistent.
I feel like the Dick Van Dyke show wasn’t consistent. It had episodes that were good but fairly generic sitcom plots, usually on the home front to many episodes that were as good and creative as sitcoms ever got. The Walnut episode was perfection as was the birth of Ritchie flashback and many other.
Cheers had bad episodes, but they were generally less likely to happen. The writing was certainly consistent. And, in a rarity, it was funny pretty much from the get-go; there aren’t many episodes in Season One’s start that fell flat before the writers found their legs.
It did help the show that the cast underwent changes over the years. The death of Coach was tragic, but it allowed the even funnier Woody. The introduction of Frasier led to a whole added 11 years of comedy after Cheers died. Diane got replaced by Rebecca, which again allowed the writers to freshen up the show. Lillith was comedy gold when added.
I would agree that few shows manage eight or more seasons with such consistency in writing quality. Much as I love Magnum, P.I., there are several episodes sprinkled through its existence that just make me cringe and fast-forward through them. I’d say that MAS*H did pretty well at quality, but of course, that show’s tenor changed over the years substantially; the episodes of the last couple seasons are almost not even comedy.
I can name a few Dick Van Dyke episodes that weren’t very good. It’s exceptional, though, that I can single out the weak episodes.
Barney Miller was the most consistently well-written sitcom I can think of, but it rarely had a soaring high, like DVD’s Walnuts or WKRP’s Turkeys.
Hill Street Blues was perhaps too ambitious with its multiple story lines and huge cast. But the flip side of that was that just about every episode had at least one good moment in it, so that’s a kind of consistency.