Single Camera vs. Multi Camera: A Debate

The current sitcom debate of multi-cam vs. single cam is an interesting one to me.This is because you have people who nowadays avoid any sitcom, say, Monday nights on CBS, simply and solely because it has a laugh track/studio audience, and only stick to shows like Community, The Office, Modern Family, and shows like them.

I wonder if some people had similar kinds of viewing choices back in the day based on the way a show was recorded. Did some people do the same thing with color vs. black-and-white? Did people ignore the first two seasons of Bewitched because it wasn’t in color yet at the time? Did people only watch the color years of The Andy Griffith Show?

Another example: sitcoms being shot on videotape became a common occurrence in the 1970’s as opposed to film. So I’ve been thinking. Did some people in that decade just start avoiding shows like most of the ones done by MTM Enterprises simply because they were shot on film and not videotape like the Norman Lear shows were? Did they do the opposite? You do hear preferences and points being made about both styles, but in the fall of 1983 for example, did people just up and decide to stop watching Newhartin their second year when they decided to switch from brighter and clearer videotape to film? Do they do this today when they choose a classic to watch on television? Of course, it doesn’t really help matters for lovers of some filmed shows since a few of them haven’t been remastered or touched in any way since the shows were first recorded. But this type of disregard in general really isn’t practiced at all. Well, at least I’ve never heard of it.

There are indeed issues with both single and multi-cam formats. Studio audiences can be obnoxious and every now and then single camera shots go for the “unsteady” and “shaky” angle. Even though it’s intentional, that bothers me. But those things themselves involving either format doesn’t make or break my desire to tune in and be interested in what’s happening, and it doesn’t determine whether or not I fall in love with a show. I also have a hard time imagining a significant number of people who watch only current single camera shows in prime time would also disregard classics like I Love Lucy, Cheers, The Cosby Show, The Golden Girls, or Seinfeld or find some way to give them points down because all of those shows had live audiences.

If someone thinks a show is terrible for what it puts out as far as writing and characters go, then that’s one thing. For instance, if someone said they didn’t care for Two and a Half Men because of how the characters were written and how the stories are told, then I’d understand that logic. But some folks today tend to ignore a show based on whether or not there’s laughter in the background.

Community is one of my favorite shows currently because I enjoy the characters, I like the general mood of the show, and it makes me laugh. The same thing can be said for How I Met Your Mother, another favorite.

It just makes the TV geek in me wonder.

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