From Sitcoms to ‘Parody-corns’: Writing for American TV, 1949–89

Alex Symons

in Mel Brooks in the Cultural Industries

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780748649587
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780748676484 | DOI:
From Sitcoms to ‘Parody-corns’: Writing for American TV, 1949–89

Show Summary Details


Brooks's most innovative contributions to the American sitcom tradition were his two final shows, When Things Were Rotten and The Nutt House (NBC, 1989). Here Brooks took the sitcom tradition in a untypical direction by adapting those familiar writing formulas together with the surreal jokes, characters and production values from his own commercially successful ‘parody’ films, Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974) and High Anxiety (1977). The resulting two ‘parody-coms’ show significant departures from the perceived ‘mainstream’ of the American sitcom tradition. More significantly, these shows are also part of a wider trend in American sitcom production whereby content in all manner of forms, including production values and joke formulas, has been appropriated from Hollywood film. This chapter discusses the intermedial origins (1949–57), the revival (1965–70) and the modern transformation of the American sitcom (1975–89).

Keywords: American sitcoms; parodies; When Things Were Rotten; The Nutt House

Chapter.  13540 words. 

Subjects: Film

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.