Once upon a time, television sitcoms were mostly high-concept, built in a one-punch concept: Appalachian rednecks move into a Southern California mansion! An astronaut lives with a hot supernatural chick who will do anything for him, except show her belly button! Identical teenage cousins with violently different temperaments (Where Cathy adores a minuet, the Ballets Russes, and crepe suzette, our Patty loves to rock and roll, a hot dog makes her lose control ...) wreak havoc!
In recent years, high concept has taken a back seat to sitcoms in which the characters mostly sit around in offices or coffee shops, talking about stuff. Supposedly this is a more realistic approach, though television critic Glenn Garvin's bosses don't seem to think so. ("No, you may not take your laptop over to Starbucks for the afternoon.") But the pendulum may be swinging back, if next week's sitcom premieres are any indication. The CW's Life Sentence and NBC's Champions are very high on concept. Not so much on jokes or characters, though. Garvin takes a closer look.