'Til Death (2006–2010)
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BOTTOM LINE: IF YOU LIKE BRAD GARRETT ON "RAYMOND" THEN YOU WOULD LIKE HIM ON THIS SHOW
Considering the lack of entertaining sitcoms on the air I am surprised FOX would give this show the death slot against Earl and Survivor...not a good idea and one they should reconsider.
I hope FOX figures out a way to attract better ratings or at least gives the show a couple of years...I would hate to see another quality comedy put to rest because of a terrible time slot.
I had my doubts for the first two or three episodes (mildly funny) but the scripts are improving each week...Kudos to Brad Garrett and the rest of the cast...also hope to see more of Will Sasso's character in future episodes.
With many great one liners, this show is a surefire hit with anyone who's married.
At the beginning I truly enjoyed this program and thought, what a fresh new start for Brad Garret playing a main role here instead of a supporting role in Everybody Loves Raymond (The episode where Ray Romano came in as an extra was absolutely hilarious)His character as Eddy is lovable, funny coupled with his dry wit and the bundle of jokes made at him about his height was pretty hilarious. And as for Joely Fisher who played Joy, well I can't really see anyone else in her role, she is great and the chemistry between Eddy and Joy is fantastic. Like some of the reviewers have mentioned here, it's easy to see that this couple are really in love with each other after the many years being married and they're much much kinder to each other compared to Deborah and Ray (Which I found over the board annoying - with her yelling and him cringing.) The series took it's hit after the Woodcocks left the show, but some how was salvaged when Kenny (Smoove) joined the line-up. I found him absolutely funny, natural and rather creative in his role. He brought back a little spark in the show, or may have added on more hilarity to what was already there.
However, the fact that they kept changing Allison Stark's character started making the show plunge even more. Played by various different actresses (Krysten Ritter, Lindsey Broad, Kate Micucci, Laura Clery), with Laura Clery by far being the worst actress on the show and ruined whatever image any of the viewers had for Allison Stark, (plus I don't get how she's the only one who has blond hair in the family), it was difficult to follow and get used to the constant change.
And then I think the show got more and more desperate to stay within it's required ratings so it wouldn't be written off, they kept introducing more new characters to the show which clearly showed how close to pathetic it was getting. Adding on more characters didn't necessarily make it any better, but brought it to an annoying level to which some viewers might just want to shut the T.V off. I'm for one a little sad to see how bad it had gotten since it started. But sometimes, I guess there's no one to blame for the show to go stale, the actors quit their roles to try on bigger things, and in a desperation level, the creators tried very hard to maintain the shows ratings, but alas it wasn't enough. I supposed the kindest thing that can be said about the show is that, the creators tried very hard to keep their audience and fans satisfied through many different lengths, but it just wasn't enough in the end. An A+ for effort.
They have made so many changes to the show from when it started till now that its not even the same show anymore. All the supporting characters have changed multiple times. The wife was working as a travel agent...then she seems to be working at the school. His next door neighbor is the principal, now he isn't on the show any more as well as his wife. The daughter has changed 3 or more times and now they seem to just be throwing in new characters willy nilly.
I must say that the show started off great. The juxtaposition between the older married couple and the newly married couple and how the characters worked together was great. The woodcocks (the younger couple) were great characters...the husband somewhat naive and slowly learning about his new wife's somewhat wild past, all the same a happy newly married couple. Then there is Brad Garrett and his wife who have been married forever and the effect this happy newlywed couple has on them...and more importantly the affect they have on the newly wed couple who see their future in the less than romantic life of a long married couple.
I think this show was the best sitcom on (not saying much these days) and genuinely funny until they just started tearing it apart, moving it around, until even people like myself who watched it regularly no longer even knew what it was about anymore. The biggest mistake was to remove the woodcocks, then to add Kenny who wasn't funny and was a poor replacement...I feel for Garrett who started off in what I felt was a funny possible hit and ended up in convoluted mess. How can someone care for characters and a show where the characters are all coming and going...all I can say is its a shame what happened to this funny show. If you can somehow catch the first shows with the woodcocks...watch them, they are worth watching...after that...its a convoluted mess.
The scripts have had a wide range from somewhat funny to very funny. At first, it looked like these marriages between the two couples were totally different. The Woodcocks marriage was the eyes wide open smitten stage while Garretts union was the yes we've been together forever stage. The comedy was based upon laughing at how naive the Woodcocks were.
What has happened is that we are seeing the two marriages evolve. Woodcocks marriage is finding out it takes more than being smitten to make things work and they are learning to cope. Garretts marriage is finding out that even though they are comfortable they can still find heat and new things in their relationship. This is helping the show evolve into more than it was when it started.
The actress who is playing Garretts wife on this show is really evolving into a much better comedian as this show grows. Woodcocks wife who is supposed to be the young trophy one is still a bit up on the shelf so to speak. What is going to be interesting is to keep watching as the couples continue to change, in funny sort of ways each show.
There is some class warfare comedy undertones here as Garrett is the long time teacher & Woodcock is the young Administrator who is his boss. This helps the show along at times too.
Then something bizarre happened in season 3. The Woodcocks their next door neighbors disappear with no explanation offered & Eddie becomes big brother to a full grown black man (an absolutely ridiculous story line). Then the black man moves in with them. Then we have a cast of black characters added on. Were the producers including Brad Garrett who is also the lead actor cynically chasing urban African American TV ratings? Would love to know the thinking behind this.
The show becomes desperately unfunny immediately after that. The show then stopped after season 4. A mystery....
The jokes and situations aren't as funny as you may expect from a Brad Garrett show. Also, the whole macho dominated situation is getting old by now.
I don't believe he is comfortable in the show and you can clearly see he looks awkward while performing some jokes. For example, the Bill Cosby spoofs.
Joely Fisher in my opinion is not that funny but she delivers. Eddie Kaye Thomas is a young talented comedian but I don't think he fits in this show. I believe he belongs to movies. Kat Foster is extremely sexy, hot but lacks of some comedic skills, well that's my opinion.
The characters I can not stomach are the Starks adult daughter Alison and Doug played by Timm Sharp and the character Alison Stark played by four different actresses, cheapens the show. I can understand two actresses for the one role, but four. The producers should have cut the remainder episodes rather than replacing Alison with a third and finally fourth actress. The comedy seemed so fake and contrived when Alison and Doug were in it. I hated the cartoon episode, if I wanted to watch a cartoon dream sequence I would have put it on the cartoon network.I must say though, the character Doug can act, but his script was terrible. The actresses that played Alison on the other hand, need to go back to acting class.
J.B Smoove reminds me of Eddie Murphy (not the cool Eddie from the 80's and early 90's, but the family friendly nice Eddie post 1996. I didn't mind Kenny the character but again the humour just seems a bit silly (bad writing).
Overall, 'till death started off well but deteriorated quickly. It could have been a great comedy but they put too much contrived comedy in it. Then thinking of it's competition, I am surprised it lasted as long as it did. It was just such a terrible comedy.
Not that it was amazing, just a good 20 minutes of a properly made low key sitcom. But after the Woodcocks were cut off, the show just tried to take other directions and if of course failed miserably (who would have thought replacing half the cast could have an impact!?) What is weird is that while the show has obviously turned in to a train wreck, it is still on even though you can tell no one cares anymore... Their daughter has been replaced twice, even going from a brune girl to a blonde girl between 2 episodes, but if you can't tell that it's a sign even the producers don't care anymore then keep watching by all means!
Seasons Reviewed: 2 seasons
Eddie Stark (Brad Garrett) had a good thing going. After being married for 25 years, he and his wife Joy (Joely Fisher, "Ellen") have been lulled into a complacent lifestyle of low expectations and general acceptance of all of each other's annoying habits. That is, until obnoxiously chipper newly married couple (Eddie Kaye Thomas and Kat Foster) move in next door. Soon Joy is wondering why Eddie doesn't behave like that for her anymore and Eddie is forced to give the new guy marriage advice.
Watching " 'Til Death" I had the kind of thought that my usually optimism TV watching mind never lets me have: maybe there just isn't anything else for a sitcom to say about marriage. In "Death" a newly married couple experiments with pornography, wives use sex to get new patio furniture and a husband refuses to put his name on a girly birthday gift his wife bought. And so on. In typical sitcom fashion the women are hot and domineering and the men are either wimps or slobs. "Til Death" is not ashamed at all of being a studio audience sitcom. I honestly feel like I'm watching a remake of something I've seen years ago, just re-cast with Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher in the leads.
With "Death", Fox is loudly touting the return to TV of Brad Garrett. And with good reason, the multi Emmy-award winning actor was a breakout star on "Everybody Loves Raymond". In lull episodes Garrett's Robert could always be counted on to turn a one-liner into a huge laugh. And I'd watch Joely Fisher read the phone book. Garrett and Fisher have the veteran acting chops to balance out the amateur silliness of Thomas & Foster.
As you can imagine the show is nothing to get excited about. Naming the newlyweds the Woodcocks is only the beginning of many odd, lame sex jokes. The gags are broad and silly, nor are they tethered to anything more than a sitcom reality shaped by decades of cliché. Fox is asking Garrett to work magic with a script that is well beneath him, but the guy is such a pro he is able to get a few scattered laughs out of this material. Anybody can be funny with good material but it takes real talent to make OK material funny. It's that commitment that makes "'Till Death" better than "According to Jim", "Yes, Dear", "The King of Queens" and other bottom-of-the-barrel family and not-so-family sitcoms.
While playing a totally different character, Garrett's involvement only heightens the reality that " 'Til Death" is the kind of marriage sitcom that "Everybody Loves Raymond" was an evolution away from. Both are realistically cynical towards marriage and family, but "Death" doesn't have the depth or reason behind it. The situations are just as minuscule but on "Raymond" they always revealed a greater, nastier truth. On "Raymond" the arguments often built to an epic meltdown. Here our couple gets in a mild spat and make up happily at the end. Oh yeah, the old sitcom happy ending is back. The days of shows like "Married with Children" and "Unhappily Ever After" that looked at marriage with cliché-busting, anti-establishment acerbic pessimism are gone, reverting back to this Oprah-esquire feminized view where everybody fights but underneath it they all love each other and there isn't a problem that can't be solved in under 30 minutes of TV time. I thought we'd gotten past all this.
If you expect more from your comedy don't even slow down here. Go in with low expectations and " 'Til Death" is an empty, inoffensive, fairly watchable sitcom. This is the type of show that I would probably be forced to watch if I was over at someone else's house. But with Garrett and Fischer at the helm, this one isn't as agonizing as it could have been.
* * / 4
As Elaine Benes herself might have said, "Next!!! (Please excuse this parenthetic.........Nothing really more to say...just satisfying IMDb's 10-line minimum..)
In the end it goes down as one of those shows that should have ended a long time before it did. The first two seasons are still great TV sitcom worth seeing though.
It then just becomes about the established married couple. However a few episodes for Season 2 were inserted into Season 3 so the newly married couple just suddenly appear. Season 3 is also out of order so Kenny (who was my favourite character) is living with them with no explanation until later on in the season when he moves in.
Season 4 just loses the plot completely. Kenny disappears. A rich man and his young wife move in (if he was rich why would he live in a working class suburb??) An ongoing joke about the married couples, daughter's boyfriend thinking he is living in a sitcom stops being funny after the first episode the joke appears. One episode involves cartoons of the characters (and jumping a shark). It felt like they knew it was the last season and all the ideas they had for another six seasons they were cramming in. This is without the fact the daughter changes actress four times (twice in Season 4).
It is a shame as the acting is great. The first two seasons were good but it just all falls apart. I really wish I had left it alone after Season 2.
However, sadly, the show dispenses with the anchor of the show (the characters who play the Woodcocks), and the sitcom sinks to the bottom of ridiculous. Gone are the laughs and the beginning of the slow death that leads to cancellation.
I just felt like I went through another heartrending divorce that has left me convinced I'll never marry again.
Score: Definite 10 before the demise of the Woodcocks; 3 after they left the show.