Brad Garrett must know some dark secrets about Fox executives. Maybe he’s close pals with Rupert Murdoch or Glenn Beck’s promised to lead a rebellion on his behalf. But its more likely that the Fox network’s warped sense of what funny doesn’t extend to live action comedy.
The brilliant (or near brilliant) but prematurely canceled list of live action Fox comedies goes on for miles and miles. Daring demented comedies like Greg the Bunny, The Tick, Action, Titus, Undeclared, and the universally acclaimed Arrested Development struggled to make through their first three seasons for over the last 15 years. Yet somehow Til’ Death has managed to make it to episode 14 of its 4th season without even the amount of success or acclaim of Undeclared or Arrested Development.
The premise for episode 14, The Perfect Couple, Joy surprises a reluctant Eddie with a shocking once in a lifetime chance to meet a new couple Stephen and Simona (the well cast, funny duo Kevin Nealon and Susan Yeagley) who she invited over for dinner. Turns out Eddie likes the couple and Joy feels left out and doesn’t want befriend them. This leads Eddie to conspire to force the couple on his wife.
Even if you forgive the obligatory sitcom combination of a shlep husband Eddie (the aforementioned Brad Garrett) and the hot wife Joy (sitcom vet Joely Fisher) you’ll find that Til’ Death doesn’t for much to hold on to. Besides the formula of the “ugly” husband and “hot” wife has worked in recent years.
For example The King of Queens gave viewers a likable working class couple Doug and Carrie (Kevin James and Leah Remini) who played similar roles. But as episodes went on the characters and their worlds evolved. Carrie’s father Arthur lived with the couple, and Doug hung out with friends from his job at UPS-like company. You’ll find nothing remotely like that in Til’ Death. Its fatal flaw is that there’s little redeeming, interesting, familiar about Til’ Death’s central characters or the world they exist in. The show’s anorexic, and lacking any color or wrinkles in their reality. Eddie and Joy’s life seems empty, awful, spiteful and unfunny. Which ironically makes the episode’s premise is plausible but problematic.
Lets start with the plot which implies that Joy knew this couple well enough to invite them over to dinner. But the plausbility is thrown out the window when Joy gets upset and clams up when she learns that they actually like her husband. Didn’t she invite them over to meet her husband? From there the show struggles through an implausible chain of events that left me wanting to run away from Eddie and Joy. They’re Al and Peg Bundy without the charm or the funny.
The show’s B-plot was also a puzzler. There seems to be no connective tissue between the central couple and the show’s only supporting character Kenny. Why and how do they know Kenny? They have no friends or family and they don’t appear to be colleagues and why would he want this standoff-ish couple in their life. Without some connection whether through the episode’s plot or some sort of relationship the awkward distracting b-plot serves no purpose and was nothing but a distraction.
King of Queens gave viewers nothing brilliant or insightful, just nearly two hundred episodes of comfort food. That’s all water over the bridge at this point. After suffering through my third viewing of The Perfect Couple I found myself wanting to see the Stephen and Simona show and not more of Til’ Death.