Review: ‘Til Death

'Til Death

In the US: Fox, Thursdays 8/7c
In the UK: Not yet picked up. Paramount or Five will probably grab it though

Watching Everybody Loves Raymond is mandatory in our house. It’s not my choice. My wife feels sorry for Ray’s wife. So there you go.

In the deep misery that is the average episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, I find Brad Garrett to be the only beacon of light to keep me going.

ELR is over now, and Garrett has moved on to ‘Til Death, an average new comedy from Fox, this time featuring two wives with rubbish husbands.

I get the feeling a new mandatory show is looming on the horizon.

The plot, clearly borrowed from some other sitcom, maybe even Rules of Engagement, except that’s not yet aired
Eddie and Joy have been married a long time. Jeff and Steph haven’t. Jeff and Steph are the kind of couple that like to go jogging together. Eddie and Joy prefer to sit in front of the tele with a bucket of chicken wings. Jeff and Steph move in next door to Eddie and Joy. Eddie gives cynical advice about women to Jeff. Jeff remains cheerfully optimistic. Eddie’s predictions come to pass. Jeff, however, beats the odds, making Eddie think twice about his actions.

Is it any good?
In its favour, it wasn’t totally predictable. The standard Everybody Loves Raymond school of marital relations, emulated by comedies such as King of Queens, isn’t shared completely with ‘Til Death: the outcome of the “I want a pool table and she doesn’t” argument I didn’t see coming. It’s also nice to see that Joy is as much a pessimist and lacking in get up and go as Eddie, rather than being perky yet constantly defeated by her husband’s cynicism.

The cast is all pretty good, with the exception of Kat Foster: to be fair, she doesn’t yet have a character to play, although she’s very clearly out of Jeff’s league to begin with. Indeed, in common with Happy Hour, this is clearly aimed at Fox’s main demographic – Republican men – rather than women or even a mixed audience, and the amount of female input into the scripts would need an electron microscope to be measured. Certainly, ‘Til Death is very much a look at marriages from the point of view of the husband rather than the wife, albeit a slightly jaundiced, slightly stupid husband.

The script’s pretty cliché ridden all the same. Jeff is simply too naive to have survived as a human being all these years, and why he would only now be able to see the comedy in his surname, Woodcock, after having gone through High School already is going to be one of those big mysteries of the sitcom universe. Similarly, Eddie is only smart about relationships when dealing with other people’s; as soon as it’s his own relationship, he makes standard sitcom mistakes, such as accidentally accusing his wife of sucking all the fun out of their marriage. Not that I’m a marriage advisor, but I think even single people who have never been in a relationship would probably guess that’s a no-no from the outset. But then, comedies like this are designed to make you feel smarter than the characters, not to actually tell you something about relationships.

But I can see at least some potential in it. It’ll need a few episodes before I can say for sure if some green shoots of humour will appear from these small germs of interest. I’m suspecting bad things, but I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

The official site is over here.

Eddie (Brad Garrett)
Joy (Joely Fisher)
Jeff (Eddie Kaye Thomas)
Steph (Kat Foster)