Third-episode verdict: Rules of Engagement

The Rules of Engagement Carusometer5-Full-Caruso

I hated the pilot episode of Rules of Engagement. I absolutely hated it. It was the most derivative, insulting load of cobblers I’d seen in a long while.

Seems others agreed with me. Here’s the original cast (men only, because let’s face it, women don’t count according to the show).

Original cast of Rules of Engagment

Here’s the current cast:

Current cast of Rules of Engagement

Ooh, women. Plus, two out of the three main characters have been recast. There was only one good thing about the pilot – Patrick Warburton – and he’s still there. But we’ve lost the kid from Joey and gained David Spade. Oh dear.

I refused point-blank to watch the new version of the first episode, so the second episode was the first I bothered with.

“Hmm, it seems to have improved,” I noted to myself, mentally pencilling in some sort of “don’t judge a series by its pilot” message to blog about. It didn’t suck completely. Sure, there was plenty of latent misogyny (Oh no! His girlfriend knows something about sex and has had loads and loads of boyfriends! That means he’s inadequate and threatened, and she’s an *insert anti-female insult of your choice here*), but the older couple, despite their supposed jadedness were kind of nice together, David Spade wasn’t in it much, and Patrick Warburton was still great.

But this week’s episode. Oh dear. All the promise of the pilot was back again. Just awful. Hateful. I would stick a burning David Spade goatee on CBS’s front lawn if I could (Note to self: sounds good, not sure what it means, and it has potential to be offensive. Should I keep it? Probably not.)

Warburton is offended when his wife suggests he couldn’t get a 24-year-old girlfriend like Spade’s. So she bets that given an evening without his wedding ring on, he’ll fail to get a single 24-year-old woman’s telephone number! And then regrets it.

The one redeeming feature of the episode was their reconciliation. But anyone over the age of 16 knows everything involved in that scenario is a massive set of relationship no-nos and wouldn’t do them, let alone anyone who’s been married for over a decade. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Like all attractive women in their 20s, apparently. Nice message, guys.

So, it gives me (and The Medium is Not Enough) great pleasure to declare Rules of Engagement to be a five or “Full Caruso” on The Carusometer quality scale. A Full Caruso corresponds to a show “in which every single aspect of production is masterminded by David Caruso. 50% of the budget will be wasted on CGI that enables Caruso to play every single part in the show. He will use a variety of comedic but similar accents and play each character leaning 20º further to the left than the previous character. His one concession to the network will be to get his acting mentor, Steven Segal, to write the theme tune”.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.