Judge Ryan Keefer's brother is kind of like Brad Garrett, just not as tall. Or slim. Or a cop.
Our reviews of Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete First Season (published October 13th, 2004), Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Second Season (published January 5th, 2005), Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Third Season (published June 1st, 2005), Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Fourth Season (published October 26th, 2005), Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Fifth Season (published January 11th, 2006), Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Sixth Season (published July 12th, 2006), Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Seventh Season (published September 19th, 2006), and Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Series (published December 1st, 2007) are also available.
"We've been married for 46 years. We've seen the lows and we've seen the highs."
"What day was the high?"
When last we left Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray's brother Robert (Brad Garrett, Finding Nemo) was dancing away with his newlywed bride Amy (Monica Horan, better known as spouse of show co-creator Philip Rosenthal) to the strains of Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation," while the Barone family lovingly approved. So where does Season Eight take us?
Facts of the Case
Well, everything is pretty self explanatory, five discs covering 23 episodes, slightly down from Season Seven's run of 24 (including a two-part episode). The episode listing for Season Eight is:
• "Fun With Debra"
You don't know who makes up the cast? OK, I'll do this one more time. After Robert and Amy, you've got Ray (Ray Romano, Ice Age) and Debra (Patricia Heaton, Beethoven) Barone, an occasionally happily married Long Island family with three kids, including a set of identical twin boys. The friendly little antagonists of the show are Ray's parents, Marie (Doris Roberts, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star) and her husband Frank (Peter Boyle, Where the Buffalo Roam), who visit Ray and Debra on an almost daily basis.
And where Season Seven focused on the impending nuptials with Robert and Amy, Season Eight breaks off in a promising way, spending a lot more time outside of the normal dynamic between Ray and Debra, giving their children a lot more screen time, and splitting more time with Ray's friends, and Robert's in-laws, to name a few. You've got a handful of episodes that seem to rely on one laugh over the course of each 21-minute episode, predictable but lazy nonetheless. However there are others ("Home From School" is a good example of this) that seem to transform the show from sitcom family into Cosby-esque territory, where Ray has an interaction with one of the boys that is poignant to see. Another one ("Crazy Chin" to be exact) discusses Robert's character nuance of touching food to his chin before eating it, an eight season long tradition. I also enjoyed "Misery Loves Company," including one particular scene where Ray is holding Debra's hand as an attempt to breathe new life into their marriage. But he's so neurotic that it becomes one in yet another series of battles between the couple that crystallizes their dynamic more than anything else, despite the convenient denouement they have at the end of most of these episodes.
The caliber of the writing turns, though, devolving into episodes where the in-laws fight with the Barones, and Ray tells Robert it's all part of the territory. Or the characters almost act as parodies of themselves, which would be fine if it didn't happen so often. Another thing that rears its ugly head is that Romano tries to act. As far as comedic (or even a sitcom) performance goes, it's a little bit too hammish. Garrett seems to be the eternal ham winner for the show, but things have dialed themselves down as opposed to previous seasons.
One could make the case that Everybody Loves Raymond is the show that is the most accommodating for the DVD buyer. Here in its eighth season, you've got yet another 10 minute-plus blooper reel which is even edited together chronologically by episode, a nice touch. You've also got deleted scenes on most of the episodes, and commentaries on a third of the episodes, with Romano, Rosenthal and various mixes of the acting and writing staffs. The only other extra is a question and answer session at the Museum of Television and Radio with Rosenthal and the members of the writing crew. The session was taped shortly after finishing Season Eight's production, and Rosenthal indicated then that it might be the last season, which wasn't too far off. He often tells stories about his family that usually became good Raymond episodes. The discussion also covers the usual points as well, including the writer's collaborative process and working with the cast. It's a lengthy discussion at that, running for an hour and forty five minutes. To see the prescience that Rosenthal had to say the reason for the excessive length was "for the DVD," one has got to give a salute to him for it. As far as TV shows go, the extra material is top quality stuff.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Just for fun, you can tell when Romano has been out golfing by looking at the watch tanline on his arm. But that's nothing—if you want to play a drinking game to enjoy it a little more, take a shot when any cast member reaches for a small ginger ale from their fridge. It should give you a nice buzz. As far as the discs go, having Garrett contribute to the commentaries would have been worth sitting around for, but supplements are pretty generous as is.
Season Eight of Everybody Loves Raymond showed aspirations of growing, but overall it seemed to recess over the course of the season, and even began showing some wear at the seams. The video and audio are the usual fare, but the extras seem to be a bit weightier than they have in previous seasons. Fans of the show will have picked this up if they haven't seen the numerous TBS repeats by now, curious observers should see said airings first, and as a standalone set, it's not too shabby.
The court would render a verdict, but it would have to turn off the TV first.
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