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Case Number 03726

Buy The King Of Queens: The Complete First Season at Amazon

The King Of Queens: The Complete First Season

Sony // 1999 // 620 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // December 17th, 2003

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The King Of Queens: The Complete Second Season (published August 4th, 2004), The King Of Queens: The Complete Third Season (published June 8th, 2005), The King Of Queens: The Complete Fourth Season (published August 31st, 2005), The King Of Queens: The Complete Fifth Season (published September 6th, 2006), and The King Of Queens: The Complete Sixth Season (published October 11th, 2006) are also available.

The Charge

The man. The myth. The driver. Doug Heffernan is the King of Queens.

Opening Statement

One of the best sitcoms of recent years, The King of Queens makes a successful home video debut courtesy of Columbia TriStar.

Facts of the Case

Doug Heffernan (Kevin James) is a parcel delivery man who is content with his life. His wife Carrie (Leah Remini) is a good, loving woman. His friends stick by him. He has a great job and lives in a good neighborhood. Oh, and his 70-inch TV isn't anything to sneeze at, either.

One slight problem: his recently widowed father-in-law Arthur Spooner (Jerry Stiller, great as usual), has burned his house down and needs a place to live. The only place left is the basement that houses his massive television set. Because of his intense love for his wife, Doug consents.

It's a season full of hilarious comedy and even poignancy that will entertain those who give it a chance.

The Evidence

The King of Queens began life as a so-called spin-off of Everybody Loves Raymond. I say so-called for several reasons. First, the only connection these shows share is when Kevin James was an occasional guest star on the latter. Second, James didn't appear as his Doug Heffernan character. So how could it be called a spin-off?
If anyone out there can set the record straight, please let me know.

Anyway, as a standalone show, The King of Queens is a wonderful show. What makes it so good is that the comedy is born from real situations and real characters, rather than constructed gags that grow staler by the minute. Writing a sitcom can be difficult. The dialogue must contain jokes, but mustn't sound as if it was taken from a giant book of clichés. It must be funny, yet retain some shred of originality. Luckily, the writing team behind The King of Queens remember the basic rules and provide a fresh, witty program.

I mentioned in an earlier section that there was comedy and poignancy. That is absolutely correct. A common criticism in my family is that sitcoms should not contain serious material. I disagree. First, any subject can be used in a comedy. It all depends on tone. While it is true that many of the best sitcoms eventually became too serious for their own good, I happen to think that combining humor with pressing issues makes for longer lasting and more invigorating television. In between the laughter, there are some pertinent issues being discussed in a thoughtful manner here, and I applaud the risk taken by the creative team.

I applaud the decision to cast Kevin James in the lead. Hollywood has such an obsession with weight that it made me extremely happy to see a successful program with a lead actor who doesn't conform to the standard "type." James manages to avoid the classic pitfall that fells many stand-up comedians making the leap to a starring vehicle. He remembers to share the high points with his co-stars rather than hoarding all the best moments for himself. He is funny in a natural, understated way, and that approach is perfect for this material. Of course, surrounding yourself with good talent also helps. Leah Remini has the best role of her career. Who would have thought that Saved by the Bell would actually be a springboard for a solid acting career? Not I. She has to play Marge to Doug's Homer. Her delivery of the dialogue and comic timing are razor sharp, No one needs to question Jerry Stiller's credentials. He has long been one of the funniest comedians in entertainment. He is also a good actor and he uses both skills to great effect here.

The entire 25 episode run of the first season appears in this three disc set. On a scale of zero to five UPS packages:

"Pilot"
Doug allows Carrie's father Arthur to move into the basement after Arthur burns his house down by using a 40-year-old hot plate.
Rating: *****

"Head First"
Doug decides to become Arthur's close buddy after he mistakes one night of intimacy for a reward.
Rating: ****1/2

"Fat City"
Doug is terrified of Carrie becoming overweight after Arthur shows him a picture of her fat mother.
Rating: ****

"Richie's Song"
Doug interferes after Carrie tells him that Richie's wife is cheating.
Rating: ****

"Cello, Goodbye"
Doug questions his appeal to Carrie after she gets a high-class job.
Rating: ****1/2

"Paternal Affairs"
Doug is disgusted after he catches Arthur being intimate with his aunt.
Rating: *****

"The Rock"
Doug and Carrie find out that her engagement ring is worth a bundle.
Rating: ****1/2

"Road Rayge"
Ray Barone (Ray Romano) accidentally causes Doug to lose his license for two weeks.
Rating: *****

"Educating Doug"
Carrie enrolls herself and Doug into a literature class. Can Doug read Jane Eyre and comprehend it?
Rating: ****

"Supermarket Story"
Thanksgiving time! Carrie struggles to find the ingredients for the perfect Thanksgiving meal; Doug runs into a friend whom he can't remember; Arthur gets the hots for a Sausage Lady.
Rating: ***1/2

"Fixer Upper"
Carrie fixes Spence up on a date with her co-worker. But some bad advice from Doug causes more trouble than it's worth.
Rating: ***1/2

"Crappy Birthday"
Carrie's birthday falls on the day of the big Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view.
Rating: **1/2

"Noel Cowards"
Arthur presents Doug and Carrie with a new car after the current one dies. Unfortunately, it's German and twenty years out of style.
Rating: ****1/2

"Dog Days"
The new neighbors' dog is keeping the Heffernans awake and it's up to Doug to stop it.
Rating: ***

"Hungry Man"
Doug decides to support Carrie and attend her boss' dinner party. Unfortunately, the boss cancelled the dinner part of the evening and Doug hasn't eaten all day!
Rating: *****

"Court Date"
Carrie pretends she's single so she can avoid paying a ticket.
Rating: **

"S'Aint Valentine's"
Some problems separate Doug and Carrie on Valentine's Day.
Rating: *

"Rayny Day"
Ray invites Doug and Arthur to a country club, only to find that massive torrential rains have come.
Rating: ****

"Train Wreck"
A gorgeous young woman becomes Doug's trainee at work.
Rating: ****1/2

"Where's Poppa?"
Arthur goes away for the weekend to give Doug and Carrie some alone time.
Rating: ***

"Time Share"
The Heffernans' neighbors break up, leaving some expensive time share to be inherited by a certain couple.
Rating: *****

"Maybe Baby"
Doug and Carrie decide to conceive. It's not as easy as it sounds.
Rating: ****

"Art House"
Arthur and Doug have a major argument, resulting in Arthur moving out.
Rating: ****

Columbia TriStar does solid work in bringing The King of Queens to our favorite form of home viewing. The full frame transfer looks great for the most part. The 1.33:1 image is appropriate here. CBS had yet to transmit their programs in 1.78:1 HDTV widescreen, so the fact that they remained faithful to the original transmission scores points with me. There is some odd blue-tinted grain during some scenes, but most of the time, the image looks crystal clear to me. Colors are beautifully bold to view and the compression problems that often plague television shows transferred to disc aren't present here. A really nice job by Columbia; the kind I would like to see more often.

Audio is also excellent here. After many uneven attempts, they have finally gotten it together here. Dolby Digital 2.0 surround stereo is the best option to handle the dialogue heavy program and it sounds great. There are some glitches in some episodes, but that may have been beyond their control.

Some fine extras are included here. First there are two bonus episodes, both from the second season.

"Assaulted Nuts"
Doug accidentally staples his testicles after playing with a staple gun. Arthur sympathizes and remembers his own accident with a staple gun.
Rating: ****1/2

"Better Camera"
Lou Ferrigno moves in next door and Arthur becomes obsessed with showing Lou his screenplay. Doug buys Carrie an expensive camera for Christmas, only to be outdone by her boss.
Rating: ****1/2

Now this is the way to do it. All box sets need an appetizer of sorts to gain interest in the next set. By presenting two of the best episodes from the second season, they'll be sure to make some advance sales on their next volume.

Star Kevin James and co-creator Michael Weithorn provide a commentary on the pilot episode. It's quite good, giving us some good information and anecdotes about the creation and behind-the-scenes banter of the show. Please take the time to check this out.

A 25-minute featurette "Just Having Fun" features interviews with James and Weithorn, as well as co-stars Leah Remini and Jerry Stiller. It's a must see, with many tidbits of information shared.

"Laughs Montage" is exactly what it says it is. It's a four-minute compilation of the first season's funniest moments. It's worth seeing at least once.

Several trailers for other Columbia TriStar TV box sets are included. These tend to be rather promotional, with the words "Buy Me!" practically screaming at you. You can safely skip these.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

A word to the producers:

With the recent announcement that Leah Remini is in the family way, you now have the heaven sent opportunity of following up a storyline that you started building up in the first season. Take advantage!

Closing Statement

Compared to some expensive sets, this one is affordably priced ($34.99) to own. I would recommend it as a blind buy, but if you're still unsure, then check out an episode in syndication. If you like it, then rent this set. After watching the set, if you really like it, then buy it.

The Verdict

Not guilty!

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 95
Extras: 50
Acting: 92
Story: 91
Judgment: 96

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 620 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Bonus Episodes
• Commentary by Kevin James and Michael Weithorn on Pilot Episode
• "Just Having Fun" Featurette
• Laughs Montage
• Bonus Trailers

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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