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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 Eighth Season (published May 8th, 2007), and Everybody Loves Raymond: The Complete Series (published December 1st, 2007) are also available.
"What's the matter?"
"Don't say that, he just smells natural."
Everybody Loves Raymond was arguably the only non-reality show on CBS that people still enjoyed watching. You weren't hopping up and down yet for such broadcast stalwarts as Two and a Half Men, but admittedly the writing team may have gotten a little bit tired as the show wore on, creeping towards its 200th episode, a milestone that is perhaps a better test of quality than a series' 100th episode. So, by this point, how much gold was left in the mine?
Facts of the Case
Well, Long Island sportswriter Ray Barone (Ray Romano, Welcome to Mooseport) and his wife Debra (Patricia Heaton, Space Jam) continue to go through life with each other and their three children. They live across the street from Raymond's parents, the fiercely overprotective Marie (Doris Roberts, My Giant) and the loud and abrasive Frank (Peter Boyle, Monster's Ball). Ray's brother, a policeman named Robert (Brad Garrett, Stuart Little 2), visits frequently and almost always exhibits a small inferiority complex towards his brother. Either that or it's visceral jealousy and envy, you never know.
The Barone clan returns to the strange DVD packaging that six other seasons have occupied and, in this go 'round, five episodes are on each of the five shiny silver discs of data, audio and video. The episode listing for Season Seven is as follows:
• "The Cult"
You know when you go to a really nice restaurant for the first time and it blows you away? I mean really true nectar of the Gods-type culinary fare. When you go back for your second time (and, believe me, you go back), the food just isn't as good, to almost disappointing extremes. I had a similar experience when it came to watching Season Seven of Everybody Loves Raymond. In my Season Six review, I mentioned that I was relatively new to the show, but really did enjoy watching it. In Season Seven, while the show was still good, it just wasn't as completely entertaining as I was hoping that it would be.
To the writing team's credit, they brought the focus of the show in Season Seven to Garrett's 81-inch-tall frame. Knowing that there can only be so much material that can be drawn upon from Ray's relationship to Debra, there were more episodes that focused on Robert's attempts to settle down and fall into married life. There were some episodes that made sure we didn't forget about Ray and Debra. "Counseling" was a pretty funny look at Ray's manipulation of a marriage therapist to take his side on a lot of disputes and "The Thought That Counts" is another good one when Ray hijacks Robert's gift ideas for Christmas for Debra, but the idea backfires when Robert is tired of seeing Ray hog the glory and outs him as a result.
Still, the underlying center for the season remained with Robert. In the first episode of the season ("The Cult"), which was to help tie together the "cliffhanger" ending from Season Six, Robert joined a cult with the attempt to see Marie and Debra reconcile after an incident left them distant to each other for weeks. "Robert Needs Money" was just that, which resulted in him taking a vacation to Las Vegas with the money borrowed from Ray and Debra.
Mainly, though, the focus was on Robert's continuing efforts to play the field after separating from Amy (Monica Horan, wife of series co-creator Philip Rosenthal) and, in "She's the One," he meets an attractive Italian woman who is nice, caring, and thoughtful. When Raymond sees her eat a fly, he tries to tell Robert, who doesn't believe him, but when he goes back to her place, what he finds there is something that in this writer's humble opinion is one of the funnier moments in the show, and ends on a surprising note for everyone. Since Amy has a lot of face time in this season, it's only natural that we meet her parents, father Hank (Fred Willard, This is Spinal Tap) and mother Pat (Georgia Engel, Mary Tyler Moore), along with her brother, the flighty Peter (Chris Elliott, Groundhog Day). Robert's eventual wedding is a major source of material for virtually the last quarter of the season, including the meeting of the soon-to-be in-laws, the coordinating of the ceremony, and even the bachelor party. All put Garrett front and center as the subject of the episodes, which he manages to pull off quite well.
One of the better episodes of the season (and one of the most popular, at least that what the sticker on the package said) was "Baggage," possibly one of the best episodes of the show's entire run. In that one, Ray and Debra are locked in a battle of wills over who has to put a suitcase away; it's definitely up there in the less than 50 episodes I've seen. All in all, while the bloom was off the rose a little bit as I watched these episodes, it didn't really put me off watching the show, as the Robert storyline was funny, cute, and, most importantly, recurring.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
While I had a problem with Garrett's ham factor before, I really didn't feel it as much this time. The general tone (and volume) of the show was more tuned down, though sometimes, it can bother me when a cast has very little else to say, and they think the natural next step is to yell and overexaggerate on physical gestures. I didn't see those as much and I think, overall, it was a nice quiet season for Romano, cast, and crew.
Everybody Loves Raymond should be commended for breathing a new bit of vitality back into its creative lungs. While there may be times where some could think they're leaning on the Robert nuptials a little too hard in this season, I didn't have a problem with it. It distracted from the Romano family dynamic with Ray, Debra, and the kids that normally boils down to Ray yelling but not saying much. If you enjoy the show, feel free to add this to your multi-colored library of seasons sets produced by HBO.
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