The 22 episode DVD box set of ‘Til Death The Complete First Season more than proves it is the little things that make a situation comedy interesting and funny and there are lots and lots of these little things in this sitcom. We get quite a few sitcom DVD box sets here and few have as many solid episodes so Til Death The Complete First Season is certainly a keeper.
What makes ‘Til Death work is how original this sitcom is in how it deals with its stories. The premise of this Brad Garrett post Everybody Loves Raymond sitcom is Eddie and Joy Stark (Joely Fisher) have been married for a long time and happily so until a newlywed couple, the Woodcocks, move next door and all their lovey dovey stuff and innocent questions has the Starks look at their relationship a bit. This sets up many funny situations that the writers make fresh and a great fun to watch -I especially liked the stunt bookshelf in show 4. There are also a lot of really great short bits in this show, such as when Eddie explains the true origins and motivation of golf to his so innocent newlywed neighbor. The show's music, however, has got to go. I am also not a big fan of the munchkin interviews that sometimes open the show.
I remember catching this sitcom's second episode, Sex For Furniture, and loving it but for some reason forgot to tune in after that. Watching the 3 DVDs of ‘Til Death The Complete First season box set really made me want to make sure I catch this show again when the new TV season starts up later this year. The cast is solid. Brad Garrett, who by the way was great as Jackie Gleason in the biopic, plays a totally different character from his Raymond days and, something few sitcom second bananas manage to do in their next series, plays his new character differently. Joely Fisher is really good as Garrett's wife though as TV wives go she does have a bit of Debra Barone in her. What surprises me is how good the very, very young looking Eddie Kaye Thomas is as Jeff Woodcock, Garrett's love stuff nemesis if you will, though it is hard to buy him as a high school vice principal, almost as hard to buy as the show's music.
Garrett's Eddie Stark is a somewhat tired man with a rather, some would say pessimistic some would say timeworn realistic, view of life and love. He tries to teach Jeff Woodcock a few lessons about being a married man but more often than not these lessons (such as the Sex For Furniture episode where Eddie Stark discovers a wife can buy furniture without her husband's approval even if she has not bribed him with sex first) fail. The Starks are a fun couple though because it is clear they still love each other even if a lot of that love has become pretty day to day stuff.
Of the many great situation comedy episodes in Til Death The Complete First Season personal favorites, aside from the Sex For Furniture show, include The Wood Pile where Joy complains about her husband having too much wood and never doing anything with it, Your Mother Or Your Wife where Jeff Woodcock's mother visits the newlyweds and allows Eddie to educate his neighbor on the fine balance between loving your wife and your mother without your wife getting angry.
Also excellent was the episode The Toaster where Eddie and Joy argue about if unplugging a toaster saves electricity. It is the little things in life that drive people nuts and, in this case, this little argument that drives the Starks stark raving mad.
There are many other really good shows in the Til Death DVD set of The Complete First Season. I especially liked the way the show's writers used the premise of the daughter being home from college for the holidays and made it into a funny and original show that questions Eddie's dark side but shows how far a father will go for his daughter's approval. In fact the Stark's daughter, played by Kristen Ritter, is quite an addition.
The only show I thought was below standard was The Hockey Lie: it doesn't have the same energy or originality as the rest otherwise Til Death The Complete First Season box set is really great fun. The episode selection process however is not the most user friendly and a few extras such as a blooper reel would have been nice. The show's music has got to go.