Sit­com knows how to sat­isfy by be­ing silly

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

DUR­ING the past decade sit­coms have been fairly uni­form. The guy is fat, in­con­sid­er­ate and child­ish. The wo­man is hot­ter and long- suf­fer­ing.

Worse, it’s a sit­com dy­namic that has been around since 1955 when Jackie Glea­son’s Ralph Kram­den reg­u­larly threat­ened his wife with do­mes­tic abuse for comic ef­fect, and the set- up has rarely been funny since. Such shows feel like cookie- cut­ter sit­coms, re­ly­ing on lazy stereo­types of the dif­fer­ence be­tween the sexes, which is a topic that ranks right up there with air­craft food for well­trod­den jokes.

The King of Queens was one of the first of the con­tem­po­rary wave of this type of sit­com, but it has re­ally grown on me. It didn’t seem that promis­ing when it be­gan in 1998 but, let’s face it, that was a decade in which Se­in­feld and Friends set a high bench­mark for television com­edy.

Frankly, we didn’t know how good we had it, so we could af­ford to pooh­pooh a sit­com that didn’t match those lofty stan­dards. Dur­ing a sit­com drought — My Name is Earl and How I Met Your Mother may be ex­cel­lent, but they’re ba­si­cally the only first- run prime- time sit­coms to air dur­ing the rat­ings pe­riod — The King of Queens doesn’t look so bad.

In Aus­tralia the show has tended to be sched­uled dur­ing the sum­mer dol­drums, but in the US it was one of the year’s higher rat­ing sit­coms, even in its ninth and fi­nal sea­son.

The show deals with Doug ( Kevin James), a de­liv­ery man, and his wife Car­rie ( Leah Rem­ini) who, as the ti­tle sug­gests, live in the New York City bor­ough of Queens.

Early episodes dealt with the fact that Car­rie’s ec­cen­tric fa­ther, played by Jerry Stiller, lived with the cou­ple, but now he tends to waft briefly into the show, pro­vide a gag and leave, which is just as well since in- laws may out­rank even air­craft food in the com­edy cliche chart.

There are two fac­tors that re­ally lift The King of Queens , both of which are in ev­i­dence in this episode. The first is that it is not afraid to be silly for a laugh, such as in Doug’s story- line, which deals with a war with a ri­val courier com­pany and in­cludes a par­ody of The Ma­trix in a pub brawl.

The other is that The King of Queens de­liv­ers a serve of I Love Lucy with The Hon­ey­moon­ers . Car­rie can be just as nutty as Doug and doesn’t just nag from the side­line, such as in this episode where she men­tors a trou­bled teenage girl and leads her astray. Rem­ini pulls off the long- suf­fer­ing and the mis­be­hav­ing so well she rarely plays sec­ond fid­dle to James.

Since Nine has about two weeks worth of episodes left and this show was the last re­main­ing from the 1990s sit­com boom, it may be an idea to take your laughs when you can get them.

Ker­rie Mur­phy

Low- rent rules: Leah Rem­ini, Kevin James and Jerry Stiller

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