Back in October I talked about how I was returning Analytical Episode Guide after the first of the year. Well, we’re a week into January so here we go! I explained the focus but in case you missed that article, for the next several months I will be looking over:
So, why this show? I could say that it was because it isn’t that old and I think is more familiar than other stuff. But the real reason is because this show fascinates me! It isn’t that remarkable, and yet got critical praise and tons of awards when it was on. I should hate it, these characters are awful, and yet I love the show. Why? I have talked about how much I hate Debra, but a lot of women I know roll their eyes at Ray and call him an idiot. Which he is. I think this show is popular because we recognize these characters, whether we want to admit or not, and these situations. I have a lot to say about this and despite attempts in other articles I still have never covered the series as well as I’d like. Here I intend to discuss less on story and more character analysis. In most cases, the stories aren’t really that remarkable. Oh sure they’re well written but still. It’s these characters that interest me. Why is Marie so bossy? Why is Frank so angry? Is Robert really second banana or does he just like playing the victim? Is Debra really a witch, or is she entitled to be moody living with an idiot like Ray? Why is Ray so damn horny??
Like with the Friends guide I will review all the episode on each DVD at a time. Also I’ll try to release these two a week so that this doesn’t go on until September. The only change will be that unlike Friends and Seinfeld the DVD are split into five rather than four. So one article will probably end one season and start another. We’ll see as we proceed. I was hoping to say I was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the show’s premiere, but I guess I’m a year late to that party. One last note, if you remember my Halloween article I said I was going to dedicate a part every episode to pick on Debra. I decided not to do that, since to be fair there are plenty of episodes where she is likable. Oh I’ll pick on her when she deserves it, but I don’t see the need to bully her.
Everybody Loves Raymond premiered on Sep. 13, 1996 and was not an instant hit. Watching the first season it isn’t hard to see why.
Season 1, Episode 1
Plot Summary-Debra wants Ray to tell his parents not to come for her birthday. A task Ray finds more than a little difficult. After lying to them to keep them away, they arrive anyway forcing Ray to tell them that just because they’re neighbors doesn’t mean they can barge over all the time. Yeah, right.
Nitpick of the episode- Thank goodness the friend we see in this episode, Leo, never appears again. What a jerk, expecting Ray to dump his kids so he can run out for pizza. Yeah the guys probably single, but maybe he should learn about delivery!
Best Line- “Everybody loves Raymond. When I go to work, people shoot at me. When Ray goes to work, people do the wave”, Robert getting into character right off the bat.
Episode Fun Fact-Honestly this category may disappear, but for now I can point out the clearly rushed opening title sequence which never appeared again after this episode. The two twin boys are not only played by different kids but they have different names in the episode. And in fact the pilot used the set from the TV show “Martin” rather than the set we would know and love after this episode.
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Syndication Edit-Ray playing with the kids when Leo comes over
Best Character-Marie, if you’ve never seen the scene where Marie scolds Ray about the fruit of the month you have to see it. It’s fantastic.
Worst Character-Debra, yeah I know it’s a pilot and she needs to be exasperated at Ray’s family to get the exposition out. And this isn’t the first time she will do this, at all, but the way she makes Ray stand up to his family but refuses to back him up pisses me off.
Final Thoughts-This episode is ok, you can tell it’s mostly recycling Ray Romano’s standup routine. Which is sure not unusual for pilots of shows involving standup’s comedians. In fact the stand-up is littered through the first season. Actually Ray and Debra are a bit off, especially Ray who is in full wimp mode which he will have most of the season. Also Debra exposits facts about Ray’s family which make sense in a pilot but after 200+ episodes is boring. But Marie and Frank are pretty much on target. Course Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle are pro’s. Robert is not quite there yet either, the first season he acted almost autistic with his weird mannerisms. Thankfully he would trim down and act better more the way we like him by the start of Season 2. As far as pilot’s go, this sets things up very nice. And the fruit of the month bit is so hilarious that it probably sold the show all by itself.
Grade-B, solid average episode.
Season 1, Episode 2
I Love You
Plot Summary-Ray tries to figure out why he has so much trouble saying I Love You.
Nitpick of the episode-Frank is pretty much on character but after Ray tells him he loves him, Frank is crying about it. Yeah….no. Frank even hugs Ray which a later episode will establish NEVER happened before.
Best Line-“What do you live in, a freckin’ Fairy Land or something?”, Frank in the first of what will be many memorable lines I’m sure
Episode Fun Fact-When I have nothing I will just say the air date. I should mention this episode has the standard opening sequence that all season one had. In this case, the family on a conveyer belt while Ray describes them.
Syndication Edit-Ray and Debra giving the kids a bath
Best Character-Ray, obsessing is what he does best
Worst Character-Marie, one thing to be nosy about things laying around loose. But vandalizing a locked desk drawer is kind of crossing the line. It was a throwaway joke but it really defines the character
Final Thoughts-This episode is one of the most forgettable episodes of the series. I’ve seen it, but can hardly remember anything in it. This episode establishes a pattern that happens in the first season. An issue comes up and Ray ends up getting blamed and apologizing, even if it wasn’t really his fault. I’ll comment more on this as we go but the series tried really hard to make Ray bad guy every episode. Thankfully that didn’t last past the first year. One thing established here that takes is Ray’s need to bounce every problem off of his parents.
Season 1, Episode 3
I Wish I Were Gus
Plot Summary-After a relative dies Marie refuses to attend the funeral because her sister Alda will be there, the sisters have been fighting since Ray and Debra’s wedding, force Ray to mediate between the two.
Nitpick of the episode-You see lots of things in early episodes that are so out of place in the rest of the series that it’s amazing. For instance, in this episode we see Marie and Frank have a TV in the kitchen! Suffice to say that would disappear very fast. Maybe one reason the TV is there is because Frank and Marie’s living room wouldn’t appear until the next year. For all season one there was just a kitchen.
Best Line-“If you don’t forgive Aunt Alda no one at this funeral is going to have a good time.”…Ray
Episode Fun Fact-Aired Sept 27, 1996
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Syndication Edit-The teaser where Ray comes home from work and makes a joke. Pretty pointless scene easily lost. Also Alda’s complains about the wedding spread to some of the mourners.
Best Character-Ray, I kind of like the eulogy he gives
Worst Character-Alda, yeah it’s probably not going to happen often that a guest character will make it on here. But I hated this woman, and I’ll explain more in the next section.
Final Thoughts-Ugh, season one. What was the point of this episode? Maybe it was meant to explore Marie’s character a bit, to bad her sister would never be mentioned again in the series. Of course Ray has to mediate, and then there is the B story about ally drawing a Hitler moustache on Michael. This is funny, how? My biggest gripe is we learn that Alda threw a hissy fit at Ray and Debra’s wedding regarding where she was sitting, and still hadn’t even sent a gift! Uh, yeah totally on Marie’s side on this one!! Why is Ray even trying to mediate between the two? The message is lost when Alda comes off as a big baby. I don’t even get it, why blame Marie for the wedding didn’t Ray and Debra plan their own wedding?
Grade-C-, what the hell?
Season 1, Episode 4
Plot Summary-Robert uses Ray and Debra as guinea pigs on an IQ test, but when the results come in Ray uses his stupidity for sympathy from Debra. That is until Robert reveals he may have mixed the results up.
Nitpick of the episode-I don’t like the way they make distinctions over who is smarter and who is stupid. I could see a group of friends doing that, but family doing it seems a little mean spirited.
Best Line–“I don’t want my brain measured! It’s gotten me this far”…Frank
Episode Fun Fact-Aired October 4, 1996
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode.
Syndication Edit-The teaser with Ray worrying in the shower
Best Character-Robert, four episodes in and we finally start seeing signs of the character we would eventually get
Worst Character-Ray, yeah tricking Debra like that isn’t nice.
Final Thoughts-This is an episode that may have been better served later in the series run. It hadn’t really been established at this point that Debra is smarter than Ray. And I also get the feeling that they had to stretch for time since the second half kind of meanders along. At first it’s about Ray milking things to get what he wants, and the Robert switches things so Ray thinks he is smarter. This lasts a whole scene. And there’s plenty of filler.
Grade-B-, Only decent episode in this bunch
Season 1, Episode 5
Look, Don’t Touch
Plot Summary-Ray can’t help drooling at the new waitress at Nemo’s
Nitpick of the episode-A lot of episode this year will try to blame Ray for things even though clearly it wasn’t his fault. This is not one of those episodes.
Best Line-“Oh Nemo’s Nemo’s, yeah. Might have been a waitress over there. Even though we usually go to the counter. But today Nemo forced us into this table, where the waitresses go. So we had to have a waitress. Not *have* a waitress. We uh we had waitress service.”…Ray sounding like a bumbling idiot.
Episode Fun Fact-Aired October 11, 1996
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Syndication Edit-The teaser
Best Character-Debra, thank goodness we get patient Debra in Season One or Ray would have heard a lot more yelling in this episode.
Worst Character-Ray, no contest here
Final Thoughts-This episode is just so, stupid. I will be talking about this a lot but one of the things that defines Ray is that he still acts like a teenager in many ways. He’s solely responsible for all the bad stuff in this episode because he’s so worried about Debra finding out he was looking at the waitress. If it’s such a big deal, don’t look! Or, heaven forbid, don’t lie to your wife! And the way Debra gets the tray dumped on her is the epitome of contrived, what waitress in any restaurant will ask a customer to help them with a tray like that? And why did Angelina remember Ray liked parmesan and rush to get it when the pizza hadn’t even arrived, why not put the food and drinks down first?? I hate this episode.
Man I’ll be happy when season 1 is done, but we got a few episode to do before that. I’ll be back with some more in a few days.