I have done a few of these by now but I want to try something a little different here, and put more analysis in this analytical review. I hope you guys like it.Â Today let’s take a look at a show I just love analyzing over and over :
Since this weekend is The Super Bowl,Â I wanted to review a Super Bowl related episode. But I don’t want to just review it, I want to try to really analyze just how/why this episode’s writing could have failed so hard.
Aired Jan 29, 2001
Plot Synopsis-Ray gets tickets to The Super Bowl and invites his friend, upsetting his entire family. When he discovers that everyone brought their wives, he brings Debra down. Unfortunately things go from bad to worst.Â (I know this is brief but we’ll cover everything in the final thoughts)
Best Line-“Come on, Gianni, it’s just that Debra does a lot. She deserves to have a little vacation. And if there’s any chance at having hotel sex tonight, I’d just as soon have her in the room instead of you!”….Ray
Nitpick of the Episode-Um, lots to say in Final Thoughts
Standout Character-Ray, mostly by process of elimination
Episode Fun Fact-This episode aired the day after Super Bowl XXXV on CBS (more on this just below) where Baltimore beat the New York Giants in Tampa.
Final Thoughts-So let’s be fair off the bat. It’s more than possible this episode was network mandated. CBS had the Super Bowl that year and they wanted their #1 comedy to have a tie in, so the creators rushed this in and didn’t really put a lot of thought into it. This happens a lot for The Super Bowl and usually these episodes suck. Friends and 3rd Rock had Super Bowl episodes which were so over bloated that fans hated them, whereas Home Improvement and Seinfeld at least kept their episodes in step with the series. But they’re still weak. Oh and yes, I am by no means a professional writer. But all that being said, this episode is just badly written! I don’t mean the dialogue but the premise is just…dumb. Let’s go through it and I’ll explain what I mean. What I want to do is run through the plot, and see if I can figure out what the creators were thinking and/or how it could have been better in my opinion.
Ok we open with the teaser where we find Ray watching football with his brother and father and friend Gianni while Marie and Debra are doing, whatever in the kitchen. A phone call comes in and Ray discovers he is being sent to cover the Super Bowl and has an extra ticket. Who does he invite? Gianni! Probably because he happened to be standing there. Sigh. And we stop right there, before the first commercial break! Why? Why did Ray do that? He didn’t even pretend to consider anyone else. Why in the world would Gianni be his first choice? He tells Robert it was because it was the only fair choice, except we see him not give it a moments thought.
Naturally everyone is upset, but it’s too late. And that’s it for Robert and Frank for the episode. Uh yeah, I prefer them to the always annoying Gianni. The idea of the family being mad at Ray for not inviting them was a good one, but it lasts five minutes and the rest of the episode is really filler. Why not have it be Robert, and do the (admittedly cliche) gag of having things bad happen to him the whole time? By the way we never get any closure to when/why Robert and Frank got over not being invited. The episode treats the family like they were minor supporting characters rather than the focus of the series! No instead we get Ray and Gianni standing around while the other reporters walk around with their wives. Um, is Ray THAT stupid? The fact the husbands brought their wives was such a shock? Duh! Even worst, then he drags Debra down to Tampa even though he has already explained why she isn’t there! Why?? What the hell is he hoping to prove? Why couldn’t the episode just be Ray and Debra in Tampa? Because really, Gianni is nothing but a plot device here. We’ll come back to this.
Believe it or not, the episode has hit the half way point and still has not gotten to the conflict of the episode. Nope that arrives with Debra, and man does it get dumber from here. So let’s get into it. Another couple knock on their door, and Debra is invited by another wife to go to a crafts fair while the guys go golfing. It is made clear that this is what happens, the wives go off and the husbands hang out and golf (and work)….and of course Debra throws a hissy fit. Why did we need this other couple in this scene? Did the creators not realize that this made Debra look like a massive snob? I just don’t get it. Debra is upset because she thought Ray invited her down so they could actually spend time together. Ok that makes sense….but Debra shrugging off the other wife the way she does just makes me hate her, not have sympathy for her!
But no this launches into a whole argument about why Ray doesn’t like spending time with Debra. Geez good thing they had this fight, it’s not as if there aren’t several other episodes with the same basic argument! Oh but wait, we need Ray to do something different. When Ray insists he wants to spend to spend time with Debra she starts packing. So what does Ray do? To convince Debra he wants to spend time with her he rips up the Super Bowl tickets! Obviously this is what the whole setup was leading to and it’s stupid! It’s not funny or dramatic..it’s just lame. And when he rips the tickets up she yells at him for making her feel like a selfish person even though she clearly forced the issue.Â Before destroying the tickets Ray tells her he will spend the day with her. So her bitching worked! She won! Rather than accept that she pouts and starts packing to go home.
Apparently it was OK for her to be selfish and take the experience away but only as long as she didn’t feel guilty, which Ray caused her to feel because her whining caused him to give up something he really wanted to do, The Super Bowl of course. That’s another way she is awful here, I love how she puts her needs aside since this was in many ways his weekend. He’s right when he says she was never supposed to be there, but I guess she can only let him enjoy himself as long as it doesn’t conflict with what she wants I guess. She kind of says this very thing when she is rationalizing why she is angry, and then says screw it and starts packing to go home. Debra acts like she has never met Ray before in this scene! Wow what a shock, he’s an idiot who doesn’t pick up on things. Amazing! And why wouldn’t he have expected her to go along with what all the other wives are doing? Seems like a logical conclusion to me. All she had to say was no, not have a hissy fit about it! And why didn’t they discuss this the night before? Oh wait, because then we wouldn’t have had a contrivance to cause them to fight. Of course.
The fight might have been OK if it had been built up during the episode rather than shoehorned in. Maybe if they removed that couple and Gianni and for example during Act 1 we just saw Ray ignoring Debra by doing things like leaving her in the hotel room alone or something. Then her getting upset might have worked. I would have been sympathetic to that. Instead the plot is so forced. This story was actually conceived by Mike Royce who has lots of writing credits. Guess how many story credits he has? Just this one. Which gives support to my theory they just rushed this together with no real thought. Ray Romano himself was all over this story and per IMDB this is the only story/teleplay credit he has in the whole series!! What does that say?
The episode ends with Ray and Debra sitting on the bed, Ray sad that he destroyed the tickets while Debra is mad at him for destroying the tickets.Â Oh and the fact that Gianni’s plans were ruined is thrown in at the end, he has been forgotten by this point. So what does this episode accomplish? Nothing, Ray gets everyone mad at him and he misses the big game. The end. There is no follow up of any kind. I guess Gianni and his family forgot this and despite what he says in this episode Ray continues to disregard Debra after this. Why did he hate spending time with her so much anyway? Well that’s a tangent for another day and this has gone on enough.Â By the way, the tag is the one laugh in the whole show. We simply see Ray watching the game on TV with Debra napping on him…and with Gianni glaring at Ray. It’s a good visual gag and the truth is, no words are needed.
Grade-C-,Â a bad episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. It just makes Ray and Debra look like two terrible people (worst than usual anyway). I guess the only good thing I can say is that while bad, it’s not the worst.