Available at Amazon.com
Michael J. Weithorn
Kevin James …. Doug Heffernan
Leah Remini …. Carrie Heffernan
Jerry Stiller …. Arthur Spooner
Victor Williams …. Deacon Palmer
Patton Oswalt …. Spence Olchin
Gary Valentine …. Danny Heffernan
Merrin Dungey …. Kelly Palmer
Larry Romano …. Richie Iannucci
While the Television landscape in terms of sitcoms seems to have shifted in the last couple of years towards more unconventional fare like The Office and My name is Earl, it wasn’t that long ago that it seemed CBS completely ruled this particular roost with a couple of solid, traditional half hour comedies. While Everybody Loves Raymond received all the awards attention and high ratings, the Network’s The King of Queens provided a solid “one-two punch” for Raymond with its combination of goofy, but familiar characters and identifiable comedy. It’s this reliable formula for laughs that’s kept the show entertaining for so long, and why it’s still on the air to this day.
The show’s seventh season, now on DVD, is a prime example of the series’ winning equation. Kevin James is hilarious as Doug Heffernan, an everyman to the “nth degree” who spends his time off from being a delivery driver making his wife (Leah Remini) crazy with his childish antics while trying to avoid his Father In-law (Jerry Stiller) at all costs. Filled with episodes dealing with family issues, eating habits, and nagging wives, The King of Queens is a consistently enjoyable look at middle-class living, even when it goes a bit too over the top.
While Heffernan may be a bit of a slacker, Kevin James does some high-quality work as the character throughout these episodes. For example, the season premiere, “Lost Vegas” has Doug taking his wife Carrie to a weekend spa, just to get enough “credit” that she’ll let him go to Vegas for the following weekend. Watching James get to do some physical comedy is pretty fun, as Doug has to go through a series of torturous exercises, only to watch him squirm when Carrie discovers his plan.
My favorite episode of the season may be one entitled “Furious Gorge”, in which Doug is supposed to be going an over-eaters group, but ends up regularly going to a group for abused husbands because they have better food at their meetings. James is virtually in every scene of the episode and show’s off his great comic timing to terrific effect. Completely taking over the group, Doug makes Carrie out to be this group’s worst nightmare, which isn’t far off the truth when she finally finds out what’s going on.
Jerry Stiller and Leah Remini also do great work on the show, with Stiller’s Arthur Spooner being good for a laugh virtually every time he’s on screen. He’s amazing in the episode “Offtrack… Bedding”, in which he steps in when it looks like the marriage of Doug’s parents, is on the rocks. While showing Janet Heffernan (Jenny O’Hara) around town, Arthur constantly keeps a running tab of expenses to charge Doug when their dates are over, knowing the whole experience is driving his Son In-law crazy. Stiller’s delivery is as good as it ever was on Seinfeld and this is virtually the same role as he played on that show.
Remini is also rock solid on the series, never veering too far from the wife who is quite loving, but has a tendency to be overbearing. Episodes such as “Deconstructing Carrie”, “Name Dropper”, and “Black List” all play well to the actress’ strengths, especially “Name Dropper” in which Doug keeps forgetting the names of Carrie’s colleagues at work and even fakes a heart attack when confronted about it. This is classic case of Carrie having to deal with Doug’s antics while still not appearing too much like a shrew, even though her husband comes off like an uncaring idiot.
Just when you’re comfortable with the show, the writers will come up with some truly clever situations. I love the episodes “Awed Couple” and “Black List” which both deal with cheating and breakups in an interesting way. In “Awed Couple”, Carrie and Doug have to deal with being dumped by friends Deacon and Kelly (Victor Williams and Merrin Dungey) and quickly have to find a rebound. In “Black List”, Doug feels like he’s being cheated on by Deacon, when he finds that he’s hanging out with a guy that could be categorized as an African American version of Doug. Both episodes are inspired tweaks in formula that end up being great half hours of Television and exemplify why this show is so entertaining.
While the show will never reach a true measure of greatness in the same way that Seinfeld or Cheers reached, The King of Queens is an amusing show with funny characters and quite a bit of charm. The show never really lasts in your mind in the same way, but at the same time there are a lot of identifiable situations in amongst the zaniness that gives it real heart. With solid writing and fun acting, there’s no wonder the series has had the longevity it’s had, and really with efforts like this particular season, there’s no reason it couldn’t just keep going.
The DVD image looks fine, with decent clarity throughout. The colors are actually nice enough that the show looks better on disc than it did on TV. The show is presented in its original aspect ratio of Fullscreen 1.33:1.
The Audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds fine. This isn’t exactly Star Wars anything so don’t expect an awesome display of DVD quality, but the soundtrack its job quite well.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Previews.
Previews – You get trailers for the next season of Seinfeld, Boondocks, Open Season. That’s about it.