While the series doesn't match up to either classic, "'Til Death" strikes me as a mixture of elements of "Seinfeld" and "Married...With Children". The series stars Brad Garrett ("Everybody Loves Raymond") and Joely Fisher ("Desperate Housewives") as Eddie and Joy Stark, a couple who have been together for nearly 25 years and have long since past that point where they've become mildly irritated by one another. However, there's still love there and the two continue to make the most of it, despite battles over petty arguments (in one episode, whether the toaster is still using electricity when it's plugged in and turned off) and tossing the occasional bitter one-liner at one another.
In the opening episode, Steph (Kat Foster) and Jeff (Eddie Kay Thomas) Woodcock move in next door. Recently married, the two are still in the phase where they are all over one another, which doesn't exactly sit well with the Starks. Jeff is the new vice principal and Eddie is a teacher at the same school, and it's not long before Eddie becomes a reluctant mentor to Jeff, giving him questionable advice about how to handle his marriage.
The series, from "King of Queens" co-creators (and "What Women Want" and "13 Going on 30" screenwriters) Jeff Goldsmith and Kathy Yespa, isn't anything new, but it's an appealingly snappy and bitter little series in a time where sitcoms are often sunshine and happy endings. Garrett and Fisher perfectly play the kind of couple who not only aren't pleased with the idea of people who are happier than they are within their territory (see the Darcys vs. the Bundys in "Married..."), but are awkward when having to be forced to socialize (the kind of anti-social tone of "Seinfeld", a series that often talked about the lack of need for new friends and how being there for current friends was kind of a "maybe.")
Foster and Thomas are also marvelous as the Woodcocks, as the two perfectly play the kind of bland, chirpy yuppies who, despite their best attempts, are occasionally pulled into the sourness of their older neighbors. While the series doesn't get sentimental about it, the two couples obviously see one another in each other: the Woodcocks are rather horrified that this could be their future, while the Starks wonder when it was they stopped being like the Woodcocks.
"'Til Death" isn't terribly original, but the cast works the enjoyably bitter material superbly, especially Garrett and Thomas, who are two polar opposites that play off one another marvelously. I've grown to like this series quite a bit, and am pleased to see it's coming back for a second season.
1. 1- 1 7 Sep 06 Pilot
2. 1- 2 14 Sep 06 Sex for Furniture
3. 1- 3 21 Sep 06 The Ring
4. 1- 4 28 Sep 06 The Wood Pile
5. 1- 5 2 Nov 06 The Garage Band
6. 1- 6 9 Nov 06 Your Mother or Your Wife
7. 1- 7 16 Nov 06 Dream Weaver
8. 1- 8 30 Nov 06 Death Sex
9. 1- 9 14 Dec 06 The Toaster
10. 1-10 21 Dec 06 Daddy's Girl
11. 1-11 4 Jan 07 The Anniversary Party
12. 1-12 11 Jan 07 The Hockey Lie
13. 1-13 18 Jan 07 Fight Friend
14. 1-14 1 Feb 07 The Colleague
15. 1-15 8 Feb 07 The Bachelor Party
16. 1-16 15 Feb 07 The Italian Affair
17. 1-17 14 Mar 07 The Clay Date
18. 1-18 21 Mar 07 I Heart Woodcocks
19. 1-19 28 Mar 07 The Coffeemaker
20. 1-20 4 Apr 07 That's Ridiculous
21. 1-21 11 Apr 07 Webby's Not Happy
22. 1-22 11 Apr 07 Summer of Love
VIDEO: "'Til Death" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation did show some slight artifacting here-and-there in darker scenes, but the majority of the episodes looked crisp, clean and clear. No edge enhancement was spotted, either. Colors looked bright and warm, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: "'Til Death" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is a purely comedy mix, with understandably little for the surrounds to do. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and no distortion or other issues.
EXTRAS: "Behind the Scenes of 'Til Death", "Brad Garrett on the Set" featurette, Bloopers, "'Til Death: The Wedding" and DVD-ROM link to a sneak peek of season 2.
Final Thoughts: I've grown to like this series quite a bit during its first season (the material is pretty good, and the great ensemble cast elevates it) and am pleased to see it's coming back for a second season. The DVD presentation offers solid audio/video quality, as well as a nice set of extras. Recommended.