Goodnight Raymond

For the first time in years I watched a series finale and didn’t feel bad for doing it.

CBS turned the lights off on “Everybody Loves Raymond” tonight and unless you followed this show (and maybe even if you did) you wouldn’t have noticed anything special.

In case you missed it: Raymond had to have his adenoids taken out. Not an especially big deal but you still have to go under the anesthesia and the knife. Of course his mom is worried sick and forces the whole family to go to the hospital. While she steps out, the nurse comes in and tells Debra (Ray’s wife) that Ray is having trouble coming out of the anesthesia.

Now at this point I wondered. Were the writers going to kill off Ray? Did the Seinfeld writers jump in to help with the script or what???

Debra’s beside herself. Frank (Ray’s dad) is worried and so is Robert (Ray’s jealous brother).

Seconds later the doctor comes out and says everything is fine. The show goes on as the rest of the family tries to keep this scary moment a secret from Ray and Marie (Ray’s mom).

It was a funny episode (Frank says “Hey, while he’s down there get the doc to check all of the other roids”) but it was also poignant. Debra, Frank and Robert evaluate what life would be like without Ray around.

Don’t get me wrong, there was more comedy than drama in this final episode but it seemed to hit all of the right notes. The ending segment was very fitting and will remind everyone watching the episode in syndication years from now that “this was the last one”.

The whole family was gathered around the breakfast table taking bites out of each other’s french toast. There were laughs among the cast as the camera slowly pulled away.

It wasn’t as memorable as “Farewell Goodbye and Amen” (MASH) and it didn’t have the tug at the heart like “Cheers” or “The Wonder Years”. It didn’t have the big payoff like “Newhart” but it was far better than “Friends” or “Seinfeld”.

And what will happen to the CBS lineup on monday nights? “Two and a Half Men” can’t carry the night like Ray did. “Yes Dear” jumped the shark years ago and will likely hang around only for another year or so. There’s a rumor that the Ray cast sans Ray and Debra may return for their own sitcom but I doubt it. Monday nights on CBS could become just another night of reality television which would be the saddest part of tonight’s farewell.

Sitcoms seem to be going the way of variety shows in the 1970s.

Life without Ray, and traditional situation comedies: Fans will have to get used to it.



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