MSRP: $39.95
RUNNING TIME: 491 Minutes
• Nada

The Pitch

“It’s just like The Honeymooners, except with 50% less spousal abuse!”

The Humans

Kevin James, Leah Remini, Jerry Stiller, Patton Oswalt, Nicole Sullivan

The Nutshell

Meet Doug Heffernan! He’s a working-class schlub from Rego Park, Queens with a hot wife, an overbearing father, and more wacky adventures than you can-

Jesus, I hate myself when I talk like this.

"So, if you’re, like, "incredible" and all, how come your hearing gets all fucked up when you Hulk out?"

The Lowdown

There’s actually something rather quaint about The King of Queens. You see, it’s a three-camera setup, laugh-track crazy, punchline-heavy television sitcom. I don’t see this as a slight, necessarily; it’s just following the same format that sitcoms have been using for fifty-odd years. Plug in Jackie Gleason here or Donna Reed there, and it’d be indistinguishable from those programs. It’s formulaic, completely predictable television.

But I mean that in a good way. This DVD set is a big ole’ comfort blanket of cathode ray entertainment. You know exactly what to expect, and the show delivers without fail. Again, I know, this might seem like a bad thing, but hold tight. I’ll try to explain better. While the setup, format, and overall look of The King of Queens is standard, the actors lift the whole show from the morass of weekly nighttime sitcoms. I think any show that includes Jerry Stiller in its cast is moving in the right direction, and this one is no exception. Sure, his Arthur Spooner is only a few degrees removed from Frank Costanza, but you know what? I don’t give a fuck. His shtick worked on Seinfeld, and it works here. I normally find Patton Oswalt and Nicole Sullivan about as tolerable as that little twat who used to lip-synch for Pepsi years ago, but here they work. Something about the routine of the sitcom winds them down, makes them less grating, I guess.

Jerry Stiller is Brock Landers in Angels Live in My Town 18: We Might Be Angels, So How Come We Need Viagra to Pop a Hard-On?

At the end of the day, though, the reason this show works is because of the chemistry between Kevin James and Leah Remini. Remini’s playing a caricature here, to be sure: The Hot Ass Wife of the No-Class Fatso. She never really breaks free of it, but I ain’t bitchin’ ‘bout it; she’s hot as shit and sassy (even if she does bow to Lord Zenu) and can fire off a one-liner with the best of them. And then there’s her Fatso in question. You talk about television clichés, the Working-Class Sitcom Schlub is right up there with the Grating Know-It-All Brood and the Implausibly Fuckable Lab Technician. But James rises above it. He’s effortlessly funny and good-natured, and you’re with the show because of him—no matter how stupid Doug may act (and he acts very, VERY stupid at times), James grounds him so he always seems at least somewhat plausible. Some of you want to see I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry because of Jessica Biel’s ass. I want to see it because of Kevin James.

This season, their eighth, is chock-a-block with good stuff. You got Oswalt and James wrestling. You got Doug pretending to have a job to sleep with Carrie. You got a surprisingly funny Ray Romano and Doug trying to be hip and failing miserably, and For The Love of God, you got Sirs Lou Ferrigno and Adam West popping up. It’s almost enough to wash the Kirstie Alley-cameo stink off the season…

If you’re a fan of single camera, no laugh-track, “edgy” comedies like Scrubs or 30 Rock or The Office (yes, I am a fan and YES, NBC paid me $3000 to plug their entire Thursday night line-up), then you might want to pass on this. It’s none of those things, and it doesn’t even try and subvert the “normal” sitcom format like Seinfeld did. But it’s pleasant and funny and doesn’t task a goddamn thing in your brain, and that stands for something too.

At least, in my book it does.

"-I’m Adam West and I want answers, dammit.  You say Christopher Reeve isn’t paralyzed?  What is this, Bizarro World?
-What the…I only asked if I could turn on the radio!  Oh God, please don’t kill me."

The Package

This is last year’s season, so the sound and picture quality are really pretty decent. Sound’s good but unimpressive, and the picture’s a little better than that: the image is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. There’s a little pixilation, but nothing too distracting. The box sells the show off James, Remini, and Stiller, which is a smart idea, even if it looks a bit too much like the opening credits for Jungle Fever.

Special features: nil. Moving along…

The King of Queens isn’t going to change the world, but it’s funny and charming enough so I don’t care. This season was a good one, and if you’re a fan, you’ll probably want to pick it up. I don’t even fault the lack of special features so much because I don’t care enough about this show to learn about its making. It’s solid TV, nothing more, nothing less.

"Yeah, I’m sure that ice-pop’s wonderful and all, but have you seen this marvelous clit-headed monstrocity over here?"

7.5 out of 10