After a very successful first season, Everybody Loves Raymond returns for another season with twenty-five great episodes. The series is based upon the comical work of stand-up comedian Raymond Romano, which in turn is based upon some of the more hilarious aspects of his real life. The series itself is basically about an oddly arranged family, which makes for a great sitcom. Romano plays Ray Barone, a not-so-typical sports writer, husband, and father of three. He happens to live across the street from his neurotic parents and just plain weird brother. Romano brings a lot to his character, which is mainly a comical personality. Romano is a really funny guy. It really doesn't matter what he's talking about, since he just has the kind of voice that makes you laugh. His wife in the series is Debra Barone (Patricia Heaton). I wouldn't say that her character is particularly funny on her own, but she does provide some interaction with Raymond that provides a few quick laughs. The couple also has three kids, a girl and twin boys.
Living across the street we have the parents and the older brother. Frank Barone (Peter Boyle) is a really funny guy. He's role is Raymond's father, a cheapskate who lacks a way with words. His straight to the point demeanor makes him a really unique guy. The funniest part about his role is his interaction with his wife Marie Barone (Doris Roberts). The two have a love-hate relationship and are constantly ragging on each other. It's an extremely funny relationship. Finally, we have Robert Barone (Brad Garrett). He's a police officer who has always lived in the shadow of Raymond. It's really fun to hear his sarcastic comments about how everybody loves Raymond. The added jealous also makes for some great situations that should leave you laughing. Overall, the series has a strong cast, with each character bringing a fair amount to show's comical aspect.
In comparison to the first season, the second season isn't extremely different. It has the same cast and format. Like the first season, it works very well. The comedy of the second season feels very much the same and is just as entertaining as the first. Despite the lack of major changes, there is one subtle change. In the first season, the three Barone kids weren't really a big part of the show. However, in the second season they get a more attention. There are also a couple of references to the first season, where they reuse old jokes. Another small change in the second season is that a stronger emphasis on a couple of supporting roles. Great actors like Kevin James (The King of Queens make reoccurring appearances and manage to get in a few good jokes. Unfortunately, they aren't always used to their full potential. Despite these minor changes, the second season feels very much like the first. In some cases this can really hinder a series, but with Everybody Loves Raymond it works out fantastically.
The second season opens with a very strong episode that guest stars Kevin James, "Ray's on TV". Ray gets his first television appearance on a sports talk show. Unfortunately, Ray gets the pre-game jitters and manages to make a royal ass of himself. While his stink-tastic television performance is funny, the real comedy comes from how his family treats him. "Golf" is another episode that guest stars Kevin James and it includes some great comedy about lies, a guilty conscience, and of course, the game of golf. Perhaps one of the best episodes of the season is "Anniversary". It's a look into the Barone family past. On the day of Frank and Marie's fortieth anniversary, a truth gets revealed about their so-called-happy-marriage. There are more episodes that cover the past. In "High School", Debra drags Ray to his twentieth high school reunion and they both find out just what kind of "people" they were. Ray was such a nerd, it's great. "Mia Famiglia" is another funny episode where the Barone's get reacquainted with an almost perfect long lost relative. One of the best parts about the episode is that when the reacquainted family member shows up, the Barone start interacting differently. It's as if they're a whole different family.
In addition there are more great episodes. In general, they prove to be good because they exploit various comical aspects of the series. For instance "The Letter" plays off the severe indifferences that Debra and Marie constantly run into and turns it around completely on the family. The same basic idea reappears in "Good Girls", where Marie changes her opinion of Debra for the better she Ray tells her that Debra 'is' a virgin. "Traffic School" is another great episode, because it outlines Robert's jealousy of his brother Raymond and his general dissatisfaction with the family. The other episodes in this season are great. They take advantage of every different aspect about this neurotic family and the way they interact to generate some really hilarious content. Each episode offers many moments of fun and has very high replay value. Fans of the first season should be delightfully happy with the result. On that note, if Everybody Loves Raymond has never caught your fancy, jumping in on the second season probably won't workout for you.