Everybody Loves Raymond is based on the work of stand-up comedian Raymond Romano. 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. His wife is Debra Barone (Patricia Heaton). In past reviews I have commented that she is not particularly funny on her own, but since season three I have noticed she has been getting quite a few good jokes in. The couple also has three kids, a girl Ally and twin boys Geoffrey and Michael. They have never really been a big part of the show, but this season has a few episodes about them. Of course, they all more or less lead back to Ray and Debra. The other characters include Ray's father Frank (Peter Boyle), 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 (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 (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 jealousy 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. For more details about this series please refer to my first season, second season, third season, fourth season reviews.
Season five has twenty-five wonderful episodes that follow in the tradition of the series, they are absolutely funny. The season opens with the exciting two-part episode "Italy". Marie has been putting aside money for a while now and she wants to use the money to pay for a family trip to Rome, Italy. Everyone is excited about the vacation, except Raymond who is a sour grape about the matter. He doesn't want to leave and fails to see how the beauty of Italy can compare to sitting on the couch watching TV. Ray's attitude becomes a great little joke in the episode, because he is consistently miserable and in effect brining Debra down. "Italy" also introduces a new reprised role Stefania, a love interest for Robert. We'll talk more about her in the next paragraph. Needless to say, her character adds some sticky situations for Robert. Another fun part about this episode is the people the Barone's stay with, Colleta and Giorgio, a married couple who are the Italian-native versions of Marie and Frank. "Italy" turns out to be a fun way to start the season. It was a nice change of pace after the same settings and atmospheres.
This season should be called Robert's season of love. After the trip to Italy in the episode "Meant To Be", Robert finds himself in several pseudo-relationships. Robert and Amy have had some problems and are separated, but they are trying to work things out. At the same time, Robert has been talking with his evil ex-wife Joanne and he's believes they have a shot at getting back together. Meanwhile, Stefania is waiting for Robert in Italy. With three girls, Robert must choose one. Illogically, he decides to pursue all avenues. This, of course, turns into quite a sticky situation for Robert.
Several episodes down the line, Stefania comes back into the picture in "Stefania Arrives". Marie arranges for her and her father to come to the United States. Robert gets a chance to know her better and decides that there are a few too many things about her he can't stand. They breakup, but it's a riot to watch them build up to it. Later "Let's Fix Robert" has both Stefania and Amy teaming up against Robert. Marie gets them to sit down together and build a list about what's wrong with Robert. Two ex-girlfriends together, that's something no guy ever wants.
"Young Girl" is another episode that falls into Robert's season of love. In this episode he starts dating a twenty-two year old girl and the family's reaction is priceless. The story has plenty of more little details that will make you laugh.
This season also presents a chance for more background on Debra's parents Lois (Katherine Helmond) and Warren (Robert Culp). In past seasons we have been exposed to them as the perfect couple, well to do, cultured snobs. In "Fighting In-Laws" the reality of their relationship is revealed and we learn that the way they act is just a facade. It's a serious matter, but the story details it in a humorous manner because it leaves the impression that Marie and Frank's odd love-hate relationship is healthy.
There are a few fun episodes that deal with the kids. Of course, the real meat of the stories is still about Ray. In "Pet Cemetery" Ray accidentally kills Ally's hamster Pumpernickel. This episode gets ridiculous as Ray and Robert try to cover up the incident. "Fairies" is a riotous episode about Geoffrey and Michael. The story details parenting issues and how raising children liberally versus conservatively affect their sexual orientation. The twins have a part in the school play as fairies. The Barone family gets in a discussion with Frank freaking out because fairies can only lead to homosexuality. It's hilarious to see how Frank overreacts to the situation. But it doesn't stop there, as Ray finds out Debra signed the twins up for that role when they could have had a more 'manly' role. It's a great episode.
As for fun episodes, this season had plenty. I really enjoyed them all, but my absolute favorite was "Ray's Journal". We find out Ray used to keep a journal when he was a kid and what kind of stuff he put in it is a pure comic genius. His entries are very personal and very embarrassing. You will just have to watch the episode to hear about it. You will not regret it. Other fun episodes include "Net Worth", Ray invests $1,000 in go-cart business without Debra's permission and her unhappy reaction makes this episode funny, "The Wallpaper", after years of torment from Ray's parents, he finally snaps after Marie parks the car in their living room, "Super Bowl", Ray gets tickets to the Super Bowl and takes Gianni, but ruins the event by inviting Debra.
Overall this season did a fine job continuing the high paced comedy found in previous seasons. I enjoyed the slight change of pace from the regular settings (Ray and Debra's house, Frank and Marie's house, Robert's Apartment, and Nemo's) to Rome in the episode "Italy". The season also had plenty of fun stories and sticky situations for the cast to get into. Highly Recommended.
The first commentary is for the two-part episode "Italy". In the opening they talk about how Phil got the idea for this episode, which came from Ray not actually wanting to go on a trip to Italy. For the most part they discuss different aspects of the episode and include plenty of small random stuff. They commentary is playful and it is worth a few chuckles.
The next commentary is for the hilarious episode "Young Girl" where Robert ends up dating a girl half his age. Joining Ray and Phil is Tom Caltabiano, who wrote the episode. At first they spend about six minutes talking about how Tom got on staff. Apparently when Ray first came to L.A. to start filming, he brought Tom along. The build up reveals that Tom was the only single guy on the writing staff. Then they move onto discussion about a real event when Tom brought a girl who was almost in her twenties to an event.
The third commentary is for "The Canister" and has Patricia Heaton joining Ray and Phil. They talk about the details of this episode and that it was one of the funniest they did. This episode was written outside of their normal pool of writers and turned out quite well. Patricia got an Emmy for this episode. They also have some funny discussions about becoming washed up actors and body parts that get saggy with age. It was a nice commentary and the three clearly are very comfortable with each other.
The deleted scenes are for episodes "The Wallpaper", "Meant To Be", "The Author", "Fighting In-Laws", "Christmas Present", "Super Bowl", "Silent Partners", "Fairies", "Stefania Arrives", "The Canister", and "Separation". The bloopers reel (14:35) is a standard montage of goofs during filming. It can be good for a hearty laugh. Overall there were a nice set of extras. The commentaries were enjoyable and deleted scenes and bloopers reel were worth a laugh.