Premise: Cynical veterans of marriage inflict their bitter lessons on happy newlyweds.
From the ads, this looked promising, as a young, happy couple would say something cute about being married and then they’d cut to the middle-aged married couple being snarky on a similar theme. Unfortunately, this is one of those cases where the folks making the commercial have a sharper sense of humor than the folks making the show.
‘Til Death is about happy newlyweds who move in next door to a squabbling couple. In the first episode, the old married guy, played by that tall guy from Everybody Loves Raymond, tells the young married guy that when his wife says a pool table for the house is an interesting idea it means she will not allow it, which causes the young marrieds to have a big fight and then get a pool table. This, of course, turns out to be a bad idea anyway. In the second episode, the young wife tells tall guy’s wife she keeps him from meddling in her furniture purchases by offering sex in exchange for a sight-unseen approval. She tries the same thing and gets rebuffed, causing a huge fight and then gets the furniture anyway out of spite.
There is something embarrassing about ‘Til Death. It’s not just that the scripts are pure hackwork and the whole setup is unpleasant; it’s also painful to watch a reasonably talented cast work with a desperation bordering on hysteria to pull some genuine laughs out of the show. Sometimes they succeed, but not nearly often enough. The show made me think of the last few years of Will & Grace, when a mix of obvious humor, familiar stage bits, and false sentimentality sunk most of the episodes.
This sort of middling, dumb comedy can run for years, so ‘Til Death may, for all I know, become a big hit. But it’s really pretty worthless. You can decide for yourself by tuning in on Thursdays at 8PM on FOX.