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Archive for Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Raymond’ takes its final bow

May 17, 2005

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— Holy crap! Raymond nearly died.

Well, not really. But while Raymond was having his adenoids removed, the nurse told his family he was having trouble waking from the anesthesia.

A few moments later, the doctor reported that he was fine.

But this momentary close call got everybody agitated over what it would be like to actually lose Raymond.

"For 30 seconds, you all thought I might be dead," he said later when his family had told him what happened. A sly smile crept across his face as he prepared to take full advantage of their momentary scare. "What did everybody do?"

So went Monday's funny finale of "Everybody Loves Raymond," which, in its own indirect way, addressed viewers, too, who now are losing Raymond after 210 episodes.

It was a typical outing, with just a little farewell tenderness -- in Raymond's throat after the surgery, which he was nursing with ice cream, and in the hearts of the usually bickering Barones.

But just a little. "Raymond" was a series that, even at the end, wouldn't think of going soft on the domestic tensions that bonded Raymond (Ray Romano) with his wife Debra (Patricia Heaton), his meddling parents Frank and Marie (Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts), and his sad-sack brother Robert (Brad Garrett).

Nine years ago this month, "Everybody Loves Raymond" was announced as part of CBS' new fall lineup. But when the series was first shown to advertisers at Carnegie Hall, its star, then a little-known standup comedian, cracked up the gathering by bidding them farewell.

Ray Romano, holding the microphone, star of "Everybody Loves
Raymond," introduces co-star Brad Garrett to the studio audience
before a taping of one of the final episodes of the show at Warner
Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. The final episode aired Monday
night.

Ray Romano, holding the microphone, star of "Everybody Loves Raymond," introduces co-star Brad Garrett to the studio audience before a taping of one of the final episodes of the show at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. The final episode aired Monday night.

"This is going to be my last year on the show," he quipped. "We said it all in the pilot."

After an uncertain start in 1996 on Friday night, "Raymond" caught fire with its move a few months later to Monday, where it became a viewing ritual for millions.

Clearly, the audience found its simple concept not only funny but highly relatable.

The "Raymond" pilot set the tone from which the show never varied. When Ray bought his parents a Fruit of the Month Club subscription, his good turn inevitably backfired. His agitated parents demanded: How could he do this to them? All the pressure of eating a year's worth of fruit! And besides, was this "club" some kind of cult?

"Like we don't have enough problems!" Frank grumped.

The departure of the show -- TV's only top 10 comedy -- follows by a year the exits of other beloved, long-running comedies: "Friends," "Frasier" and "Sex and the City."

With no recent sitcoms making a splash (only CBS' "Two and a Half Men" is in the top 20), "Raymond's" goodbye had viewers wondering (and not for the first time): Is the sitcom dead?

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