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Archive for Monday, November 28, 2005

Everybody Loves Raymond’ stars visit Monday night television

November 28, 2005

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Monday nights used to belong to "Everybody Loves Raymond," and tonight, two of that show's biggest stars return to animate the last Monday night of November sweeps.

With Carrie out of town, Doug hangs out with an old pal (Ray Romano) on "The King of Queens" (7 p.m., CBS). Neither Romano nor "Queens" star Kevin James will have to tax their acting abilities here. The two men, veterans of the comedy-club circuit, have been pals and golfing buddies for years.

Patricia Heaton, who won multiple Emmy Awards for her role as Ray's wife, Debra, stars in the 2005 made-for-TV romantic comedy "The Engagement Ring" (7 p.m., TNT), a film she also executive produced.

As on "Raymond," Heaton plays a levelheaded woman surrounded by extroverts not afraid of speaking their minds and expressing their feelings. Although "Raymond" involved a supposedly Italian-American family, it never traded in obvious ethnic stereotypes. That's hardly the case with "Ring," a broad comedy that shoots for the "Moonstruck" and occasionally hits its target.

Tony Lo Bianco and Lainie Kazan tear up the screen as Nick Di Cenzo and Alicia Rosa. They had been teenage sweethearts and next-door neighbors in California's wine country until Nick got drafted.

Unbeknownst to both, a marriage proposal and an engagement ring that Nick sent to Alicia got lost in the mail. When Nick didn't hear from Alicia, he never wrote again. Mutual silence begat resentment and lifelong bitterness. Alicia eventually settled down with the more practical Johnny (Chuck Shamata) and had a girl named Sara (Heaton). Nick never married and became a dapper womanizer. Both he and Alicia seem haunted by might-have-beens.

Fast-forward 40 years, and the business-minded Sara wants to buy the Di Cenzo's land. She's engaged to a cell phone-obsessed workaholic (David Hunt, her real-life husband) who thinks a big-screen television is a token of affection. Sara convinces herself she is completely content until she meets Nick's handsome nephew (Vincent Spano). Can you spell "thunderstruck"?

Heaton and all concerned here deserve credit for creating an unabashedly corny and romantic movie that is both silly enough to go over the top and wise enough to explore the differences between the fires of young love and the rich embers of autumn passion.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ On back-to-back episodes of "Prison Break" (Fox), proof (7 p.m.), time for action (8 p.m.).

¢ Mike is on the short end of a mugging on "Las Vegas" (8 p.m., NBC).

¢ A South African woman confronts her AIDS diagnosis in the 2005 film "Yesterday" (8 p.m., HBO).

¢ The Steelers and Colts meet on "Monday Night Football" (8 p.m., ABC).

¢ Ensnared in the drug trade on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).

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