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Rules of Engagement Review
TIME TO DIE
Rules of Engagement is amazing insofar as until now I didn't know the show existed. That speaks to how mundane and mediocre the premise and comedy is. If it was laughably bad, I would've heard about it by now, and if it was really good I would've heard about it by now. Rules of Engagement apparently operates in a dead zone - it may run, but it's fucking invisible. Upon watching that it becomes abundantly clear why; David Spade. David Spade only works successfully within the context of Chris Farley and once Farley croaked, Spade should've been buried alive with him, because his career has gone down an abominable path since then. Joe Dirt. Dickie Roberts. The Benchwarmers. Existing. The only light at the end of the tunnel is Spade can now hire Kevin Farley to help him create Tommy Boy 2. Certainly Rules of Engagement isn't a light. It's more the brick wall at the end of the tunnel next to the open canisters of nerve gas. Spade didn't need those nerves anyway, I think.
The only time Spade would be in a bed with other people would be the time he was soon after murdered. I also like the idea of him replacing Masha in that scene in Videodrome when Max calls up Harlan to take pictures of what's in his bed.
The premise of the series is about two couples, one a married couple and one a fairly recent engagement. David Spade fits in as their single friend, which is accurate in that not only would women not going out with him, I think David Spade's genitalia resembles that of an action figure's: nonexistent. Yet the show makes him out to be a womanizer, a successful one at that, leaving me ultimately confused about the whole ordeal. Patrick Warburton and some chick I've never heard of play the married couple whereas the guy from the Black Christmas remake (yes, THAT douchebag) and some chick I've never heard of are the young couple that still have love and the delusion of happiness. Despite not knowing any of the women's screen credits, both are fairly attractive. These five friends interact in a clichéd manner so as to give the audience insight into how relationships work and why David Spade will die alone.
Season 3's premiere (yes, this is in its third season, proving fucking anything can succeed on CBS through volition) focuses on Audrey wanting to go to Broadway shows and Jeff/Puddy not wanting to go to them, instead wanting to see a boat show. Jeff goes so far as to give her a Broadway show ticket for her birthday without buying one for himself. This leads to her going alone, whereupon she learns that David Spade's Russell is secretly a Broadway lover despite his heterosexual rhetoric. It's supposed to be funny because no way would a straight male ever love theatre, that's for girls and queers and shit. By the end of the episode, Jeff realizes not doing every single thing with his wife will inevitably lead him down the horrible path of Bob Odenkirk, who also attended the boat show and is now divorced and all Kirk Van Houten-y. Online poker, casinos, boat shows, delivery pizza every night. The lesson? Don't be Bob Odenkirk, you'll wind up directing Let's Go to Prison and The Brothers Solomon, ultimately ending in a few guest spots on CBS before a self-inflicted gunshot to the temple cancels you.
"He was later found dead in an alley of repeated stab wounds. The knife was found 6 feet away from the body."
The other plotline has Adam and Jennifer taking dance classes in preparation for their impending wedding. Adam seems fine at dancing whereas Jennifer doesn't. You may not've picked up on this if you saw the show, but this plot is based on the inversion of the idea of women being good dancers and men being bad dancers. Edgy, right? The dancing instructor is a familiar face, that being the only reason I kept a modicum of interest through that plot's tedium. I don't trust the dancing teacher because he was supposed to take Lem to Mexico. Something could've gone sideways in that regard. A good episode of television would've tied that into Adam and Jennifer's dancing troubles, like them trying to smuggle David Spade into Mexico to keep him from seeing prosecution for his many rapes, date rapes and mental rapes. Or Patrick Warburton blowing him up with a grenade to the lap. Instead, it's simply tired conflict that probably ends... I don't really remember, nor do I care. Oh, now I remember, the dance instructor dances with Adam. Two men dancing together is GAY. Fucking subhuman faggots.
Bob Odenkirk's rapid aging does sell that he/his character is pathetic and unloved.
Since Rules of Engagement is ostensibly a comedy, its ultimate quality must be judged by how funny it is. This isn't too difficult because Rules of Engagement isn't funny, not in the least. Oh, it exists, but it's not funny; completely old school (and by old school I mean bland 90s post-Seinfeld detritus) in its sensibilities. But rather than blab on about the comedy nerd analysis of the humor, I will give you a few illuminating examples of the 'humor' that will tell you everything you need to know. David Spade's acerbic wit includes mocking Adam for taking dance lessons, who he deems "Mr. Mojangles" and "Fred Astaire at some guy's ass". Get it, men who know how to dance are faggots! This is even funnier when revealed Russell loves Broadway theatre even though it's an interest for gays and straight women! Oh, it's almost Shakespearean in its irony. Jeff's response to this information is calling him a "theatre queen". Yeah, I'd ballpark that about 85% of the episode's jokes involved accusing someone of homosexuality or femininity. I tried to drown out the horrible 'jokes' with booze, but it didn't work. For you see, the thing is, wine won't make David Spade not exist.
Whenever I watch a traditional sitcom that took in no lessons from Seinfeld, I always feel as though I've entered into a time warp in the early to mid 90s when every single sitcom was either family based or yuppie based (the female-fronted ones being the worst...Veronica's Closet made me want to kill her and stuff her in that damn closet where the cops couldn't find her and the less said about Caroline in the City the better). The soulless clatter of laughter inserted into the narrative with surgical precision, the bland, shitty bursts of music that play to tell the viewer of a scene transition, the bland pseudo-lesson at the end of the episode undercut by a bad joke. Rules of Engagement is a 20 minute time capsule of the bad old days in the 90s when every sitcom was indistinguishable except for a few superficial elements (sometimes there'd be a racial minority in the cast!). I was too young to comprehend anything on television besides cartoons for much of the 90s, so in a way I'm grateful there are still dinosaurs walking among us that point out all the time why they went extinct. But now I remember the popularity of Two and a Half Men and how it's analogous to those idiots in the Jurassic Park movies who keep on trying to resuscitate dead species. NO, YOU IDIOTS! LET THEM BE. THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW, CHARLIE SHEEN WILL BE LOOSE, RUNNING AMOK AND DEVOURING WAYNE KNIGHT!
He looks like a ho-mo-sexual! KILL IT
Really, the show says nothing new nor anything interesting. I understand sitcoms aren't on par with Dostoyevsky (I would like to see a guy kill David Spade for cash, justifying it since Spade is a parasite anyway), but comedy can and has been used as a vehicle for adroit commentary on society, the human condition, relationships, whatever. The closest Rules of Engagement comes to any of that is its tired observations on men, women and their relationship with each other. Noting men's friendships are heavily based on insults and self-esteem destroying isn't particularly original. Nor is the wacky twist of the misogynist womanizer secretly loving theatre (a GIRL and GAY thing). I'm betting none of the people on the 'creative' (used loosely, of course) side of Rules of Engagement put much thought or energy in what appears to be an easy payday for all involved. The actors play everything broad, with no need to affect any particular behavioral nuance because the dialogue and situations are likewise broad as fuck. Nonetheless, it doesn't make me hate the program any less. Observational relationship shit is so tiresome, so clichéd and so based on gender stereotypes that demean men and women. At least on Seinfeld, the relationships highlighted the neuroses and the detachment the gang had from anything resembling human emotion or care for anyone's feelings, which is the perfect description of yuppies. This? THEATRE FAGGY!!! You want those jokes, then read the Sweeney Todd review.
I believe Rules of Engagement will eventually reveal itself to be a hallucination of Patrick Warburton's, like how that one Hellraiser sequel's narrative was a hallucination of an asshole who was in Hell the entire time. That'd be an awesome series finale for Rules of Engagement - Pinhead, CD, Camerahead, Pistonhead, Harold Ramis - showing up and telling Patrick Warburton that these years of sitcom hell have merely been a prelude to real Hell. Then he gets sliced, diced, eviscerated, what have you. It'd be much better an ending than what will ultimately occur (the young couple's wedding as the finale, probably, WITHOUT David Spade catching a Trotsky). Especially since we'd see a lot of motherfuckers die.