When I think of Fox’s “‘Til Death,” I always think of Philip Baker Hall. When he and I discussed how his series, “The Loop,” never had a fighting chance with its second season, Hall groused about how Fox head Peter Ligouri threw all his energy into keeping “‘Til Death” on the air, “in spite of the fact that its numbers are among the lowest in the history of TV. He’s just pushed the hell out of that show, he just can’t stop talking about how great it is and how funny it is, and he can’t stop pouring money into it. He can’t stop taking whole sections of the newspaper as ads! But the fact is that the numbers are really bad…and he’s still pushing it!” Perhaps these comments from Mr. Hall colored my opinion as I sat down to watch “‘Til Death: The Complete Second Season,” but after screening the set, I was left wondering why Ligouri has battled so hard to keep the series on the air. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not worth waging a war to save.
When Season 2 of the series begins, the premise has not changed appreciably: Eddie and Joy Stark (Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher) are a long-married couple who live next door to Jeff and Steph Woodcock (Eddie Kaye Thomas and Kat Foster), a pair of newlyweds. In addition to the various lessons about marriage that the naive Woodcocks learn from the jaded Starks, Eddie and Jeff both work at the same high school, though the only time their employment really comes into play is when Jeff gets a temporary promotion to principal and suspends Eddie for a few days for inappropriate behavior. In what can only be viewed as a desperate attempt to figure out how to bring new viewers into the show, the halfway point of the season finds the show adding a new character: Kenny Westchester (J.B. Smoove), a recent divorcee who, due to some clerical error, is selected as Eddie’s “little brother” when he joins a “Big Brother” program. Married couples will certainly recognize a lot of their more cynical moments in the adventures of the Starks, but the problem with “‘Til Death” has always been its interest in going unnecessarily lowbrow, and that remains the primary issue. You’ll laugh, to be sure, but at least half the time, you’ll feel guilty about it.