“ Genre: Television - Rules of Engagement / Director: Andy Ackerman, Ted Wass / Actors: Patrick Warburton, Megyn Price, Oliver Hudson, Bianca Kajlich, David Spade ... / DVD released 2007-09-04 at Sony Pictures / Features of the DVD: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Colour, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC „
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Having watched every episode of Friends and Two and a Half Men around twenty times each on E4 and Comedy Central the boyfriend and I decided that we needed a new comedy to watch in the evenings. If we are in, we like the background noise of the TV whether we're actually watching or not, so it has to be something light-hearted. One evening we accidentally found Rules of Engagement on Comedy Central and absolutely loved it. We managed to set up a series link on Virgin Media to record all upcoming episodes but soon realised that they weren't enough to keep us going! Realising there were five seasons to catch up on, I bought series 1 on DVD and one Sunday we started watching from the very beginning.
=== The Rules of Engagement? ===
The show essentially focuses on the lives of two couples at different stages of their relationship and their eternally single friend who was put on the earth to annoy them.
Adam and Jennifer are newly engaged and about to move in together. Having only known each other for nine months they are still finding their feet in the relationship but are very much in love. Although 'engaged', there is no ring and neither one of them has thought much about the future or how their lives will have to change. When they move in together their relationship is really put to the test as they find out more about each other's routines and their past relationships.
Audrey and Jeff Bingham met at college and have been married for 10 years. Still in love and clearly made for each other, they drive each other crazy with the habits that they have developed. Audrey has a fantastic career but at the end of every day has to come home to make dinner and tidy up after her husband who loves sports, food and anything manly.
Russell is filthy rich and a shallow womaniser who has never had a serious relationship. Despite constant ridicule about his height he manages to put down everyone around him and cause offence wherever he goes. Women hate him but he seems to always have a date, he is completely incompetent at work but is still the Managing Director of a company.
=== Who is who? ===
Jen and Adam are played by Bianca Kajlich (wife of Landon Donovan) and Oliver Hudson (brother of Kate and son of Goldie Hawn). I love Bianca Kajlich in the role of Jen and find her really natural and easy to watch. She is always smiling and I love that she laughs all the time at the group's jokes - normal behaviour for someone who hangs round with funny people but it's rare to see it in comedies! Adam is loveable but clueless and Oliver Hudson plays the role really well and I warmed to the character quickly. As a couple they are quite naïve but young and in love which makes them fun to watch.
For me, Patrick Warburton is the best thing about the show and I can't imagine anyone else in the role. His macho appearance reminds me of 'American Dad' and along with his deep voice and love of sports and food he is a real 'man's man'. His ability to put people down and make people laugh is just brilliant. Adam and Russell are constantly mocked by Jeff but crave his attention and try to impress him and make him laugh. Megyn Price plays Audrey, who I think is wonderful as Jeff's wife. She is a successful business woman who also looks after the home with little help from her husband and makes all their social arrangements as well as keeping Jeff in line. She is almost too good to be true. She keeps up with Jeff in the humour stakes, is a fantastic housewife, has a great career and always looks beautiful! However, with Jeff as a husband there are always things going wrong in her life and she never feels like they have got everything right. The chemistry between the couple is fantastic and their whole home life has me in stitches.
David Spade is the only actor who I was familiar with before the show. He has had starring roles in 8 Simple Rules, Just Shoot Me and Saturday Night Live, all comedy television. He plays Russell Dunbar, Adam's boss and friend who becomes part of the group, although noone really wants him around. I found the character really annoying to start but Russell's cheeky comments and the fact that the other tease him mercilessly about his height and looks endeared him to me and add another dimension to the show besides the couples and their relationships.
=== A summary of the episodes ===
Rules of Engagement was originally only commissioned for 7 episodes, making season one the shortest of the five seasons so far. It premiered on 5 February 2007.
In the 'Pilot' episode Adam moves in with his new fiancé Jennifer. Adam is enthusiastic and excited about the idea of sharing his life with Jen so it's down to his new neighbour Jeff to put him right and tell him how married life really is. The first episode is a bit of a scene setter and doesn't really impress. The characters are yet to identify themselves and as is common in pilot episodes, it was clearly a test to check that the formula worked. I felt like a lot of emphasis was placed on the engaged couple with Audrey, Jeff and Russell as supporting cast.
The second episode 'The Birthday Deal' brings the rest of the cast into the show nicely and we see a bit more of the characters they become later on. It's Jeff's birthday and he mentions to Adam and Russell over lunch at Island Diner that every year he gets a 'birthday deal' from Audrey. Russell becomes obsessed with trying to work out what the deal is while Adam mentions it to Jennifer and tries to get one for himself! The birthday deal turned out to be quite funny but it was the only good thing about this mediocre episode. Adam was just a little bit too whiney for me.
In 'Young and the Restless', Adam and Jennifer argue over ex partners when Jennifer realises that their bed was bought by Adam and his ex girlfriend. Meanwhile Jeff bets Audrey that he can get the number of a younger woman on a night out so she gives him a night off without his wedding ring to prove it. As always, Russell is out lying to women, this time about his age. It's an average episode but Patrick Warburton's deadpan humour is really starting to bring the show to life by the third episode.
In the next episode 'Game On', Adam buys a new Playstation which he and Russell enjoy playing at the flat, completely ignoring Jennifer. She tells him off for buying something so expensive without consulting her and the two have to set new rules now that they are living together. Audrey gets a promotion at work but is disappointed when Jeff doesn't give her the response she was after, not realising that he's miserable because the Knicks have lost a game. Patrick Warburton is again hilarious and at this stage he is really carrying the show. Russell finally gets a bit more screen time in the fifth episode 'Kids' when he bumps into an older lady who he slept with when he was in his teens. When he realises he didn't rock her world he decides that he needs another go to show her that he's improved and to get his 'customer satisfaction' figures up to 100%. Jeff's jokes are amongst his best in this episode especially when aimed at Russell and his older woman, although it also gets a little more serious when Audrey and Jeff look into having children and visit the doctor.
In 'Hard Day's Night' Jen offers to give Jeff a quick massage in thanks for him moving her settee. When he gets a bit 'excited' he and Jen decide that he has to find a way to tell Audrey. Meanwhile Russell is having issues getting close to a teacher. It's not one of the better episodes but luckily with 'Jeff's Wooby' the season ends on a high. Audrey is annoyed that Jeff's collection of t-shirts from over the years takes up so much space in their closet. She decides to have them cut up and made into a huge blanket. His initial reaction is that his many manly t-shirts are now one huge girly thing but once he realises that it's really cosy and that he can reminisce every day, he becomes much happier! The Russell storyline is my favourite in this episode. He starts dating a new girl, Jessie who he delighted to find constantly says dirty, sexual things. Once he realises that she isn't doing it on purpose he realises she might not be the sexual deviant he hopes!
=== Extras ===
Season one is so short with seven 22 minute episodes that I was pleased to see that there were a few extras on the DVD to watch. I normally don't care for extras but I really enjoyed the table readings from a few episodes of the first season. It was interesting to see them sat round in regular clothes reading the script and it didn't surprise me that the most natural by far was Patrick Warburton. Even sat down his mannerisms were hilarious just as they are on the show and everyone was laughing at the way he executed his jokes. He is well known for his voice over work (he is Joe the policeman in Family Guy) so knows how to use his voice to effect.
The extras also include a blooper reel which is always amusing! The men provide particular comedy in these and seem to be the ones who always get things wrong! There is also a set tour with Oliver Hudson which isn't particularly exciting and I only watched it because I felt I needed to get my money's worth!
=== Price and availability ===
Season one is the only season of the show that has been released in the UK so far. It is available at all the usual shops and websites. I bought mine from Amazon for £7.49 and most other retailers stock it at around the same price.
=== Overall ===
While it might not be the most popular comedy coming out of the US at the moment with the likes of The Big Bang Theory and Glee, Rules of Engagement succeeds in that it attracts a wider audience due to the older cast and real life situations they get themselves into. I think that's the appeal of the show; you can actually relate to these couples whether you are in a long term relationship, just starting out or meant to be on your own. This season certainly wasn't a classic, but it was a good scene setter for what was to become a fantastic programme. CBS must have thought so too because it was immediately recommissioned for a further season and there have now been five seasons with another on the way.
At only seven episodes long, Season 1 of Rules of Engagement was too short to get a real feel for what the show was going to become. I think if I had started watching from the beginning I might not be the fan I am today, however as someone who had seen the excellent later seasons, it was great to go back and see how it all began. The show was still finding its feet during season one and hadn't decided which way the characters would go. I was surprised after watching later seasons first just how the dynamics had changed and how the main relationship had shifted from the newly engaged couple to Jeff and Audrey.
All in all, a fantastic show but when only considering the first season I can't give it more than 3 stars. Please believe that it gets better and better and this should in no way deter you from watching it if you spot it on Comedy Central!
Rules of Engagement is an American sitcom that is currently in the midst of its fourth series. It is a cute, funny show filled with reasonably gentle comedy and the occasional big laugh. It stars Patrick Warburton and Megyn Price as Jeff and Audrey, a couple who have been married for a few years, Oliver Hudson and Bianca Kajilich as Adam and Jennifer, a newly engaged couple who've known each other for seven months, and David Spade as their single, predatory friend Russell.
This is a review for the first season of the show. For a more in depth look at the actors and characters, check out my review of the show itself.
The first series has seven episodes which all focus on quite small events in the lives of the two main couples. Of course, because this is a sitcom, these small events are blown up out of proportion and lead to various misunderstandings, which are where the laughs come from. The episodes have the following plotlines:
Pilot - Adam wonders whether marriage is really for him after Jeff's unenthusiastic reaction to Adam and Jennifer's engagement. Audrey gets upset when Jeff wants to sell her bike, but won't tell him why.
The Birthday Deal - Adam and Russell are intrigued by Jeff's mysterious Birthday Deal with Audrey. Adam decides to get his own deal, but starts to regret it when Jennifer tells him she wants one too.
Young and the Restless - Audrey challenges Jeff to get a younger woman's phone number. Jennifer wants to get rid of Adam's bed because he bought it with his previous girlfriend.
Game On - Audrey worries that Jeff loves the Knicks more than her. Jennifer is annoyed when Adam spends a lot of money on a new games system.
Kids - Jeff and Audrey assess why they've never had kids. Jennifer and Adam argue over their future. Russell runs into the first woman he slept with, who is now 60, and vows to impress her the second time around.
Hard Day's Night - Jeff has an unwanted reaction after Jennifer gives him a massage, and doesn't know how to tell Audrey. Russell's attempts to hit on a teacher are hindered by the school bully.
Jeff's Wooby - Jennifer worries she is not Adam's type. Russell meets a girl who makes constant sexual remarks without realising it. Audrey gets frustrated when Jeff won't stop talking about his past before he met her.
There are no real standout episodes, and I found them all equally enjoyable. Most of the more memorable moments come from Russell, who despite never having the main storyline, always has something interesting or weird going on. His run-ins with the school bully are particularly funny, as is his battle with the cat in 'Kids'.
The episodes don't really need to be watched in order, apart from arguably the first and last ones, as there's no real progression within the series. There's no cliffhanger at the end that made me want to watch series two as soon as possible, however because I did enjoy the show I will be seeking out the next series at some point in the future.
Unfortunately the DVD of this series hasn't yet been released on Region 2, but if you have a multiregional DVD player then you can pick up the Region 1 DVD from Ebay or on Amazon. It will cost you about £15 plus international postage, which isn't great value considering there are only seven episodes of around 21 minutes each. However this is the sort of show that you could watch more than once, so it might be worthwhile as a long term investment!