Update, March 24: The Hollywood Reporter reports that “‘Til Death'” has been canceled — with 14 episodes left to run. And last Sunday, the two episodes aired included different “daughters.”
On the air since 200?, “‘Til Death” is one of the many stealth sitcoms Fox has broadcast over the years, though it seems to be getting a better chance than others. Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher star as long-married couple Eddie and Joy Stark, and that’s pretty much the only aspect of the casting and story that’s remained constant from the beginning. But, since Fox moves the show around the network’s schedule, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad for it, the producers (Garrett is one of them) can experiment.
The original premise had the Starks living next-door to two relative newlyweds; the hilarity was supposed to stem from the contrast between the two couples. As the years passed by, the newlyweds have disappeared, and the older couple’s daughter has returned home, living with her hippy-dippy fiance in a trailer in the Starks’ back yard. Any resemblance to “All in the Family” is probably intended.
There are other characters, who come and go, along with a change in production teams: Garrett’s character had a few black friends; then the couple had a pair of friends, one of whom was played by Kevin Nealon. Strong actors including Alison LaPlaca, Margaret Cho, Vicki Lewis and Tricia Lee Fisher (Joely’s sister) have checked in and left without a trace. More recently, Nealon and his wife seem to have disappeared, with Garrett’s new friend and workmate played by Martin Mull. And Fox runs two episodes, back-to-back, opposite “60 Minutes” on Sunday evening; one episode replacing the evidently-canceled and more interesting “Brothers”.
Mull’s appearance is always welcome, at least in the room where I watch television, and the show seems to be getting its legs. Then there’s the daughter: debuting as that character two weeks ago (in an earlier episode, she’d played a waitress), and the fourth actress to play the part, is the singer and comedienne Kate Micucci.
Of all of the “daughters” I’ve seen, hers is definitely the one with the strongest character, and her debut episode, which ran two weeks ago, may have been (and not just because of her) the funniest I’ve seen. The character has been changed a bit, to allow for her personality and — finally — acknowledging that she’s not the first to play the part. But then, the next week, they ran an episode with an earlier “daughter.” Was her appearance all a dream? Evidently not; but with this show, who knows?
You may have seen Micucci before. She’s appeared in a couple episodes of “Scrubs,” for instance, and in the film “When in Rome.” Well, chances are you didn’t see that, but the first time I saw her was on some talk show promoting the movie. She and Riki Lindhome perform around town as “Garfunkel and Oates”
But she’s been performing a series of more-or-less solo performances Monday nights at the Steve Allen Theater, located (somewhat confusingly) in the Center for Inquiry near the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Vermont.
Micucci sings her own material, accompanying herself on guitar, ukulele and piano. On the Monday night I saw her (March 15), members of the audience pulled slips of paper from a bowl — one which, she said, her roommate had made spaghetti in, the night before. Each slip held the name of a song or story, which she’d then perform onstage. Whimsy runs strong in her songs, and she’s no stickler for formal rhymes, or even rhyme schemes. Which is not, in this case, something I’d hold against her — all it means is that we aren’t likely to see her material performed by others.
She pulled one audience member onstage, a high school senior from Thousand Oaks (about a 45 minute drive), and wrote a new number based on aspects of his life. In another piece, prompted by one of those slips of paper, she cooked a (sort of) meal for another fan.
The show is family-friendly, to the point that one brief (and more personal than blue) reference stuck out — and not impressively.
A couple of songs were accompanied by videos, both nicely done. I was most impressed by a song she’d written for TV children’s show host Fred Rogers, which she accompanied with a touching personal anecdote.
Here she is, in an audience video.shot last September at the Steve Allen
The show’s $10 at the door, though advance purchase ( here, search for Steve Allen Theater) are recommended; the service charge is just $2,
(There’s much more on Kate Micucci linked here)