There was nothing surprising about this genial series in happier days, and there was nothing surprising about what one of the ratings hotlines labeled “the death episode.” The hour delivered lots of group hugs, tears and platitudes about the unfairness of such a loss, best delivered by an avuncular James Garner.The consistent refrain from the network and cast has been “This happens to families,” which is of course true.Soon, Cate’s “bitterly divorced” parents, played by Garner and Suzanne Pleshette, arrive to provide moral support.As they bicker about artificial sweeteners and attending church, it’s amazing how much you found yourself missing the laughtrack, conspicuously absent from the episode. All original author and copyright information must remain intact. This guide may be distributed and copied freely, in its entirety, for personal use.
Still, most of the stabs at comedy felt forced, including cameos by John Ratzenberger and Patrick Warburton, expressing their condolences. Each scene was connected by melancholy guitar chords, working overtime to create a properly somber tone.
It does not happen often, however, to light-hearted sitcom families, and incorporating the Ritter character’s passing is uncomfortable terrain.
After some playful banter among the kids reminding us what the series had been about, Cate (Katey Sagal) receives a phone call, learning that her husband Paul has collapsed at the grocery store.
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Any sales or other uses of this document are expressly forbidden, without the specific consent of the author(s).Similarly, the underlying plot thread — in which all the characters feel guilt about their final encounters with the family’s late patriarch — was so neatly resolved (Paul, a newspaper columnist, magically addressed their concerns through a posthumously discovered column) as to feel a bit cloying.