The King of Queens' 200th episode same as the other 199... is that so bad?
The plots? Doug and Carrie wonder how Deacon and Kelly can afford a vacation home when they can't, and do their best to try to find out. Also, Arthur coaches Spence in the art of finding a new job, then swoops in and steals a position Spence was looking to get. Nothing different than we haven't seen before, and the humor was the same: some laugh-out-loud moments, a few chuckle-worthy moments, mostly generated by the actors' timing and skill rather than the script itself.
A sitcom reaching 200 episodes doesn't happen often; I read an AP article yesterday that King only the seventh sitcom to reach that mark since 1990 (the other seven are Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, That '70s Show and Home Improvement... I guess cartoons like The Simpsons and King of the Hill don't count). But, given the high profile of most of the other members of the "200 Club" , it's remarkable how King has reached this milestone despite almost zero publicity, little critical buzz, and multiple shifts around the CBS schedule.
But when you look closely, you understand the reasons for its staying power: quality comedic actors and decent writing. Think about it: would Patton Oswalt be everyone's favorite alt-comedian if he didn't get his start as the pathetic Spence? Leah Remini, while being very easy on the eyes, was also a pretty experienced sitcom actor before she got the role of Carrie (remember that Who's the Boss? spin-off Living Dolls? Ok, not the best example...). Kevin James actually was a better actor off the bat than Ray Romano was on Raymond. And, of course, we all know Jerry Stiller's comic pedigree.
And, despite the fact that this show started the "fat husband/hot wife" era of comedy, the show's writing was better than most of the ones in that genre. Why? Because for every goofy laugh-baiting line (Carrie: "What are you going to do with a canoe in Queens?" Doug: "What couldn't I do with a canoe in Queens?") there was a lot of humor that came from how well we knew the characters. For instance, I always found the dynamic between Spence and Danny to be funny because they act like an old married couple instead of straight male roommates. Also, Carrie hiring dogwalker Holly to walk her father Arthur every day is something that I've never seen in any other sitcom.
I think the best episodes of the show always involved the "friendship" between the Heffernans and the Palmers. In a single episode, Doug and Carrie have a tendency to show how they can simultaneously be best friends and bitter enemies with Deacon and Kelly. It's amazing how cruel the couples can be to each other right after enjoying a fun dinner together or a weekend trip with each other. Is it realistic? Probably not; friends who are that vindictive to each other don't stay friends long. But seeing the one-upsmanship they go through to get the upper hand is always entertaining (my favorite was when the Palmers got Doug and Carrie a very ugly portrait of them as revenge for the Heffernans getting them a racially inappropriate sculpture).
Will I miss King when it goes off the air for good at the end of this season? Probably not; it was never appointment TV for me, and the show runs often enough in reruns that I can drop in on it whenever I want. But King proved that, like Raymond, Old Christine, and Two and a Half Men, a multi-camera sitcom can still be viable if written and acted well. TV wouldn't be TV without the "old-fashioned" sitcom still on the air, and I hope that CBS finds another good one of that style to take King's place. And, no, I'm not referring to Rules of Engagement...