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Life...And Stuff ran from June 6-27, 1997 on CBS.
Short-lived summer comedy about a very loud marriage. Rick and Ronnie ( Rick Reynolds, Pam Dawber), had been married for 10 years and the wear and tear was showing. With his high stress job as an advertising executive and her long hours running the household and caring for their 2 boys, Jerry and Shawn ( Tanner Lee Praire, Kevin Keckeisen( Brandon Allen played Shawn in the pilot)), there wasn't much time for romance-or even meaningful talk. So they yelled a lot. Jordan( Anita Barone), and Bernie ( Fred Applegate), who they tried to fix up with Ronnie's friend Christine ( Andrea Martin), worked with Rick. Andy ( David Bowie), Rick's unemployed, slightly spaced-out brother, lived in a trailor parked in the family's suburban driveway.
Comedian Rick Reynolds had adapted his rather dark standup material for this cynical series-this was no Father Knows Best-and the depressing mood didn't attract much of an audience. Six episodes were produced but CBS pulled the plug after only four had aired.
An Article from the Chicago Tribune
`Life . . . And Stuff' Co-creator And Star Takes A More Reasonable Look At Family Life
June 03, 1997|By Allan Johnson, Tribune Staff Writer.
`Name a domestic sitcom in which the wife wasn't smarter than the husband," challenges Rick Reynolds.
That's a hard one. Aside from "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It to Beaver," most dads on comedy shows these days don't come off as very bright. Even Bill Cosby during his "Cosby Show" days sometimes seemed like he was a few fries short of a Happy Meal when compared to Phylicia Rashad.
"I just wanted to break a lot of the conventions that I didn't like," says Reynolds, star and co-creator of the new CBS summer comedy "Life . . . and Stuff."
"I don't like the convention where the male protagonist is stupid . . . that just always irked me. So I try to make that on a level playing field," adds Reynolds, 45. "(My character is) a college-educated, very bright guy."
Reynolds has a few other gripes about sitcom married life he wants to dispel in "Life . . . and Stuff," which premieres at 7:30 Friday on WBBM-Ch. 2.
Reynolds thinks that if you've been married for more than 10 years, "you do not kiss your wife passionately outside of the sexual arena. It just doesn't happen. And it happens all the time in sitcoms."
"Life . . . and Stuff" addresses another notion, the concept of married couples hanging out with other couples. It's a notion advertising executive Rick Boswell (Reynolds) isn't into as much as his wife, Ronnie (Pam Dawber).
"It all seems so forced," Boswell says in one episode. "We're married 15 years, it's like I'm still dating, only now it's two people at a time. We go out to one dinner; we wonder if they'll call us back. What if they start seeing other couples? What do the Johnsons have that we don't have?"
Reynolds formulated the idea, which eventually became "Life . . . and Stuff," from his one-man show "All Grown-Up and No Place to Go." That show is about the standup comic's 15-year marriage to wife Lisa, and "how hard it is" to maintain a marriage complete with kids. ("You almost weren't warned it would be this hard and that everybody is in this boat, just trying to stay above water.")
"I believe in love," says Reynolds, a comic since 1981. "I believe in romantic love, and the love you feel for your children, and all that stuff. That is the meaning of my life. And when your children ruin your life--in essence, that's what they do; at least they reinvent it--and when the person you love most in the world is the person who most annoys you, and you annoy most easily, those things are all stacked against you from having that kind of a good time in life."
And so "Life . . . and Stuff" was born, an adult comedy focusing more on the couple than the couple and their cute kids. And because of that, "the show frankly sort of scares CBS," Reynolds says.
"The arguments (in the show) go a notch further than some normal fights go, and in the third episode we do go into therapy, which is a big part of the one-man show, and a big part of my life--it really saved my relationship," says Reynolds, whose "All Grown-Up" follows his first, successful one-man show, "Only the Truth is Funny" (which he tried--unsuccessfully--to turn into a sitcom for NBC).
Reynolds had to wrestle a bit with CBS to get his vision of "Life . . . and Stuff" on the air. He says the network wanted more kids on the show, while Reynolds wanted fewer (he has two boys in real life, just like his character).
Reynolds, a co-executive producer of the show, wrote a "heavy and real" speech for one episode, which questions what has happened to the TV couple's idea of a perfect, happy life. The speech was ordered cut from the episode, and Reynolds had to write a more "touchy-freely" monologue instead.
"I'm happy with the show," the Portland, Ore., native stresses, adding he has what he feels is a "fairly realistic" portrayal of married life.
"But it's a degree less than `Frasier' and `Seinfeld' and `The Larry Sanders Show.' I think I know that I can cover the distance in a year, given a little more control if we get that shot."
Good luck, Ricky. "Life . . . and Stuff" is airing during the summer, when TV viewing is at its lowest. "Everybody Loves Raymond," a previous occupant of the 7:30 p.m. Friday slot, came in last place every week that it aired there, Reynolds notes. And the show has to come out strong in the ratings immediately, and at least maintain those numbers throughout its run. And even then it still might not survive.
"I am very confident that if this ran for 22 episodes it would really be something close to a hit," Reynolds says. "I know it will be this great show. But with just six episodes . . . in a bad time slot, I'm very afraid it won't happen."
- Where's the remote: Bailey Salinger's (Scott Wolf) tragic struggle with alcoholism on Fox's "Party of Five" produced some of this season's most wrenching, touching moments. It also resulted in the highest ratings in that show's history, and helped net it a 22-episode order for the 1997-98 season. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Fox (WFLD-Ch. 32) is rerunning the pivotal two episodes where Bailey and his family confront his disease and its life-threatening circumstances, an action that shows Bailey how sick he really is.
A Review from Variety
Wed., Jun. 4, 1997, 11:00pm PT
Life and Stuff (Fri. (6), 8:30-9 p.m., CBS) Taped in Culver City by Somers/Teitelbaum/David and Perrgood Prods. in association with TriStar Television. Executive producers, Mark Teitelbaum, Lee Aronsohn, Bill Bell Jr., Alan Kirschenbaum, Andy Cadiff; creators, Rick Reynolds, Aronsohn; co-executive producers, Reynolds, Jordan Moffet; producers, Pam Dawber, Alan David, Alan Somers, Jason Shubb; director, Cadiff; writer, Aronsohn; camera, Donald A. Morgan; editor, Michael Weitzman; sound, J. Mark King; music, Rick Marotta; casting, Marc Hirschfeld.
Cast: Rick Reynolds, Pam Dawber, Fred Applegate, Tanner Lee Prairie, Kevin Keckeisen, David Bowe, Anita Barone, Andrea Martin.
There is a cute show hiding around somewhere inside CBS' "Life and Stuff," but it's difficult to tell because everything is drowned out by a human smoke alarm named Rick Reynolds. He whines, he gripes, he ruminates, but mostly he irritates. After 23 minutes, the urge to smother him is overpowering. Burying this sitcom ode to self-absorption on six Friday nights over the summer sounds about right. Mind you, there are those who swear that Reynolds is an extremely funny standup comedian. But his shtick as the pied piper of personal trauma and neuroses plays without the requisite charisma, or laughs, once the act hits primetime. He's like Fran Drescher after nasal surgery. Part of the problem appears to be Reynolds' level of chemistry with co-star Pam Dawber. There simply isn't any. It's like pairing Charles Nelson Reilly with Pamela Anderson. Actually, on second thought, that might be kinda fun. "Life and Stuff" is based on Reynolds' one-man show "All Grown Up and No Place to Go," in which he muses on what it's like to be a balding, married, career-driven, fortysomething father. The sitcom takes this promising premise and turns it trite. Reynolds portrays Rick Boswell, an ad industry exec. Dawber is his understanding but easily irked wife, Ronnie. They have two little boys and a unique approach to conversation. He rants, she belittles. Once his wife starts tuning him out after 10 years of marriage, Rick turns to fast food drive-through speakers, vegetation , even his co-workers, to share observations about his abysmal life. In the opener --- which has a few clever lines but few believable moments --- Rick realizes that the thrill has gone out of his marriage. Like a poor man's "Dream On," seg shows his daydreaming about a "Leave It to Beaver" existence, with a roast in the oven and an adoring, unquestioning wife cooking it. Then reality hits. "Honey," she tells him, "I'm not a 7-Eleven. You can't just zip in, get what you want and zip out." "Not even a Slurpee?" he asks. Yes, it's marriage 1990s style. They haven't had sex in over a month, and when they do, he marks it on the calendar with an "HS" (for "Had Sex") and drinks a Yoo-Hoo in celebration. No, it's not particularly funny. But "Life and Stuff" is plenty annoying. It grows even more so in the second episode, when we get force-fed a bigger dose of Rick's slacker brother, Andy (David Bowe), who lives in a trailer out back. Reynolds, clearly enamored of his own voice, is never silent in "Life and Stuff" (which he also co-executive produces). The man will even speak to inanimate objects. In the case of this show, he promises to be yakking at viewers who aren't there.
A Review from The New York Daily News
GOING GETS TOUGH WHEN 'STUFF' GETS GOING
BY DAVID BIANCULLI
Thursday, June 5th 1997, 2:02AM
LIFE . . . AND STUFF. Tomorrow, 8:30, CBS. 1 Star
AFTER sitting on the CBS shelf for most of a season, the sitcom "Life . . . and Stuff" finally gets a network run in June, when the ratings don't count, viewers don't watch and its chances for renewal don't even register.
Anyone curious or bored enough to tune in tomorrow's premiere will have an easy time understanding why CBS waited as long as it could to inflict this particular sitcom on the public. "Life . . . and Stuff," in a more honest world, would be titled "Lifeless . . . and Stuffed."
Rick Reynolds, who has managed to turn his autobiographical musings into a couple of successful one-man stage shows, plays a suburban family man who works at an ad agency. His Rick Boswell, though, is neither as angst-filled as Michael on "thirtysomething" nor as exasperated as either of the Darrins on "Bewitched."
Instead, he's just a working guy who makes allegedly witty and trenchant observations. Imagine a guy who spends all of his time asking hypothetical questions and offering slightly skewed musings about life, the way Jerry Seinfeld does in his stage act. That's Rick.
What "Life . . . and Stuff" illustrates is why Seinfeld doesn't spend all his time on his TV series acting like he does onstage. A standup act, transferred to a sitcom, isn't necessarily a transplant that takes, and this one is rejected from the very start.
Poor Pam Dawber plays Rick's wife, an even more thankless role than when she starred opposite Robin Williams on "Mork & Mindy." At least there, when she laughed at her husband's jokes, we could believe her.
The two of them get to play dress-up during Rick's occasional Walter Mitty-like daydreams the only aspect of this show that gives it a distinctive look. Those sequences aren't any funnier, though, than the rest of the stuff in "Life . . . and Stuff."
A Review from the Deseret News
Life . . . and Stuff' is just awful
By Scott D. Pierce, Television Editor
Published: June 5, 1997 12:00 am
Most people who work in television would rather die than tell critics they actually care what we write about them.
Not Rick Reynolds, the star of the new CBS sitcom "Life . . . and Stuff," which debuts Friday at 7:30 p.m. on CBS/Ch. 2.As a matter of fact, during a recent press conference with TV critics, Reynolds insisted he was "very hurt" by one rather negative ques-tion.
"I read my reviews. And I've cried over reviews and I have danced in jubilation in my kitchen. . . . I care very deeply," Reynolds said.
Not only that, but the comedian's ego is deeply intertwined with how well his new sitcom does.
"If this is canceled, and my whole career has worked toward this point . . .," Reynolds said, letting the thought hang. "Who am I kidding? Is it going to happen again? I'm not a great-looking guy and I'm 45 now. This is it.
"So, of course, I'll be devastated."
Well, Reynolds needs to be prepared to be hurt. And he needs to prepare to be devastated.
"Life . . . and Stuff" is just downright awful.
And, come on, critics aren't the only ones to think so. This show has been sitting on CBS's shelf for half a year. And the network is burning it off in June - a dead time for network television in general.
How bad is it? Well, the show starts out with Reynold's character, Rick Boswell, asking his wife, Ronnie (Paw Dawber), the following question:
"Which would you choose - never have sex again, ever, or have great sex - but with another woman," Rick asks. "And if you don't choose, your grandmother dies."
After Ronnie thinks for a moment, she replies, "Call me Martina."
Rick initially expresses some surprise, then shoots back, "Could I watch?"
Shortly thereafter, Rick starts whining and moaning to his wife about their flagging sex life. Ronnie insists that she wants to have sex just as much as Rick does, but he disagrees.
"If you did, we'd be on the floor doing the noodle dance right now," he says.
Then there's Rick's slacker brother, Andy, who lives in an old Winnebago.
"Casa del Andy happens to be a classic motor home," Andy insists.
"Casa del Andy happens to be an aluminum turd with wheels," Rick replies.
In other words, the show is tasteless, vulgar - and not even vaguely funny for the most part.
"Life . . . and Stuff" also expresses an exceedingly dark view of American life. It's straight out of Reynold's stand-up act - he co-wrote the pilot script - and its view of the family is remarkably negative.
"I thought that I would be madly in love with my wife after 14 years, and I am not," Reynolds told critics. "And it makes me extremely sad. And these are all the sorts of things I try to imbue in this show."
And, indeed, the show is replete with negativity, whining, moaning and complaining from a guy who's got a good job, a great wife and two young sons.
According to Dauber, that's pretty much the way Reynolds is in real life. "He obsesses," she said. "And that is what, hopefully, we'll find endearing and fun about it."
Gratingly annoying? Yes.
We should at least be grateful that the show isn't quite as negative as Reynolds is about his own life. He readily acknowledges problems in his own marriage - although his biggest gripe seems to be that it's not perfect.
"And I'll tell you why it's not perfect," Reynolds said. "Because kids have a lot to do with it. I mean, I love my kids more than anything. I would die for them. But they've ruined my life in many ways."
(Prediction: Reynolds' children will need therapy someday.)
Neither the man nor the character are exactly Pollyannas. When a new acquaintance asks the character how he's doing, Rick replies, "Well, I've got a huge mortgage, my boss is an idiot and I'm losing my hair. How 'bout you?"
And it's not just his own life that Reynolds is negative about. He's negative about everyone's life.
"Every time I start talking to somebody at a party, if I can talk to them long enough, I find out that they have this huge base of unhappiness," Reynolds said. "I'm not saying it usurps everything else, but I'm saying it's just there, whatever it is. . . . And they all smile and they all try to pretend it's not true.
"And maybe there are people in here that think I'm crazy and you're really these well-adjusted people - but you're like empty shells of people. Let me just say that it is the human condition."
Now, this is not to say that everyone in the world is deliriously hap-py. But if we all had the same attitude as Reynolds, the suicide rate would skyrocket.
Not that Reynolds' attitudes about life are necessarily any of our business. But that attitude is woven throughout "Life . . . and Stuff" - which sort of negates the entire concept of comedy.
Here's just what network television needs - a half-hour show that's billed as a sitcom yet leaves you feeling depressed.
WHO'S IT FOR? CBS has scheduled innuendo-laden "Life . . . and Stuff" on Fridays at 7:30 p.m., right after the family sitcom "Dave's World." This might lead parents to believe the two shows are compatible and that "Life" is appropriate for children.
Even Reynolds himself said the show's not intended for children.
"I created and wrote an adult show meant to go on at or 30," he said. "It's for adults, not for kids."
A Review from the New York Times
His So-Called Life: Days of Whine and Neuroses
By CARYN JAMES JUNE 6, 1997
The title of the new sitcom ''Life . . . and Stuff'' is meant to be cute. You know, it's about school fund-raisers, how sex disappears from marriage and other everyday events that define being middle-aged in suburbia. But if the show's creators can't bother to come up with something less generic than ''stuff,'' what can they expect from us?
Based on the performances of the stand-up comedian Rick Reynolds, this already stale show is a poor echo of the warmer and funnier ''Everybody Loves Raymond,'' with hints of the terminally dull ''Dave's World'' and the much cleverer ''Dream On.''
Mr. Reynolds plays Rick, an advertising executive with two small children who is perpetually whining. He doesn't want to go to a children's birthday party and the ''spark is gone'' from his marriage, as he so unoriginally puts it. Pam Dawber plays his wife, a character who is meant to be put-upon and sympathetic; she comes across as a stereotypical nagging shrew. Rick's brother lives in a trailer parked in their driveway. Quite unintentionally, they become the annoying neighbors with whom you try desperately to avoid eye contact. And, using a technique that has quickly become a sitcom cliche, Rick occasionally imagines his family in television shows and movies of the 50's, as if he still expects life to be like ''Leave It to Beaver.''
Of course, if CBS had great confidence in this show, the network wouldn't be dumping it on the air for a six-week run in the summer. Surprises have been known to sneak in that way, but ''Life . . . and Stuff'' is the very stuff of summer desperation.
A Review from The LA Times
'Life . . . and Stuff' Struggles to Stand Up
June 06, 1997|HOWARD ROSENBERG | TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC
Now for comedies that didn't make the regular season.
Sometimes justifiably, as with "Life . . . and Stuff," the drearily derivative sitcom that CBS is playing off during the languid summer weeks after May's ratings sweeps.
It's yet another series drawn from stand-up comedy material. The source of the one-liners this time is comic Rick Reynolds, who plays advertising executive Rick Boswell, someone who shares with his wife, Ronnie, played by Pam Dawber, a feeling of being overwhelmed by life.
It's an underwhelming premise, one that has Rick trying in the premiere to rekindle the spark of the harried couple's 10-year marriage. He complains that she doesn't want sex as much as he does. She disagrees. "If you did," he counters, "we'd be on the floor doing the noodle dance right now."
The noodle here is this half-hour, whose frequent libidinous talk (including a thinly veiled reference to oral sex) makes it a questionable pick for a kiddie-accessible 8:30 p.m. time slot--carrying a mere TV-PG rating, no less--and a poor one anywhere in prime time unless subsequent episodes are much funnier than the two supplied for review.
Sharing the Boswells' home are their two young sons and Rick's loopy, man-child brother (David Bowe), and sharing Rick at the office are two colleagues, one of whom (Fred Applegate) gets the show's very few witty lines.
Meanwhile, Ronnie keeps getting mad when Rick keeps goofing off, and Rick punctuates "Life . . . and Stuff" with bits of club-style monologue ("You know what I hate . . .") in the former manner of NBC's "Seinfeld." Viewers are unlikely to confuse the two series, though.
* "Life . . . and Stuff" premieres at 8:30 tonight on CBS (Channel 2). The network has given it a rating of TV-PG (may not be suitable for young children).
To read an article about Life...and Stuff go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=c2BGAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_-cMAAAAIBAJ&dq=life%20and%20stuff%20pam%20dawber&pg=3709%2C366916
To watch some clips from Life...and Stuff go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=life...and+stuff++pam+dawber&aq=f
For more on Life...and Stuff go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life..._and_Stuff
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK30hlLqR9Q
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Keywords: Pam Dawber & Rick Reynolds (Links Updated 7/30/18)