The comedy and laughs continue in the latest season of RULES OF ENGAGEMENT as these five friends make their own rules when it comes to relationships. Married, engaged and undecided - the gang find themselves in more outrageously compromising positions. Russell's (David Spade) unscrupulous sex-capades backfire - even with the help of his new assistant, Timmy (Adhir Kalyan). Jeff (Patrick Warburton) gets a double whammy when he finds out that his new friend Brad bats for the other team, and that his better-half Audrey (Megyn Price) might own an "adult toy!" And as their wedding day approaches, Jennifer (Bianca Kajlich) and Adam (Oliver Hudson) learn it takes two to tango...literally.
Regular viewers of Rules of Engagement
will find that not a lot has changed between this third-season boxed set (with 13 episodes on two discs) and the two that preceded it. That's not a bad thing, as fans will know that they can still rely on the sitcom's crafty mix of amusing characters and their relationships, lively one-liners and repartee, and generally adult tone, while newcomers won't need to do any catching up. As before, the show centers on two couples, old-timers (relatively speaking) Jeff and Audrey (Patrick Warburton and Megyn Price) and their younger, still-engaged neighbors Adam and Jennifer (Oliver Hudson and Bianca Kajlich), along with their skirt-chasing bachelor pal, Russell (David Spade). The former pair, now married for 14 years, are still working at keeping their love alive; Jeff remains an unrepentant, macho slug, but Warburton's low-key charm and deadpan delivery and his character's tendency to ultimately do the right thing make him the cast's most consistently funny and appealing member. Adam and Jennifer are rather less humorous (nor are the actors on Warburton and Price's level), and as for Russell… let's just say that Spade's shtick is an acquired taste, and while many dig him, others will prefer to absorb his smug, wisecracking liar role in small doses.
New characters introduced this season include Orlando Jones as Brad, whom Jeff is surprised to find that he likes despite his being gay, and Timmy (Adhir Kalyan), nominally Russell's "assistant" but in reality his servant and all-around whipping boy. The latter is a great addition; in the "Family Style" episode, Russell's dating a therapist who refuses to take him on as a patient, so he sends Timmy in his stead, with hilarious results. Elsewhere, veteran actor Brian Dennehy guests as Jeff's father, whose chauvinism toward women in general and Audrey in particular makes his son look like the Dalai Lama, while other funny story lines involve Audrey pretending to be pregnant in order to get special treatment at work, Jeff injuring his back (and confronting his creeping senescence) playing softball, and Russell trying to induct a wide-eyed Amish visitor into his depraved lifestyle. With its constant sexual innuendo and gags about homosexuality, male braggadocio, and such, Rules of Engagement isn't exactly for intellectuals; nor is it likely to join All in the Family, M*A*S*H, Seinfeld, and others in the pantheon of immortal sitcoms. But that shouldn't stop this entertaining show from continuing to find a broad and loyal audience. --Sam Graham