Sure, Everybody Loves Raymond, but will everybody love Brad Garrett's new sitcom, Fox's 'Till Death? The series, premiering tonight at 8 pm/ET, presents Garrett and Joely Fisher (Desperate Housewives) as Eddie and Joy Stark, longtime marrieds who get the worst possible new neighbors: blissful, idealistic newlyweds. Playing Jeff Woodcock, the optimistic yin to Garrett's cynical yang, is the American Pie films' Eddie Kaye Thomas, with whom TVGuide.com recently spoke.
TVGuide.com: So, is it Eddie, Eddie Kaye, E.K....?
Eddie Kaye Thomas: Eddie works for me.
TVGuide.com: That's a great last name your 'Til Death character has there. The laughs are built right in!
Thomas: Yeah, yeah, it's a fun name and it happens to be his name, so it works out kinda well!
TVGuide.com: Was Brad Garrett already attached to 'Til Death when you were approached to do the show?
Thomas: They had mentioned his name and I was like, "Yeah, well, good luck getting him." I thought it would be amazing. Then when I first found out he was committed, it was pretty exciting. It was definitely a huge part of me getting excited to do it.
TVGuide.com: He of course has the whole Everybody Loves Raymond lustre to him....
Thomas: Yeah, but beyond that he is just so damn good at it. Beyond adding so much to the show he's teaching me so much. He knows to make funny, so I'll try to steal as much as I can from him. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: What sort of things is he teaching you?
Thomas: Just, like, what it takes to get it done. He comes with a serious discipline, where he really wants to work through things and nail them. He knows how to relate to everybody on the set and give everybody their time and their due.... He's such a damn pro at it that he's fun to watch.
TVGuide.com: You're 6 feet tall. How messed up is it that Brad Garrett makes you look short?
Thomas: I actually think there's something about it that makes the show funnier. I feel funnier being shorter.
TVGuide.com: Did you have any hesitation about diving into the daily TV grind?
Thomas: Not at all. I did a series on WB for about a season and a half, called Off Centre, which no one on earth actually watched, but it was the time of my life. I really loved the schedule and the work and doing new stuff every week. Josh [Goldsmith] and [wife] Cathy [Yuspa], the show runners... I try to go off my gut and they seemed like they knew what they were doing, that they had a sense of what the show was about.
TVGuide.com: Is the game plan to have Brad's character correcting yours about the honeymoon that is marriage, while you remind him how romantic marriage can be?
Thomas: That's kind of the back drop. As you know, pilots are the toughest and most important episodes to do because you're laying so much pipe, you have so much you want to get out there. But you also want it be entertaining. And as we're shooting along I think the shows falling into this slice-of-life, All in the Family style of show, with Brad and Joely as the templates we kind of work around. It's just quality comedy and writing. If it was just going to be the yin and the yang of newlyweds versus people who have been married for 20 years, I didn't see that really being a Fox type show. And what we're evolving into is very Fox-like. I keep thinking of All in the Family, which is exciting for me, because I think that's one of the best shows ever.
TVGuide.com: As a pool table owner, I can't tell how much I identified with the pilot episode. [Jeff's wife, Steph, feigns being OK with having one in their dining room]. Wives pretend to be all, "I'm so happy you're happy to have one," but beneath the surface they loathe the table.
Thomas: It's scary how many men have identified with this metaphor of the pool table. People have been venting to me, "Oh, my god, what I would do for that...." It just goes to show how much marriage is a situation comedy. There's a reason why people enjoy it.
TVGuide.com: How are liking your TV wife, Kat Foster, so far? You two settling into comfortable "married life"?
Thomas: We're doing great. We actually met a few months before we started, when she came to see a play I was doing. As I said, diving into the sitcom world can be tough and she hasn't done it before, but she's doing great.
TVGuide.com: What are your own preconceived notions abut marriage?
Thomas: You know, I've got a lot of Jeff Woodcock in me, the desire to live that perfect white picket fence life. But I do things one day at a time. There won't be marriage any time in my immediate future, so I live it out on television.
TVGuide.com: Besides, you attended the bachelor party of all bachelor parties in American Wedding.
Thomas: Yeah, which actually took about eight days to shoot! I won't need another bachelor party for a little while.
TVGuide.com: I was disappointed I didn't get to see you in the play Dog Sees God while it was here in New York City. How was that exp for you?
Thomas: Oh, it was incredible....
TVGuide.com: It was some sort of unauthorized riff on Charles Schulz' Peanuts?
Thomas: It was Charlie Brown 10 years later, and what these [Peanuts] kids had turned into. At the same time, it kept Schulz's whole idea of Charlie Brown being this guy who can't find a way to fit in anywhere.
TVGuide.com: What was the most outrageous fate it proposed for any of the characters?
Thomas: Oh, geez.... Well, Charlie Brown fell in love with Schroeder.... Lucy went into a mental institution....
TVGuide.com: Huh, I always had Linus pegged for Charlie Brown if it came to that.
Thomas: Yeah, but he went for Schroeder, who was the outcast now. Charlie Brown felt bad for him, and they fell in love.
TVGuide.com: Have we seen the last of you in any American Pie sequels?
Thomas: I think so, I think so... I know they made Band Camp and they're making another [straight-to-DVD follow-up] right now, with all new people....
TVGuide.com: Still, it must feel cool to have been a part of that seminal film comedy franchise.
Thomas: It's amazing, man. It's crazy now as I step away from it and see what it turned out to be. It's kind of hard to absorb some times, but I feel so lucky to have stepped into that. And I made a whole lot of money!
For more scoop on 'Til Death and 91 other new shows, pick up the TV Guide Fall Preview issue.
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