The King of Queens



9 p.m., Monday, May 14

The improbable marriage of Doug and Carrie Heffernan (Kevin James and Leah Remini) reaches an hourlong implausible conclusion after an impressive nine seasons on the air for "The King of Queens," most of them in the shadow of "Everybody Loves Raymond."

CBS asked critics not to spoil the story, as if our consciences would allow such a thing. So let's just say that writer Michael J. Weithorn resolves a shaky Heffernan marriage, the impending wedding of Carrie's dad, Arthur (Jerry Stiller), and Doug and Carrie's quest for an adoption in China. All of these situations are dealt with in ways that will surprise no one but that, nonetheless, should satisfy the show's fans and followers.

"Queens" was conceived as a modern-day "Honeymooners." James, unlike Jackie Gleason, could not comically threaten domestic violence, and Remini, unlike Audrey Meadows, was not required to hide her beauty. Still, the humor in both series ran on a parallel track and asserted that marriage could survive bickering and bluster as long as, deep down, the couple truly loved each other.

Despite its endurance (the 200th episode aired in April), "Queens" falls short of being one of TV's great classic sitcoms. Nonetheless, it was dependably funny, occasionally very clever and, thanks to the magic of syndication, should be around in reruns for years and years.

Highlights of the final hour include the return of Merrin Dungey and Gary Valentine and a nostalgic slide show at the program's end.