Everybody Loves Raymond is one of those shows whose name begs for an obvious response: a bit like calling your single ‘Not Good Enough’ and sending it to Tanya Headon for a review. It’s currently running on Channel 4 at 8am, a time when, on the few days a week I’m not half way into my mammoth commute, I’m sometimes having breakfast. Having had up to an hour of the Today programme before reaching the shower, by 8 I’m usually channel-hopping in search of anything light and frothy instead. So that’s my excuses for even having seen the thing got in nice and early.

It’s a family-oriented sitcom of a kind I didn’t even know they made anymore — and I can’t think of a British equivalent, even prime-time fodder like My Family having opted to make its characters essentially unsympathetic in order to extract more comic agonies from them without the burden of pathos. Family-oriented in the above sentence should I suppose read family-focused: the show is based around a couple, with three children, while the basic premise = they live across the road from the husband (Ray)’s parents. i.e. it’s half an hour of an extended mother-in-law joke, combined with saintly forebearance from long-suffering wife Deborah, cute mugging by the toddlers, and complete confirmation of the oldest myths about men, women and marital power relations. i.e. Ray is hopeless around the house, Deborah is saintly, but under pressure hassles Ray, Ray ends up asking his mother to do his chores, Deborah and Ray’s mother clash, it all ends happily, with Deborah back in control and Ray continuing his over-grown child act.

My tolerance for even the most sentimental US sitcoms is pretty high, and when a show like Scrubs can ladle on the old-fashioned values, but at least manage enough jokes to distract from the flavour, and add in some misanthropy to sweeten the mixture, there seems little justification for something that falls so flat. The other regular at this time of day seems to be Bewitched, and at least that has the excuse of being old. So what’s up? Is this just the cheapest way to fill morning airtime (and surely even re-runs of RISE with randomly selected viewers supplying a ‘DVD extras’ style voiceover on top detailing its flaws would be funnier, and less saccharine at that time of day)? In which case why the audacity of the title? An attempt to face down haters in advance, by persuading you that you must be the odd one out, that everybody else really does love Raymond (and who could you ring at 8am to confirm or deny it)? Well — and here come the obvious bit — not me.