So here's how things stand as Everybody Loves Raymond enters its fifth season on CBS. Sportswriter Ray Barone (Ray Romano), his PR-rep wife, Debra (Patricia Heaton), and their three kids are still living in Long Island, still next door to Ray's obstreperous parents, Frank (Peter Boyle) and Marie (Doris Roberts). And after experimenting with independence by moving into his own apartment, Frank's brother, divorced cop Robert (Brad Garrett), has returned to his parents' home -- minus his off-and-on girlfriend Amy (Monica Horan), who has apparently given up on Robert because of his inability to make a commitment. But things aren't entirely bleak romantically for Robert this season. While vacationing in Rome with his family (in an episode shot on-location in Italy), the neurotic policeman falls head over heels in love with Stefania (Alex Meneses). Inasmuch as Robert has proclaimed her "the girl of my dreams," Stefania shows up in New York later in the season, certain that their relationship will soon become both permanent and legal. Alas, Robert is still constitutionally incapable of committing himself to any woman, and the couple breaks up -- but not before Stefania's strict, "old world" father, Marco (David Proval), who is now a friend and kindred spirit of Ray and Robert's prickly dad, Frank, has decided to remain in the Big Apple, going so far as to purchase the Barones' favorite restaurant, Nemo's.
With all this going on, one would think that series star Ray Romano had taken a back seat to his supporting cast -- but one would be wrong. During season five, Ray Barone has many a misadventure of his own, beginning with the emotional fallout attending his decision to finally tell his parents that they are far too much a part of his and Debra's lives. Later on, Ray accidentally commits "petslaughter" on his daughter Ally's (Sawyer Sweeten) beloved hamster; receives a serious ego drubbing when his book on sports is rejected by the publisher; goes into "hamana-hamana-hamana" mode upon meeting a girl he'd dated 25 years earlier (an evening that he messed up with his untoward advances!); and tries to mediate a battle between his parents and his in-laws (Robert Culp, Katherine Helmond) during Thanksgiving dinner. The season closer is likewise devoted to Raymond, as he recalls the day that wife Debra gave birth to daughter Ally. For the second year in a row, Patricia Heaton won an Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series at the end of Everybody Loves Raymond's fifth season. Likewise honored was Doris Roberts, for Outstanding Supporting Actress. The series itself continued to be the shining jewel of CBS' Monday-night schedule, moving up again in the overall TV ratings. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi