Doug and Carrie Heffernan are a working class couple living at "3121 Aberdeen Street" in Rego Park, Queens, New York along with Carrie's eccentric father, Arthur Spooner. Doug works for the fictional International Parcel Service (IPS) as a delivery driver, while Carrie works as a secretary in Manhattan, first for a law firm and later for a real estate firm. Their lives are complicated by the demands of Arthur, so much so that they eventually hire Holly, a professional dog walker, to spend time with him as she walks dogs in the park.
Also featured on the show are Doug's friends Deacon Palmer, Spencer Olchin and Richie Iannucci, as well as Doug's cousin Danny Heffernan. Deacon's wife Kelly is Carrie's best friend.
Most scenes take place in the Heffernans' home, but other common locations include Doug and Carrie's workplaces, the restaurant "Cooper's" and the residences of friends and family. While locations seen during the theme-song were filmed in areas surrounding New York, the series was filmed in California.
The show begins after Doug and Carrie have already married, and how they met is slightly unclear due to continuity issues. In one flashback episode, Doug meets Carrie when he is a bouncer at a nightclub that Carrie attends. However, in another episode, "Road Rayge," Carrie reflects on a song that she says Doug asked her to dance to when they were in junior high school. In a later episode, it was implied that they all went to high school together, as Kelly and Carrie were said to have slept with the same guy neither husband knew of until the day of the guy's wedding.
Doug Heffernan (played by Kevin James) is an average parcel delivery man with a smart-aleck nature. Doug never hesitates to protest his grievances intensely. Doug's birth date is February 9, 1965. According to what Doug's parents revealed to him in episode "Dog Shelter" (5.23), he was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Some of his misadventures are fueled by his love of food. These basic desires sometimes cause him to think of strange, intricate schemes in order to get what he wants, although they usually fall through in the end, causing constant squabbles between Doug and Carrie. Doug's tendency to give in to his temptations, despite promising Carrie otherwise, is another common cause of disagreements. He generally enjoys the simple pleasures of watching sports and playing poker with his friends.
Carrie Heffernan (played by Leah Remini) is Doug's saucy and sharp-tongued wife. She has a tough attitude and is occasionally physically abusive to Doug. She has been characterized as scary by Holly and Doug, particularly when she's upset. During a flashback, Carrie concludes that she is happier (she describes herself as never being truly happy) when others are miserable. She never finished college and is employed as a hard-working legal secretary. Her constant attempts to make her relationship with Doug more romantic and meaningful cause Doug frustration, as he prefers a simple life with as few restrictions as possible. The more perceptive and insightful of the couple, Carrie often pushes Doug to make more of himself and improve his morals, but she can be just as unscrupulous as he is. Although Carrie admonishes Doug for his inconsiderate behavior, she has proven herself to be even more inconsiderate at times, with little patience for others' problems or tolerance for their quirks. Many episodes have shown the couple trying to escape some socially unpleasant situation at Carrie's behest, resulting in her abandonment of Doug, who, being a pushover, is left to fend for himself. In one episode she leaves him lost in a forest to go have lunch, while on another occasion she leaves him at an old-fashioned Bed and Breakfast run by an eccentric couple while she checks into a nearby hotel and goes dancing. Carrie's best friend is Deacon's wife, Kelly Palmer.
Arthur Spooner (played by Jerry Stiller) is Carrie's widowed father, who has been married three times. His fourth marriage is to Spence's mother (played by Anne Meara, his real-life wife) during the final season. Arthur is the classic oddball of the family. He lives in the basement of the Heffernan house because he accidentally set fire to his own uninsured home, burning it to the ground in the pilot episode. Very volatile, Arthur is mostly known for his incoherent, irascible outbursts. He tells a lot of questionable stories of what he claims he's been through in his past. Arthur regularly causes chaos in the Heffernan household and gets on Doug's and Carrie's nerves. They sometimes have trouble finding time alone because Arthur tends to get in the way. Arthur also tries to cause trouble with Doug's friends. He especially picks on Spence but also (unsuccessfully) tries it on Deacon, who often refers to him as "the old man."
Deacon "Deac" John Palmer (played by Victor Williams) is Doug's best friend. Tall and athletic, Deacon is a year and a few weeks younger than Doug, but the more responsible of the two, in addition to being the classic "family man." Deacon and his wife Kelly have two sons, named Major and Kirby. He's often seen hanging out with Doug, whether it's on their lunch break, over the weekend, or for a family gathering. Although he often experiences relationship problems, Deacon always has time to chill out and have fun. He will often help Doug plan elaborate schemes to fool Carrie, but he rarely likes to get involved in the scheme himself. Deacon attended St. John's University in Queens, where he received two master's degrees, one in computer science and one in chemistry. In the first season episode "Best Man," Deacon mentions having served in the National Guard. He also volunteers as a big brother.
Spencer "Spence" Olchin (played by Patton Oswalt) is another friend of Doug's and the nerd of the group. He tends to be paranoid with fragile health and takes an interest in science fiction, fantasy movies, and comic book conventions—interests that his friends do not share. Spence's birthday is February 14. He is of Albanian heritage, one-eighth Jewish, and works as a subway token booth clerk. He moved to the New York area from rural West Virginia. In one episode, he is a "house boy" for Deacon and Kelly. His character is based largely on the actor who plays him, Patton Oswalt. Spence demonstrates intelligence and capability in a variety of pursuits, but he is haunted by his family history, his domineering and unstable mother, and his inability to assert himself. Numerous episodes mention that Spence is asthmatic (a burden he shares with Danny) and allergic to peanuts (however, in the episode "Richie's Song" he is seen eating Peanut M&M's out of Doug's vehicle). In the season eight episode "Hartford Wailer," Spence is said to be from Ottawa. In the series' penultimate episode, "Single Spaced," Spence becomes obsessed with romancing Carrie when it appears she and Doug will divorce.
Daniel "Danny" Heffernan (played by Gary Valentine) is Doug's cousin, and he is also seen hanging out with Doug, Spence, and Deacon. In the show's early seasons Doug has a negative view of Danny bordering on hate. However, as the show progresses, they become friends and co-workers and regularly hang out along with Deacon and Spence. Danny even becomes Spence's roommate in a small apartment. The two fight like a married couple, and many of the jokes revolve around what looks to their friends like a romantic relationship. At one point, they legally marry in order to get a free TV from a sales pitch for which only married couples are eligible. Danny also used to own a pizza place, and he is divorced from a woman named Eva. He once had the nickname "Stumpy," which was given to him by Doug. Episodes "Silent Mite" and "Paint Misbehavin'" reveal that Danny has asthma and uses an inhaler. Gary Valentine and Kevin James are brothers in real life. They both created last names for acting. Valentine is their father's middle name.
Holly Shumpert (2001–07; played by Nicole Sullivan) is a cheerful, yet insecure dog-walker who along with the Heffernans lives in Queens, where she was hired by Doug and Carrie to walk Arthur. She is often seen arriving at the Heffernan house to pick up Arthur but is also a family friend of the Heffernans. She is often viewed as strange because of her habits and the men she dates (not to mention her habit of overdrinking, to which she openly confesses). In one episode, Holly asks Carrie (referring to her inability to find a boyfriend), "What am I doing wrong? I give them money, I let them stay at my house." Holly is a gentle soul, however, especially as she puts up with Arthur's antics, and is kind to Carrie despite the fact that Carrie doesn't always like her. Holly was written out of the series at the beginning of season eight, but she later returned, pregnant, for one last appearance in the series finale.
Richard "Richie" Ianucchi (1998–2001; played by Larry Romano) is one of Doug's closest friends. He and Doug were roommates before Doug married Carrie (shown in the episode "Meet By-Product"). He was quietly written out of the show in season three so Romano could work on another sitcom. During that season, he only appeared in one episode, called "Paint Misbehavin.'" He mostly addressed Doug as "Moose." Richie was known as the ladies' man among Doug's friends, even admitting to sleeping with Doug's sister. Richie is an FDNY firefighter. He is also somewhat of a con artist. His last appearance on the show was in the episode "Paint Misbehavin," in which he has sex (offscreen) with Doug's sister Stephanie (Ricki Lake) and afterwards she promises to call him, although she has no intention to. He was also briefly seen in a few clips during the flashback montage at the end of the series finale.
Sara Spooner (1998; played by Lisa Rieffel) is Carrie's younger half-sister, an irresponsible aspiring actress. She appears in only four episodes (episodes 1, 2, 5, and 6). She was only mentioned one other time (although not by name) in episode 52 by Doug as an excuse to his boss to get out of performing a roast. After the show became more popular, Kevin James was asked to explain what happened to Sara during an interview. According to James, the producers could not think of any storylines to develop Rieffel's character, so she was discontinued. During the pilot she was on camera for roughly half the episode. However, in the other episodes in which she was included, her character did not have much to say or do. Subsequent dialogue suggests that Sara Spooner never existed, and that Carrie is an only child.
Kelly Palmer (1998–2001; 2003–07), Deacon's wife (played by Merrin Dungey) is Carrie's best friend. She has two children with Deacon. Kelly and Deacon experience some serious relationship problems, much more serious than the petty arguments between Doug and Carrie. On one occasion, Deacon mentions being hit in the head with a frying pan. She was absent from the show in 2002 because she needed to take a break from the series; during this period, her character was estranged from Deacon and engaged in a brief affair.
Lou Ferrigno (2000–07; himself) is the actor known for his role as The Incredible Hulk. Ferrigno and his wife are neighbors of the Heffernans. A running gag on the series is that the neighbors (including the Heffernans) are fascinated by him and it gets on his nerves. Lou does not like people telling him Hulk jokes. Other characters often make reference to his previous role as the Hulk. For example, at one point Doug is angry and Lou tries to calm him down; Doug retorts with the famous line from the Hulk series "Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I am angry." Also, in the episode "Gym Neighbors," it is revealed that he has a secret video game addiction.
Based on the lives of blue-collar couple Doug and Carrie Heffernan, The King of Queens debuted on CBS on September 21, 1998. For most of its run it was a Monday night staple, competing with shows such as the long-running drama 7th Heaven. In 2003, when scheduled against The West Wing and Nanny 911, it dropped slightly in the ratings. The final episode aired on May 14, 2007. The show is currently in syndication worldwide and airs on TBS and TV Land in the United States and on TVTropolis and OMNI in Canada. In Sweden, Germany, Ireland, the UK and Poland it runs on the ComedyCentral network.
According to the DVD commentary of the Pilot episode, the character of Arthur was conceived with Jerry Stiller in mind, but he initially turned down the role. Veteran comedian Jack Carter was then cast and a pilot was shot. Soon afterwards, Stiller changed his mind and took the part, which required reshooting of scenes featuring Carter.
The King of Queens was partly inspired by the classic television sitcom The Honeymooners, as the characters of Doug and Carrie are based on the Kramden couple, with similar mannerisms and deadpan expressions. In a 2001 episode of the show ("Inner Tube"), the show pays homage to The Honeymooners, as a distraught Doug dreams that he is Ralph Kramden, his wife Carrie is Alice Kramden, and his friend Deacon is Ed Norton. The sequence was filmed in black-and-white and the audio quality (including the audience) matches a 1950s style.
The King of Queens was one of the first series to broadcast in 16:9high-definition video, broadcasting in 1080i. At the time of the show's premiere, CBS had just regained broadcasting rights to the NFL, and was an early adopter of HDTV technology as a result, allowing The King of Queens to broadcast with the technology.
Theme song and opening sequences
The season one main opening was a simple eight-second sequence which showed the window of a subway train with moving through and quickly stopping at the original show logo, which then peeled off to reveal the names of the show's creators.
Starting with season two, the show added a new theme song called "Baby All My Life I Will Be Driving Home to You," which was written by series writers Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa, composed by Jonathan Wolff and Scott Clausen, and performed by Billy Vera and the Beaters. An instrumental version was used as the closing theme during season two, but was replaced in season three with a new closing theme composed by Kurt Farquhar.
The opening credits from seasons two through nine featured an opening shot of Doug getting into an IPS truck, which then cuts to a long shot of a bridge, where he drives under a bridge onto which the show's logo is digitally placed, as if it's a street sign. It then cuts to scenes of Doug, Carrie and Arthur spending time around Queens. In the season two sequence, Kevin James' starring credit was placed over a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge with the Manhattan skyline, but was re-edited after the September 11 attacks that felled the World Trade Center. Two short versions of the sequence exist: in original airings where the opening was shortened due to time constraints and in some syndicated airings, the opening featured the shot of the IPS truck going under the bridge, then to the final shot of the credits where Doug and Carrie get ices at the Lemon Ice King of Corona on 108th St in Queens. The second version used in U.S. syndicated airings since 2007 simply features the first eight seconds of the full sequence with the opening establishing shots of Queens placed before the truck scene. In syndicated airings of season one episodes that have aired in the U.S. since the fall of 2007, this version replaced the standard season one sequence in all episodes for unknown reasons.
Seasons two and three were released on Blu-ray Disc by Koch Media on November 21, 2008. They are presented with 1080i/25fps VC-1 video, 2.0 DTS audio tracks in both English and German with German subtitles optional. They include the same extras as the DVD releases from Koch Media. Even though they are only released in Germany and Austria, they are not region locked.
^This address is actually an impossibility in Rego Park. In Queens, "Streets" run north-south and "Avenues" run east-west. All thoroughfares in Queens, whether numbered or named, have an assigned numerical value, with the lowest numbered streets and avenues found in the northwest corner of the borough. Queens addresses are ordinarily written with a "dash" in the middle, with the numbers preceding the "dash" indicating the number of the cross street. Because of its placement in the middle of Queens, the lowest number that a street address can have in Rego Park is 58-01, derived from 58th Aveue, which forms the norhtern boundary of Rego Park. A house on a thoroughfare called a "street" and having an address of 31-21 would have to be some distance north of Rego Park near 31st Avenue, in neighborhoods such as Astoria, East Elmhurst, or Whitestone.