Rory won't reveal who beat him up. CJ fails to get him painkillers. The girls get fake IDs; and Bridget gives their number to a cop. They fear Cate answers his call. CJ fears the pharmacy calls. Cate...
In several episodes, characters drink "Safeway Select" colas. The Safeway Brands are only available in Safeway Company Stores in the Western US and Canada, in and around the Chicagoland area and at some select convenience stores in the Eastern US. The show takes place in Detroit, Michigan. No Safeway Company Stores exist in or around Detroit. See more »
The opening sequence of the first season featured Kerry, Kate, Bridget and Paul each looking at Bridget's or Kerry's new date one at a time (the scene is viewed from the latter's perspective), the camera panning down to the doormat with the show's title, and finally Rory taunting the date. Rory's taunt changed in every opening sequence (although they were often repeated between non-consecutive episodes). See more »
Unfortunately, '8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter' (based on the book by W. Bruce Cameron) will most likely be remembered as the last series that comedian John Ritter worked on before his tragic, sudden death in 2003. It couldn't have happened to a more pleasant and unlikely series. Before that startling jolt of reality intruded on its world '8 Simple Rules' was as passive and insignificant as family sitcoms get. A show that kept its head down, churned up warm and fuzzy feelings and got a few laughs in the process. From a purely creative standpoint Ritter's death slashed right at the heart of this show. It was him that was the star, he was much of the reason I was drawn to the show, and it was his impeccable comic delivery that was able to elicit a laugh-out-loud response.
In the wake of the tragedy, the show attempted what at the time might have been unthinkable. Not only continued without Ritter but wrote his death dramatically into the series. And they pulled it off - something without a successful precedence in a TV series. Katey Sagal ('Married With Children', 'Futurama') was pushed into the lead role and after years of trying to shed her Peg Bundy supporting-role image she has stepped up to the task with steadfast assurance. The show follows the Hennessey family lead by Cate (Sagal), her son Rory (Martin Spanjers, little seen and limited to cliché one liners in season 1), and two daughters - the tall, tall, blonde, vein, popular Bridget (star in the making Kaley Cuoco) and (as trite as it may sound) spunky, red-headed, equally pretty Kerry (a great Amy Davidson) who the show couldn't even go for one season pretending she wasn't attractive and engaging enough to get dates. James Garner was brought in as Cate's father for a little insurance but wisely not as a replacement. I have a problem with the addition of David Spade to the cast, but I've never liked Spade anyway. His bratty nephew role here is just Spade doing his same old tired shtick.
I've criticized ABC in the past for recklessly mismanaging its shows for years - sending great shows on the chopping block far too soon - but in this case they and the "Rules" show-runners did exactly the right thing. Faced with impossible decisions no show should have to make they didn't turn tail and run as so many people wanted them to, but stuck it out and proved that even something so often looked at as disposable as a sitcom can still deal head-on with true life-altering issues in a genuine and intelligent way. More than that, it became a graceful love-note to its late star.
Family sitcoms are a dime a dozen, but '8 Simple Rules' is better than we're used to from the genre. It's got moments that are so lame and broadly played they are clearly only for the kids, but most of the time it is cute and kind of funny without being embarrassingly stupid, and genuine without being maudlin sap. It is familiar but in a warm and cozy way. It doesn't try to be artificially edgy or plugged with wacky dysfunctional family humor. It is charming, smoother, richer and more resonant as a character comedy without relying on condescending clichés ("the dotting wife and idiot husband" for one aren't present). Plus, it's ambitiously titled in a current TV climate where people think audiences get confused if a show title is longer than 3 words. This type of show isn't generally my cup of tea, but if you're in the market, '8 Simple Rules' is one of the better ones.
* * * / 4
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