8 Simple Rules (2002–2005)
User ReviewsAdd a Review
Season Reviewed: Season 2+
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
When it first started it had it's full title 8 Simple Rules for dating my teenage daughter. It all focused around the dad's insecurity about trying to raise his two teenager daughters who were growing daily and how he couldn't connect with them in the way he did with his son. In these first episodes John Ritter's character dominated the show (and rightly so) but was pumped up so much that Katey Segal, who is one of my favourite actresses, was pushed to the sidelines until they decided to focus on the relationship between husband and wife as well as father and daughters.
After the untimely death of John Ritter I thought this series may have been cancelled but they carried on and I'm glad they did. Now Katey Segal's been given more to do and they've introduced two new characters one played by James Garner and the other by one of my favourite comedy actors David Spade (who I'm glad's back on TV now Just Shoot Me's finished). These two new male characters fill the gap in the parental hole for the dad. Where James Garner's grandad character is the strict oldie who wants to discpline the kids, Spade's character is the chilled out cousin who wants to be down with the kids and tell them how to be cool but also is looking out for them. These two characters demonstrate both sides of the dad but at the same time are conflicting views on how the mother should raise her children.
A great sitcom and long may it continue
To its credit, '8 Simple Rules' knows it's a comedy and doesn't try to be more. Too many shows (eg, 'Sister, Sister' and 'Lizzie McGuire') think just because its lead characters are now teenagers then they should tackle social issues and end up losing their humour by being too hard-hitting. This is a trap '8 Simple Rules' has avoided; it does tackle some issues (such as being the school outcast) but it has fun while doing so. In fact the only time it has really been serious was understandably when it sensitively handled the tragic death of John Ritter and his character.
And I think, although John Ritter will be sadly missed since he was the reason the show made its mark, '8 Simple Rules' can still do well if it remembers its humour and doesn't make Cate's father a second version of Paul Hennessy.
The pilot episode was great. John Ritter is great as Paul and Katey Segal also great as Cate. That's what I call a TV show with parenting tips.
I give this John Ritter's series 10 out of 10. I also hoped the show will win a emmy.
I think this talk about "John Ritter is gone, the show is going to die!" is very premature.
There is still Katy Sagal who is a wonderful comic actress in her own right, as well as a now established acting family at the show. I think before we start crying the death of the series, we should give the show a few weeks to pick up the pieces and see where they go from here.
The next few weeks will be the toughest for the series. Once they get past those, the show will then take it's new stride. At that time, if we want to sing the death song for the series, so be it, but I don't want to proclaim it yet.
It will never be the same series it was, but that doesn't mean it can't be as good. Who knows... the best may be yet to come.
I would also like to add that in my opinion, the overall quality of situation comedies on the ABC Network has declined to a level of near-mediocrity, save maybe for shows with George Lopez, Bonnie Hunt, or Jim Belushi. But it seemed that Jonathan Southworth Ritter was the anchor, the ringleader of situation comedies on ABC.
WOW! There's a hot blonde chick! - What first got me into 8 simple rules. I started to watch this show even if the background laughing did annoy me. I honestly couldn't believe I just watched a sitcom. Over the next few months I was hooked into my couch on Saturday nights at 7.30. The show related to me in many ways, and the parents were portrayed perfectly. And above all, the show was funny. Watching this sitcom I gave others a chance, I now enjoy, "My wife and kids" and "Friends", but there's still some I hate...
Months later I heard of John Ritter's unexpected death. It was the first time I had been upset with anyone famous dieing, because I felt I was connected with the show. Now I find it hard to watch the show, and currently the network is showing older episodes with John still in it. For some reason now it doesn't feel right. And now I honestly think the show should now rest in piece.
How ever of course If you have never seen the show I suggest you do. It is a great show with original comedy. 8/10 for its time.
The first season was mostly about the father looking after is two daughters and son, he sadly passed away in season 2, I Could believe it when I heard it.
I am clad they carried on with the show as that what would really happen in really life and I need to mention The Goodbye Episode it was so well made, it must of be so hard for them to film this , you could tell they were real tears in theirs eyes. I am 24 year old male and this episode did make me cry me as I know how they felt as my father died when I was 13 years too just like Roy.
Season 2 and Season 3 had great comedy in there also season 3 had some of my Favorites such Freaky Friday, Secrets.
I Still think the show was Strong enough to go on, I was disappointed that it ended, it was one the best no it was the best Family comedy show ever since Home Improvement and it could have been the next Friends.
it should never have ended but still love watching the repeats everyday.
The Father: Paul Hennessy (John Ritter): nice, slightly neurotic, can be a pushover from time to time, works as a sports writer. John unfortunately passed away in 2003 leaving a fond memory and near-sure cancellation contemplations by the suits.
The Mother: Cate (Katey Sagal): come on, who didn't fall in love with Katey when she played Peg on Married With Children? Al Bundy was our hero. We viewers gave him the respect and love he never had. But without Peg's nonchalant, parasitic, lazy lifestyle, Al would've probably been just another Chicago dad instead of the mess that Peg (life, actually) caused him to be. Katey was a MILF back then and still is: a brune now (instead of a redhead) and just as buxom as ever. Cate is the conservative mom and loving wife. I know it sounds boring, but comedically, she fits perfectly.
The Ditzy Blonde Daughter: Bridget (played to perfection by Kaley Cuoco): almost never has an idiot been played so well. Aside of Gob on Arrested Development, Bridget may well be a shoe-in for any awards given to this archetype. Bridget is shallow, self-centered, not very bright and a tad slutty in his look. She plays the dumb blonde role better than absolutely anyone IMO. Perfection. One of the high-points of the show.
The Overlooked Geeky Daughter: Kerry (Amy Davidson): a brune and a geek, she gets no love from life or circumstances. Feels overlooked, under-appreciated and neglected most of the time. She's Bridget's younger sister (in reality she's older than her) and the two's extremely opposite personalities and brains cause endless clashes, to much of our amusement.
The Son: Rory (Martin Spanjers): was the second funniest character IMO before the passing of Ritter, then John passes, new characters come and Rory is not the wise-cracking verbal-trouble-maker that he used to: that went mostly to David Spade's character.
Those characters were the main ones at the time of John Ritter. Unfortunately enough, the insanely hilarious Larry Miller (one of my favorites) did not get lots of screen time. He played Paul's co-worker/competitor. After an aortic dissection cost Ritter his life in 2003 (September 11th), the show was on hiatus for a while. No one thought it could come back, but it did later on, with a couple of new additions. This began the second phase of the show, and the new characters were:
The strict, confident school principal: Ed (Adam Arkin): I saw Adam here and there on talk shows. This was the first time that I saw him do anything. Impressed, is the word I use. His performance was very impressive. Sad he wasn't brought in earlier. He also plays Cate's potential love interest after Paul passes. The gradual progress towards this point (which would've sounded crazy at the beginning) earns the creators lots of praise. It was done slowly, carefully and excellently, with constant respect paid to the Paul (Ritter).
The Attitude Grandpa: Jim Egan (James Garner): a surprisingly welcome addition to the series, he was cannon fodder for endless 'old' jokes, mainly by...
The 35-year-old unemployed wise-cracking half-brother of the mom: CJ (played to insanely funny heights by David Spade): I knew Spade was funny, I just didn't know he was THIS funny. Somehow, Spade's very familiar presence is sensed inside his character (as opposed to a separable character), which is understandable, since he's a comic and he's on a comedy show. This eerie feeling is kinda like seeing someone borrow lots of material from David Spade's appearances in movies, talk shows and functions (award shows, etc.) and delivering a superb impersonation of Spade's voice and comedy style, except, that it IS Spade. By that I mean you realize he's not trying to play someone else, or a whole new character: he's being the goofy, funny Spade we've come to know, and he takes this pleasantly humorous formula to the absolute top. Every line he uttered, every sarcasm he begot, all classics, literally. Spade was CRAZY-funny; so, SO funny.
The show's humor and drama were both upped after the show was back, but audiences thought, "John passed, it ain't gonna be the same anymore". This is understandable, considering we are talking about a group of people (American viewers) who gave 'Yes Dear' a free ride but caused Andy Richter Controls the Universe to be cancelled in no time. As the show's quality increased, its ratings declined. Soon it was no more, sadly.
And I saved the best for last: fans of Married With Children are in for a treat. And boy, what a treat it was. I still shiver just remembering it. It's a surprise so good that it would be crazy for me to spoil it, even if I legitimately do it under the "spoiler..." pretext. Suffice it to say that it's something you'll NEVER forget. I know I won't :-)
Paul Hennessy (John Ritter) is just great. He's always trying to teach his girls a lesson about life, one of them about boys, "If you pull into my driveway and honk, you'd better be delivering a package, because you're sure as heck not picking anything up" and other hilarious lines. A lot of the time he just wants to make it a hell for the girls and other times he just wants to be a great father. Although the girls think otherwise. Bridget (Kaley Cuoco) does a fantastic job of representing a blonde girl who loves boys and going to the mall. But then again not all blonde girls are like that. Bridget's no girly-girl. And then there's Kerry (Amy Davidson), the middle child who is by far my favourite. She does the absolute best job of acting a negative and sarcastic 15 year old. While Bridget and Kerry think Paul is the uncoolest dad in the world, Cate his wife (Katey Segal) believes he is doing a great job (some of the time). But, then there's the youngest, 13 year old Rory (Martin Spanjers). Rory's the only one that speaks Paul's language, but most of the time he just wants a monkey.
So basically, this a really funny show and is one of the best ABC have ever turned out, if not the best. It's too bad I live in Glasgow, if I lived somewhere near Los Angeles, I'd be getting my ticket to go see Season 2, which should be starting taping this month. 10/10.
Even though this show isn't my favorite, it's still a good and funny show, so you are welcome to go ahead and watch it.
P.S. You don't need a teenage daughter to understand this show, you just need to be familiar with the problems between typical teenagers and their parents, which shouldn't be too hard, since all of us are either teenagers, or have been teenagers. (younger children might not really understand or like this show as much as teenagers and up would.)
Take Care of yourself John.
You made everything possible.
I found this show, passing through the channels one afternoon and I have to say I was laughing myself till my ribs ached, simply at the range of characters; the witty lines and the situation Paul would find himself dealing mostly with his daughters...From then on, I caught the rest of the show when I was free and I have to say the writing was very good..But then I read about John Ritter's death...Shortly afterwards I watched 'Goodbye' part 2 and I have to say I was nearly in tears, watching the emotions of the characters, losing a loved one...How Rory punches a wall in anger and frustration...How Cate deals with having to sleep in her bed all alone....Briget and Kerry talking about what they should have done.
But the show does move on, bringing with it Jim Egan and CJ Barnes who provide great laughs, as Cate's father tries to protect his family and give 'man issue talks' to Rory...But the true gem is CJ...who is absolutely hilarious as the wild cousin.
It will always be John Ritter's masterpiece.
The show centers around the Hennessy family, Paul (John Ritter, may he rest in peace), his wife Cate (Katey Sagal), their daughters Bridget (Kaley Cuoco), Kerry (Amy Davidson), and their son, Rory (Martin Spanjers). When Ritter was on the show, I would shriek in laughter (and proud to admit it, I am), but now that he's gone, I'll only laugh a little with the occasional hearty laugh. I'm very glad that I fell for this show's trance after Ritter's untimely death, because it made the eps with Ritter so much better.
Ritter's character is just so well acted and well rounded, that you can't help but love him. He is always bossing the girls around about dating, but he really wants them to be happy. It's the ultimate daddy hates boyfriend entertainment.
Katey Sagal is great as well, and she too is a likable character. After Ritter's death, her character provides such good influence and strength for not only her kids, but I believe Sagal has shaped the lives of Cuoco, Davidson, and Spanjers, because she and Ritter had been friends for a long time.
The funniest person on the show would have to be Bridget Hennessy, played by Kaley Cuoco. She is the ultimate blonde: gorgeous, slow, dim-witted, yet she is a smart person. She is off the wall hilarious with her innocent 'blonde' humor and how conceited she is.
Amy Davidson can get a tad annoying as Kerry, but that's the purpose of her character. The only fault of the show is that the show never really gives Kerry anything to be happy about. She's always after Bridget, and her character feels like it's just thrown in there.
Martin Spanjers as the lone Hennessy son is hysterical, and when Ritter is on the show, he's mostly comic material. Upon the death of Ritter, the show does provide some story lines for Rory.
David Spade and James Garner are all nothing but laughs, with the occasional side story for C.J., Spade's character. Garner plays Cate's father, as a bit of background information.
All in all, I give this show a great review because it is a great show that had a tragic event happen that crippled it. You'll enjoy it.
Derived from the best (Home Improvement) and worst (Daddio) Touchstone/ABC sitcom vehicles, it has given Martin Spanjers the chance to excel in a proper comedic role (having been cast in an average sitcom in which he had no real sense of belonging). Together with Kaley Cuoco and Amy Davidson, Spanjers has proved to be a great casting choice. Katey Sagal and the irreplaceable John Ritter were never in any doubt as individual casting choices, but together they have a fantastic on-screen chemistry. This should be considered for DVD as a posthumous tribute and testament to the incredible talents of John Ritter, Another reason for this consideration is that it defies the rule that after the main character has left, the programme loses momentum. Paul Hennessy may have moved on, but his legacy lives on throughout the rest of the Hennessy family, which continues to entertain and delight us. Long may it continue.
Sagal play wonderful parents, and the kids are great. Now David Spade and
James Garner have joined the cast, and they make this show great! 8 Simple
Rules should definately be renewed for a third season! Not only the actors are great, but there are great plots to the episodes too. This show also focuses on daily life problems, and it shows how the characters get through the tough times. I love 8 Simple Rules because it is a family show that everyone can easily relate to.
2. All of the actors play their parts really well... Amy Davidson, 23, does an amazing job of portraying 14-year-old Kerry.
3. John Ritter is absolutely hilarious!
4. The boy, Rory (played by Martin Spanjers), delivers the best lines in the series! ("Dad, I'm really worried... Bridget's not home,and it's past her curfew...")
5. Bridget (Kaley Cuoco) is sooooo ditzy- she's so funny ("I only went out with Travis because Lindsay liked him and cause when she gave me back my top back it was all stretched out and it had a dip stain on it from the party that she supposedly wasn't going to because I wasn't going, yeah,nice try Lindsay!"--Said in about 4.3 seconds with a single breath)
6. Kerry is so much like me- quiet, insecure, nerdy, jealous of her extroverted sibling... I can really identify with her.
7. The numerous ways that the dad is able to embarrass his daughters... wearing driving moccasins into Rory's school, spying on Kerry while she dances with a guy, yelling at them while they're at a party, dragging them along to meet his clients, etc, etc, etc.
8. 8 Simple Rules is a family-friendly show... you can watch it with your 8 or 9-year-old and not worry. There are occasional mild profanities, and Bridget's wardrobe isn't exactly conservative (about the same as you'd find in a typical teen magazine or catalog), but that's it. It's way more appropriate for younger viewers than a lot of the stuff that's out there. Plus, it's funny! You'll love it!!
Watching 8 Simple Rules I couldn't help thinking that the wolfish Jack Tripper from Three's Company was just the kind of man that Paul Hennessy from this show would have been warning his daughters about.
The daughters are the popular Kaley Cuocco and the scholarly Amy Davidson. He watches them like a hawk, there isn't a member of the male species that he doesn't view as predator material. Sagal just rises above it all.
Ritter could have really burlesqued the part, but he played it quite straight and the audience might laugh, but they felt his concern.
There was a younger son played by Martin Spanjers in the Hennessy household, but he was probably grateful the daughters got all the attention.
Tried as the producers could to keep it going, 8 Simple Rules had the heart knocked out of it when John Ritter died. Just one of those tragic things.
Treasure the surviving stories.