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The writers of "8 Simple Rules" should be commended for the manner in which they handled John Ritter's death. There was a lot of speculation about merely replacing the star with another actor. The people at the show chose instead to go out on a limb and let the show mirror reality. They showed the pain of a family goes through when losing a loved one. "8 Simple Rules" is showing the family adapting to the hole that has been torn in their lives that can never be filled. They are showing the truth. And showing that there still is humor in life. Most sit-coms now-a-days shy too much away from reality and give us a syrupy-sweet, trite twenty minutes of simulated laugh tracks and simulated humor. The writers go for the easy sells and go cash their sponsor checks. "8 Simple Rules" has gone beyond such shallow ends to bring us a show we can all appreciate. Thank you, ABC.
Network: ABC; Genre: Family Sitcom; Content Rating: TV-G;
Classification: Contemporary (star range: 1 - 4);
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
This has to be one of the best comedies on the television at the
moment. It takes the sugary-sweet idea of a show revolving around a
close family and turns it into a quite realistic yet funny depiction of
a typical family complete with sibling and parent spats, brat brothers,
over-protective fathers and bimbo sisters. I'm almost surprised it's
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.
I'm sorry, but I have to speak up here.
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.
It has been nearly five months since the passing of John Ritter and my eyes
still mist at the reality that the viewing public will never again by
brought to laughter or even tears by this gifted actor.
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.
Just when things were looking dark for ABC (compared to last year), out of
the blue comes a savior sitcom! 8 Simple Rules is a funny sitcom, and has
premise that most modern families can relate to.
This show is somewhat similar to My Wife and Kids, except that the stories are more centered on teenage issues (dating, school, etc.) Bridget is the oldest child, the one who often dates Kyle, and despite the on-going "shallow teenage daughter" stereotype, she's pretty funny. Kerry is the slightly younger daughter, who's not very popular, but is a great artist. Rory is the only son, youngest child, and doesn't seem to have a life outside video games, and pestering his sisters. Unlike many other shows with annoying siblings, he's more funny than he is annoying. Paul is the over-protective dad, and Cate is the liberal mom. All of these five personalities put together creates another fantastic family comedy.
One thing I'm puzzled about is how Amy Davidson is playing the slightly-younger daughter to Kaley Cuoco's role as the oldest daughter. Davidson is actually six years older than Cuoco. Women of today are often known for wanting to look beautiful, which is to say, youth equaling beauty. Maybe the effects of making someone younger than they actually appear has finally paid off, this very sitcom being the living proof.
A lot of the best jokes come from Paul's coping with Bridget and Kerry. He tries hard (perhaps too hard) to make sure Bridget doesn't step out of line with her dating privileges, and tries to get Kerry to be more social. I love it when Paul calls Kerry "Care Bear". The over-protective dad vs. shallow teenage daughter thing is a staple in many sitcoms, and in this case, does a swell job not not growing stale.
8 Simple Rules is ABC's highlight program for Tuesday nites, the same as how My Wife and Kids is the alphabet network's highlight program for Wednesday nites. Along with several other new shows, this also seems to be a lead for ABC's recovery tactics, which so far, seems to be working. The network generally would've had better luck had it not filled up so much on Who Wants to be a Millionare a couple seasons ago. 8 Simple Rules is a great sitcom, and now provides a better reason why one must watch TV on Tuesday nites!
I live in the UK and have watched this sitcom in bits and bobs when it
has been on The Disney Channel. And I really enjoy it, its a bit like
an old-school family sitcom but updated and not afraid to cross a few
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
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daugher" is the television series
premiered on September 17, 2002 on ABC and the series is based on the novel
by W. Bruce Cameron and it stars John Ritter ("Three's Company") as a
sportswriter turned columist Paul Hennessy and Katey Segal ("Married With
Children") as Cate Hennessy with two daughters Briget Hennessy (Kaley Cuolo)
and Kelley Hennesy (Amy Davidson) and one son teenage son named Rory
Hennessy (Martin Spanjers).
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'm actually closer to the age of the son, Rory, but I can totally relate to the two daughters. A protective father, who's out to kill his daughters boyfriends, most fathers are like that. And most teenagers are stubborn and like to break rules. Its real life!
I am a typical young Australian bloke. One night I was sitting by the TV with, actually a coke in my hand. I'm channel surfing' past friends, everybody loves Raymond, Sienfield, And I'm thinking, "Why is my TV filled with American sit com crap. So I switched off. It's now 7.30 and new shows will be on now.
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.
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