"8 Simple Rules...For Dating My Teenage Daughter" (later shortened to "8 Simple Rules") ran from 2002-2005. In 2003, the series - and fans - faced a tragic and deeply saddening loss when star John Ritter passed away from aortic dissection following an on-set interview. The series continued on after a hiatus, but Ritter would never be forgotten - his performance on the show and in general.
The series stars Ritter as Paul Hennessy, a former sports writer and columnist who has changed things up and works at home in order to watch over their children while wife Cate (Katey Sagal) works as a nurse. Their three children stick with the same formula that other sitcoms have used: there's the popular daughter, Bridget (Kaley Cuoco); the more booksmart and sarcastic daughter, Kerry (Amy Davidson) and finally, the son, Rory (Martin Spanjers), who knows how to play every side against each other.
The series mainly succeeds due to the performances, as Ritter is terrific as the father trying to handle the day-to-day problems of his children. Ritter's performance manages to nail both sides of the series - sharply funny comedy and warm and fuzzy emotional moments - very well. Cuoco manages to make a character - the blonde, popular, rather dim shopaholilc - likable and at least a bit more than the kind of one-dimensional character this would be on a different series. Davidson plays off Cuoco well, and Spanjers is amusing as the little brother who tries to play all the angles to get what he wants. Segal is the one weaker link early on, as she it seems to take the character a little while to develop further.
The series does venture into a lot of the same territory as other sitcoms that have come before it (the kids getting into dating issues, school problems, first job, etc.), but the better-than-average dialogue and the feeling that these actors have a genuine chemistry and feel like a family does help smooth over the fact that the series feels rather familiar at times. Overall, watching this first season of the series is an enjoyable look back and a reminder of what a charming, terrific actor Ritter was.
Clips can be viewed here, here, here, here and here
1. 1- 1 101 17 Sep 02 Pilot
2. 1- 2 104 24 Sep 02 Wall of Shame
3. 1- 3 105 1 Oct 02 Bridget's First Job
4. 1- 4 106 8 Oct 02 Wings
5. 1- 5 103 15 Oct 02 Son-in-Law
6. 1- 6 102 22 Oct 02 Cheerleader
7. 1- 7 107 29 Oct 02 Trick or Treehouse
8. 1- 8 108 5 Nov 02 By the Book
9. 1- 9 109 12 Nov 02 Two Boys for Every Girl
10. 1-10 110 19 Nov 02 Give It Up
11. 1-11 112 26 Nov 02 Paul Meets His Match
12. 1-12 113 10 Dec 02 All I Want for Christmas
13. 1-13 111 17 Dec 02 Rory's Got a Girlfriend
14. 1-14 114 7 Jan 03 Career Choices
15. 1-15 116 21 Jan 03 Kerry's Big Adventure
16. 1-16 117 28 Jan 03 Come and Knock on Our Door
17. 1-17 118 4 Feb 03 Drummer Boy (1)
18. 1-18 119 11 Feb 03 Drummer Boy (2)
19. 1-19 120 18 Feb 03 Cool Parent
20. 1-20 121 25 Feb 03 Every Picture Tells a Story
21. 1-21 115 11 Mar 03 Kerry's Video
22. 1-22 124 25 Mar 03 Good Moms Gone Wild
23. 1-23 122 28 Mar 03 Career Woman
24. 1-24 123 8 Apr 03 Queen Bees and King Bees
25. 1-25 125 29 Apr 03 Bake Sale
26. 1-26 128 6 May 03 The Doyle Wedding
27. 1-27 126 13 May 03 Sort of an Officer and a Gentleman (1)
28. 1-28 127 20 May 03 Sort of an Officer and a Gentleman (2)
VIDEO: "8 Simple Rules" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen by Disney, and it's a pleasant surprise to see the studio present the show in its original aspect ratio. The presentation quality is quite good, looking a bit better than regular broadcast quality. Sharpness and detail remain pleasing throughout most of the episodes, save for a few minor moments of softness here-and-there. A few traces of artifacting and some slight shimmer were occasionally seen, but the picture otherwise looked clean and clear, with bright, well-saturated colors.
SOUND: The series is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but as one might expect with a series like this, the audio presentation is quite straightforward, with little in the way of surround use at all, aside some laugh track (or audience - not sure if the series was filmed in front of a live aud) chuckles. Audio quality is fine, with crisp, clear speech.
EXTRAS: A lengthy (and occasionally quite funny) blooper reel.
Final Thoughts: "8 Simple Rules" does have rather familiar plots, but the show's terrific ensemble cast often makes the usual sitcom plots work well and sometimes, very well. The DVD presentation of the first season is lacking in extras, but audio/video quality are great and the price tag is impressively low ($19.99 at most stores) for a TV season set. Recommended.