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DVD Review: 8 Simple Rules – The Complete First Season

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8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (later shortened to 8 Simple Rules) was a series on ABC that ran for three seasons. Based on the book of the same name, this prime time sitcom starred John Ritter and Katey Segal as Paul and Cate Hennessy, who are trying to raise their three children: Bridget (Kaley Cuoco), Kerry (Amy Davidson), and Rory (Martin Spanjers). 

Let me start by saying that I’ve been a fan of John Ritter since I first saw Three’s Company as a kid. Married With Children, where Segal starred as Peg Bundy, was also one of my favorite sitcoms growing up. So I knew that seeing the two of them together would make for a good show.  

And I was right. Segal and Ritter had great on-screen chemistry and elevated a show that was funny and had heart into one of those rare sitcoms that stay with you throughout the years. 8 Simple Rules’ main storyline is one we’ve seen before: stay-at-home mom goes back to work and dad is left home to stay with the kids. Hijinx ensue as the family adjusts.  

It was good to see some parental role-reversal. While it’s still not the “norm,” there has been an increase in stay-at-home dads in recent years. It I had the chance to work at home and take care of my kids, I would jump at it. But even though this theme is a little Growing Pains-esque, 8 Simple Rules definitely takes it in a new direction. Alan Thicke only had one TV teenage daughter to contend with during his years on ABC primetime; Ritter had two. 

I found it amusingly ironic that the man who spent years playing the sex-obsessed Jack Tripper on Three’s Company now played a father who furiously protected his girls from boys just like Tripper. As the father of two little girls, I know will have to worry about who they’re dating. And though it will be years before I have to deal with that reality, I could still relate to Paul every step of the way. In fact, I’ll probably end up using some of the rules that were publicized in the show’s initial ads (though there weren’t any actual rules in the show):

  • You make her cry, I make you cry.
  • Use your hands on my daughter, and you'll lose them after.
  • Bring her home late, there's no next date.
  • If your pants hang off your hips, I'll gladly secure them with my staple gun.

Fans of traditional and even non-traditional sitcoms will enjoy this show, as will those who like sarcasm, are raising kids or are just fans of John Ritter. If you didn’t watch the show when it was on ABC, now is a great time to sit down with the family and check out what you’ve been missing. My wife and I are very careful about what we let our 8-year-old watch, and I can honestly say I’d feel okay sharing this series with her.  

Sadly, John Ritter died of an aortic dissection, after filming only three episodes of the second season. This heart defect went undetected his whole life and, thus, untreated. However, despite losing such a crucial member of the cast, ABC produced two more full seasons before canceling the show. 

There is only one extra on this set: a very funny blooper reel which runs about 10 minutes, which is actually a long time for this type of feature. I would have liked to have seen some commentaries on the episodes or a retrospective/tribute to John Ritter, but maybe they’re being saved for the second season. 

Grade B

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  • Ron

    See Kaley Cuoco’s new show called The Big Bang Theory this Fall Monday’s on CBS starting September 24. The critics love it and think it is very, very funny. This could be the next hit show. See clips from the show here