8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter

Thursday, September 26, 2002

You call this a John Ritter show? Not once in the pilot episode of 8 Simples Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter did he trip over a couch! Not once did he overhear someone discussing a plumbing problem and assume they were talking about sex! Not once did he threaten Felipe with a cleaver!

All right, so I wasn't really expecting the last of these, but it really couldn't have hurt the show. Despite what the title implies, this sitcom doesn't involve a father trying to secretly date his own teenage daughters (which at least would have been bizarrely fascinating for at least one episode), but rather about a father who has apparently never talked to his children and now has to supervise them. The whole premise comes across as completely bizarre. The parents are allegedly married, but the parenting arrangement, as they describe it, sounds like the mother has had custody for the past 15 years. I guess in this world parents can't see their children and work at the same time. Fine.

So the show has a blatantly unrealistic premise, is free of physical comedy, and isn't the incest comedy it bills itself as. Is it good enough to overcome these problems?

Not even close. As mentioned previously, ABC is intent this season on producing the most inoffensive pablum they can generate in the name of "family comedy." I'm not sure why they think this is the way to save their network from its ratings coma, and, frankly, I think we as a viewing public should be insulted. I guess the idea is that we're not capable of working a full day at work and still be able to appreciate and enjoy a program that requires us to think at all. The small part of me that remembers that I own something like 2 shares of Disney stock clearly hopes this to be true, but the larger part - the part that enjoys watching televison - would really like to think that the viewing public can certainly handle quality programming, no matter how brain-numbing their daylight activities may be. Of course, the pilot of 8 Simple Rules got great rating, so I guess ABC was right. Great.

Rating: D (The Very Definition of Mediocrity)

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
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