8 Simple Rules
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|8 Simple Rules|
Original title card
|Also known as||8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (season 1–2)|
|Created by||Tracy Gamble|
|Based on||8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter by W. Bruce Cameron|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||76 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Tom Shadyac
Michael Bostick (entire run)
Tracy Gamble (seasons 1–2)
Flody Suarez (seasons 1–2)
James Widdoes (seasons 2–3)
John Peaslee (season 3)
|Camera setup||Film; Multi-camera|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Shady Acres Entertainment
Tracy Gamble Productions (season 3)
|Distributor||Buena Vista Television
Buena Vista International Television
|Original release||September 17, 2002– April 15, 2005|
8 Simple Rules (originally 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter for the first season) is an American sitcom, originally starring John Ritter and Katey Sagal as middle-class parents Paul and Cate Hennessy raising a family of three. Kaley Cuoco, Amy Davidson and Martin Spanjers co-starred as their teenage kids; Bridget, Kerry and Rory Hennessy. The series ran on ABC from September 17, 2002 to April 15, 2005. The first season focused on Paul being left in charge of the kids after Cate takes a full-time job as a nurse, with comedic emphasis on his often strict rules concerning his daughters and dating. The series' name and premise were derived from the book 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter: And Other Tips from a Beleaguered Father (Not That Any of Them Work) by W. Bruce Cameron.
While 8 Simple Rules was renewed for a second season and production had begun, Ritter's sudden death in September 2003 left the series in an uncertain position. After a hiatus, the series returned and continued without Ritter, with the producers deciding to kill off Paul and not replace him. James Garner and David Spade later joined the main cast as Cate's father and nephew, Jim Egan and C.J. Barnes, in an attempt to fill the void left by Ritter. After three seasons, ABC cancelled 8 Simple Rules in May 2005 due to low ratings.
The rules are:
- Use your hands on my daughter and you'll lose them after.
- You make her cry, I make you cry.
- Safe sex is a myth. Anything you try will be hazardous to your health.
- Bring her home late, there's no next date.
- If you pull into my driveway and honk, you better be dropping off a package because you're sure not picking anything up (Alternative rule #5: Only delivery men honk. Dates ring the doorbell. Once.)
- No complaining while you're waiting for her. If you're bored, change my oil.
- If your pants hang off your hips, I'll gladly secure them with my staple gun.
- Dates must be in crowded public places. You want romance? Read a book.
The third season (after Ritter's death) took a creative turn, revolving more around cousin C.J. (David Spade) and grandfather Jim (James Garner), than the immediate Hennessy family, more specifically not revolving around the raising of the Hennessy girls. After the novelty of newly added ensemble characters wore off, the series returned to its original format.
The first three episodes of the series' second season had been completed when Ritter experienced discomfort during a rehearsal on the afternoon of September 11, 2003. Crew members took him to a nearby hospital, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where he was misdiagnosed as having a heart attack and as a result, his condition had worsened when physicians later diagnosed him with an aortic dissection, and he died that evening at the age of 54. Following Ritter's death, ABC announced that 8 Simple Rules would continue after a hiatus, and would incorporate the death of his character. The three new episodes that Ritter completed were aired with Sagal introducing them.
8 Simple Rules returned two months after Ritter's death with a one-hour episode, "Goodbye", which was turned into a tribute to Ritter's character. Subsequent episodes dealt with the family's reaction to his death and how they moved on from it. The first four post-Ritter episodes were shot without a live audience with James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette guest-starring as Cate's strict parents and David Spade guest-starring as Cate's wayward nephew, C.J. Barnes. Garner and Spade later received starring roles in order to fill the void left by Ritter for the remainder of the series' run.
Third season and cancellation
Before Ritter's death, 8 Simple Rules ranked 42nd in the Nielsen ratings. After Ritter's death, it had slipped to 50th, but was renewed for a third season, in which ABC moved the series to Friday at 8:00 pm as part of its TGIF comedy line-up. The series' creator and showrunner, Tracy Gamble, left the series for a time over creative differences prior to the third season, but he later returned as a consulting producer midway through the third season. Gamble was replaced by Judd Pillot and John Peaslee, who had performed the same role in the final season of Spade's sitcom, Just Shoot Me!. The series plunged to 94th in the ratings. Even before the third-season finale's airing, rumors began circulating that 8 Simple Rules was facing cancellation due to Ritter's death and poor ratings. The Friday night "death slot" ratings took their toll on 8 Simple Rules. The third season finale was not aired for May sweeps. The finale received a 3.9/8 rating share which gave ABC a third-place finish behind NBC's Dateline (5.8/11) and CBS's Joan of Arcadia (4.9/10), which starred Ritter's son, Jason. Shortly afterwards, ABC officially cancelled 8 Simple Rules in May 2005.
Cast of characters
- Paul Hennessy, portrayed by John Ritter (2002–2003), is a former sports writer who worked from home as a Lifestyle columnist described as being "the master of the double standard" and a "Psycho-Dad", as well as a perceived hypocrite who often embarrasses his children, even if he wants what is best for them. Nonetheless, he loves his children, and wants them to have happy futures. Paul dies in the second season after collapsing in the store while buying milk. (Though no real reason is given for why he collapsed, it is believed that it had something to do with his heart, as was the reason for John Ritter's death.)
- Cate S. Hennessy (née Egan), portrayed by Katey Sagal, is the wife, mother, nurse, and easily the most sane and composed person in the family. She takes a nursing job at the kids' school so she can work standard hours and spend more time with the kids. Cate starts dating her kids' high-school principal, Ed Gibb (portrayed by Adam Arkin), towards the end of season three. During her teens, she was more or less just as popular, scheming, and rebellious as Bridget, thus she is usually the first to notice when Bridget is up to something. She received her middle name "Stinky" as a result of her father promising his best friend he would name one of his children after him after accidentally stabbing him with a bayonet while they were drunk in Korea; to hide this, she claims that the S stands for "Stacy."
- Bridget Erin "Beach" Hennessy, portrayed by Kaley Cuoco, is the beautiful, ditzy oldest child. She is depicted as a stereotypical blonde, a popular bombshell who is preoccupied with her looks, teenaged boys, and little else. She sometimes displays intelligence or profundity, but these are initially few and far between, yet often poignant. Her favorite book is J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. After her father dies, she begins to steadily mature. Bridget initially felt guilty about Paul's death because the last words she ever spoke to him were "I hate you" after arguing with him earlier that morning, because he said no to her using the car. In season two, Bridget was revealed to have been conceived on a beach.
- Kerry "Care Bear" Hennessy, portrayed by Amy Davidson, is the middle child, but is not very happy about it. She is often seen as unattractive when compared to her beautiful older sister, Bridget. She was accused by Bridget of stealing her (ex-) boyfriend, Kyle, though clearly Bridget's actions drove Kyle away. Kerry is sarcastic, often making snide remarks about essentially everybody, though less to her mother. She is also a passionate activist who cares about animal rights. She lost her virginity to Bruno (her boyfriend in Europe) later in the third season. She is often annoyed at her sister and is easily upset, yet frequently the two girls team up against their parents' authority or at the expense of their younger rascal brother. Kerry is also very artistic and keeps a sketchbook. She is the smart child, but often shows naiveté. After she starts dating Bridget's popular ex-boyfriend Kyle, her own popularity increases, and she begins to act a little more like her older sister.
- Rory Joseph Hennessy, portrayed by Martin Spanjers, is Cate and Paul's son and their youngest child. He constantly tattles on his sisters, getting twisted pleasure out of it, as per his remark when he had stirred the pot to his liking: "This is just like my birthday!" Usually he waits until his sisters already commit an infraction, then he tattles to see his father explode. Rory is his father's favorite, being the boy. He becomes involved in money-making schemes with C.J. He is commonly seen playing in the living room and mentions wanting a monkey, which he once had by trading some of his father's baseball cards; the monkey was later traded for a guitar, which was short-lived, as Rory annoyed the family with it. He also delights in showing his friends the private aspects of his sister Bridget's life, mentioning once that his friends looted Bridget's underwear drawer. Rory was hit hard by Paul's death and ended up punching a hole in his wall out of anger, cutting his hand. He covered for it saying he burnt it taking a casserole out of the oven. After he enters high school, Rory matures, leaving C.J. to be the wisecracker of the family. However, Rory still had his moments.
- Jim Egan, portrayed by James Garner (2003–2005), is Cate's father. Jim served in the Korean War and is proud of his service (he angers whenever it is mentioned as a "police action"). He is very protective of the family. He often sneaks away to smoke tobacco. He is divorced, having formerly resided in Florida before moving into Cate's basement, and often used to try to beat C.J. with his cane. He takes pride in C.J.'s success as a teacher. When C.J.'s biological father comes to visit his son, Jim feels out of place and angry because he prepared a car for C.J. after he becomes a full-fledged teacher, but then Mr. Barnes gives C.J. a sports car.
- C.J. Barnes, portrayed by David Spade (2004–2005), is Cate's nephew. He was once in the Army and claims to have studied aerial photography during the Gulf War, and to have received a Purple Heart in combat, which is in complete contrast with his generally childish attitude. He is a teacher at the school and often pursues women, albeit unsuccessfully. When C.J. first arrives, the family is initially surprised. He reveals to them that he was ashamed that he did not live up to be the person Paul had once said he would be and avoided them because of that. He lives along with his grandfather, Jim, in the basement (having previously lived in a van, which was burned by that same grandfather). He once dated Mrs. Krupp, his cousins' (Kerry and Bridget) math teacher, but he ended up cheating on her with his ex-girlfriend Cheryl. He once revealed that his first initial stands for Corey, but Rory said that was untrue. C.J. previously smoked marijuana heavily (and in fact used to smoke with Kyle's older brother), but at the start of his appearances, he claims not to have touched it in two years (he originally claimed it was five, though he relented after Jim expressed disbelief).
- Kyle, portrayed by Billy Aaron Brown, is Bridget's – and later Kerry's – boyfriend. He is often seen spending time with Rory when not with either Kerry or Bridget. His father, Tommy, used to work with Paul.
- Ed Gibb, portrayed by Adam Arkin, is the principal of the local high school. Cate and he knew each other in high school, and even dated. When discussing it, their account of their first romantic encounter varied, with either believing they had more self-control and admitting to the other that they liked the other as just friends. Despite this, they have had some very intimate moments.
- Coach Scott, portrayed by Dan Cortese, is a high-school coach on whom Bridget had a crush. He likes Cate, and Cate initially likes him, but then discovers Bridget's crush, which causes her to deny Scott's romantic advances towards her.
- Jenna Sharpe, portrayed by Nikki Danielle Moore (2003–2005), is Paul's boss Nick's daughter, and one of Bridget's rivals, who later becomes her friend. She has a younger sister, Rachael (Nicole Mansour), who is a friend of Kerry.
- Missy Kleinfeld, portrayed by Daniella Monet (2003–2004), is Rory's love interest in season two. She has a sister, Sissy (Elena Lyons), who likes C.J.
- Jeremy, portrayed by Jonathan Taylor Thomas (2004), is Bridget's tutor and eventual boyfriend. He is considered a nerd at school, and because of this, Bridget at first denies her interest in him by saying it was only because he was her tutor.
- Anthony W., portrayed by Cole Williams (2002–2003), is a student in Bridget's class. He was a white boy who spoke like a black rapper, often resulting in confusion. In "Cool Parent", he is shown to play lacrosse.
- Maggie Barnes (née Egan), portrayed by Cybill Shepherd, is Cate's sister and C.J.'s mother. Maggie shares the same sensitive, moody nature as Kerry. However, it appears (from a conversation between Ed Gibb and Cate) that Cate was the smarter one, as well as being more popular.
- Fred Doyle, portrayed by John Ratzenberger, is a persistent and over-friendly neighbor of the Hennessys, and husband of Mary Ellen (portrayed originally by Shelley Long and then by Cindy Williams). He is the father of Donald "Donny" Doyle, who has dated Bridget for some time. Fred was the head of the neighborhood watch, and his family is revealed as religious when Bridget claims she is going over for Bible study in an episode in season two.
- Mrs. Crupp, portrayed by Suzy Nakamura, is a math teacher from school.
- Damian, portrayed by Paul Wesley, is Bridget's ex-boyfriend. He appeared in two episodes.
- Lacey/Lacy, portrayed by Kala Savage (2003-2004), a sometimes friend of Bridget, appeared in three episodes.
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||Nielsen ratings|
|First aired||Last aired||Average viewers
|1||28||September 17, 2002||May 20, 2003||10.9||#46|
|2||24||September 23, 2003||May 18, 2004||10.0||#50|
|3||24||September 24, 2004||April 15, 2005||6.8||#90|
While 8 Simple Rules ratings were well above those of the surrounding TGIF shows during its third season, ABC cancelled it due to the perceived inability to sell reruns of the show into syndication (a fourth season would have given the show the 100 episodes necessary to enter daily syndication).
On July 11, 2005 (less than two months after ABC officially cancelled it), The WB network announced it would air back-to-back repeats of all 76 episodes of 8 Simple Rules from 4–5 p.m. as part of the replacement of Kids' WB with the more broad-audience Daytime WB block. It aired weekdays from January 2, 2006 to September 15, 2006 when it was replaced by Reba upon the merger of UPN and The WB into The CW.
On Tuesday, June 12, 2007, the show joined the ABC Family line-up, airing weekdays from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm Then in September 2008, the show started airing from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm, until October 10, 2008. On October 3, 2009, 8 Simple Rules returned to ABC Family, having been absent for a year, airing on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 11:00 am, and Sundays at 11:00 a.m.-12:00 pm Airings have been sporadic due to the channel's unpredictable movie schedule and holiday programming block. On February 8, 2010, the series was added back to ABC Family's weekday lineup, airing from 6-7PM/ET, replacing The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. After a few months of being absent on the channel, 8 Simple Rules resumed airings on ABC Family at 7/6 c on select weekend mornings, beginning July 18, 2010. In mid-December 2012, 8 Simple Rules was removed from ABC Family's weekday line-up, only to be added back in September 2013.
In 2003, the show began airing in the UK on the Disney Channel, which was edited for children's viewing. It was picked up by ABC1 which aired the show until the channel's closure in 2007. The same year, Channel 5 began airing the series, in which season one only aired, then from 2008, was shown on 5*, which aired all three seasons. The series was aired uncut on subsequent channels following its cancellation by Disney Channel. Both Channel 5 and 5* aired the series in its originally-produced widescreen format.
The series was shown on Irish channel RTÉ Two, then later, rights to the show were acquired by TG4, which aired the series weeknights at 5.35 pm. The series was shown on both these channels full uncut, despite the fact it was shown pre-watershed (9.00 pm), although, the show was issued an age rating. On RTÉ Two it was issued a 'PS' rating and on TG4, a '12' rating.
Comedy Central UK obtained the rights to the show and will start airing it in the UK on 12 June 2017.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|The Complete First Season||28||August 7, 2007||September 1, 2008||November 12, 2008|
|The Complete Second Season||24||May 19, 2009||TBA||TBA|
|The Complete Third Season||24||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|56th Primetime Emmy Awards||Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series||Bruce L. Finn||Won|||
|Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||John Ritter (posthumously)||Nominated|
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- "Drummer Boy (part 2)". 8 Simple Rules. Season 1. Episode 18. 2003-02-11. ABC.
- "Sex Ed". 8 Simple Rules. Season 2. Episode 2. 2003-09-30. ABC.
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- Listing at Amazon.uk
- Season 2 on DVD at TV Shows on DVD
- "8 Simple Rules – Complete Season 1 (3 Disc Set)". Mighty Ape.
- 8 Simple Rules at emmys.com
- 8 Simple Rules on IMDb
- 8 Simple Rules at TV.com
- 8 Simple Rules at epguides.com
- An online (archived) version of Bruce Cameron's article presenting the premise of the 8 Simple Rules
- James Garner Interview on the Charlie Rose Show
- James Garner interview at Archive of American Television
- Camacho, Melissa. "8 Simple Rules". Common Sense Media. Retrieved October 4, 2012.