8 SIMPLE RULES:
There is a reason why John Ritter became a sitcom legend. With his likable personality and prowess for physical comedy, he could wring laughs out of marginal material, but when presented with good material- he played each joke like a virtuoso. Ritter’s last series, 8 SIMPLE RULES (FOR DATING MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER) showed him to be still on top of his game and definitely the shows biggest asset for generating laughs. Ritter takes on the tried and true role of the caring, but out of touch dad, who has to deal with clever teenagers, that try to outsmart him at every turn of the game. Although Katey Sagal portrays Ritter’s wife in the series, season one shortchanges her comic abilities much of the time, since she portrays the working mom, which keeps her off screen much of the time.
The basic premise of 8 SIMPLE RULES places Ritter in the role of Paul Hennessy, a sports writer, turned columnist, who now works from home so his wife Cate (Sagal) can resume her nursing career. As primary caregiver to his three teenage children, Paul is at something of a loss, since his wife previously took on that role exclusively. In typical sitcom fashion, Paul hates the notion of his daughters dating. Of course, he is blessed with an eldest daughter named Bridget (Kaley Cuoco), who is a shallow, mildly air headed, super-hottie, that seems determined to get through life on her looks alone. The middle child is Kerry (Amy Davidson), she is the brainy one, but also the sensitive, angst-ridden teen with a social conscience, not to mention, a whole lot of hotness potential. Lastly, we have Rory (Martin Spanjers), the youngest Hennessy teen, who is often referred to as "The Boy," and much of the time seems to exist as the comic device that spies on his sisters and rats them out to their father, anytime they pull a scam.
8 SIMPLE RULES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($24) comes to DVD in a three-disc set that features the following twenty-eight episodes that were aired during its freshman year: Pilot, Wall Of Shame, Bridget's First Job, Wings, Son-In-Law, Cheerleader, Trick Or Treehouse, By The Book, Two Boys For Every Girl, Give It Up, Paul Meets His Match, All I Want For Christmas, Rory's Got A Girlfriend, Career Choices, Kerry's Big Adventure, Come And Knock On Our Door, Drummer Boy Part 1, Drummer Boy Part 2, Cool Parent, Every Picture Tells A Story, Kerry's Video, Good Moms Gone Wild, Career Woman, Queen Bees And King Bees, Bake Sale, The Doyle Wedding, Sort Of An Officer And A Gentleman Part 1 and Sort Of An Officer And A Gentleman Part 2.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment has made all twenty-eight episodes from 8 SIMPLE RULES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The episodes look really good on DVD, offering a pretty sharp and nicely defined image. Colors are naturally saturated and the flesh tones come across realistically. Blacks are accurate, whites are clean and the contrast more than adequate for a television production. Visual imperfections are fairly limited. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.
All of the episodes that constitute 8 SIMPLE RULES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON come with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. The soundtracks get the job done, but by the nature of the sitcom beast, the sound design is little more than dialogue driven and center channel heavy. There are occasional channel separations, but they remain fairly mild. Fidelity is good for a television production; the music sounds fine and sound effects are fairly convincing. Dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as nine minutes worth of Bloopers.
John Ritter was sitcom royalty and his contribution to 8 SIMPLE RULES proved why he was king. Buena Vista’s presentations are solid and won’t give fans any reason to complain. Recommended.
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