NEW YORK – Even though the premise of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter skirts the boundaries of revolting -- dad has to keep his daughters from dressing like hookers and acting like sluts -- John Ritter is such a great actor and the cast is so very, very good that they almost overcome the smarmy premise.
And that's asking a lot because 8 Simple Rules manages to be smarmy and bizarrely old fashioned at the same time. For one thing, they rely on the tired premise that when women work outside the home, chaos follows.
Apparently, in Los Angeles women are either fabulous and work in the fast-paced glamour world of entertainment and don't have kids, or they marry well for a living and stay home. In TV sitcomland, any other scenario is fodder for laughs.
If you can put those idiocies aside, you may actually enjoy yourself. I did.
In this new sitcom, poor put-upon Paul Hennessey (Ritter) has to cope with the family now that his wife Cate (Katey Segal) has gone back to work as a nurse. Hennessey copes by giving up his sports writing job to become a sports columnist. Excuse me? This is up to him to decide? What newspaper does he work for?
Anyway, he is home when the kids are home -- which seems to be most of the time -- and he becomes Mr. Mom. This seems to mostly consist of keeping his teenage daughters from having sex. Or more accurately keeping his oldest daughter Bridget (Kaley Cuoco) from having sex and wearing red thong undies to school.
He does this while not noticing that his younger daughter Kerry (Amy Davidson) keeps trying to have sex. His son Rory (Martin Spanjers) is constantly hiding and running out of rooms like he's stuck in a French bedroom farce that no one else has been told about. Get this kid a new director -- because he's great!
Given all that, what is good about the show is most of the dialog and all of the actors. There's not a lemon in the bunch.
In the first episode, Paul has to deal with the fact that Bridget is dating his leering co-worker's son. (The co-worker is the leering creep -- not the son -- who is just a dope.)
(Why he doesn't deal with the fact that actress Katey Segal no longer resembles Katey Segal, I can't say. But I became obsessed trying to figure out what the hell she's done to herself.)
The series is saved from TV tedium also because Tracey Gamble from Home Improvement and Golden Girls created the series.
Too bad the premise is older than all the Golden Girls put together.