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Soon, Cate’s “bitterly divorced” parents, played by Garner and Suzanne Pleshette, arrive to provide moral support.As they bicker about artificial sweeteners and attending church, it’s amazing how much you found yourself missing the laughtrack, conspicuously absent from the episode.In the immediate aftermath of John Ritter’s death, it was hard to take issue with ABC’s decisions, since execs were thrust into an untenable situation.Since then, however, there has been a vague ghoulishness surrounding the show, including big viewer tune-in for the remaining Ritter episodes and ABC News’ synergistic efforts such as Diane Sawyer’s interview with the actor’s widow, Amy Yasbeck.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.There was nothing surprising about this genial series in happier days, and there was nothing surprising about what one of the ratings hotlines labeled “the death episode.” The hour delivered lots of group hugs, tears and platitudes about the unfairness of such a loss, best delivered by an avuncular James Garner.
After a hiatus, the series returned and continued without Ritter, with the producers deciding to kill off Paul and not replace him.
Widowed mom Cate Hennessy raises three teens in this sitcom, which shifted focus in 2003 following the sudden death of its star, John Ritter, just before the start of its second season.
Cate's father Jim (James Garner) joined the show and helped the family adjust to the loss.
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. 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 pm as part of its TGIF comedy line-up.